Uckfield, The East Sussex National Golf Resort

The East Sussex National Golf Resort
Little Horsted
East Sussex
TN22 5ES

Mixture of organ parts mainly from the USA
4 Manuals
32 Ranks

The East Sussex National Wurlitzer has been assembled from some of the very finest pipework available from the USA. It is housed in the large conference and banqueting suite, which has a capacity of around 350 to 400 people. The suite was designed and constructed with the organ in mind, the large chambers, organ pit and lift all being designed as a part of the original plans, and the organ area incorporating an especially deep pit to accommodate the genuine 32′ long pipes.

The striking black and gold console was brought in from the Organ Stop Pizza Parlour in Mesa, Arizona, and has since been refurbished.

The organ specification was drawn up by organists Clark Wilson and Michael Wooldridge, with some input from Michael Maine, who between them tried to make sure it was an instrument that would satisfy every style of player. The major task of installation has been overseen by David Houlgate, with Bob Hercock doing the majority of work on refurbishing the chests, including fitting new magnets for every pipe! Some initial tonal finishing was then carried out by organist Len Rawle in conjunction with organ builder Keith Bance.

The organ was first heard by the public in a packed preview concert given by resident organist Michael Wooldridge and Len Rawle on 1st November 2009.  At this time the instrument was far from finished but it was felt that it would be helpful to see how it sounded in the venue with an audience, and also to receive feedback from the crowd regarding the sound and presentation of the organ.

Following meeting American organ experts Ed & Patti Zollman and hearing the marvellous result of their work on the Howden-le-Wear Wurlitzer, Michael Wooldridge recommended they be brought back over to the UK to undertake the necessary tonal finishing of the ESN Wurlitzer. In an initial three week visit in 2010 they turned the organ from a collection of random and sometimes unpleasant sounds into a cohesive musical instrument. March of 2011 saw them back again for a further 3 weeks.

To settle the organ in and to check for any teething troubles, a series of Sunday afternoon ‘Strictly For Fun Ballroom Dances’ commenced, mostly featuring Michael Wooldridge but sometimes with his deputy Chris Stanbury entertaining the dancers. These proved successful, the organ sounding very well in dance style.

The organ was officially opened to great acclaim on 21st April 2012 in a concert featuring Resident Organist Michael Wooldridge and his very special guest, world renowned organist Richard Hills. Top American artiste Jelani Eddington played a superb concert in June 2012 and we look forward to his return in 2013.

Sadly, despite the best efforts of the technical team, the transmission system initially installed to connect the console to the pipes has never worked satisfactorily so in the autumn of 2012 work started to remove this and, in its place, organist and organ builder Kevin Grunill is installing the very popular Uniflex Digital Relay System, which seems to work perfectly in every installation. This has meant taking the organ out of use for a time but it is hoped that concerts and dances will recommence in the spring of 2013.~

ESN is also home to the classically voiced Carlo Curley Touring Organ.  This ‘pipeless’ organ has been completely refurbished by Alan Baker and David Houlgate using the latest digitally sampled sounds, with speakers both on stage and distributed throughout the venue to give the best possible listening experience.  The organ and speakers were all regulated by the great Carlo himself, who opened the organ in concert to over 300 people on 22nd January 2012, before so sadly passing away later the same year.