3/17 WURLITZER Style 260 Opus 1813
Announced in the Sydney newspapers on December 17, 1927 was the fact that: "Union Theatres Ltd have purchased an orchestral organ in America for installation in the new Capitol Theatre now being erected in Sydney. It has been constructed by Wurlitzer and contains 173 orchestral and organ effects and cost $42 000."
The Capitol opened on Easter Saturday 1928, with american organist Fred Scholl at the console of Wurlitzer Opus 1813, a three manual, 15 rank Style 260. Ranks were Tuba Horn, Diaphonic Diapason, Clarinet, Viol d'Orchestre, Viol Celeste, Flute, Vox Humana, Brass Trumpet, Brass Saxophone, Tibia Clausa, Oboe Horn, Orchestral Oboe, Kinura, Solo String and Quintadena.
Scholl apparently had a liking for Krumet pipes, so the Saxophone rank was exchanged for the Krumet rank of the Adelaide Regent theatre sometime during the organ's early days, although the stop tabs were unchanged.
The organ was used until the middle of 1957 when it was closed down, and sat gathering dust. It was 'adopted' by TOSA members in 1963 who got it into playing condition again. Greater Union allowed TOSA to hold organ concerts to be presented early on Saturday mornings up until the Capitol was closed in 1972, when TOSA was given the first option to buy the organ.
Without having anywhere to put it, nevertheless TOSA made the purchase and removed the organ into storage where it remained for 16 years until the Orion Centre, a former Theatre in the Sydney suburb of Campsie was found to be a suitable venue. Headed by New Zealand Organ Builder John Parker, TOSA members restored and installed the organ, adding an English Post Horn and a Solo String Celeste to bring the ranks to 17.
The inaugural concert at the Orion was on October 1, 1988. Interestingly, when a Dennison Saxophone was acquired, the Krumet was removed and installed in the Marrickville Wurlitzer.
Main chamber ranks: Tuba Horn 16' - 8' ; Diaphonic Diapason 16' - 4' ; Concert Flute 16' - 2' ; Viol d'Orchestre 8' - 2' ;
Viol Celeste 8' -4' ; Clarinet 8' ; Vox Humana 8' ; Chrysoglott
Solo chamber ranks: Tibia Clausa 16' - 2' ; Solos String 8' - 2' ; Solo String Celeste 8' - 4' ; English Post Horn 8' ;
Brass Trumpet 8' ; Saxophone 8' ; Oboe Horn 8' ; Orchestral Oboe 8' ; Kinura 8' ; Quintadena 8' ; Marimba Harp ; Xylophone ;
Glockenspiel ; Cathedral Chimes ; Sleigh Bells ; Non-tonal Percussions, Traps and Effects
Unenclosed: Wurlitzer Piano
Remember, all sounds heard from TOSA NSW theatre organs are created using electromechnical action and wind pressure. No electronically synthesised sounds are installed in our instruments.
Click on this link to open a separate browser window and see and hear Dave Wickerham play this Wurlitzer.
2/11 WURLITZER Style H Special Opus 875
Installed in The Prince Edward Theatre in Sydney in November 1924, Opus 875 was used to accompany silent films until sound movies came along. It was was built as a ten-rank organ for three chambers. But only two chambers were constructed in the theatre. The ten ranks were Harmonic Tuba, Tibia Clausa, Orchestral Oboe, Kinura, Clarinet, Open Diapason, Salicional, Voix Celeste, Flute, and Vox Humana. The american organist Eddie Horton was engaged for the opening.
The organ was played constantly at movie sessions until the theatre closed in 1964 and TOSA bought the organ whilst seaching for a suitable venue in which a Theatre Pipe Organ could be installed. Marrickville Town Hall was deemed suitable, and TOSA members spent three years refurbishing and installing it. The Krumet which Fred Scholl had brought from the Adelaide Regent to the Capitol Theatre Wurlitzer was eventually installed into this organ, bringing the number of ranks to 11.
Whenever people talked about the 'Golden Days of Theatre Organ in Sydney' it was this very organ played by Noreen Hennessy that was mostly mentioned, and fondly remembered. And so it was deja vu when, on November 27, 1968, Noreen, together with well-known Australian organist Ian Davies played a grand reopening concert with the proceeds going to the Childrens' Medical Research Foundation.
This organ is world famous and very highly regarded as one of the best two manual Theatre Organs anywhere.
Main chamber ranks: Open Diapason 16' - 4' ; Concert Flute 16' - 2' ; Salicional 8' - 2' ; Voix Celeste 8' - 4' ; English Horn 8' ;
Clarinet 8' ; Chrysoglott
Solo chamber ranks: Harmonic Tuba 16' - 4' ; Tibia Clausa 16' - 2' ; Orchestral Oboe 8' ; Krumet 8' ; Vox Humana 8' ;
Marimba Harp ; Xylophone ; Glockenspiel ; Cathedral Chimes ; Sleigh Bells ; Non-tonal Percussions, Traps and Effects
Soon to be reconnected to this organ are a Beale piano, controlled from the console with 16', 8' and 4' stops plus octave couplers.
Click on this link to open a separate browser window and see Tony Fenelon play the 2/11 Wurlitzer while accompanying himself on a pre-recorded MIDI track on a Roland Atelier Piano.
2/8 Christie Opus 2743
Below is a history of the Christie organ copied from Rod Blackmore's Australiasian Theatre Organs website. The organ is currently under restoration prior to its installation in the West Ryde Anglican Church by arrangement with the Anglican Diocese of Sydney and TOSA (NSW) Inc.
TOSA NSW volunteers are undertaking the vast majority of the restoration work through the sharing of knowledge and experience. Work continues and as at April 2016 component restoration is complete. Installation of wind lines, chests, shutters and percussion instruments is well underway at the church. The console has been completely rebuilt and wired with new stop tabs fitted and the components of the Uniflex control system fitted.
Gordon is an upper North Shore suburb of Sydney. The Gordon theatre was built on the site of a former timber & fibro structure, Empire Pictures, that operated from 1919 to 1923. My great-uncle (Alfred Blackmore) was a director of Gordon Theatres Limited, and his wife cut a ribbon joining the stage curtains at the opening ceremony on 24th April, 1924. The building provided seating for 1362 and was used for various forms of live entertainment as well as films. By 1928 poor patronage forced a sale to Percival Garling (a later founder of Butler Air Transport) and the theatre was managed by his son Rus Garling. At a cost of 7800 pounds the management acquired the new 2 manual 8 ranks Christie theatre organ. This organ had originally been ordered for the Lyceum theatre, Sydney, but there had been a delay in its installation. The rear wall of the theatre was removed and two chambers, 2m deep, were added at about 2m above stage level. The console (a “D2” model) was located directly in front of the stage, on a platform at floor level in the centre of the sunken orchestra pit. This organ is numbered 84 in the order books of the Australian division of the English organbuilding firm Hill, Norman and Beard.
The opening of the organ took place on Monday 14th October 1929 with local organ identity Idwal Jenkins at the console. Idwal remained until February 1931 when he went to the Christie organ in the Plaza theatre, Sydney. He was replaced by Valda Kersey (pictured above c.1932). Horace Weber made guest appearances. The theatre in 1934 was leased to the Kings chain of suburban cinemas, and new art-deco adornment of the auditorium was undertaken. It was a condition of the lease that there be a weekly organ performance of at least 25 minutes. Valda Kersey remained in residence through WWII, until Lance Wells took over in 1945. Muriel Jeavons (from 1946), Percy Burraston, Owen Holland, Reubert Hayes, Gunnar Paulson, and Cecil Cranfield also performed at Kings, Gordon. In February 1944 the theatre’s lease was transferred to Austral American Productions although the Kings name remained. By 1948 ownership passed from Garlings to Oscar Shaft and in 1956 to M.R.A. Pacey. By 1956 the organ had remained silent for some years, and CinemaScope was then installed, covering the former orchestra pit and Christie console. The organ had been brought out and revived for about 6 months from July 1955. The final organist was Ray Myers. It had badly deteriorated and in 1958 was sold to St. Columbs Anglican Church, West Ryde there to be installed by parishioners in the multi-purpose hall that preceded the building of a new church. Two chambers were provided high up in the rear wall, and the largely intact organ sounded well as a theatre organ when played as such. Its use declined after the new church was built and it was bought in 1992 by the proprietor of the Service City Mechanical Instruments Museum at Alexandria. In the following year he offered it for sale to the Theatre Organ Society of Australia (NSW Division) and it has remained in storage since that time awaiting a re-installation.
Basic ranks of this Christie organ are as follow:
Chamber No. 1: Open Diapason, Bourdon-Tibia, Clarinet, Tuba;
Chamber No. 2: Geigen Diapason*, Violone, Celeste, Vox Humana
(*although so labelled on the stoplist, this rank is actually a Flute)
Kings theatre closed in October, 1963 and was demolished.
Here are two recordings made on the organ whilst it was still installed in West Ryde Anglican Church and probably its last concert prior to removal in 1981. The original recordings were on reel to reel tape and have been converted to digital files as samples of what it used to sound like.
Click on the link for each tune to download the file to your computer and play it.
12th Street Rag this file is about 3MB in size
Schumann's Dedication this file is about 2.8MB in size