Our Century

Fighting for the mighty Wurlitzer

Steve Tovey,
Born 1947

Steve Tovey

"The Wurlitzer was the first ever to be brought to Britain and it came to Walsall.

"It came over on the Mauritania in 1925. It was originally used to accompany the silent films.

" When these were replaced with talkies it was used to provide intermission music between the reels.

"In the end, it fell out of fashion and in 1955 was taken to a private house in Sedgley.

"A year later it went to the Congregational Church in Beer on the south coast of Devon, to be used as a church organ.

"All the bells and gadgets were taken off and discarded but they can easily be replaced.

"The church doesn't want it any more and we are leading the fight to get it back.

"It should never have left Walsall in the first place and we want to do everything we can to get it returned.

"It can be used in its new role for silent films, dances, concerts, old folks' dinners, the lot. It's an asset.

"I have suggested that it could go in the old Willenhall swimming baths, but we would like the people of Walsall to come up with suggestions about where it should go.

"We are throwing too much away. It should come back. It's a very historic instrument.

"It is part of Walsall's history and it's also part of our national heritage as it was the first one in the country.

"We want to see Walsall Council do whatever they can to get it back.

"There are plenty of grants that will be available so it shouldn't cost the earth."