BLACKPOOL TOWER BALLROOM WURLITZER



Blackpool Tower and Pier


Blackpool Tower, made of steel and cast iron, stands just under 519' tall and weighs 2,586 tons. Building work started in September 1891 with the opening on 14 May 1894. The complex below is a mecca for holidaymakers and has always featured the most popular and up-to-date attractions.


Reginald Dixon One of the most famous attractions is the ornately decorated Tower Ballroom with its Mighty Wurlitzer (3m/14r) organ which is played for dancing almost continuously in the season and at other times for concerts and various functions. The organ is known throughout the world from the recordings and radio broadcasts of Reginald Dixon who adopted a particularly bouncy style of playing and often used a registration consisting predominantly of deeply tremulated tibias. This became known as the "Blackpool Sound". Dixon was resident organist at the tower from 1930 until he retired in 1970, the only breaks being when he served in the RAF in World War II and in 1957 when fire destroyed the ballroom.


Ernest Broadbent took over from Reginald Dixon. He had been with the Tower Company since 1952 playing Hammond organ with an orchestra in the Pavilion Theatre and as a solo artist in the Tower Lounge. In 1966 he became resident on the Empress Ballroom Wurlitzer and also played the Opera House and Tower Ballroom Wurlitzers when required. As well as playing for dancing he made many recordings and broadcasts on the organ just like his predecessor. Sadly, his period as number one organist in the Tower Ballroom was cut short by ill health and he retired in 1977. (Thanks to Alan Ashton for his help on Ernest Broadbent.) Ernest Broadbent



Blackpool TowerBallroom Decor


Phil Kelsall was appointed resident organist in 1977 and has followed on admirably from those before him, bringing his own talent and expertise, but continuing that legendary Blackpool style of playing. In the summer months he plays his dance music for the holidaymakers in the ballroom but in the closed season is renowned for his concert performances in this country and abroad. I have seen him in concert on the 50 rank Compton in Southampton Guildhall on many occasions and I can say that Phil is really one of the top artists of the theatre organ. He is also renowned for his recordings and videos on Technics electronics as well as the pipe organ. As the Number 1 at the tower, Phil adopted "Beside the Seaside" as his signature tune just as Reginald did all those years ago and an atmospheric clip (courtesy BBC Television "Songs of Praise") is included below. Thanks to Phil for giving permission for me to include the following picture:

Phil Kelsall, Tower Wurlitzer




"Phil's Signature Tune: "Beside the Seaside"



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Pictures 1998 Various Sources. Page design and text 1998 - 2002 Chas Girdwood.