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The East Sussex National Wurlitzer

The ESN Wurlitzer has been built using some of the finest pipework

available from the United States of America.  Its 32 ranks include pipes

by Wurlitzer, Robert Morton and Kimball.

The “modernistic” or “waterfall” style console, as Wurlitzer called it,

was sourced from Organ Stop Pizza Parlour in Mesa, Arizona, having

been built for them in 1984 by the Ken Crome Organ Company of Los

Angeles.  By 1997 their Wurlitzer had been enlarged so much that it

needed yet another, even larger console, so we were fortunate to

obtain the older for installation at ESN.

The conference and banqueting suite at ESN was carefully designed

with the organ in mind, including the two large pipe chambers, an

under-stage pit to house the console on its lift, and an especially deep

pit to be able to accommodate the 32ft long pipes.

The 32-rank specification of the organ was drawn up by organists

Michael Wooldridge and Clark Wilson, whilst the huge task of installing

it was overseen by David Houlgate.  Some initial tonal finishing was

carried out by organist and technical expert Len Rawle MBE in

conjunction with organ builder Keith Bance and on 1st November 2009,

the organ was first heard by the public at a preview concert given by

Michael Wooldridge and Len Rawle.

In 2010, American organ experts Ed and Patti Zollman were brought in

to carry out the final tonal finishing of the organ turning it into the

comprehensive instrument that you hear today.  The organ sounded well

and proved successful at some trial dances, so it was officially opened

on the 21st April 2012 with Michael Wooldridge and acclaimed organist

Richard Hills FRCO at the console.

In 2013 we updated the digital transmission system (the “brains” of the

organ) to the popular Uniflex system.

Shows are hosted at various times throughout the year as well as

regular Sunday afternoon dances which have proved especially popular

since the installation of a brand new sprung dance floor.

The Carlo Curley Organ

Originally designed and custom built for ‘The Pavarotti of the Organ’,

the great Carlo Curley, he toured with this mammoth four manual Allen

electronic organ for many years.

We are delighted to now hold it in our collection and to feature it in

concert a couple of times each year.

The old electronics have been removed from the console and replaced

with more modern digital samples to deliver a more pipe-like sound.

The Organs...

The Singing Hills 2/5 Wurlitzer

This little Wurlitzer organ first made its debut in America in 1928 at The

Sutton Theatre (previously known as Cottrill’s Opera House) in Thomas,

West Virginia.  When the talkies became popular, it was sold back to

Wurlitzer, who rebuilt it and shipped it to England for installation at The

Regal Cinema in Colchester, which opened in February 1931 with

organist Max Bruce at the Wurlitzer.

Thirty years later the cinema was taken over by the Oscar Deutshe

group and renamed The Odeon and a couple of years later they decided

to dispose of the organ.

It was sold for refurbishment and installation at a water mill in Oxnead,

Norfolk, where in the early 1970’s it featured in a couple of television

programmes.  When the owner passed away in 1987, the organ was

passed to the current owner, who placed it into storage, awaiting a

suitable venue.

The Singing Hills golf course was created in 1992, with the Pavilion

Clubhouse custom built to accommodate the Wurlitzer organ.  It was

decided that it would be joined by a larger instrument, which would

incorporate the pipes and effects of this original Wurlitzer.

The Singing Hills 3/23 Wurlitzer

Having decided to keep the 5 rank Wurlitzer intact but at the same time

to incorporate it into a larger instrument, the search began for a

suitable organ.  Nothing was forth-coming, so a new 3-manual console

was custom built for the new installation, a local joiner making a

replica of a Compton console so that it would look well with the colour-

changing illuminated surround and bench from the Regal Cinema in Old

Kent Road.

14 ranks of pipes were imported from America, which, added to the 5

from the small Wurlitzer, gave a total of 19 ranks to play from the      

3-manual console and Sussex organist Michael Maine drew up the initial

specification for the installation, which was masterminded by David

Houlgate.

The organ was first featured in an afternoon concert by Resident

Organist Michael Wooldridge on 21st February 1999, with the 'official'

opening by Blackpool Tower Organist Phil Kelsall in January 2000, by

which time Michael had played for quite a number of preview events.

By 2002 it was felt that certain aspects of the organ were not as good as

they could be and also that the organ needed boosting in certain tone

colours, so Alan Baker and Michael Wooldridge set about an ambitious

plan to move all of the pipe chests, re-winding them in the process, and

to create two new chambers, one each side of the original chamber, to

house the various percussions, which were previously virtually inaudible

due to their position behind all of the pipework.  Top drummer Phil

Solomon came in to advise on improving the drums and cymbals and,

with the addition of 4 more ranks of pipes, including a new Krumet

made by F. Booth & Son of Leeds to Wurlitzer specification, the organ

became a 3/23.

Michael Wooldridge re-deigned the console layout, both to incorporate

the new ranks but, more importantly, to bring it in line with standard

Wurlitzer practice. 

In 2003, American experts Clark Wilson and John Struve carried out

some tonal finishing on the organ, balancing the sounds of the pipes

against one another, and this work was further improved in 2011 by Ed

and Patti Zollman. 

The final result is a rich, lush sound, which has far exceeded the

expectations of the local technical team.

ESN 4/32 Wurlitzer  (Pipe Maker) Solo Chamber English Horn (Unknown, 16’ Booth) Tuba Mirabilis (Wurlitzer Copy, 16’ Wurlitzer) Brass Trumpet (Wurlitzer) French Horn (Kimball) Horn Diapason (Kimball Violin Diapason) Tibia (Solo) (Morton) Saxophone (Wurlitzer) Musette (Wurlitzer Copy by Trivo) Orchestral Oboe (Wurlitzer) Kinura (Wurlitzer) Viol (Wurlitzer) Viol Celeste (Wurlitzer) Gamba (Unknown) Gamba Celeste (Unknown) Oboe Horn (Wurlitzer) Quintadena (Wurlitzer) Quintadena Celeste (Wurlitzer) Vox Humana (Solo) (Wurlitzer) Xylophone Glockenspiel Vibraharp Cathedral Chimes Percussion and Effects Main Chamber Tuba Horn (Wurlitzer) Diaphonic Diapason (Morton, Wurlitzer Bass) Open Diapason (Wurlitzer) Tibia (Main) (Wurlitzer) Clarinet (Wurlitzer) Krumet (Wurlitzer) Viol D’Orchestra (Wurlitzer) Viol D’Orchestra Celeste (Wurlitzer) Salicional (Wurlitzer) Salicional Celeste (Wurlitzer) Lieblich Flute (Hope-Jones) Concert Flute (Wurlitzer) Concert Flute Celeste (Wurlitzer) Vox Humana (Main) (Wurlitzer) Marimba Chrysoglott Tuned Sleigh Bells Unenclosed Phantom Upright Piano (Yamaha Disklavier)
SH 2/5 Wurlitzer (Pipe Maker) Brass Trumpet (Wurlitzer) Tibia (Wurlitzer) Salicional (Wurlitzer) Flute (Wurlitzer) Vox Humana (Wurlitzer) Chrysoglott Xylophone Glockenspiel Cathedral Chimes Percussion and Effects
SH 3/23 Wurlitzer (Pipe Maker) Pipe Ranks English Horn (Wurlitzer, 16’ Booth) Brass Trumpet (Wurlitzer) Tuba Horn (Christie) Trumpet (Wurlitzer) Open Diapason (Wurlitzer) Tibia I (Wurlitzer) Tibia II (Christie) Clarinet (Wurlitzer) Kinura (Morton) Orchestral Oboe (Wurlitzer) Saxophone (Wurlitzer) Krumet (Wurlitzer Copy by Booth) Gamba (Unknown) Gamba Celeste (Unknown) Viol D’Orchestra (Unknown) Viol D’Orchestra Celeste (Unknown) Salicional (Wurlitzer) Salicional Celeste (Wurlitzer) Oboe Horn (Church Rank Revoiced by Booth) Quintadena (Wurlitzer) Flute (Wurlitzer) Flute Celeste (Wurlitzer) Vox Humana (Wurlitzer) Unenclosed Phantom Upright Piano (Yamaha Disklavier) Tonal Percussion Xylophone Glockenspiel Cathedral Chimes Tuned Sleigh Bells Chrysoglott Non-Tonal Percussion Bass Drum Snare Drum Crash Cymbal Tap Cymbal Tambourine Castanets Chinese Block Tom Tom Sleigh Bells Triangle Effects Klaxon (Auto) Horn Horses Hooves Train Whistle Fire Gong Bird Whistle Siren Surf Door Bell
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