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Historic Ritz Wurlitzer found

By kath parkin, Memories Friday 14th March 2014
A great moment for Brian Hague as he plays the restored Wurlitzer organ from the Ritz cinema

A WURLITZER organ which entertained thousands of patrons at the former Ritz cinema has been found - more than half-a-century after it was last seen in Barnsley.

The Ritz, on Peel Street, closed in 1974, but the organ was removed beforehand, in 1965.

Brian Hague who grew up in Barnsley, but now lives at Kingston-Upon-Thames, was invited to become an ABC monitor at the Ritz when he was a pupil at Barnsley Grammar School in the mid-1940s.

As a 'monitor', his job was to help control queues of young children at the ABC Minors' Saturday morning shows.

"It was a great time and my affinity with the cinema and the Wurlitzer organ has remained until today," he said. "What sadness I experienced when, on one of my annual visits to Barnsley, I discovered the Ritz had been demolished."

For many years he tried find out what happened to the organ without success, but a chance conversation with another organ enthusiast led to the revelation that the man was actually restoring the same organ in his back garden in Brentford, South London.

Keen pianist Brian said: "He invited me to go to his house to view the organ. We had a very happy evening and I was able to play a tune on it.

"It was my birthday and I was able to celebrate a reunion with a very old friend I had not seen or heard of for nearly 60 years.
"When I played the organ it gave me goose pimples, it was just wonderful."