In early 1983, a conversation took place between John Whiteley of the "Three J's" in Gomersal, West Yorkshire, and our then Chairman, Tony Byrne, about Tony's idea of bringing a theatre organ to Shropshire - previously never having had a permanent installation. The idea was raised again at a concert in March 1984 at the Centenary Theatre of Wrekin College when Phil Kelsall MBE played a Hammond electronic organ - Phil is now our president as invited by former chairman Ralph Bartlett who provided much support to the Trust in the early days. The enthusiasm for this concert led to a public meeting with view to launching a Trust and in June 1985 the Trust held the first of two launch concerts with David Ivory and Nigel Ogden.
In February 1986, the Shropshire Theatre Organ Trust came into being, now a registered charity no: 702934, and the search for a venue was on. The Buttermarket, Howard Street, Shrewsbury, SY1 2LF was chosen as being the most suitable and the late Kerry Wycherley, then owner, was a great supporter and trustee to the Trust and he sanctioned the upper floor to be lowered by a couple of feet to house the headroom of the pipes.
Our 1936 Opus 2204 WurliTzer theatre organ was originally installed in The Ritz Cinema at Chatham in Kent. In 2000, two additional ranks of pipes were added at The Buttermarket (something which Harold Ramsay had wanted to do but funds did not permit): Kinura and English horn. There are now 708 "speaking" pipes in total. The Trust was not able to acquire the original piano and so a Technics digital piano was purchased and added via MIDI and is up in the chambers with the speaker connected up just outside. The console is equipped with the rare mark I "pillar and vase" design illuminated glass surround, which was manufactured by R R Beard (an English, London glass manufacturer) and a feature of only three WurliTzers which were originally shipped over from America. The others went to Aldershot and Barnsley. The late David Pawlyn carried out the installation at The Buttermarket in 1988. He had purchased and stored the WurliTzer since 1971 when it was removed from The Ritz Cinema when this closed and it later went over to bingo. The Trust was able to purchase the WurliTzer in July 1995.
There was a period from September 2010 until September 2013 when concerts were not able to take place when the venue was closed but it has now been superbly refurbished under new owner Martin Monahan, a very successful local businessman, who purchased The Buttermarket in the early part of 2012 and in the September of that year reopened it as a entertainments venue. In September 2013, the Trust had the reopening concert with a number of guest organists performing, including (in running order): Cameron Lloyd (former chairman), Damon Willetts, David Lobban, Matthew Bason and Jean Martyn. In January 2014 was the 25th Anniversary for the WurlTtzer organ being at The Buttermarket when Nicholas Martin BEM was guest organist. We had our first wedding when the organ was played at The Buttermarket on Saturday 26 September 2015. The organ and the Trust have been featured on BBC Radio Shropshire. We plan to hold more Open Console sessions in the future where people can have a go and our first Tea Dance was held on Sunday 6 March 2016. When concerts are held at The Buttermarket they are typically on the third Sunday in the month. Tickets £8 on admission (£7 for members) - from Sunday 27th September 2015 onwards concerts have started at the earlier time of 2.30pm (instead of 3.00pm) with doors opening at 1.30pm, concerts finishing at 5.00pm, which should suit patrons better who need to get an earlier train and as nights draw in. There is a raffle, sales table and light refreshments are available from The Buttermarket Team. People can enjoy a couple of hours of wonderful entertainment with a variety of music, sounds and styles from some of the Country's top organists and what remains Shropshire's only theatre pipe organ installation in a public venue. The WurliTzer now requires no additional amplification with sound coming through the swell shutters, which have been described as "dancing doors" and The Buttermarket is a nice intimate venue in which to enjoy a theatre organ concert, see the organist up close and enjoy a thoroughly good afternoon of entertainment.
In March 2020, the Covid pandemic hit and so after our concert on 15 March 2020 with David Ivory, we neded to postpone concerts for a while. Concerts recommenced on 18 July 2021 with a lineup of organists. However, we have had to postpone concerts after our concert on 19 June 2022 with Chris Powell, with work to be carried out at the venue. We will update people wnen we have further information and know what is happening with concerts. Thank you to organists and patrons for their understanding of the situation.
* APOLOGIES FOR THE INCONVENIENCE - CONCERTS ARE CURRENTLY POSTPONED *
|January 19th||Phil Kelsall|
|February 16th||Len Rawle|
|March 15th||David Ivory|
|July 18th||Alec Walters, David Lobban, David Ivory & Cameron Lloyd|
|August 15th||Alec Walters (more details)|
|September 19th||Stephen Austin (more details)|
|November 21st||David Lobban (more details)|
|December 19th||Damon Willetts, David Lobban, Alec Walters & Cameron Lloyd (more details)|
|January 16th||Phil Kelsall (more details)|
|February 20th||Declan Poole (more details)|
|March 20th||Robert Wolfe (more details)|
|April 17th||David Ivory & Bernard Tilley (more details)|
|May 15th||Phil Kelsall (more details)|
|June 19th||Chris Powell|