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Frank Newman at the Organ
of the Plaza Cinema, Rugby
and Lozells Picture House, Birmingham


The 12-page booklet contains a biography of Frank Newman and a picture of him at the console of the Cristie organ of the Plaza Cinema, Rugby. The cover photograph is the only known picture of the Wurlitzer organ at Lozells Picture House, Birmingham, which was destroyed by enemy action in 1942.

Many of the compositions on this recording are still well-known, but some were ephemeral and others were of lasting value but less commonly played. Of particular note are "Cinderella's Shoe", one of Frank Newman's own compositions and "Spring Song" by Alfred Hollins, the blind composer and recitalist, who specialised in light music for church organ.

Frank Newman was a well-known figure amongst cinema organists and did much to encourage first-rate players to take up the instrument. He provoked a violent debate on the merits of cinema organs with a letter to 'The Organist' in 1931.

Ursula Greville, who part-owned the 'Synchrophone' recording company, which was responsible for these recordings,was probably the first woman recording engineer. She was better known as a singer and composer and became editor of "The Sackbut" magazine. She also achieved a degree of notoriety in her personal life.


The magnificent organ is the work of Wm. Hill & Son and Norman & Beard Ltd., the oldest firm of organ builders in the country, to the specification of Reginald Foort, F.R.C.O.


The handsome console contains three manuals in addition to the pedal keyboard, and nearly 200 stop-keys and pistons controlling the string, wood -wind and brass tonal and non-tonal units, percussions and screen effects.

The console is situated in the centre of the orchestra pit and is mounted on an electric lift so that the organist can play in full view of the audience.

The organ itself is housed in specially constructed chambers above the proscenium opening, a constant temperature being maintained therein by means of thermostatically controlled electric heaters. It contains over 750 pipes ranging in length from half an inch to 16 feet. Percussion instruments include xylophone glockenspiel, vibraphone, chimes, orchestral bells, carillon, bass drum, side drums, cymbals, triangle and castanets.

The action is electro pneumatic, over 75 miles of electric wire, 1,500 magnets and 2,000 silver-soldered contacts being used in its construction. Wind is supplied by a Duplex turbine blower driven by a B.T-H. motor.


At the will of the organist, the organ can produce the effect of a symphony orchestra, the majestic rolling tones of a cathedral organ, or the music and rhythm of a modern dance band. Special effects include bird, boat and train whistles, telephone and fire bells, klaxon and auto horn, syren, surf and aeroplane effects, to name only a few.

So well did the builders perform their work that the Plaza organ was completely finished over three weeks ago, and a recital by Frank Newman was actually broadcast by the B.B.C. on the 18th January.