Worthing’s wonderful Wurlitzer is one of the largest theatre organs in England. The sound is produced by over 1,500 organ pipes and percussion instruments installed in the two chambers located behind the grilles on either side of the stage. The organ is powered by compressed air from two 5kW blowers housed under the stage. The decorative console also lives under the stage but rises majestically to its playing position on a lift - as all proper theatre organs should.
Theatre organs were originally conceived to provide the accompaniment to silent films, but most of the organs in the UK were installed during the big cinema–building boom of the 1930’s to provide musical entertainment between films and background music as patrons entered and left the cinema. These organs were played by organists who became stars in their own right such as Sydney Torch, Sandy MacPherson and Reginald Dixon, names that are still remembered by the older generations today.
By the 1960’s many theatre organs had fallen into disrepair and were deemed unpopular and not financially viable. Thankfully enthusiasts of the day bought, restored and found new homes for these mighty machines. The Worthing Wurlitzer is one such instrument which was originally installed in the Metropole Victoria Cinema in London. In the mid 1970’s the organ was acquired and rebuilt by the Sussex Theatre Organ Trust and installed in the Assembly Hall. Following the acquisition of another organ originally installed in the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, it was enlarged from 10 ranks (sets of pipes) to 22 ranks. Given the superb acoustics of the Assembly Hall, the Worthing Wurlitzer is now one of the finest theatre organs in Europe.
Further events in 2022 featuring the Wurlitzer:
April 3rd : Phil Kelsall - organist The Tower Ballroom, Blackpool
June 12th : Worthing Philharmonic Orch. - Poulenc Organ Concerto
October 16th : Robert Wolfe – organist at the Thursford Collection
November 20th : Mark Laflin – popular recitalist