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Red Relics

Updated : 17th April 2013 Issue: 7

First in a series of features looking at some of the relics from Offshore Radio

We begin with colourful bits of information from the Red Sands Fort

Brian Cullingford

1. Radio 390 shortly after the take over of KING Radio in September 1965 with Brian Cullingford

Studio comprised a pair of Garrard 301's with Collaro tone arms propped up on a home made wooden stand, a Lee & Doughty mixer & two Ferrograph Mk3s

Everything went back to the radio stations base in Folkestone Kent, most equipment was sold at auction, including the RCA BTA 10J 10.5kw MW transmitter which went to RNI (Radio Northsea International)

There's definitely no equipment left behind on the Red Sands Fort, see Fort Fax for details

Johnathan Hall

2. Jonathan Hall in Radio 390's studio in 1966

The Garrards & Ferrograph now mounted in the bench top & addition of two Spotmasters

Radio 390 studio in May 1967

3. Radio 390 Studio around May 1967

I'm sure I heard someone has original Garrard 301's turntables & old studio mixer from Radio 390 in a loft somewhere? - Rob Ashard

Robin Adcroft reports ......

The 390 Garrard 301's are a bit garish had been painted silver by a Folkestone Night Club

Eddie Austin & Robin Adcroft-Banks

4. Eddie Austin & Robin Adcroft-Banks (Eddie Austin Archive)

Pictured with the Garrard 301's in Folkestone in the late 1990's

Garrard 301 turntables in a sorry state

5. The Garrard 301's certainly in need of some TLC

27/06/08 - Garrard 301 Mk1 manufactured from I think 1954 to about 1965 were painted silver blue with metal paint & had a strobe etched platter. Garrard Mk2's were manufactured after this date. The bearing was different in the models. The MK1 had a grease bearing while the Mk2 had an oil bearing. Both models of turntables are still quite sought after and at times make silly money on-line auction. You may know all this already, sorry if you do... Jon Castle

Garrard PA4 pick-up arm Garrard PA4 pick-up head

6 & 7. The Garrard PA 4 pick-up arm & cartridge head

The good news is that we have been presented with the 301's & our studio engineer David Phillips is working on refurbishing the turntables for Red Sands Radio 

Some spares are still available but David's having trouble finding period pick-up arms, ideally the Garrard PA 4's illustrated above, alternatively an old 1950/60 record player with suitable arms if you can help we'd be pleased to hear from you

08/03/12 - There were possible four studio versions, one for Invicta, K.I.N.G and a further two for Radio 390. From earlier pictures it can be seen that the Garrard 301's were mounted on metal plinth plates and each being supported on four wooden blocks, with the mixer mounted in between them. Later, the studio was redesigned using existing equipment, namely the 301's and Ferrograph reel to reel tape recorders with a Spotmaster cartridge machine. The wooden desk was covered with a type of Formica called Wearite, part of the original Farrograph Wearite Company

Mixer information:- This was purpose built by Lee & Doughty coloured "engineering " grey/blue, it had five large controllers and toggle switches. There were further groups of switches and a "keylock" switch. A headphone socket and a level indicator meter

Some of the controls were identified on the panel by black nail varnish; marked "Gram 1 & 2"

John Ross-Barnard

10/05/12 Lee & Dought are listed as General Medical Suppliers at 128 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 3BZ


Audio Break

Revalli Magazine advertisement as should sound, but incorrect it sealed the fate for one 390 announcer

Arriving late the Revalli copy was rushed into the studio to John Stewart, who wedged it behind the mixer, a breeze from an open window blew it onto the floor so John ad libbed

Revalli & station bosses weren't impressed, exit John Stewart bound for Radio Essex as Chris Stewart


Stephen West show prep in library

8. Stephen West programme prep' in the record library

Using the old Garrard turntable deck mounted in plywood box

Meal time at the Red Sands Fort

9. Peter Berkley Librarian, Graham Gill, Lawrence Bean, John Glendinning & Jonathan Hall

In Follow up Rob Ashard writes ......

I believe the turntable being used to "prep" is a Garrard 4HF. I had one in the early 70's. It uses the same motor with variable speed, idler wheel & bearing as a 301 but as I remember had a pressed steel platter & not a cast machined one. I've always assumed that the platter on 301's & 401's is a machined casting. I recall that the motor on mine was only quiet if you ran it fast. At the correct speed it made a very strange warble that was audible in quiet passages. Very annoying. I also had a Quad 22/II amp & can't for the life of me remember who I sold it to. A little bit of my history Cheers, Rob Ashard

I was interested to read your comments about the 4HF. I also had one in the early sixties & experienced exactly the same symptoms with the variable speed that you mention, only silent running at maximum speed, which was too fast, with a nasty rumble, getting progressively worse as you slowed it down, which you had to do, to get it to run at the correct speed. Very annoying. I have always though that mine must have been faulty - I couldn't imagine that GARRARD had produced a product with such fundamentally poor performance. It now seems that this was, in fact, a DESIGN fault. Oh dear...

Incidentally, I later went on to learn how superb Thorens decks were (I worked for Metrosound in the 70s, who were the UK distributors) - the TD124 (I think it was) was particularly good for certain applications, having the turntable with a clutch!

Love the site, having always been an avid fan of offshore radio
All the best regards - Roger Morley

Roy Leichtenstein poster

10. Apt Roy Leichtenstein poster from 1965

Worried about the Radio 390 Announcers & the other equipment?

Here's a report from Robin Quinn ......

The story of the Radio 390 equipment including the famous 301s, of course is something I know a bit about, since I lived in Folkestone in those days

Radios Invicta, K I N G, & 390 had many connections with the town, much of the studio equipment for Radio 390 was supplied by John Gething owner of Guildhall Tape Recorders who was to become a Radio 390 Director. His shop was 100 yards from Estuary Radio's registered office in Queen's House

Radio 390 gets the message home Radio 390 Press Cartoon Radio 390 gets the message home

11. 12 & 13. 390 Press Advertisements & cartoon

Their service engineer John Budd I believe he'd worked out on the fort & told me a bit about life out there. The mixers were built by another Folkestone firm - Lee & Doughty of Sandgate, a public address firm. Their shop is still there in a very decayed state, but the business closed down long ago

After Radio 390 closed down in 1967, the equipment went back to Guildhall Tape Recorders now Kent Audio. Various bits & pieces were "liberated" from store. I saw some 7" reels of tape which had come into a friends possession. One contained an edition of 'Serenade' complete with a running order in the tape box written on a page from a duplicate book. Other reels episodes of 'Doctor Paul' & had labels from Grace Gibson Radio Productions, Sydney, Australia

Radio 390 tape box

14. Inside box of a surviving Radio 390 original tape

One of many tapes in our archive that came off the Fort going to the Folkestone via SERED Ltd (South Eastern Radio & Electronic Distributors) in Stour Street Canterbury

SERED were formerly Soveriegn Studios at Salem House St Georges Canterbury (now the bus station)

Downlaod a FRA (Free Radio Association) Leaflet pdf file on Radio Invicta, KING & 390

At the beginning of 1970 the "Seventies Disco" opened in the basement of the Grand Hotel, Folkestone. I'd recently started working as a DJ & went along to have a look not long before the opening night. The equipment there consisted of the Radio 390 studio hooked up to an amplifier & some speakers. The equipment having been sold when the owners of Radio 390 realised that the Government wasn't about to give them a broadcasting licence on land

The two 301 decks now in your possession were there, & had been fitted with Ortofon arms with Decca Deram cartridges. There were also two Ferrographs, used for jingles. The valve mixer had been removed from its original metal case as seen in photos of the studio on the fort, & built into a new console. The power supply for the mixer was on a chassis without a cover mounted under the console. I was warned to be careful not to touch the HT rectifier the type which was several inches long with cooling fins. The live end of this, carried about 350V DC & was perilously close to the DJ's right knee!

Folkestone Grand Hotel disco

15. Parts of the Radio 390's studio get a new lease of life in a 70's Disco

There was a Fi-Cord/Calrec condenser microphone, but this didn't work well in a disco environment as it produced feedback, so a AKG D1000 was used instead. However, a Calrec resurfaced again supplied by John Budd to Chris Ashman's small recording studio in Folkestone. Eddie Austin borrowed it for use on White Cliffs Radio when it first came on air in 1993 & I think this may have been Radio 390's

Eddie Austin in 1999

16. Eddie Austin at home in Malaysia 1999

Eddie had run the popular Landbased Pirate Channel Radio & was part of the team that applied for the first East Kent ILR later Invicta Radio before setting up The Sound the predecessor of Neptune Radio Dover & Folkestone

I became the resident DJ at Seventies in January 1973, by which time the discotheque had been altered & extended considerably. We had a mixer with sliding faders designed & built by Dave Hawkins of Big L fame. The old mixer cases remained but the rest of the unit disappeared later. Dave had built a similar mixer for Radio Luxembourg's production studio in London, & another was used by the short-lived Radio Monte Carlo for pre-recording shows in at Advision studios London

N.B on a visit to Red Sands Radio on 27th July 2012 Dave Hawkins told us he didn't build any of the Radio 390 Equipment - Ed

Johnnie Scott in Folkestone Grand Hotel disco

17. Folkestone Grand Hotel Disco

The Ferrographs had been relegated to a back room for editing & dubbing purposes, these had disappeared by the time I left. A Philips machine Pro-12, which I hated, was used just to play in jingles. By the way, "Seventies" had attempted to buy the Radio 390 Spotmasters, but I think the asking price had been too high

For the first few months I was there, the 301s were still in use, though there were a few niggling faults with them. One night when they both went wrong at the same time we decided to replace them with 401s & the old turntables were put into a corner & forgotten

I left Seventies at the end of 1973 to work abroad & I believe that Richard Moffatt who worked at "Seventies" for a time rescued the 301s from the scrap heap

Incidentally, I understand that someone has subsequently painted them silver. Some early 301s were supplied with a silver finish, but not these! The photos of them on Radio 390 show them to have been cream, & that's how they were when I used them. It would be great to see & hear them restored to their former glory - Robin Quinn

17th April 2013 - I have many good memories, when I first started DJ'ing, I was still at Wingate School in Folkestone, and the Rediffusion warehouse was behind the school. I managed to commandeer eight 10 inch speakers out of their skip, hastily made some cabinets, got a pair of old BSR decks, put them into a console which I'd I found thrown out behind Bill Fulfords Land O Lite shop in Guildhall Street in Folkestone. I built a simple mixer, got hold of a Vortexion 50 watt valve amplifier, made some light boxes out of a couple of old drawers, and the Ricky Dean Roadshow was born

Oh how things have changed! But I still sit and reminise with my children about the good old days of the disco. I remember the first record I played was Doobie Brothers 'Listen To the Music', a tune I still play to this day. Some of my shows have taken place outside, and it was good to read about the Gardner Generators, I used to use a 6LW 100Kva set until about 3 years ago for my outdoor shows. The roar of the engine, Gardners had distinctive exhaust smell, and always smoked like hell on startup.I knew Robin Quinn quite well in those days, he was the voice on the jingles for the Disco Caroline

I know we have all advanced in age, but for me disco will never go away - Ricky Dean (Mark Wilkins)

Radio 390 refurbished studio

18. The original Radio 390 turntables centre stage at Red Sands Radio in July 2012

David Phillips at Radio 390 refurbished studio

19. Red Sands Radio engineer Dave Phillips

David along with his wife Janice and friend Tony responsible for the rebuild

The functional unit comprises the original Radio 390 Garrard 301's stripped and rebuilt and repainted in the original colour. Tony helped with much of the metalwork and preparation, the replica Lee & Doughty mixer was built from components sourced in the USA and finished in the correct colours. Janice added the flecting to replicate the original Wearite finish

The wooden box in the indicated to the announcer the station was modulating with a meter reading and lamps

The corner speaker was for cue and desk output through headphones

Gardener 30 LW Generators

20. The original wartime 30 KVA Gardner LW generator sets

Brought back to service by Senior Engineer Lawrence Bean these sets wer common to all the sea Forts

Still remaining but stripped of usable parts & souvenirs by visitors since Radio 390 left the Red Sands Fort in 1967

Merry Christmas from Edward Cole

21. Happy Christmas Edward

5/3/09 - Does anyone have any recordings of Radio Invicta? I'd really like to hear some of that pioneering, crackle and whine-across-the ether stuff, especially Invicta and, most importantly, of that fabulous DJ Lee Taylor

Talking about 1964 just after Tom Pepper met his sad end DJ, Bruce Holland & Phil Perkins were around then with Eddie Hinkins as the station manager - Lee

10/5/12 - Lawrence Bean a long time family friend of the editor is known to have one of the Ferrographs & the studio Xylophone in his office. Chief Engineer on Radio 390 he'd been involved since the Radio Invicta days, responsible for refurbishment of the three Gardner LW gererators*. Whilst John known as Ray Glendinning after the cricketer looked after the radio & studio engineering

Radio 390 Ferrograph

22. Original Radio 390 Ferrograph at Red Sands Radio in July 2012

*Two generators remain onboard in very shabby condition, one is on the sea bed dropped through the bottom of a small boat which sank in an attempt to remove it

Lawrence recalls the equipment being removed by Alan Cambridge, he says that the GPO (Post Office) impounded the most valauble equipment to be sold at auction to meet court costs & fines

Coubro & Sutton Period Press Advert

23. Coubro & Scrutton Masts

The antenna was removed first under Gevis Latrobe (aged 90 May 2012) by Coubro & Scrutton. Formed in 1848 they went public in 1948 in 1961: Listed as Ships' stores, export merchants and manufacturers of radio masts and aerial systems, riggers, ash oar, flag, sale and tarpaulin makers. Also communication engineers with 250 employees

Antenna detail in Red Sands 40 - Part 1

Lawrence has some good and bad memories of the Fort the worst being when he & Ray unbolted part of the armour plate from around the top of the Fort whilst working on the antenna, filled with concrete one 2' x 9" x 4" section fell & broke the toes of one foot

He recalls starting the generators early in the morning as the lighting came on all the crew moaned bitterly about being woken up by noise & bright lights!

History repeated itself in the Fort Days of Red Sands Radio

Doug Wood at Radio 390 refurbished studio

24. Doug Wood at the rebuilt consol spins some tracks on Red Sands Radio on 17th July 2012

Using the refurbished Radio 390 Turntables with the Radio 390 Xylophone graciously donated to Red Sands Radio by Lawrence Bean

Lawrece Bean, Grham Gill, Lee Gilbert & Roger Scott

25. Lawrence Bean (he still has that suitcase) Graham Gill, Lee Gilbert & Roger Scott on the last official tender back to Whitstable

And there's more ...

Radio 390 Garrard 401 Top

26. Garrard 401

This was one of the last items taken off the Fort in the last Tender, is in fatastic condition and don't believe was ever used on the Tower

Radio 390 Garrard 401 Underside

27. Underside of the Turntable

Shows original and untouched condition with circa 1967 dust

Garrard 301 mats

28. Discovered on the 401's platter the rubber mats from the 301's

The turntable has also been donated to Red Sands Radio by Lawrence Bean

For more pictures & video clips of the Radio 390 equipment in use at Red Sands Radio drop down the page on Saturday Brunch

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Thanks to Lawrence Bean, David Phillips, Robin Adcroft, Robin Quinn, Hans Knot & Martin Stevens for their help in producing this feature

For all of the features on Red Sands & its Radio Stations navigate from ScrapBook Index

For a brief history of all the Thames Estuary Forts see Fort Fax

For the full history of Radio from Redsands on CD & the range of our other documentaries, including the Sealand VCD visit the Offshore Shop


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