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Stirling Theatre Organ Productions, Karrinyup

Karrinyup Stirling Theatre

Stirling Theatre Organ Productions

Name of institution Stirling Theatre Organ Productions
Type of institution Theatre
Street Address Davenport Street
City Karrinyup
State Western Australia
Country Australia
Name of building Karrinyup Community Recreation Centre
Name of room Theatre
Dates of the building 1977
Architect's and builder's names
Special architectural features The requirements for the organ's installation were in an architect's brief for the construction of the Karrinyup Community Recreation Centre, and included chambers with concrete floor and brick walls, lead-lined chamber, blower and console room doors, no right angle corners in the auditorium, triangular shaped chambers, a high auditorium ceiling, a motorised console platform, and blower/relay and console rooms. The console is on a motorised platform, emerging from its own room which has a roller shutter door. The parabolic ceiling of the auditorium is about 10m high and, with an audience, reverberation time is just under a second.
Special fittings Elevated chambers either side of the stage allowed installation of four standard WurliTzer shutter assemblies. A main and solo chamber assembly angled at 45 degrees allow pipes to speak directly into the auditorium, while the second sets face each other across the stage, permitting useful volume control – important in a small building.
Other location information The Karrinyup Community Recreation Centre was built in 1977 and is extremely well utilised by the City of Stirling residents and local groups. It is adjacent to the popular Karrinyup shopping centre.
The main hall has a timber floor and measures approximately 252m2. A large elevated stage is situated at one end and includes curtains, backdrops and stage lighting. The hall accommodates up to 350 people. There are also meeting rooms. Karrinyup is a suburb of the State's capital, Perth, about 7km north of the city.
Name of contact
Mailing Address
Other contact information
Previous organ(s)
Date of previous organ None
Detail of previous organ
Dates when key work has been undertaken
Dates of any moves that have taken place
Variations from original design of organ
Information on previous organ
Information about comparable instruments to previous organ
Present organ
Type of installation
Case description
Placement in room
Builder's name WurliTzer Company, North Tonawanda, U.S.A.
Opus number 1728, Style F
Date of completion/installation 1927
Construction materials
Number of manuals Three (3)
Key compasses
Number of keys
Key material
Pedal compass
Number of pedals
Pedalboard type
Pedalboard material
Type of chests
Type of key action Electro-pneumatic
Type of stop action Electro-pneumatic
Tremulants 9
Console type Remote horse-shoe stopkey console
Stop label material
General design
Playing aids
Wind pressures
Stop list
Violin Celeste 1 Original
Violin Celeste 2
Open Diapason Original
Tibia Clausa Original
Solo scale
Clarinet Original
Flute Original
Flute Celeste
Vox Humana.
Vox Humana

Tibia Clausa Standard scale
Tuba Horn Original
Orchestral Oboe
Brass Trumpet
Solo String
Salicional Celeste
Oboe Horn
Post Horn
Total number of stops
Total number of ranks 8 extended ranks, later enlarged to 12 ranks, now 21 ranks
Total number of pipes
Dates when key work has been undertaken on current organ The original 2 manual console has gone to the Theatre Organ Society of Australia, A.C.T.division.
Enlarged in 1986 to 3 manual and 16 ranks. New console supplied from Golden Concert Studios, Spokane, Washington, USA. Additional pipework from a Los Angeles Pizza Parlour, Paramount Pizza House in Indianappolis and a residence organ in Idaho.
Dates of any moves that have taken place to current organ The organ was removed on 27th August 1973 when it was bought by John Fuhrmann and Ray Clements and has since been rebuilt as a 3 manuals 21 ranks organ installed in the Karrinyup Community Centre.
Information on current organ

WurliTzer theatre organ opus number 1728 (style F, 2 manuals 7 ranks) was unsuitable for the larger Regent theatre in Adelaide, South Australia. Hoyts had it redirected to Perth and it was enlarged to 8 ranks. The WurliTzer organ was opened on 4th August 1928 in Perth Metro Theatre by organist Roy Devaney.

Very shortly thereafter the organ had been further enlarged to 12 ranks. In the era of the Metro when the proscenium was modified in the 1950s to accommodate CinemaScope, the organ's sound was strangled because only narrow apertures were provided in front of the chambers. The organ fell into disuse by 1948 except for occasional use by the Wesley Church.

In 1966 after trialling midweek use of the organ by John Fuhrmann, he was employed by MGM as staff organist and the instrument used on Friday and Saturday nights. Some restoration work was done by organ builder Mick Dodd (who, with his father, had done the original installation), and numbers of concerts were held through the auspices of the Theatre Organ Society of Australia.

In 1969 the chamber apertures were again opened up, providing a much better sound. In the era of Roadshow management concerts were given by noted organists and the final concert before the organ was removed was on 27th August 1973.

In 1973 the Wesley Trust, owners of the 2/12 WurliTzer organ in the Metro theatre invited tenders for its purchase. John Fuhrmann and Ray Clements were the successful tenderers, narrowly beating an offer from the Town Council of the provincial city of Kalgoorlie. The organ was removed over a 5-week period by organ builder Mick Dodd and volunteers, and remained in storage at Ray Clements' nearby warehouse for 3 years.

The organ was installed at Karrinyup in 1981, the inaugural concert on 3rd October 1981 was played by theatre organist Tony Fenelon. Neil Jensen opened the 3 manual console on 19th October 1986.

The 2 manual console from the Metro has been replaced with a 3 manual WurliTzer console that originally controlled opus number 977 in Scheuters theatre, Long Beach, California USA from 1924 (a style D organ of 6 ranks.) That organ was rebuilt by WurliTzer in 1934, becoming 3 manuals 8 ranks and installed in the studios of radio KFPY in Spokane, Washington State. In 1949 when KFPY moved location the organ was acquired by organbuilders Balcom and Vaughn (Seattle) and further extension occurred creating 3 manuals 10 ranks for the Rolladium skating rink. In the 1960s noted organ technician Bill Carson bought the organ and installed it in his home - adding the top portion of a WurliTzer style 260 double bolster stop rail; it is in this form at Karrinyup.

Added to the original 12 ranks from Perth Metro are a second Tibia, an Oboe Horn, second Vox Humana, Salicional with celeste, Flute and Solo String – these came from a Los Angeles pizza parlour, the Paramount Pizza House in Indianapolis and a residence in Idaho. A Gottfried English Post Horn was also acquired as this was the rank chosen by US artist George Wright for his original organ installation. A new Discus blower was purchased and the organ has 9 tremulants.

Comparable instruments to current organ
Current status
Assessment of organ
Other organs by this builder
Photographs Photograph of organ console from David Johnstone
Technical documents
General documents Information from Cinema Treasures
Information from Rod Blackmore
Supporting information
Document control Original entries J R Elms, OAM, Gazetteer of Western Australian Pipe Organs, 1971, 1999,2003 and 2004.
This entry D B Duncan 26 January 2009.
Analysis or origins and builders from John Fuhrmann 10 February 2012.