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Apart from the three Theatre Organs owned by the Victorian Division of TOSA, a futher four organs are installed in, and close to Melbourne. They can be found at the following locations:

Kingston City Hall, Cnr South Rd and Nepean Highway, Moorabbin - 4/24 Wurlitzer

Regent Theatre, Collins St., Melbourne - 4/36 Wurlitzer

Wesley at Warragul, Wesley Centre Warragul - 3/10 Wurlitzer

Geelong College, Geelong - 2/10 Wurlitzer

Kingston City Hall (Moorabbin)
Style 270 4/24 Wurlitzer Opus 1987

The Style 270 4/21 Wurlitzer currently installed in the Kingston City Hall, was originally installed in the State Theatre Melbourne in 1929. This organ is one of only four having the Style 270 classification. The others were the first organ to be installed in the Regent Theatre Melbourne (Style 270 4/21 Opus 2009), the State Theatre Sydney (Style 270 4/21, Opus 2005), and the Trocadero Theatre, Elephant and Castle, London (Style 270 4/21, Opus 2139). Apparently. the Australian organs where somewhat different to the Trocadero organ, (although they are all recorded as Style 270), by having a piano, a 32' diaphone (State Melbourne and State Sydney only), and an Oboe Horn (instead of the Troc's English/Post Horn) installed, amongst other minor differences.

The Moorabbin organ was removed from the State Theatre in 1963, and subsequently installed in the Moorabbin Town Hall by members of this division of TOSA, for the then Moorabbin City Council (now Kingston City Council), which still owns the organ. The pipe chambers (Main, Solo and Percussion) are situated high up at the rear of the stage, but the sound from them has become a little restricted of late, by the installation of curtain valences hanging from the ceiling.

In the 1930s, the Oboe Horn from this organ was swapped with a rank of Krumet pipes from the Plaza Theatre Melbourne Style F, Opus 1730, Wurlitzer (This organ is now in Adelaide at Pulteney Grammar School (1969)). The Krumet rank remained until the 1970s, when it was replaced by a Post Horn, which had been purchased with money raised by a benefit concert.

Unusual for Wurlitzer, but common to the Style 270 (Except apparently the Trocadero, Elephant and Castle organ), was the installation of a Grand Piano, which normally is situated on stage with the organ console. The piano is electrically actuated from the organ console; however the mechanism to make the hammers strike the strings is vacuum operated, the vacuum being supplied by an on-board vacuum pump.

When originally installed, this organ had two consoles, but on removal of the organ from the State Theatre, the second console was sold to private interests, and eventually found its way via Mike Pfitzner's organ in Darwin, to Adelaide, where it became the console of TOSA South Australia's Capri Theatre Organ.

The organ was completely refurbished by members of the society, in 2004/2005, with the electro-pneumatic relay and switch stack being removed and replaced by a solid state equivalent. It was presented to the public at the Easter 2005 Convention. Tonal finishing of the flues was carried over the Christmas/New Year 2005/2006 period, and is now awaiting the tonal finishing of the reeds.

The Krumet rank (mentioned above), along with a new Oboe Horn (which replaces the one swapped to the Plaza Theatre organ), and a Solo String Celeste rank, have been installed in the organ, making it a 4/24 - a proposal is to install a Tibia rank in the Main Chamber, to augment the Tibia rank in the Solo chamber.

Complete stop list of the Moorabbin 4/24 Wurlitzer as currently installed in the Kingston City Hall.
Stop layout of the Moorabbin 4/24 Wurlitzer - Page 1
Stop layout of the Moorabbib 4/24 Wurlitzer - Page 2


Regent Theatre Melbourne
Style 285 4/36 Wurlitzer Opus 416

The current Style 285 4/36 Wurlitzer is the third organ to be installed in the Regent Theatre Melbourne. Its predecessors were a Style 270 4/21 Wurlitzer Opus 2009 (sister to the current Kingston City Hall (previously Moorabbin Town Hall) Style 270 4/21 Wurlitzer) which was destroyed by fire in 1945, and the ex Ambassador Theatre Perth Style 260SP 3/15 Wurlitzer Opus 1902, which was increased in size to a 4/19, by the installation of four ranks of pipes from the Lyceum Theatre Melbourne Wurlitzer, opening in 1947 in the rebuilt theatre, and remaining until 1970, when it was sold to private interests and placed into storage where it remains today.

The first installation of the current organ was in the Granada Theatre San Francisco in 1921 as a 4/32, and at the time it was reported to be the largest theatre organ in the world. Over the years, further ranks of pipes were added, including a Robert Morton Solo Tibia in 1930, to bring the organ up to its current size of 4/36. It was removed from the theatre, which had by this time been renamed The Paramount, in 1960, and installed (as a 4/33, along with an additional 16 classical ranks) as a birthday gift for Howard Vollum (the co-founder of Tektronix) from his wife, in their residence in Portland Oregon. On installation in the Vollum's residence, the Robert Morton Solo Tibia was removed and replaced with a Wurlitzer Tibia in the Robert Morton chest. Following the death of Howard Vollum, the organ was purchased by organbuilder David Junchen, selling it later to Jasper Sanfilippo, who intended to restore the organ, and install it in a museum.

The organ was presented to the public for the first time, in a concert by Lyn Larsen and Tony Fenelon to a packed house of more than 2000 people on Easter Monday 5 April 1999. Organists at the Regent Theatre include John Giacchi, Tony Fenelon and John Atwell.

Members of this division of TOSA played a large part in the installation of the organ, and are responsible for its upkeep.

Complete stop list of the Regent Wurlitzer (from the computer definition file)

Wesley Centre Warragul
3/10 Wurlitzer

Wurlitzer Opus 792 was originally built as a Style D 2/6, leaving the factory on 28 February 1924, and going to San Francisco where it was put into storage, prior to moving to the Wurlitzer Store in Los Angeles, on 27 March 1924. From there, it moved to Seattle, where it was installed in the Olympic Theatre. In 1939 the console was enlarged to 3 manuals and 2 new ranks were added, culminating in its installation in Radio Station KHQ, in Spokane Washington.

In the period 1963/64, the organ was removed from KHQ, by Ernest Manly, who installed the organ in his home In Kirkland Washington. In 1989/90, the organ was sold to Ian McLean in Australia, minus its original console. A replacement console was shipped with the rest of the organ to Aranda in Canberra ACT, and later moved to Queanbeyan, NSW.

In 1963, the organ was sold to Ray Thorney, in Wonthaggi, Victoria, Unfortunately, Ray passed away suddenly, and the organ passed into the hands of several TOSA (VIC Inc) members, who passed it onto the Warragul Theatre Organ Society for installation in the Wesley Centre Warragul, Victoria, thanks to the efforts of Kent and Norma Wilson, amongst others. The organ was completely rebuilt prior to its installation and was presented to the public in 2008, in a concert by Tony Fenelon and John Atwell

Complete stop list of the Wesley Centre Warragul Wurlitzer

Geelong College
2/10 Wurlitzer

Wurlitzer Style SP (2/7) Opus 129, was the first Wurlitzer to be exported from mainland North America, and was the first Wurlitzer installed in Australia. It was installed in the Crowle residence in Sydney in 1917, had its Vox Humana rank replaced in 1921, was removed from the Crowle residence in 1929 and installed in the Hearne residence (Montana) in Geelong in the same year. The middle registers (49 pipes) of the flute rank were replaced by Gedacht pipes in the 1930s (the original pipes still exist and will be returned to their rightful place when the organ is re-installed), a Tibia rank (ex Opus 368, Lyceum Theatre, Duluth, Minnesota) was added in the early 1990s to upgrade it to a 2/8, and so the organ remained, until its removal in late 2001.

Over the period 2001/09, the organ was completely rebuilt, removing the original Switch stack and stop capture system, and replacing them with an up to date solid state system. As well as re-instating the middle register of the flute with its original pipes, the gedacht was given a new lease of life, and was inclded in the rebuild, as an additional rank (tuned as a Flute Celeste). Another addition, was the inclusion of a Tuba Horn rank of pipes to bring the total number of ranks to 10.

The Organ was installed in a purpose built chamber in the George Logie-Smith Auditorium in the Keith Humble Centre for Music and Performing Arts, at Geelong College, Geelong, Victoria. Although the organ has been modernised electronically, the console has retained its pneumatic stop action. At his stage the Duplex Roll Player, which came with the organ, has not been installed in its new home.

The organ was presented to the public, and other dignitiaries, including Alan Glover, the 'owner' of the organ, in 2010 at a concert by Tony Fenelong and John Atwell.

Original stop list of the Geelong College Wurlitzer

Update 4 July 2015
Information supplied by Cameron Simpson, Neil C. Hunter and The Theatre Organ Society of Australia (Victorian Division) Inc.

Hosted by Neil C. Hunter

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