The unexpected jewel in the Singing Hills crown is the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ. Upon entering the bar area, one can't help but be drawn to the console of this magical musical instrument, resplendent in the most fabulous lacquered wood and finished with real gold leaf. The pipes and percussions are all housed behind the grilles which are visible above and to either side of the bar canopy. This delightful little organ was first installed at the Sutton Theatre in Thomas, West Virginia, USA in 1928 at the cost of $25,000. After 18 months or so, the new talking pictures ousted the silent films and the organ was returned to the Wurlitzer factory at North Tonawanda. The whole organ has been restored to pristine condition using all original parts, except for the relays which have been replaced with a modern Solid State system to link the keyboards to the pipes. Although in England at this time the ‘talkies' were also a huge success, a film show was still a long affair with a couple of full length feature films, a newsreel and an interval with live entertainment. This latter aspect often involved the use of an organ either solo or, quite often, to accompany acts on stage. Consequently, organs were still valued and the little Wurlitzer was refurbished, enlarged slightly and shipped over to the Regal Cinema in Colchester where it opened on the 27th February 1931.
In 1963 the Wurlitzer was ousted from the Regal but was saved by an enthusiast. Later it was transported down to Sussex and stored whilst the Singing Hills Pavilion was constructed. It was featured at the course opening ceremony by resident organist Michael Wooldridge and, since then, has been featured for various events and in concerts.
This would be the perfect place to end this tale of the little Wurlitzer organ at the golf course but there is much, much more to come!
On pressing a button on the wall, the organ console (still on it's plinth) slides to the left to reveal an organ pit beneath where it was standing. Push the next button, and up rises yet another Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ, this one in a glitzy metallic gold finish and completed with a dazzling illuminated surround.
This second organ, one of the largest Wurlitzer organs in the UK, combines the sounds of the original little organ with another Wurlitzer instrument, which was especially imported from the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Holy Wisdom in Los Angeles, U.S.A., and some other carefully selected pipework. In all, it has some 1,500 pipes of varying sizes, from a few inches tall right up to eight feet in length. It also has lots of special effects which the organist controls from the console. These include real, full size drums, cymbals, tambourines, a bird whistle, klaxon, sleigh bells, cathedral chimes, glockenspiel and xylophone.
This magnificent theatre organ was yet again first featured by our organist Michael Wooldridge in preview events but the honour of performing the Grand Opening Concert was saved for the UK's most popular organist, the master of the Wurlitzer at the legendary Tower Ballroom, Blackpool, Phil Kelsall.
The organ is now regularly featured in enjoyable Sunday afternoon concerts from September through until March of each year. If you enjoy the music from the musicals, shows, films, the big band era and more, come along to join us for a great afternoon of entertainment. There is nothing to beat the sound of live music and for a modest fee, The Singing Hills WurliTzer organ can be made available for dancing or just for background to enhance your event.
Michael Wooldridge, our resident organist, has a very extensive repertoire and often plays for dances and other functions, and may be accompanied by top drummer Phil Solomon.
For more information please contact us
For tickets contact Mrs. Angela Johnstone, 17 Orchard Close, Southwick,
West Sussex, BN42 4NJ. Tel. No. 01273 705802
or Office Hours (9am – 1pm) Tel. No. 01903 817116