Wurlitzer Opus number 956 was dispatched from the factory on the 1st December 1924 and shipped to Southampton, destined for its new home at The Picture House in Walsall, West Midlands. It was the first Wurlitzer Unit Orchestra to arrive in England.

After its arrival at Walsall, the Style-D Wurlitzer was unpacked and installed into the Picture House over the coming weeks. It was installed in a large wooden swell box type chamber. By the end of January 1925 the organ was fully operational. It was opened by the organist Jack Courtnay on the 26th January 1925. On its opening night it accompanied the film “Claude Duval” starring Fay Compton and Nigel Barrie.

Between 1925 an 1929 the Wurlitzer was used to accompany all the silent films of the day, including the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. When the “talkies” arrived, the Wurlitzer went on to be used for solo spots and to provide music during the interval. At about the same time, Wilfred Gregory became resident organist at The Picture House.

During the days of World War 2 the Wurlitzer, at the hands of Wilfred, was a great morale booster to the people of Walsall. After the war, with television gaining in popularity, cinemas began to see the size of their audiences dwindle.

Due to a lack of use, as Wilfred had now moved on to the Tower Cinema in West Bromwich, the management at the Picture House decided there was no longer a need for the Wurlitzer in Walsall after 30 years of use there.

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Beer Wurlitzer
Beer Wurlitzer

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