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A Victorian piano used in town’s silent cinema donated to museum

PUBLISHED: 08:28 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:35 23 May 2018

David Townsend has donated the almost 150-year-old instrument to Wymondham Heritage Museum. PHOTO: Wymondham Heritage Museum.

David Townsend has donated the almost 150-year-old instrument to Wymondham Heritage Museum. PHOTO: Wymondham Heritage Museum.

WHM

A historic piano used in a Norfolk town’s earliest cinema has been donated to a heritage museum.

William Spalding outside of The Picture Theatre in 1932. PHOTO: Wymondham Heritage Museum.William Spalding outside of The Picture Theatre in 1932. PHOTO: Wymondham Heritage Museum.

David Townsend’s grandfather William Spalding bought The Picture Theatre in Wymondham in 1931, one year before silent cinema was replaced by talking films.

The Picture Theatre occupied the premises of the former Public Hall on Town Green from 1917-41 and had an accompanist called Winne who played the 1870s piano.

When the cinema closed the piano was handed down through the family.

Mr Townsend, of Norwich, said: “It had a curtain round it so you couldn’t see it, that would have taken away from the film. Boys used to throw bits of paper over the top!

William Spalding outside of The Picture Theatre in 1932. PHOTO: Wymondham Heritage Museum.William Spalding outside of The Picture Theatre in 1932. PHOTO: Wymondham Heritage Museum.

“There was a social side to the cinema. People didn’t have much money and they used to let them in free to warm up.”

Mr Townsend donated the piano with some stained glass to Wymondham Heritage Museum where it will be tuned and restored.

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