The Walker In Liverpool Splashes Out £2,640 On Musical Toilet

By David Prudames | 02 December 2003
  • News
  • Archived article
Shows a photograph of a bizarre musical instrument, which is made up of a tuba attached upside down to the u-bend of a toilet adorned with painted flowers and patterns. The toilet seat appears to be made of wood and has three strings held taught across the top as if it is a harp.

Photo: the Loophonium or Harpic-phone by Fritz Spiegl. Courtesy of The Walker, Liverpool.

The Loophonium is a cross between a toilet and a tuba. A surreal musical instrument, the device is to be the latest exhibit to grace the marble halls of The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Created by composer, humourist and former Liverpool resident, Fritz Spiegl (1926-2003) in 1960 the instrument is a bizarre marriage of a silver-plated euphonium and a toilet painted with flowers, its wooden seat adjusted to form a harp.

A talented professional flute player, he built his surreal invention for use in April Fools concerts staged by members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra.

Also known as a Harpic-phone after the well known toilet cleaner, the contraption was bought by The Walker at a London auction for £2,640.

Shows a photograph of the neo-classical facade of The Walker Art Gallery. A huge stone building with columns and a portico above the entrance, the gallery has a large white statue on its roof and is set against the background of a blue sky.

Photo: The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Photo: Jon Pratty. © 24 Hour Museum.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have purchased this," enthused National Museums Liverpool Keeper of Galleries, Julian Treuherz.

"We bought it to celebrate Fritz Spiegl’s musical contribution to Liverpool and to Liverpool humour. We already have a collection of musical instruments but this is quite exceptional."

Fritz Spiegl was born in Austria in January 1926, but fled his native country as the Nazis came to power and arrived in England in 1939.

Shows a photograph of a white classical style statue of a man holding aloft a sword. The statue is standing in front of a flight of stairs, while above there is a balcony.

Photo: the Loophonium will join The Walker's other sculptures on display in the new year. Photo: Jon Pratty. © 24 Hour Museum.

Widely known for his humorous books including the Lern Yerself Scouse series, he is also famously composed the theme tune to the popular 1960s television police drama Z-Cars.

Based on the sea shanty Johnny Todd, the tune became instantly recognisable and is still popular in the city of Liverpool as the music to which Everton Football Club take the field at home games.

A frequent broadcaster and contributor to a number of national newspapers and magazines, Spiegl died in Liverpool on March 23 this year.

The Loophonium will be displayed in The Walker’s modern and contemporary rooms from early next year.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share


  • 1 mile
  • 2 miles
  • 3 miles
  • 4 miles
  • 5 miles
  • 10 miles
  • 20 miles
  • 50 miles
  • Any time
  • Today
  • This week
  • This month
  • This year