THE THEATRE ORGAN
Click here to hear Reginald Dixon M.B.E. play his signature tune and other seaside tunes
BUILDERS OF THE THEATRE ORGANS
THIS PAGE IS WRITTEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH
GLEN TWAMLEY (FRIENDS OF BEER WURLITZER)
BLACKPOOL – A THEATRE ORGAN TOWN
Blackpool was very much a Theatre Organ Town during the heyday of its popularity with visitors. At one time, there were seven Theatre Organs installed in the numerous ballrooms and cinemas in the town.
The Tower, Ballroom (Top Left: in the 1950s; Bottom Right: in the 1980s) & Mr. Blackpool
According to an article of December 2014, published in The Blackpool Gazette, there was once a Theatre Organ installed at the Imperial Picture Palace, a pre-sound cinema, which operated between 1913 and 1961. However, according to the British Installation List (BIL) from Theatre Organ World and also according to the revised list, complied in 1974 by Mr. Clifford Manning for the Cinema Organ Society, no Theatre Organ appears to have ever been installed at the Imperial Picture Palace.
However, it is possible that the Imperial Picture Palace might have had some other type of musical instrument to accompany silent films. For example:
- a type of Harmonium, which was also known as a Pump Organ, Reed Organ or Melodeon. This instrument is a Free-Reed Organ;
- a Photoplayer, which is an Automatic Mechanical Orchestra used in cinemas to produce background/incidental music to accompany silent films; or
- a similar instrument undefined at present, but not a Theatre Organ, as it is defined today.
In addition, the article of December 2014, published in The Blackpool Gazette, also stated that there was a Theatre Organ installed at the Jardin. However there appears to be no information regarding a Jardin Cinema in Blackpool.
It is conceivable that a Jardin Cinema may have been confused with the organ builders, Jardine & Company. The Company had built organs of a variety of sizes for cathedrals, churches, hospitals, prisons, private houses and cinemas and in 1921, built an organ that was installed in Blackpool. This organ, although NOT a Unit/Theatre Organ. but a Straight Organ (i.e. a church/concert/town hall organ) of 2 manuals and 17 Speaking Stops, was installed at the Waterloo Cinema, where it was opened by George Tootell. It was removed in 1935 and re-installed at the Church of The Sacred Heart in Blackpool where it remains today.
It is of interest to note that Jardine & Company was the first British Organ Builders to design and build an organ specifically for the cinema to provide accompaniment to silent films.
THE COMPANY THAT MADE BLACKPOOL ….. BLACKPOOL!!!
The Company owned the Tower and Empress Ballrooms and the Opera House and, in addition, purchased the Alhambra Entertainment Complex, and re-opened it as the Palace Ballroom in 1904. In each of these venues, The Company purchased and installed a Wurlitzer Theatre Organ for entertainment purposes. Over the years, the Organs achieved the aim of The Company, and have entertained many millions of visitors, and despite changing tastes, continue to do today.