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Romantic Red Sands

Page 1 of 3

Issue 2 : Updated : 25th July 2015

Some Red Sands history interspersed with sunsets taken on 27th August 2005

Acting as a prelude to a Very Special Offer from us & Radio 390

Details at the end of this feature page


Audio Break

Jonathan Hall on Tea Time Tunes 16.30hrs on 1st January 1966

The Red Sands Fort in 1969

Radio from Red Sands Forts the brainchild of Harry Featherbee (Tom Pepper) along with Folkestone business associates Charles Evans & John Thompson started Radio Invicta "Your Good Music Station"

Testing on various wave lengths from 3rd June initially on 236 metres they settled on 985 kHz/306 metres & commenced regular programmes on 17th July 1964

Equipped with reasonable studio gear & an estimated transmitter power of 750 watts things looked hopeful. However, with a poor antenna arrangement Radio Invicta failed to get a signal to penetrate the 70 odd miles into London

The sales office was advertised at 110 Fenchurch Street, London E3 with a telephone number of Mansion House 4622

The catch phrase "In the Air Everywhere" used by Radio Invicta was to appear again on Britain Radio & their Record Chart the "Niffty 50" was taken by RNI (Radio Northsea International) in the 1970's

Following the tragic death of Tom Pepper on 16th December 1964 Radio Invicta was to close in February 1965

By the end of the month under Charles Evans & David Lye K.I.N.G Radio had begun testing & commenced regular programmes on 24th March 1965 on 1267 kHz

But with a loose music format & dogged by antenna problems K.I.N.G Radio failed to attract listeners

Unlike the colourful views from the Red Sands Fort choice of stationary was drab

Radio Invicta chose fawns & K.I.N.G never progressed beyond dull grey

The address difficult to read above was KING Radio, Oxford House, Folkestone, Kent

Unsurprisingly K.I.N.G Radio closed down

David Lye approached his friend Ted Allbeury an experienced advertising man who devised the sweet music formula for "Eve the Woman's Magazine of the air"

A massive injection of £150,000 was invested, a pair of custom studios designed around those used by New Zealand Broadcast Corporation were built. Two new generators along with the two wartime Gardner LW 30Kva generators which were brought back into service gave more than adequate power some say believe up to 160Kva

A RCA 10 Kw BTA 10J transmitter along with a said 297 foot * antenna mast was built on the Control Tower topped with a red lamp

* The sectional antenna was actually 150' high on top of the Fort 117' height from seabed

80' from mean high water level giving an actual hight of 230'

With concerns the media wouldn’t mention its wavelength, rather than "Eve" the station targeting housewife’s was named Radio 390 & began its regular scheduled programmes on 23rd September 1965

Trading as Estuary Radio with offices at 35a Bessborough Place, London SW1 with the postal address PO Box 390, BCM 390, London WC1

With transmission hours from 06.30 - Midnight, still visible on Gun Tower 2 (4) the station sounded loud, but was it powerful?

Our technical expert replies: In the early days of Invicta, & KING scaffold poles were used so go for 25% - 40% antenna efficiency with an RCA ET4336 transmitter with pairs of 813 but homemade mods etc. it’s an absolute max tx rf output of 300W & with poor antenna efficiencies that reduced drastically

Radio 390 guyed their antenna nice & evenly, they also had a decent mast though it's doubtful a full quarter wave of 302’ was achieved, say 250’ then expect 80% efficiency to get 8kW emrp

In June 1966 Radio 390 were making plans to launch both an FM service & Radio 390 North from a ship in Colwyn Bay off Wales, probably the Cheeta II once Swedish Radio Syd’s vessel loaned to Radio Caroline after the Mi-Amigo went aground in January

Senior announcer John Ross-Barnard was tasked with producing idents & trial programmes, but the ship was ensnarled with legal paperwork & couldn’t be secured

With legislation in the wind the project was halted

On 21st September Radio 390 had the dubious distinction of being the first Offshore Pirate to be summons

Fines, counter claims, appeals saw Ted Allbeury resign on the 10th February 1967 virtually saying there was no future for free radio on forts, he decamped to Ship borne Britain Radio/355

Radio 390 battled the courts for another 4 months under Company Secretary David Lye until outlawed on 28th July 1967

For the full history of the stations on Red Sands get a copy of our documentary CD Radio from Red Sands which includes unique original audio clips never before broadcast

Grateful thanks to the late Mike Bass & Dave Porter G4OYX ex BBC Transmitter Engineer & Ricardo for their help in producing this feature

Sailings to the Maunsell Sea Forts & sights of the Thames Estuary are arranged throughout the summer from Herne Bay & Whitstable in Kent

Page 2 Radio 390 in conjunction with John Ross-Barnard & our Website bring you a never to be repeated Very Special Offer

For details of our regular sailings see Boat Trips

For all the Army forts, plans, layout, & their Radio Stations navigate from Red Sands Rendezvous & Sutch & City 1

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

For news on the Red Sands preservation project see Seatribe

For the Navy Forts & their Radio Stations navigate from Radio Essex 222 & Sealand One

For the full history of Radio from Redsands & our range of other documentary CD's the Sealand Grand Tour VCD, books & a video on the forts go to Offshore Shop


[HOME] (c)Bob Le-Roi 2006