The Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust

 

Robert Hope-Jones  -  Wurlitzer Connection


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Robert Hope-Jones

Hooton Grange

Robert Hope-Jones, the third son of William Hope- Jones (landed proprietor and army officer), was born on the 9th February 1859 at Hooton Grange on the Wirral, Cheshire, midway between Chester and Birkenhead. 

The family was musical and Robert was encouraged to study music at an early age. After an education at Birkenhead School he took up an apprenticeship at Laird's shipbuilders. 

In 1881 he left Laird's to join the newly formed Lancashire and Cheshire Telephone Company where he was eventually promoted to Chief Engineer.   The knowledge of electricity gained during his time with the telephone company enabled Hope-Jones to experiment and design an electro-pneumatic action for pipe organs. 

Between 1890 and 1914 Robert Hope-Jones took out over 45 Patents in the UK and USA. In 1892 The Hope-Jones Electric Organ Company of Birkenhead was formed to manufacture electrical components for organs and to act as a licensing company for Patent usage. 

Around 150 church organs were built in this country, mostly now lost, but all showed innovations that were later to appear in theatre organs. 

Among Hope-Jones Patents was one which became world famous, that being the Patent of the Diaphone, taken out in 1894 and was added to in 1897 as a Foghorn. Hope-Jones' design of foghorn is used in Lighthouses around the world. It was in these early days that Hope-Jones saw the potential of using the pipe organ as a means of lighter entertainment and this created his ambition to design a People’s Instrument. 

After several business failures, Hope-Jones left England with his wife, aboard the SS Teutonic, arriving in the USA on 7th May 1903. After working for some top American organ companies he formed his own company at Elmira in New York. When this failed he joined the Wurlitzer Company and the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe organ was born.

The book From Wirral to Wurlitzer - A fascinating insight of the inventor by Roger Fisher - Available from Sales Stall and Sales Page.

Full Hope-Jones Story - Simonton Literary Prize on Hope-Jones by Don Hyde

Hanover Square Console

Hope Jones Pipework

Hope Jones Artifacts  - Stockport