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The Glendinnings - Part 2

Issue: 1 Updated 25th July 2015

How an inventive electronics wizard became an inspirational Offshore Radio Engineer a course he persuaded his son to follow

The story continues on Radio 390 at the Red Sands Fort Sea Forts

390 cook with Brian Tyrell

Leaving Whitstable Harbour on F19 the 'Mallard' does anyone remember him, who we think was the Radio 390 cook, with right Brian Tyrrell mate of the tender 'Mallard'

Word has it that the Radio 390 chef was a dab hand at cooking and serving excellent Lobster Thermidor!

390 cook Underneath Gun Tower 1

Ready to lend a hand cook with ever present cigarette
Under Southern Gun Tower; lift pallet on way down

04/07/10 - I remember talking with a work mate a few years back who told me his father was a cook on Radio 390, who I never actually meet. But the gentleman in your picture looks very much like the guy I worked with and his name was Mick Solly so colould well be his father? Best regards and thanks for great site - Free City

William's son John picked up some of his fathers magic becoming a competent sound technician. Moving from Crayford to Whitstable in 1960, William encouraged and introduced John to Radio 390, which led to a job as a radio technician on the Red Sands Fort

Clambering aboard fort

The clamber onto the pallet, familiar to Radio City & 390; left F19 'Mallard' skipper Vic Davies, Dougie centre top, centre the cook, & right 'mate' Brian Tyrrell, three others unknown

The role at Radio 390 was one he relished which found him working alongside Lawrence Bean. John by now had been christened 'Ray' after the sports commentator and stayed like Lawrence until the final demise of Radio 390 on 28th July 1967

Bag of supplies

Unknown, then John (Ray) Glendinning steadies the net supply bag, Dougie hauls it into lower level

Nothing's changed! - See the Red Sands Radio series

Living with his sweet heart Paula at Park Mead, Sidcup. William tragically died on 15th September 1975 in a road traffic accident at the age of 77 before they could marry. Sadly Paula died in September 2009 very unexpectedly after a fall at the home she had shared in Chestfield (Whitstable) for 5 years with John's widow Maureen

390 studio

The Radio 390 Studio, some of which survives

Leaving Red Sands in a swell

Maureen visits the Towers

Maureen recalls Red Sands Forts: I can remember waiting on the keyside of Whitstable Harbour for Vic's tender "Mallard" to arrive, bringing John home and wondering if he'd had a shave! There were always fans of Radio 390 waiting to greet the DJ's and crew on their arrival. We would say our goodbyes and then the crew and DJ's would descend on what used to be the "Punch Tavern" in Harbour Street for a well earned drink. (Especially if the trip home had been rough!) I can remember sitting chatting to Edward Cole, John Ross-Barnard and Peter James, listening to them swap stories and having a laugh. I was brave enough to visit Redsands once. The sea was very lumpy and grey. The boat rolled around and the smell of fish and diesel were ever present. As Red Sand Forts came into view, and as you got closer you realise how huge they are, like something out of H.G Wells "War of the Worlds". I was winched up into the tower in a sling, given a welcome cup of tea and then a tour of their "home". The thought they're mad did cross my mind. John loved his time spent out on Redsands and like everyone hated its demise in July 1967 - Maureen Glendinning (17th March 2010)


Audio Break

Edit of Radio 390 family request show 'From Me To You' with Peter James on 3rd March 1967 from 13.00 - 14.00 GMT

Several of the Radio 390 announcers stayed at Vic & Joyce Davies, John & Maureen Glendennings homes whilst waiting to go out to the Towers or make their way home

One such announcer was Peter James, some sluething reveals that Peter lives in Australia, retired since 2002 his last post was at ABC as head of Classic FM

John at PIE rack

John (Ray) Glendinning at the Excitor Draw

Technical input from Robin Adcroft-Banks: The Radio 390 transmitter was a 10kW - RCA BTA 10J Ampliphase, that ended up on the Mebo 2 (RNI) as the MF standby, it was later tipped into the North Sea after we bought the two Veronica Continentals

The Excitor Draw wasn't interlocked so it could be tweeked at full power. Radio 390 ran at around 60% so it sounded smooth & mellow

Antenna from G3 catwalk

Antenna from the catwalk of Gun Tower 3

The dark gray cabinet next to the RCA is the PIE rack (program input equipment) it had a mod monitor, scope, audio monitor and a valve compressor which was also possibly RCA. This was purely from memory of my visit in May 1967. I remember this because I asked the radio engineer (forget his name) why the modulation was so low. His answer was that they couldn't mod higher than 60% higher than this produced of corona arcing at the ends of the top capacity cables which tripped the transmitter. They could have easily resolved this problem but didn't. Anyway, the BBC normally employed 60%, that sounds better!

Shipping off searchlight tower G1 from G4 roof

Shipping in Oaze Deep & Warp Channels from the Searchlight Tower catwalk
Southern Gun Tower 1 from roof of Gun Tower 4

I later realised that they didn't know that 'corona discharge rings' should have been fitted in the top stays of the mast (also used as a capacity hat which placed high peak modulation voltages at the insulators). Full modulation would then have been possible and have benefited their coverage

Bofors from G3

Bofors from the catwalk of Gun Tower 3

I don't remember seeing any other smaller transmitter. The only other item there was a big oil cooled transformer used to step down the forts 440 volt a/c to the 230 volt three phase used in the USA I think it's still there

Control, G2 & 3 from G4

Control, G2 & 3 from the roof of G4

They were also 'foxed' about how to mount the VHF aerials on top of the MF mast. They hadn't figured how to avoid the problem of the base insulator. A simple 'tuned stub' would have solved the riddle. I can't remember if it was 1kW or 5kW FM, perhaps you know. It never ran though - Robin Adcroft-Banks (15th March 2010)

FM Transmitter detail in Red Sands 40 - Part 1

Radio 390 diary front Radio 390 diary back

Radio 390 Programme Diary

390 Envelope 390 Invitation

'It's all over' The official staff invitation to John & Maureen post Radio 390

Another peculiar circumstance is that my own Whitstable home is only two houses away from the once home of Doug Seymour. He was a remarkable eccentric character, known by everyone as Dougie, he'd sustained a war injury and had a metal plate in his head and to disguise the scars always wore a knitted cap, a habit by the way that John (Ray) had got into, seldom being seen without aboard the Towers without his trademark sailors cap. Dougie was the Radio 390 odd-job man whilst his wife Kay took care of provisioning. The two of them would leap aboard the F19 the good old 'Mallard' and steam off to the Fort with Vic Davies and mate Brian Tyrell

Ken Woodman LP SA Ken Woodman LP SB

Very well used 'white label' album from the Radio 390 library

The track 'Town Talk' was later adopted for the BBC Jimmy Young show in 1967

John's warning note on LP sleeve

John's warning note on the back!

Edward Cole

Edward Cole at the Radio 390 contol panel

Edward Cole Observer Magazine Edward Cole Observer Magazine

Edward Cole featured in The Observer Magazine on 28th November 1976

After a period of ill health Edward Cole died in June 2003

A portrait of John Glendinning

John Glendinning on Red Sands Fort in 1967

After Radio 390 John (Ray) went to work as a sound engineer at the BBC World Service at Bush House, seldom talking of Radio 390 or the Forts, John sadly died prematurely in May 1996 aged just 59

The story comes full circle when I met up with an old friend who now runs his family's garage. He'd been talking to his wife about the radio days, the Forts her name's Fiona Glendinning, Johns (Rays) daughter, Williams Granddaughter and I'm pleased to say Fiona has followed in fathers footsteps by joining us at Red Sands Radio

Produced in memory to William & John (Ray) Glendinning for their considerable contribution to 1960's Offshore Radio

Thanks to the Glendinning family for sharing their archive material with us and to Robin Adcroft-Banks for technical information

N.B Some of this tale appears in 'Pop went the Pirates II' by Keith Skues this feature completes the story

Thank you for the tribute, my grandfather and father would be proud. Take care Fiona x

03/06/10 I have enjoyed the website greatly over the years. Just when I think there is nothing left to tell, you come up with more first-hand accounts and pictures from this fascinating era. First-class content like this is really appreciated. Best wishes, Barry Howard

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