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The Thames Estuary Red Sands Radio Fort

Issue: 4 Date: 20th January 2021

A sailing onboard the S.B 'Greta' from Whitstable on 25th September 2017 with the history of the Red Sands Fort Generators

Middle Sands Beacon

The Trinity House decommissioned (Less Top Mark) Middle Sands Beacon

The Middle Sands Beacon was controversially used in 1966 to find the Red Sands Fort within British Territorial Waters, see Fort Fax

Red Sands Fort from Fairlead of S.B 'Greta'

Red Sands Fort through Fairlead of S.B 'Greta'

Seven Towers with Red Sands Radio Antenna

The full compliment of Seven Towers with Red Sands Radio Antenna

Red Sands Fort looking North East

Red Sands Fort looking North East

Looking South into the Searchlight Tower Gun Tower #2

Looking South into the Searchlight Tower*
Searchlight Tower marked DC 1950

* The main doors long gone, inside the Lister Blackstone EV4 started by compressed air, and the original WWII Gardner LW Generators rusted beyond redemption

There were four 1943 vintage Gardner 97hp 30KVA LW Generators on board, a pair of 220 volt units which were brought back into service by Senior Engineer Lawrence Bean

Coupled to a transformer to produce 440 volts three phase to run the transmitter, the other two 110 volt Generators were ignored, Lawrence said it was devils own job syncing the two generators, if you got it wrong catastrophy

Radio KING ran a small Houchin Diesel Generator set, this was dropped into the sea but later retrieved

Another Radio 390 Director John Latrobe, farmer, rally driver of Latrobe and Company, road-makers of Pluckley helped source the better of two discovered Lister Blackstone 4 cylinder EV4's from the Weald of Kent

Lister Blackstone in a Ships Engine Room

A Lister Blackstone in a Ship's Engine Room

The elderly WWII Gardner LW's were very reliable units but noisy and un-economical, the Lister would prove a far more practical proposition

A huge piece of kit owner skipper of the stations tender 'Mullard' Vic Davis helped Lawrence strip it down into two manageable sections to enable the Forts crane, rated at 1 ton to lift it onto the Searchlight Tower

Dougie Seymore had brought G1 and the Searchlight Tower Cranes back into service

An incidental fact, Dougies wife Maureen who often put up announcers making their way to and from the Fort, was to borrow Lawrences Cardinal Red Rolls Royce for their daughters wedding

Lister Blackstone in a Ship Engine Room

Lister Blackstone Ship Engine Room

Video Clips of Lister Blackstone Generators in use

Radio 390 Lister Blackstone in 2017

The Radio 390 Lister Blackstone EV4 in 2017

Once onboard the Lister was modified to start on compressed air and fitted with an automatic voltage regulator, thus providing primary power with the original refurbished Gardner LW Generators becoming back-up units

Dougie Seymore had refurbished all the switching gear, this was wrecked by persons unknown in the period between the final closedown and 390 Engineers returning. With the Generators out of service this prevented removal of substantial kit

Fort Radio Daily Mail 6th August 1967

Fort Raid on Saturday 5th August 1967 (Daily Mail 6th August 1967)

Fort Radio Daily Mail 6th August 1967 Fort Radio Daily Mail 6th August 1967 Fort Radio Daily Mail 6th August 1967

Fort Raid on Saturday 5th August 1967 (Daily Mail 6th August 1967)

Radio 390 Crew August 1967

Radio 390 Crew: Unknown, Dougie Seymore and Alan Cambridge on Red Sands after wreckers raid (7th August 1967)

Alan Cambridge worked for Rowley Shears (G8KW) founder of KW Electronics, Vanguard Works, Dartford in 1950 manufacturer of high frequency band transmitters and recievers, taken over by Decca they ceased trading in the early 1970's

KW Electronics and Practical Wireless

* John Davies one of the Radio 390 Mechanical Engineers who'd help fit out the air conditioned studio 'boxes' on the top level of G3 designed to a New Zeeland Broadcast specification

Each studio was fitted with a pair of Garrard 301 turntables, a pair of Ferrograph Series 3 Tape Recorders and Spotmaster Cartridge Players for commercials and a F-Cord Calrec Microphone

* Sadly John died later falling between two Ferry Boats in Dover

The new studios include the a custom built seven channel mixer commissioned and supplied by Radio 390 Director Maurice Gething who owned Guildhall Cameras/Hi-Fi manufactured by Lee-Doughty Sandgate, Folkestone

Transmitters were an RCA BTA J10 and an unused Siemans FM that came from the Radio Mercur ship 'Lucky Star'

Once the station closed for the final time on 28th July 1967 John Latrobe later tried without success to remove the Generator for personal use

Purchased from grants and advertising revenue two Kipor HDE 6500T 5KVA (ISO 9001) specification Generators were purchased for the broadcasts of Red Sands Radio commencing from the Fort in 2007

Kipor HDE 6500T Generator

Kipor HDE 6500T Generator

Due to their weight the Generators were broken down so they could hauled aboard

Starting Kipor HDE 6500T Generator

One of the Kipor HDE 6500T Generators, first start-up

Kipor HDE 6500T Generators

Kipor HDE 6500T Generator sets

Originaly one Generator was located inside the main doors the other in the boiler room as shown above

Re-Housed Kipor HDE 6500T Generators

Kipor Generators re-housed

Improvements were made with the Generators having purpose made exhausts and placed on pallets to keep them off the damp floor

Hole in Generator Room wall

Generator Room hole

Underneath the left window at floor level, taking three days I eventually punched a hole through with a cold chisel to let out rainwater which flooded the Generator Room floor

Southern Gun Tower #1 Southern Gun Tower #1

Two views of the Red Sands Army Forts Southern Gun Tower #1

Container Ship in the Oaze Deep

Bofors Gun Tower

Note the ship making it's way through the mire outbound from Thames Port in the Oaze Deep

SB Greta off Whitstable

SB 'Greta' making for Whitstable Harbour her summer port

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