The East Sussex National Wurlitzer

The ESN Wurlitzer has been built using some of the finest pipework

available from the United States of America. Its 32 ranks include pipes

by Wurlitzer, Robert Morton and Kimball.

The “modernistic” or “waterfall” style console, as Wurlitzer called it,

was sourced from Organ Stop Pizza Parlour in Mesa, Arizona, having been

built for them in 1984 by the Ken Crome Organ Company of Los Angeles.

By 1997 their Wurlitzer had been enlarged so much that it needed yet

another, even larger console, so we were fortunate to obtain the older

for installation at ESN.

The conference and banqueting suite at ESN was carefully designed with

the organ in mind, including the two large pipe chambers, an under-

stage pit to house the console on its lift, and an especially deep pit to

be able to accommodate the 32ft long pipes.

The 32-rank specification of the organ was drawn up by organists

Michael Wooldridge and Clark Wilson, whilst the huge task of installing it

was overseen by David Houlgate. Some initial tonal finishing was carried

out by organist and technical expert Len Rawle MBE in conjunction with

organ builder Keith Bance and on 1st November 2009, the organ was first

heard by the public at a preview concert given by Michael Wooldridge

and Len Rawle.

In 2010, American organ experts Ed and Patti Zollman were brought in to

carry out the final tonal finishing of the organ turning it into the

comprehensive instrument that you hear today. The organ sounded well

and proved successful at some trial dances, so it was officially opened

on the 21st April 2012 with Michael Wooldridge and acclaimed organist

Richard Hills FRCO at the console.

In 2013 we updated the digital transmission system (the “brains” of the

organ) to the popular Uniflex system.

Shows are hosted at various times throughout the year as well as regular

Sunday afternoon dances which have proved especially popular since the

installation of a brand new sprung dance floor.

The Carlo Curley Organ

Originally designed and custom built for ‘The Pavarotti of the Organ’,

the great Carlo Curley, he toured with this mammoth four manual Allen

electronic organ for many years.

We are delighted to now hold it in our collection and to feature it in

concert a couple of times each year.

The old electronics have been removed from the console and replaced

with more modern digital samples to deliver a more pipe-like sound.

The Organs...

The Singing Hills 2/5 Wurlitzer

This little Wurlitzer organ first made its debut in America in 1928 at The

Sutton Theatre (previously known as Cottrill’s Opera House) in Thomas,

West Virginia. When the talkies became popular, it was sold back to

Wurlitzer, who rebuilt it and shipped it to England for installation at The

Regal Cinema in Colchester, which opened in February 1931 with

organist Max Bruce at the Wurlitzer.

Thirty years later the cinema was taken over by the Oscar Deutshe group

and renamed The Odeon and a couple of years later they decided to

dispose of the organ.

It was sold for refurbishment and installation at a water mill in Oxnead,

Norfolk, where in the early 1970’s it featured in a couple of television

programmes. When the owner passed away in 1987, the organ was

passed to the current owner, who placed it into storage, awaiting a

suitable venue.

The Singing Hills golf course was created in 1992, with the Pavilion

Clubhouse custom built to accommodate the Wurlitzer organ. It was

decided that it would be joined by a larger instrument, which would

incorporate the pipes and effects of this original Wurlitzer.

The Singing Hills 3/23 Wurlitzer

Having decided to keep the 5 rank Wurlitzer intact but at the same time

to incorporate it into a larger instrument, the search began for a

suitable organ. Nothing was forth-coming, so a new 3-manual console

was custom built for the new installation, a local joiner making a replica

of a Compton console so that it would look well with the colour-

changing illuminated surround and bench from the Regal Cinema in Old

Kent Road.

14 ranks of pipes were imported from America, which, added to the 5

from the small Wurlitzer, gave a total of 19 ranks to play from the 3-

manual console and Sussex organist Michael Maine drew up the initial

specification for the installation, which was masterminded by David


The organ was first featured in an afternoon concert by Resident

Organist Michael Wooldridge on 21st February 1999, with the 'official'

opening by Blackpool Tower Organist Phil Kelsall in January 2000, by

which time Michael had played for quite a number of preview events.

By 2002 it was felt that certain aspects of the organ were not as good as

they could be and also that the organ needed boosting in certain tone

colours, so Alan Baker and Michael Wooldridge set about an ambitious

plan to move all of the pipe chests, re-winding them in the process, and

to create two new chambers, one each side of the original chamber, to

house the various percussions, which were previously virtually inaudible

due to their position behind all of the pipework. Top drummer Phil

Solomon came in to advise on improving the drums and cymbals and,

with the addition of 4 more ranks of pipes, including a new Krumet

made by F. Booth & Son of Leeds to Wurlitzer specification, the organ

became a 3/23.

Michael Wooldridge re-deigned the console layout, both to incorporate

the new ranks but, more importantly, to bring it in line with standard

Wurlitzer practice.

In 2003, American experts Clark Wilson and John Struve carried out some

tonal finishing on the organ, balancing the sounds of the pipes against

one another, and this work was further improved in 2011 by Ed and Patti


The final result is a rich, lush sound, which has far exceeded the

expectations of the local technical team.

ESN 4/32 Wurlitzer (Pipe Maker) Solo Chamber English Horn (Unknown, 16’ Booth) Tuba Mirabilis (Wurlitzer Copy, 16’ Wurlitzer) Brass Trumpet (Wurlitzer) French Horn (Kimball) Horn Diapason (Kimball Violin Diapason) Tibia (Solo) (Morton) Saxophone (Wurlitzer) Musette (Wurlitzer Copy by Trivo) Orchestral Oboe (Wurlitzer) Kinura (Wurlitzer) Viol (Wurlitzer) Viol Celeste (Wurlitzer) Gamba (Unknown) Gamba Celeste (Unknown) Oboe Horn (Wurlitzer) Quintadena (Wurlitzer) Quintadena Celeste (Wurlitzer) Vox Humana (Solo) (Wurlitzer) Xylophone Glockenspiel Vibraharp Cathedral Chimes Percussion and Effects Main Chamber Tuba Horn (Wurlitzer) Diaphonic Diapason (Morton, Wurlitzer Bass) Open Diapason (Wurlitzer) Tibia (Main) (Wurlitzer) Clarinet (Wurlitzer) Krumet (Wurlitzer) Viol D’Orchestra (Wurlitzer) Viol D’Orchestra Celeste (Wurlitzer) Salicional (Wurlitzer) Salicional Celeste (Wurlitzer) Lieblich Flute (Hope-Jones) Concert Flute (Wurlitzer) Concert Flute Celeste (Wurlitzer) Vox Humana (Main) (Wurlitzer) Marimba Chrysoglott Tuned Sleigh Bells Unenclosed Phantom Upright Piano (Yamaha Disklavier)
SH 2/5 Wurlitzer (Pipe Maker) Trumpet (Wurlitzer) Tibia (Wurlitzer) Salicional (Wurlitzer) Flute (Wurlitzer) Vox Humana (Wurlitzer) Chrysoglott Xylophone Glockenspiel Cathedral Chimes Percussion and Effects
SH 3/23 Wurlitzer (Pipe Maker) Pipe Ranks English Horn (Wurlitzer, 16’ Booth) Brass Trumpet (Wurlitzer) Tuba Horn (Christie) Trumpet (Wurlitzer) Open Diapason (Wurlitzer) Tibia I (Wurlitzer) Tibia II (Christie) Clarinet (Wurlitzer) Kinura (Morton) Orchestral Oboe (Wurlitzer) Saxophone (Wurlitzer) Krumet (Wurlitzer Copy by Booth) Gamba (Unknown) Gamba Celeste (Unknown) Viol D’Orchestra (Unknown) Viol D’Orchestra Celeste (Unknown) Salicional (Wurlitzer) Salicional Celeste (Wurlitzer) Oboe Horn (Church Rank Revoiced by Booth) Quintadena (Wurlitzer) Flute (Wurlitzer) Flute Celeste (Wurlitzer) Vox Humana (Wurlitzer) Unenclosed Phantom Upright Piano (Yamaha Disklavier) Tonal Percussion Xylophone Glockenspiel Cathedral Chimes Tuned Sleigh Bells Chrysoglott Non-Tonal Percussion Bass Drum Snare Drum Crash Cymbal Tap Cymbal Tambourine Castanets Chinese Block Tom Tom Sleigh Bells Triangle Effects Klaxon (Auto) Horn Horses Hooves Train Whistle Fire Gong Bird Whistle Siren Surf Door Bell
Sussex Wurlitzers
The official website for the organs of the Singing Hills Golf Course, Albourne and the East Sussex National, Uckfield
© 2024 - The Theatre Pipe Organ Preservation Society - Registered Charity Number 1160194