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The Radio Forts of the Thames Estuary

A sailing from Queenborough on the Isle-of-Sheppey on 13th August 2017

This 'Grand Fort Tour' with Jerry Pitcher, who along with Cliff Cuttelle was one of the first to board the Knock John Fort with broadcast intentions. Marooned with basic provisions they acted as a guards for Radio City in the summer of 1965 ahead of the ensuing battle for control of the Fort

S.S 'Richard Montgomery'

The masts of the wreck of the S.S 'Richard Montgomery'

S.S 'Richard Montgomery'

Close view of the S.S 'Richard Montgomery'

The American Liberty ship partly laden with unexploded ordnance is on the Nore Sands close to the approaches to the River Medway, photograph clearly shows the proximity to the shore

Car transport RoRo

Car transport RoRo passing #2 Medway Channel Buoy

WEC Lines Container Ship

WEC Lines Container Ship in the Oaze Deep

Angling Boat 'Cymyliea'

Angling Boat 'Cymyliea'

North of Red Sands Army Forts

In the Oaze Deep passing North of Red Sands Army Forts

More later ...

Maersk Line Container Ship

Maersk Line Container Ship in the Oaze Deep inbound for Thames Port

Container Ship

Container Ship passes Port Buoy #7 in the Knock Deep Channel

The formidable Knock John Naval Fort beyond ...

Knock John Naval Fort looking South East Knock John Naval Fort looking South

Knock John Naval Fort looking South East
Knock John Naval Fort looking South

Knock John Naval Fort looking South East

Knock John Naval Fort looking South East

Knock John Naval Fort looking South East

Knock John Naval Fort looking South East

Radio City that broadcast from nearby Shivering Sands had designs on the Knock John Naval as he entered negotiations to see Radio City

With Jerry Pitcher emerging from underneath Knock John Naval Fort

With Jerry Pitcher emerging from underneath Knock John Naval Fort North legs!


Jerry Pitcher marks his return to the Knock John Fort having acted as a Fort Guard in 1965

Audio

Jerry Pitcher recalls his time aboard the Knock John Naval Fort acting as a Fort Guard for Radio City in the summer of 1965

See Jerry Pitchers features, links at the foot of the page


Marks from a glancing blow to the Knock John Naval Fort North leg!

Someone went through the gap, marks from a glancing blow to the Knock John Naval Fort North leg!

Knock John Naval Fort East side

Knock John Naval Fort East side

Unknown to Reg Calvert, Roy Bates had also earmarked the Knock John for his Radio Essex project

Knock John Naval Fort remains of top from West side

Knock John Naval Fort remains of top from West side

Jerry Pitcher enjoys the moment

Jerry Pitcher enjoys the moment

Knock John Naval Fort looking South West with Shivering Sands

Knock John Naval Fort looking South West with Shivering Sands visible between legs

Jerry Pitcher & Cliff Cuttelle were left behind to look after the Fort, a little later Dick Dixon joined them to cobble together the rudimentary gear to make a test broadcast

Knock John Naval Fort looking South West

Knock John Naval Fort looking South West

Note the Flood Tide rip always prevalent at Knock John

Knock John Naval Fort looking South West

Knock John Naval Fort looking South West with Shivering Sands visible between legs

With David Phillips, Jerry Pitcher

With David Phillips, Jerry Pitcher off Knock John Naval Fort

In the summer of 1965 Reg Calvert took Paul Elvey, Jerry Pitcher & Cliff Cuttelle with modest supplies & a some redundant Radio City kit to the Fort

Jerry Pitcher with Knock John Naval Fort

Jerry Pitcher with Knock John Naval Fort

Wildly reported in the press as a Pirate Radio Battle the reality was that clambering aboard Knock John Roy Bates was put-out finding the rival crew so decamped them to Shivering Sands

Shivering Sands Army Fort looking North from the X-Pilot

Shivering Sands Army Fort looking North from the X-Pilot

Shivering Sands Army Fort was the most attractive to Reg Calvert for his Radio Sutch publicity project

Boarding the Fort with David 'Screaming Lord' Sutch & Brian Paull they somehow made a weak signal using very basic ex-MoD equipment in late May 1964

Shivering Sands Army Fort looking North East

Shivering Sands Army Fort looking North East

Shivering Sands Army Fort looking South West

Shivering Sands Army Fort looking South West from L-R Gun Towers #4, 3, 1 & Control Tower

David Sutch tired of project but Reg had always harped after having a radio station so took over

Renaming the station Radio City, slightly better equipment was installed, using cheap & free labour he kept things ticking over

Shivering Sands Army Fort Searchlight Tower looking East

Shivering Sands Army Fort Searchlight Tower looking East to Knock John & Car Transport RoRo ship

Angling boat off Shivering Sands Army Fort Searchlight Tower Shivering Sands Army Fort Bofors, Searchlight & Gun Towers #2 &3

Angling boat off Shivering Sands Army Fort Searchlight Tower looking West
Shivering Sands Army Fort Bofors, Searchlight & Gun Towers #2 &3 looking North East

By late 1965 with a more competent team running Radio City had put financial pressures on Reg so he entered into negotiations with Project Atlanta who ran Radio Caroline South from the Mi-Amigo off the Frinton, Essex coast

Shivering Sands Army Fort Searchlight Tower looking West

Shivering Sands Army Fort Searchlight Tower looking West

Shivering Sands Army Fort Bofors & Gun Tower #3 Shivering Sands Army Fort Gun Tower #3

Shivering Sands Army Fort Bofors & Gun Tower #3
Shivering Sands Army Fort Gun Tower #3

During this period Radio City broadcast Radio Caroline news & a number of advertisements, but the deal wasn't making headway so dialog was opened with Radio London that also broadcast off Frinton, Essex

Angling boat off Shivering Sands Army Fort Gun Tower #3 & 4

Angling boat off Shivering Sands Army Fort Gun Tower #3 & 4

Shivering Sands Army Fort Control Tower

Shivering Sands Army Fort Control Tower

A slick professional operation Radio London weren't impressed with what they saw at Shivering Sands so backed off

Angling boat off Shivering Sands Gun Tower #3

Angling boat off Shivering Sands Gun Tower #3

Shivering Sands looking South

Shivering Sands looking South

Tragically Project Atlanta Director Oliver Smedley took exception to the Radio London discussions & raided Shivering Sands with a crew of Gravesend Dockers closing Radio City down

Events spun out of control resulting in the tragic death of Reg Calvert

Shivering Sands North Cardinal Buoy

Shivering Sands North Cardinal Buoy

Red Sands Army Fort looking North West

Red Sands Army Fort looking North West

Following in the shadow of nearby Radio City, Radio Invicta came on-air from the Red Sands Army Forts in early June 1964

Red Sands Army Fort looking North West

Red Sands Army Fort looking North West

Owned by Folkestone Fisherman Harry Featherbe aka Tom Pepper & partner Publican Charlie Evans they were assisted in launching the station by Canadian radio journalist John Thompson

Red Sands Army Fort looking North

Red Sands Army Fort looking North

Sadly Tom Pepper perished with Radio Engineer Martin Shaw & DJ Simon Ashley on a return run to the Fort

Red Sands Army Fort Searchlight & Gun Tower #2

Red Sands Army Fort Searchlight & Gun Tower #2 looking East

Company Secretary David Lye & Mike Raven set-up KING Radio (London) retaining a number of Invicta DJ's, poor signal, lack of advertising compounded the stations problem

Red Sands Army Fort Searchlight Tower

Red Sands Army Fort Searchlight Tower

David Lye contacted local Romney Marsh Gentleman Farmer, Advertising Executive & Public Relations man Ted Allbeury

Red Sands Army Fort, Catwalk to Control Tower, Gun Tower #2 & Searchlight Tower Red Sands Army Fort Gun Tower #4, Control & Gun Tower #1 Tower

Red Sands Army Fort, Catwalk to Control, Gun #2 & Searchlight Towers

Red Sands Army Fort Gun #4,

Control, Gun #1 Towers

S.B 'Ironside' passing Red Sands Army Fort

S.B 'Ironside' passing Red Sands Army Fort to the South East

Ted as M.D brought about a service targeting Housewives with an easy listening MoR (Middle of the Road) format

Leaving Red Sands Army Fort

Leaving Red Sands Army Fort with Shivering Sands beyond

Radio 390 became highly successful & without costly court cases would have probably been the most profitable of all the Offshore stations

Grain Fort (Grain Tower Battery)

Grain Fort (Grain Tower Battery)

Grain Fort with Garrison Point Fort were guardians of the River Medway Estuary

Grain Fort Grain Fort

Grain Fort (Grain Tower Battery)

Grain Fort Chains

Grain Fort Chains

These chains led to Garrison Fort on the Southern shore and raised to prevent ships entering the Medway, those that took the chance risked wrecking their wooden hulls

Grain Fort

Grain Fort

Grain Fort

Grain Fort

For the history & more photographs see our feature on Grain Tower Battery

Thanks to Jerry Pitcher, Michael Hall, David Phillips, Zena and Frank for their help in producing this feature

See Jerry Pitcher's pages Jerry Pitchers Artwork : Jerry Pitcher Whitstable

See the earliest boarding pictures of Knock John in Radio Sutch & City Pictures - Part 15

See the other Knock John Fort, Radio Essex & BBMS (Britain's Better Music Station) features in ScrapBook Index

X-Pilot Logo

Details of X-Pilot Sailings


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