Wurlitzer (Opus 2120) – Style: Publix 1
Paramount/Odeon cinema, Manchester. 1930
The Paramount Manchester was opened in October 1930 and was originally going to be one of a series of 50 proposed Paramount Theatres which were to be equipped with the ‘Publix One’ style of Wurlitzer organ, designed by famous American organist Jesse Crawford. The Manchester Publix One was the only such model to leave the United States. When the Odeon was converted into a multicinema the Wurlitzer was acquired by the Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust in the face of attempts from over-seas theatre organ societies to purchase it. The organ was installed in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester over a period of four years and was opened to the public in a special BBC broadcast of ‘The Organists Entertains’ in September 1977.~ At this time the Organ was placed on loan to the City of Manchester.
In August 1996, Manchester opened a new International Concert Hall, called the ‘Bridgewater Hall’, named after the Duke of Bridgewater who built the Canal system around Manchester. As a result the Free Trade Hall was closed and as the new Concert Hall was built with a Marcussen Concert Organ. The Wurlitzer was again looking for a new home. After several months of negotiations with Manchester City and various local authorities a new home was found in the Great Hall of the Magnificent Stockport Town Hall, a listed heritage establishment built in 1908.
Thus, almost 20 years on, the Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust started again to remove its Publix One. It was decided to completely restore and rebuild the organ as near to its original condition as possible, hence negotiations were made for a grant from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts. This grant has enabled one of the largest theatre organ restoration projects in Europe to be undertaken. The Trust are also pleased that through co-operation with Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council a Grant was obtained from the United Kingdom National Lottery. This Grant enabled the building work and reinstallation of the Wurlitzer in the Town Hall.
The Great Hall or Ballroom at Stockport Town Hall is used twice a week for Ballroom dancing. The console is positioned just to the left of centre on a lift in front of the stage. Space is very tight in the Great Hall, and the chambers took many hours of drawing work to ensure that the pipe-work would fit into the curved roof area – the chambers being built into the rear balcony arch. The Console to chamber cables are routed through the 1908 Plenum heating ducts (the only way from the front to the back of the Hall.)