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Wurlitzer Given A Reprieve

Posted: Monday 14th September

Wurlitzer Given A Reprieve

The combination of new faces on the Peterborough Theatre Organ Preservation Society (PTOPS) committee and sceduled work being put on hold regarding building at Peterborough Regional College has given a rare 1928 Wurlitzer theatre organ a new lease of life. We have good news as concert dates for the forthcoming season have just been announced.

The organ consists of two manual keyboards and six ranks of pipes providing a range of sound effects, as well as a phantom piano which looks as though it is being played by a ghost. It was originally housed in The Regent Cinema, Dudley, and came to live in the main hall of Peterborough Regional College in the mid 1970’s, however it faced an unknown future after the college announced plans to redevelop its Park Crescent campus. Combined with falling attendances and a potentially vast bill for relocating the instrument it seemed the only option for its custodians PTOPS, was to see it leave the region.

However, after a well attended farewell concert on 5 April, 2009, a wave of public support and funding restrictions halting the College’s redevelopment has encouraged PTOPS to continue with its work in maintaining the organ and continuing concerts for the foreseeable future. A new committee, headed by chairman Paul Turner, 35, are making bold changes in an effort to revive the fortunes of this instrument. Mr Turner said "I have been involved with this cinema organ for around 19 years and have been lucky enough to perform on it on several occasions, including what was thought to be its final concert. Many people approached me on the day, including some who had travelled from as far as Somerset, London and Hull, and I have been contacted by others since saying how sad they are at the thought of not being able to hear such a wonderful instrument live in the area again. After hearing the news that the College are not going to proceed with demolishing the hall at present, I felt I had to do something. After encouragement from the College Principal, Don Lawson, and others volunteering to take on vital roles on the PTOPS committee I felt it our duty to try to continue organizing concerts and carry on raising funds to maintain the old girl. We have organists booked for the October, November and December concerts, and are in negotiations regarding concerts between January and April"

A membership scheme has been launched, where people can sign up for £10 per season and gain discounted admission to the forthcoming concerts. This is a vital fundraiser to help cover the day to day costs such as insurance and maintenance and running events. The first concert will feature Nicholas Martin, formerly resident organist at Turner’s Merry-Go-Round near Northampton and is on 4 October. Tickets cost £5 for members and £7.50 for non members. This concert will also be a tribute to the founder of the society and the person responsible for bringing the organ to Peterborough, Roy Moseley, who sadly passed away shortly after the final concert.

For further information, to become a member or to offer assistance, call Carol or Paul on 01733 844497 or 07720 719420, or visit the PTOPS website.

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