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Even Stevens - Part 2

Continuing our presentation of a small selection of samples of the Worlds largest library of Offshore Radio Photographs

Taken by Martin Stevens Photographer of the Pirates between 1964 - 1974

The photographs are interlaced with the continuing story of Radio City

Shivering Sands Control Tower in colour

Control Tower (1965)

The photograph above is one of the excellent series of large format colour pictures taken by Martin between 11th - 17th January 1965

This impressive picture is of the Control Tower then unused, all the illumination is from random camera "Flash Gun" as Martin ran around the G1

Chris Cross prepares News

Chris Cross in 1966 lifting news from the BBC


Martin Stevens second and final DJ stint on Radio City handing over to Alexander Dee (March 1965)

Whilst Martin never grew rich from his trips out to Radio City, he did develop a knack of being in the right place and right time

His photographic adventures took him aboard all of the 1960's & 1970's Pirate stations, even those who shunned visitors as the pictures below of Radio London illustrate

Radio London main Galaxy studio

Radio London main studio aboard the Galaxy

Chuck Blair?

Mess Room on Galaxy

The Mess Room on the Galaxy

Mike Lennox, ?, Mark Roman, Willy Walker, John Edward (Johnny Flux) Duncan Johnson, Keith Skeus & unknown?

Nice photos re those guys sitting round the table on Big L, the guy on the left might be Mike Lennox. I don't know who is on the right. Left to right they are Mike Lennox, ?, Mark Roman, Willy Walker, John Edward, Duncan Johnson, Keith Skues, and ?. Best wishes, Jon Pirate Hall of Fame

Radio London seldom gave access to Journalists but Martin's reputation and positive upbeat photo reports was to give him access to their ship

Radio London MD Philip Birch

Phil Birch at work in the Curzon Street London office

Radio London MD with a large blow up picture of the Galaxy

Returning to Radio City it was Radio Caroline that made the 1st move to take-over Shivering Sands in December 1965

Caroline "Newsbeat" and programme trails were heard on 299

Considering lowering their operating costs Caroline looked at using the the Radio City Fort as a relay for Caroline South. Project Atlanta part of the original Caroline organisation dispatched a 10kW transmitter to Shivering Sands. Unfortunately one of the three transmitters cabinets coming aboard from the Offshore 1 was dropped into the sea

The ill fated transmitter

Press Cutting of Transmitter Dip! (1965)

The official line is that once retrieved and cleaned up Radio City and Caroline technicians were unable to get the new transmitter to work and with it the Caroline deal faded

The transmitter was the catalist to events which were to spin out of control

Said to be worth £10,000 it's interesting to note the value given in the press cutting above

Radio Caroline's MV Mi-Amigo

Radio Caroline South ship the Mi-Amigo in calm waters of the Essex coast

The real story is that when lifting the Control Cabinet it fouled just below the edge lip of Gun Tower 1's platform

Unfortunately the Forts crane governors, which should cut-out when the end travel was reached weren't adjusted correctly

Taking the lift beyond the limit, the 2" thick rope holding the cabinet began to frey

Over a period of some fifteen minutes a chain was threaded through the cabinets framework, but before it could be secured the cabinet suddenly tilted alarmingly

The Tug Captain seeing what was about to happen quickly pulled away, the cabinet fell into the sea

Marked by the floating remnants of the rope, which acted as a marker it was some days before divers arrived & the cabinet was retrived

Despite stories to the contrary, once aboard the unit was cleaned up and made functionable. Unfortunately its power demands were far greater than those available on the Fort, so it was put to one side

Thereafter, Ian West and Phil Perkins diligently worked to modify the old equipment giving the impression that the station had more than its meager 2kW

From his time aboard Shivering Sands Martin knew that there was a secret ship-shore relay after the station closed down at night

From his knowledge of the " Pigeon Blackbird" and transmission codes, intended for the Local office and General Stores, Martin had advance knowledge of tender times

Hearing that a delegation from Radio London were to visit the Fort in June 1966, Martin hot footed to Whitstable Harbour to cadge a ride out on the station tender

Reg Calvert at Whitstable Harbour

Radio 390 'Mullard' crewman Brian Tyrrell, Kieth Skues, Duncan Johnson, Reg Calvert & Engineer Martin Newton

Just back from Shivering Sands, Martins picture taken at Whistable Harbour of Big L's delegation Reg Calvert had been in negotiation with Radio London about selling the Radio City Fort for its UKGM (United Kingdom Good Music) station

Keith Skues, Duncan Johnson, Reg Calvert & Big L Engineer Martin Newton in what was to be the last picture of Reg Calvert

The deal's off

Keith Skues & can you name him?

The deal's off

Radio City staff had been marched into Radio London's Curzon Street office, suggestions were made that there might be jobs on the proposed sweet music station UKGM (United Kingdom Good Music)

Daily Mail

UKGM Announced by the Daily Mail (18th June 1966)

But Radio London's delegation were singularly unimpressed with the Fort stating the place was a shambles and the equipment junk

On the strength of the visit Radio London decided to pull out of the take-over

Radio London MV Galaxy in 1966

The Galaxy

Wonderful Radio London Big L from the former American Minesweeper moored off the Frinton Essex coast in 1966

All this activity alarmed those that had supplied the transmitter on behalf of Radio Caroline. So on the night of Sunday 19th June 1966 a boarding crew led by Project Atlanta Major Oliver Smedley, Kitty Black, with 11 dock workers from Gravesend intended to retrieve a transmitter they'd left at the Fort said to be valued at £10,000! (see press cutting above) which hadn't been paid for & certainly wasn't part of any rumored UKGM deal

Reg was to call on Smedley of Project Atlanta the following evening and after a struggle was shot dead

Reg Calvert killed front page news Boarding of Radio City on Shivering Sands Fort

Newspaper reports Thursday 23rd June & Friday 24th June 1966

News-lines on 21st June 1966 reported that Reg had died of shotgun wounds at the home of Major Oliver Smedley in Wendens Ambo Essex & the Fort had been raided

Smedley appeared in court on 18th July 1966 charged with murder but was not convicted. Sent to Chelmsford Assizes in October he was found not guilty on the lesser charge of manslaughter

Shock waves throughout the industry were soon replaced by the summons of the other Fort based stations; Radio 390 on 21st September, and Radio Essex on 28th September 1966

Dorothy Calvert appeared at Rochford Magistrates Court, charged under the Wireless telegraphy Act of 1949. New but dubious hydrographic data was tabled that found the fort inside territorial limits even though 7 months earlier it had been outside the limit!

Later the same day Radio City closed for the final time on Wednesday 8th February 1967 at just after midnight

Look out for more exclusive pictures taken by Martin Stevens Photographer of the Pirates between 1964 - 1974 soon

For more on Martin Stevens and some of the other City Boys see Sutch & City Re-Union

For all the features on Radio Sutch & City navigate from Sutch & City Part 1

For a brief history on all the Thames Estuary Forts navigate from Fort Fax

For a range of documentary CD's, the Sealand VCD, books, & a video on the Army & Navy Forts go to Offshore Shop

[HOME] (c)Bob Le-Roi 2006