The Wurlitzer installed in the Villa Marina Arcade is an outstanding and rare example of its type – A Mighty Wurlitzer. It is a sister instrument to the one originally installed in the famous Tower Ballroom, Blackpool for the legendary organist Reginald Dixon.
Free lunchtime concerts by local organists - September 13, 20 & 27
a brief history of the isle of man wurlitzer
The Wurlitzer was built in Tonawanda, USA and signed out of the factory on 25th November 1929. Described as a Style 200 Special, it was given the opus number 2081.
Originally destined for the Marlborough Cinema in Holloway, London, on arrival in the UK it was thought that it was too small. So was instead installed in the smaller City Cinema in Leicester, where it remained until 1957.
Bought for private use by Councillor Allan Hickling, it was installed into underground rooms in the garden of ‘Dormston House’ Sedgley, where it became well known after being played on BBC Radio 2 programme “The Organist Entertains” by an organist called Brian Sharp.
Acquired by the Isle of Man Government in 1989, it became popular entertainment for tourists at Summerland until its closure in 2004.
The Wurlitzer has now been fully restored by renowned organist, Len Rawle and is the focal point of the newly refurbished Villa Marina Arcade.
- The organ weighs approx 10 tonnes
- There are a total of 754 pipes, each one is individually tuned.
- There is also a wide range of percussion such as Chimes, Xylophone, Glockenspiel, Tambourine and drums.
about len rawle
Len is widely known for having his house built around the ‘Empire’ Leicester Square Wurlitzer (the largest in Europe)! His 17 years as musical Director of Yamaha UK saw him re-named as Mr Yamaha. He has made over 30 recordings, and participated in many radio and TV broadcasts. He set up 100 music schools for Yamaha UK, trained 400 teachers and their instructors, who in turn taught 12,000 students on a weekly basis.
His full concert diary now means he travels widely and these days he mixes business with pleasure. Last summer Len gave the final ‘Afterglow’ concert at the American Theatre Organ Society’s annual Convention, where he played one of the largest instruments in Los Angeles.
As well as giving concerts and encouraging others to play, he acts as a consultant in pipe and electronic organ installations here and abroad.
A real ambassador for ‘the organ as a means of entertainment’ his enthusiasm always shines through with his love and fascination of the many sounds of his chosen instrument.
For more information about the Isle of Man Wurlitzer, contact:
- Peter Jordan
- Friends of the Isle of Man Wurlitzer
- Telephone: 01624-820949
- Email: [email protected]