The Herald filmed a performance of Worthing’s world-famed Wurlitzer in the week it was announced the instrument is under threat.
Worthing Council has given Sussex Theatre Organ Trust a year’s notice to end the contract which ensures the £500,000 instrument remains at its present venue, which is acclaimed for its acoustic qualities.
The council wants a free hand in arranging for someone else to run its theatre venues, which council tax payers are currently subsidising to the tune of £1.3million a year.
But organ owner Jim Buckland, the 92-year-old chairman of the organ trust, told the Herald they would fight “tooth and nail” to keep the organ in situ, and the matter was now in the hands of the trust’s solicitors.
“It would be the end of the organ for ever if it was moved from the Assembly Hall,” said Mr Buckland. “There is nowhere else it could go, and the council wants to get rid of it for no reason. It is the largest such organ in Europe, and there is no musical entertainment in Worthing to match it.”
Council leader Paul Yallop told the Herald: “The council hopes that by this time next year, someone else will be running the town’s theatres, and we are advertising to this end.
“We have a contract with the organ trust. It is a technical issue that if we don’t end the contract, it will stop us from getting another body to run the theatre.”
Click to watch a performance on the Wurlitzer by organist Richard Hills.
To read the full story, see the Thursday, May 3, edition of the Worthing Herald.