Looking down at the keydesk of the beautiful
Stockport Town Hall 4/20 Mighty WurliTzer
Introduction and Credits
The Featured Organ of the Month for July, 2005 is our first Cinema Pipe Organ from anywhere outside the United States. This awesome instrument is located the Great Town Hall of Stockport, Cheshire County, England, U.K. It is owned and mantained by The Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust.
This feature was co-written by fellow Walnut Hill Featured Artist and Wall of Famer, Jim Reid. We apprediate the hard work he did researching the material you are about to read. We want to dedicate this month's feature to Bruce Miles from York, England, creator of the beautiful Cinema Organ SoundFont that gives the Mighty MidiTzer by Jim Henry its lovely voices. Thanks, Bruce.
Visit The Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust
We also thank the Trust for letting us quote from their website dedicated to this fantastic Theatre Pipe Organ. Be sure to visit their site to learn more about this fine WurliTzer, as well as all the other great Theatre Pipe Organs under their care.
The Paramount Manchester was opened in October 1930 and was originally going to be one of a series of 50 proposed Paramount Theatres, these were to be equipped with WurliTzer PUBLIX 1 Theatre Organs. Only one of these fine instruments was finally installed at the Paramount Manchester, being the only one of that model to leave the United States.
When the Odeon Cinema was converted into a multicinema venue, the WurliTzer was acquired by The Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust in the face of attempts from overseas theatre organ societies to purchase it.
The organ was installed in the Free Trade Hall over a period of four years and was opened to the public in a special BBC Organists Entertains program in September 1977. The organ was placed on loan to the City of Manchester.
In August of 1996, Manchester opened a new International Concert Hall, called the "Bridgewater Hall", named after The Duke of Bridgewater, who built the Canal system around Manchester. As a result, the Free Trade Hall was closed, and as the new Concert Hall was built with a Marcussen Concert Organ, the Mighty Wurlitzer was again looking for a new home.
After several months of negotiations with Manchester City and various local authorities, a new home was found in the Great Hall of the magnificent Stockport Town Hall, a listed heritage establishment built in 1908.
It was decided to completely restore and rebuild the organ as near to its original condition as possible, hence negotiations were made for a grant from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts. This grant has enabled one of the largest Theatre Pipe Organ restoration projects in Europe to be undertaken.
It is quite fitting that this superb example of a WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ is located in Cheshire County. It is the only Theatre Pipe Organ in a public building in the county. Cheshire County is the birthplace of Robert Hope-Jones, telephone engineer, inventor and organ builder.
Robert Hope-Jones is credited as being the father of Theatre Pipe Organs, his many patents taken out at the British, and later, the US Patent Office, were the foundation of the design of the Theatre Pipe Organ as we know it today, and certainly the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organs we have grown to love.