Icons of England
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The Cinema Organ

The Cinema Organ

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The Cinema Organ

I think the Cinema Organ should be included as an ICON as it started life here in the UK. It started off as the Hope Jones organ. Its pipes were made to sound like orchestral instruments, and it got its name The Hope Jones Unit Orchestra. Rudolph Wurlitzer got in contact with Robert Hopes Jones and they formed a partnership. Sadly, Jones took his life in 1914 and never got to see what would become of his inventions. With the birth of silent films, hundreds of cinemas began springing up all over the western world. Instead of having to pay for an orchestra, which was very expensive, Wurlitzer came up with the idea of using the organ instead, needing only to pay one person to play it. Soon thousand of these organs were installed in cinemas and theatres all over the world. It was the very beginnings of stereo sound, as most organs had pipes in two separate rooms on each side of the theatre to balance out the sound. It was the very beginning of the electronic keyboard as well. Many people of a certain age will fondly remember the wonderful sound of the theatre organ, which had its birth here in the UK. The biggest builder in the UK was the John Compton Organ Company, which installed over 250 organs in UK cinemas. These organs should be given a nomination because they are a huge part of our musical heritage and culture, and they are now very rare, with only around 60 remaining in the UK. There used to be nearly 1,000 of them. Their sound is unique and they are one of the most versatile instruments around.

Ross McNeillie

NOMINATION 31 OF 1160

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My nomination is the garden shed.

FELICITY HAGUE

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