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& North West magazin ChiDOine + Gren ze-over-Sarids 7 Keswie ward winning Arctic photographer National honey week How valuable is our countryside? Emmerdale actress turned storyteller Awalk with Tolkein Interior design advice from Kelly Hoppen Remember Remember the 5th of November Organ Restoration The Wurlitzer Organ has long been associated with Blackpool and Ballroom dancing but it’s a litle known fact that the town's Winter Gardens is the only Public venue in the UK to-house two fully working Wurlitzers. Blackpool Opera House in 1898, prior to t's opening. Note the \Woritzers 3 manual console tothe let of the stage ver the past few years, supported with funds raised O bythe Winter Garden Fras members fhe ‘Cannock Chase Organ Trust have worked tirelessly regularly visiting the Winter Gardens to restore its second ‘Wurlitzer to make it once again “toad-worthy.” ‘And now with a Wurlitzer in the Winter Gardens Opera House and Empress Ballroom work continues to ensure these two magnificent examples of craftsmanship remain in use for many years to come. Here Ross MeNeilie from the Cannock Chase Organ Trust explains how important the Wurlitzers are and about the level of work undertaken o lovingly restore them. “The Wurlitzer organ of the Opera House, Blackpool was installed in 1939 by the Wurlitzer Company. I was designed bby Winter Gardens organist Horace Finch and is unique in its specification to include a Tibia Plena (one of only two ever brought to the UK by Worltzer) which is one of 13 sets (or ranks, as they are known in organ terminology) of pipes on this instrument which are played from a three manual console. (Keyboard's are referred to as manuals in organ terminology and the console is where all the controls for the organist to ‘make music from are situated). “Its also the final new instrument installed by the Wurlitzer Company in the UK, and the second last new instrument installed by the Wuslizer Company anywhere inthe ‘world. Therefore, its unique specification coupled with its place as the very last new Wurlitzer in the UK marks a significant place in our cultural and musical history and simultaneously, marking the end of an era and the beginning of @ new one of conservation, “The Wurlizer was unveiled in July 1939 on the same night the Blackpool Opera House opened, with Horace Finch and 32 LANCASHIRE & NORTH WEST MAGAZINE Reginald Dixon at the console. Throughout the years the organ was featured as an element of shows, cinema interludes, radio broadcasts and recordings by organists including Reginald Dixon, Horace Finch, Sidney Torch, Watson Holmes and Ernest Broadbent. During thi time it received some maintenance work, however after lingering unused between 2001 and 2007 the organ had slipped into a state of disrepair and had become unsuitable for serious playing, “In late 2007, Cannock Chase Organ Club President, and Wolverhampton City Organist, Steve Tovey, came to learn thet there was a possibility of the Opera House Wurlitzer being removed from the theatre to be utilized as spare parts for the Tower Ballroom Wurlitzer. Steve approached Blackpool Winter Gardens management and on hearing ofits state of disrepair, discussions began with regards to restoring the organ back to a playing condition deserving of public presentation, “In the winter of 2007/2008, in conjunction with Blackpool Winter Gardens, Cannock Chase Organ Club spent many weeks under the stage, where the pipe chambers and mechanisms for the organ are situated, undertaking restoration work, repairing wind leaks, completing repairs to ‘wind lines, bellows and tremulants. The organ continues to remain on its original 1939 starter motor, which was required to be meticulously examined, restored and greased by electtical engineers, in addition to the blower. Repair and service work was additionally carried out to the lift which brings the console up into view. The console received several new coats of paint and the pipe work given a thorough tuning to bring it up to concert standatd. “In March 2008, Tower Ballroom Organist, Phil Kelsall MBE, presented the restored Opera House Wurlitzer in concert to an audience of some 1,000 people. It was a historic occasion and marked the commencement of a series of concerts organised by Cannock Chase Organ Club partnered with Blackpool Winter Gardens, Since that time, more than 30 concerts and events showcasing the organ have been presented at the Opera House, placing it firmly back on the map asthe Jewel in the Opera House's crown. It’s most recent “famous” appearance was at the 2009 Royal Variety Performance, when comedian Peter Kay made a memorable entrance by riding the console up on its lift. The organ had previously seen use for a Royal Variety Performance in 1955, ‘when Reginald Dixon plaved it during the show, the Queen being among his regular listeners. t's 2009 appearance will ‘most likely have brought back memories for her, anid many others. Ir was also used as an integral part of a variety show produced by Cannock Chase Organ Club in the same year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Opera House and its Mighty Wurlitzer. ‘Our next event at the Opera House will be on the 18¢h of “TOP: Some of the pipes in the Solo Chamber of the Opera House Wurtz ABOVE LEFT: Steve Tovey amongst the pipes while the new Empress November at 2pm, when one of the World's leading theatre ‘organists, Robert Wolf, will be playing in concert for us. “Its hoped that the Wurlitzer can also be used for the Winter Gardens Open Day in 2016, and widely throughout the 2016 Film Festival, an event held by Blackpool Winter Gardens ‘Trust for silent films and of course, before films and during intervals to give the complete cinema experience! (Who still can remember that?) “That's not the end of our work within the Winter Gardens, however. In 1934, Reginald Dixon designed a new Wurlitzer ‘organ for the Tower Ballroom, to replace the earlier Wurlitzer ‘which was installed in 1929. The original 1929 Wurlitzer was removed from the Tower Ballroom and installed in the vast Empress Ballroom, where it was enlarged to match the specification of the new organ in the Tower Ballroom. It was, ‘opened in 1935 by Horace Finch and remained in use until i was decided to alter the use of the Empress Ballroom in 1970. room organ was being installed. ABOVE RIGHT: Simon Gledhill atthe Opera House Wurlitzer in 2014 It was removed and sold to the BBC to be used as their broadcasting theatre organ. The pipe chambers above the Empress Ballroom stage remained vacant and unused ever since. That is, until Cannock Chase Organ Club offered to install their own organ. Negotiations initiated with the ‘Winter Gardens management in 2010/2011 and plans ‘were set out in 2012 when work commenced on installing «anew theatre organ “As this sort of instrument is no longer manufactured, many components had to be sourced from the USA, Canada, South Africa and across the U.K. The majority ofthe pipe work in the new organ is Wurlitzer, with a majority of the chests (Pipes sit on top of the chests, which permit air into a pipe ‘when a specific note is pressed, enabling the pipe/note to sound) were built by British firm John Compton Organ ‘Company. We also procured one of the original ranks of pipes from the original Empress Ballroom Wurlitzer, the Tibia LANCASHIRE & NORTH WEST MAGAZINE 33 The OPERA HOUSE ORGAN is a WOURLIIZER FAMED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD FOR ITS PERFECT ACTION AND TONAL BEAUTY The Installation of « WURLITZER organ in his magnificent Theatre is recognition. of its popularity The Organs played by REGINALD DIXON at the Tower and HORACE FINCH at the Winter Gardens WURLITZERS Clausa (a large stopped flute that gives the cinema/theatre organ it’s distinct tone) which is now back “home” in the new organ, “Cannock Chase Organ Club needed to manhandle every part of the organ from the ground level up several flights of stairs and across the Empress Ballroom roof top to the pipe chambers, which was no easy task, even for the younger members of the team. The first element to be installed was the expression shutters which are “louie” style assemblies which may be opened or closed by the organist at the console to make the organ louder or quieter. After these were installed, the rest of the instrument could be assembled behind those. “Bach and every pipe has a special mechanism to allow air into it and each LEICESTER SQUARE CHAMBERS, LEICESTER SQUARE, LONDON, WC2. ‘one of these mechanisms is wired to a relay, which transmit all of the information from the console to the pipes. All ofthis had to be wired up and ‘made neatly into what is known as a main cable. This cable runs from the Relays in the chamber, and through the floor, across the top of the stage, and all the way down to the console ‘which is positioned on the balcony to the right ofthe stage There are 14 ranks of pipes in the new Empress Ballroom organ, which range from just a couple of inches long, 0 whopping 16ft long bass pipes. Each rank has its own unique sound, from the Diapason - a basic church organ sound, flutes, pipes which mimie violins in an orchestra, the “Vox Humana + Latin for human voice. There are reed pipes which imitate trumpets, tubas, 34 LANCASHIRE & NORTH WEST MAGAZINE Horace Finch at the original Warttzer organ of the Empress Balroom in 1995 ‘oboes and saxophones, not to mention actual bass drums, glockenspiels, cymbals and xylophones. The theatre organ is, in a nutshel, a ‘one man orchestra “The new Empress Ballroom Wurlitzer ‘was unveiled in December 2014 with the Mayor of Blackpool, Val Haynes, and Reginald Dixon's Daughter Jil, cutting the ribbon, Each gave a speech, as did Reginald Dixon's Biographer, Peter Ashman. With the ceremony ‘over, dancing commenced to organists Cameron Lloyd and David Lobben, on the huge dance floor with some 900, people present on a cold winters day. “The new Empress Ballroom Wurlitzer has been used since its opening last ‘year for dancing, open days, tours, and itis going to play part once again in the Winter Gardens’ Open Day in 2016, an annual event which is well attended by the public who wish to see behind the scenes. “Ics hoped that the working partnership between Cannock Chase ‘Ongen Club and Blackpool Winter Gardens can continue for many years to come. With a great deal still. be experienced and so many opportunities for the organs to be used, who knows just what the future may well bring!” To Find Out More on Cannock Chase Organ Club, check out: ww We also have videos of many of our events which available to watch on ‘ Additional information about Blackpool Winter Gardens isto be found at