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Radio London 266

The original Big L in Re-discovered photographs from the Martin Stevens Collection

Issue: 1 Date: 3rd February 2021

Portable radio Big L Club Pennant

The Big L Club Pennant from 1966

USS Density at launching

The 'Density'

An Admirable-class minesweeper 'USS Density' (AM-218) the keel was laid down on 23rd March 1943 at the Tampa Shipbuilding, Florida, launched on 6th February 1944 she was commissioned by the U.S. Navy to clear minefields in offshore waters, serving primarily in the Pacific Ocean

USS Density Blue Prints

Ship Blue Prints

Ships Specification:

Length - 184'6" Beam - 33' Draft - 9'9"

Displacement - 945 Tons

Propulsion - Pair of 1,710hp Cooper Bessemer GSB-8 diesel, on single reduction gear two shaft drive

Speed - 14.8 knots

Crew - 104

Armament - 1 x 3" dual purpose mount, 1 x twin 40mm gun, 6 x 20mm, 1 x depth charge thrower (hedgehogs), 4 x depth charge projector (K-guns) 2 x depth charge tracks

On 14th May 1946 she was laid up in the Reserve Fleet, Orange, Texas & decommissioned
3rd March 1947 at Orange

Re-classified as a Fleet Minesweeper MSF-218 on 7th February 1955 she was sold in the same month to a Greek Shipping Company & called 'Manoula'

MV Galaxy in Miami

Fitted out as a Radio Ship in Miami

Impounded for non-payment of Harbour dues she was sold again to a Texan Consortium & fitted out with broadcast studios, a 150' radio antenna & 50kW RCA transmitter & left Miami for England on 21st October 1964

Galaxy off Shivering Sands

The 'Galaxy' off Shivering Sands in December 1964

Arriving in British waters on 19th of November 1964 the 'Galaxy' dropped anchor South West of the Shivering Sands Fort in the Thames Estuary, short tests are thought to have been made as the station was warned by Caroline boss Ronan O'Rahilly of being within British territorial limits

Galaxy off Essex

The 'Galaxy' off Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, in livery dating from 1965

The ship moved close to the MV 'Caroline' around four miles off Frinton-on-Sea, Essex announced as 51° 47.09" North, 01° 20.55" East

Radlon Offices

Radlon Sales Offices at 17 Curzon Street, London, W1 off Park Lane (Britain Radio England were to set-up shop at number 32)

Testing on 5th December 1964 on 1125kHz (266 metres) then 1133kHz (265 metres) & 1079kHz (277 metres) settling regular programmes commenced just before Christmas on 23rd December at 17kW

Dave Cash 1

Caught unaware Dave Cash

Dave Cash 2 Dave Cash 3

Outside the Curzon Street HQ

Radio London Group 1

Tom Jones, Walker Brothers, Ed Stewart, Mark Roman & Mike Lennox

Galaxy being supplied

The 'Galaxy' being supplied

Radio London nicknamed Big L used the tried and proven WABC New York & KLIF Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex Top 40 formats interspersed with PAMS of Dallas Jingles used by the majority of leading American Radio Stations interspersed with lively DJ banter

Led by Senior announcer Australian Tony Windsor had jumped ship from Atlanta (Caroline) to Radio London nurturing the talents of Kenny Everitt and side kick Dave Cash

Fight for free radio london

The 1967 fight for Free Radio campaign's in full flow

Tender pulls away from the Galaxy

Tender puls away from the 'Galaxy'

Broadcasting initially from 06.00 - 21.00 GMT then 05.30 - 02.00 GMT Big L' boasted an audience of nearly 9 million adults the station & was to continue until 1967

Galaxy Frinton 1 2

The MV 'Galaxy' off the Frinton Essex Coast

Paul Kaye

Paul Kaye

It became clear to Radio London's management that circumnavigating the Marine Offences Broadcasting Act would ultimately prove costly and unworkable

Dave Dennis in Radio London main studio

Main on-air studio with Dave Dennis

Galaxy from air

Radio London promotion photograph

Brands Hatch Radio London Group 2

Brands Hatch Racing Circuit, Kent, Tony Windsor driving, Mark Roman, Mike Lennox and Eddie Blackwell

The Marquee Club

Big L DJ's on Shore Leave spun records at the Marquee Club at 90 Wardour Street, Soho, London on Saturday afternoons during the summer of 1965

Radio London needs you sticker

Radio London Needs You based on WW1 recruitment poster featuring Kitchiner (Alfred Leete 1882-1933)

Facing a losing battle Radio London (Big L) threw in the towel closing down at 15.00 on 14th August

Radio London Hamburg 1

Radio London ship the 'Galaxy' in Hamburg

Five days later on 19th August the ship sailed to Hamburg, to be cleaned, overhauled, painted white in readiness for a new German day-time sweet music and night time pop station said to be launching in December 1968

Radio London Hamburg 2 Radio London Hamburg 3

Radio London ship the 'Galaxy' in Hamburg

The project foundered with Swiss backers withdrawing funding, the German equivalent of the Marine Offences Act was looming in July 1969, the ship became an embarrassment to the authorities and in 1970 she was sold as scrap

Radio London Hamburg 4

Radio London ship the 'Galaxy' in Hamburg

The ship remained in Hamburg until 1975 until towed to Howaldswerke-Deutsche Werft, Schwentine Estuary in Kiel Harbour where she was left to rot by the WWII submarine pens

Radio London Hamburg 5

Radio London ship the 'Galaxy' in Hamburg

Radio London Hamburg 6 Big L Club Pennants

Radio London ship the 'Galaxy' in Hamburg & a pair of Club Pennants

Galaxy sunk in Keil Harbour

Final months by the old Submarine Pens in Kiel Harbour

In a sad neglected state the 'Galaxy' sank in 1979 then used to practice underwater welding

Radio London Big L Logo

In the summer of 1986 amidst concerns of pollution the 'Galaxy' was raised and broken up, there's a superb illustrated report by Tim Schwabedissen at Radio London

With thanks to Martin Stevens, additional material from our own and the Hans Knot Archive

More useful links: Naval Source Archive : USS Density Notes 1 : USS Density Notes 2

Radio London Pictures 1 : Radio London Pictures 2

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