Trocadero to Troxy: Europe's Largest Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ

Lindsey
By Lindsey Last edited 83 months ago
Trocadero to Troxy: Europe's Largest Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ
Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Console
Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Console
Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Console - Detail
Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Console - Detail
Troxy Art Deco decor
Troxy Art Deco decor
Trozy Art Deco lights
Trozy Art Deco lights
Troxy upper stalls
Troxy upper stalls
Troxy ceiling
Troxy ceiling
Troxy entrance hall
Troxy entrance hall
Troxy entrance hall
Troxy entrance hall

The art-deco, Grade II listed Troxy held an open day last month on the occasion of installing Europe's largest Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in its beautiful building.

The Wurlitzer was built for the Trocadero Elephant and Castle in 1930. When the Troc closed, the organ was bought by the Cinema Organ Society. It spent 25 years in Edric Hall at South Bank University in Southwark until that was slated for redevelopment in 2004. The organ was dismantled and the search began for a home more suited to its size and grandeur. Fortuitously, the Troxy in its heyday was a sister super-cinema to the Troc so the Wurlitzer should feel right at home - fully restored - in its august and very pretty new venue.

Step back in time. Listen to the Wurlitzer.

All photography by Alexander Baxevanis, with thanks.

View the whole set on Flickr.

Last Updated 04 May 2011

guest

There are bigger instruments in the uk

Reg Cooper

My uncle ( Bill Davies) played this fabulous instrument, I believe, in the '60's. I wonder if it was the organ that the  BBC used for Stereo broadcast testing, with Bill at the keyboard?    Reg Cooper

Carl Beckwith

William Davies was in my opinion, one of the finest orchestrators in the theatre organ world. Not surprising, given his credentials as arranger, conductor, pianist and all-round fine musician, including Friday Night is Music Night with his friend, Sydney Torch.

He had a whole ream of interesting anecdotal stories, told between numbers at his concerts. Much missed performer, though I have my recording of him (with his consent) at the State Cinema Grays from 1992.

I even played a recording of him playing his favourite 'March of Things To Come' on a tape to the composers widow, the late Lady Bliss, who wanted to hear it twice, such was her approval of it. Bill recounted the story that he'd played it on the BBC Compton at BH on one of their organ interludes when one of the starchy DG's or similar came by and told him it was too heavy and sinister and not to play it again, when in came Sir Arthur Bliss, commenting how pleased he was to hear his march being played so well! Bill told me he'd visited the Bliss' at their home off Hamilton Terrace, NW8.

I would be keen to know if any of his recordings are now transferred onto CD.

Re- the splendid Troxy Cinema, and the equally marvellous Wurlitzer now installed there, I cannot wait to hear a mighty theatre organ in a super cinema again. I cannot tell you how awful the fate of my old friend, the State Grays affects me, having known the staff and the many films enjoyed there with friends. Long may the Troxy enjoy live!

Carl Beckwith.

Geoff Lloyd

My Memories of Bill Davies A.R.C.O.
As former secretary of the Shropshire Organ Society it was my pleasure and privelege to introduce Bill on two occasions when he played our Conn 580 at Shrewsbury Music Hall and at another venue in the 1970s. He stayed with a local friend who held the degree of 'Doctor' but I know not in which academic dicipline. On stage, Bill was a raconteur par excellence and gave his audience an insight to many memories gained in a long and successful career. In one such, he stopped short in explaining how Sidney Torch never accessed the theatre organ bench after vacating it. No-one knows why Sidney Torch - surely the greatest performer of all time could NOT be induced ever again to sit at a cinema/theatre organ console. The last time I met Bill was at a London WurlitZer recital at the South Bank. In the interval we exchanged pleasantries. He was taking 'requests' and ended his recital with my request of Roger Quilter's ''Children's Overture'' 'that took-in so many favourite nursery rhymes.
Best regards,

GEOFF LLOYD
geoff@gloyderome.com

Reg Cooper

Two years ago I attended a concert given by Iain Flitcroft at Stockport town hall. He performed a suberb range of music on the "Wurly". I spoke with him afterwards, saying that his presentation and style mirrored that of my late uncle, Bill Davies. He knew Bill very well and had been with him to several concerts on various occassions. I too, in the mid '5o,s, went with Bill to such venues as the Beeb's theatre organ and Boosey and Hawkes to name two. Lastly, I believe Bill played the opening concert of the transported Wurlitzer at the South Bank.

Nigel Laflin

The Troxy Wurlitzer opening concert 'Night of 1000 Pipes' takes place on Saturday 22 August 2015 at 7pm. For further details visit http://www.troxy-wurlitzer.org

Carl Beckwith

I must add, I have since added some second-hand LP's to my archive of Bill. One being the last programme of music played in the Troccadero Elephant & Castle in 1960 before the instrument was removed and the building demolished (in '63). On the other side is a recording of him at the same Wurlitzer re-installed in '79 at the South Bank Poly (now university). The most interesting and brilliant work of all is heard at the end of the side at the Troc; his own composition: 'Variations on BBC'. I would much like to hear Richard Hills, a fan of Bill's, performing this one at the Troxy's concert on 22nd where this same instrument has just been installed.