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Radio Sutch & City in Pictures & Audio Part 1

Updated: 31st March 2010 Issue: 7

This series will bring you the history of radio broadcasting from on the abandoned WWII Army Forts Shivering Sands off the Whitstable Kent coast

Transmitting initially as Radio Sutch & later Radio City the pirate radio station had been set up by Pop  Group Manager & Music Entrepreneur Reg Calvert, first as a publicity stunt to promote Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages

The series is not in any particular order & is published as new material & information comes to light

David Sutch publicity picture from 1964

Screaming Lord Sutch 1964 Publicity Photograph for Grimsby based Fan Club

The horror rock singer was soon to become a Pirate Radio operator


Audio Break

David Sutch talks to Kent Messenger reporter about 1966 Election

Above recorded at the Kings Hall, Herne Bay: Subject the 1966 General Election when Screaming Lord Sutch & The Monster Raving Loony Party stood against PM Harold Wilson in his home constituency of Huyton in Lancashire

Barges at Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge from the banks of the River Thames in the heyday of Barge traffic

It was from here that Radio Sutch launched, aboard a 60' wooden trawler the Cornucopia, David "Screaming Lord" Sutch with trade mark Purple Cape with his backing band the Savages suitably clad in leopard skins set sail, most thought the whole thing was a publicity stunt staged with the help of his manager Reg Calvert

See the London registered Cornucopia LO21 in Sutch & City Part 5

Shivering Sands forts in 1965

But on 27th May 1964 Radio Sutch having abandoned the fishing boat "Cornucopia" takes over Shivering Sands Forts

4 nautical (4.60) miles from Red Sands & 8 nautical (9.2) miles from nearest land at Herne Bay, & 8.75 nautical (10.06) miles from Whitstable Harbour was to become the tendering port for the forts

Above the 'Scull & Crossbones' flying from a makeshift scaffold pole antenna fed by an ex-Halifax aircraft radio set, provided entertainment for fisherman, seagulls& the Isle of Sheppey, perhaps on a good day a couple of towns on the North Kent & Essex Coast!

HM Thames Fort Locations

With an MoD designated code of U7 Shivering sands was a disused WW2 Army Fort in the Thames Estuary

Built in tandem with Nore U5 & Red Sands U6 the forts were completed for action between July-December 1943

Three forts of the same design were built in the Mersey for Liverpool Bay but were demolished in the 1950's

For a range of books on the building of the Army & Navy Forts go to Offshore

HM Thames Fort Locations Press Cutting

Newspaper cutting of the period showing the locations of the Thames Estuary Army & Navy Forts grounded between 1942/43

In the late 1940's the Navy towers were left, & by 1958 the Army forts had also been abandoned by the MoD

Nore was dismantled in 1959/60, Shivering Sands, Red Sands, & Knock John, which is now sealed by welding survive in decay

Sunk Head was demolished by Royal engineers in 1967

Tongue, already badly damaged succumbed to storms & toppled over in 1996 & Roughs, now called the Principality of Sealand remains occupied

For more details on all the Thames Estuary Forts see Fort Fax

Radio City tender Harvester 2 loaded with gear

One of our tenders the Harvester 2 pushed off by owner skipper Fred Downs. Reg Calvert nearest the mast & engineer Don Witts by the port gunwale

Radio City tender Harvester 2 leaves Whitstable

Laden with materials to construct the first real studio she sails from Whitstable for the fort

Reg Calvert in Radio Sutch studio on Shivering Sands Fort

Reg Calvert known as 'uncle' by the radio crews


Audio Break

Reg Calvert proclaiming the virtues of Britain's Teenage Radio Station Radio Sutch on 197 mmw

See the Radio Sutch transmitter in Sutch & City Part 4

For the musical history & life of Reg Calvert see David St John's excellent site

A technically crude set up, the station often closed without warning when the lorry batteries powering the Heath-Robinson equipment went flat

There's a detailed picture of the Radio Sutch transmitter in Sutch & City Part 4

Hear more of Reg Calvert on Radio Sutch & City on CD's that can be found in the Offshore Shop

Bottom Floor Fort Plan

The bottom floor of a Gun Tower

On Shivering Sands the G1 3.7 Gun Tower was used first later operations expanded into the Control Tower

Man access was through a middle hatch set into the floor later the electric hoist was used

The ablutions to the right housed two, two cylinder Lister generators one of these was to go to Knock John. A Lister JP3 three cylinder in 1965 was followed by a Detroit flat head diesel that came aboard & was fitted just inside the gantry doors

See Sutch & City Part 2 for pictures & details

Intermediate Floor Fort Plan

The Intermediate floor, the Radio Sutch & City studio was in the bottom left of this floor in what was the NCO's recreation room

An additional door was fitted in an attempt to mute the noise of the generators but invariably the studio windows were open so the generators could easily be heard

The transmitter(s) were in the NCO sleeping quarters which could be monitored through a glass window put in the wall

Sleeping accommodation was in the magazine & half of the original men's sleeping quarters partitioned by curtains from the TV lounge complete with the old Radio Sutch transmitter for a shore link

The galley was in the men's recreation room

Gun Tower Top Floor Fort Plan

Gun Tower top floor (roof)

Harvester 2

Fred Downs on Harvester 2 the most commonly used fort tender

Both Harvesters were painted pale blue & white they were then arguably the tidiest boats in the Whitstable Harbour basin

The Harvesters were 36' clinker built ex-navy harbour service launches converted for fishing & fitted with Bolinder diesels

They were bought by the Leggatt brothers originally from Essex for £500 each

They'd come to the town having been driven into the harbour by a storm they liked it & stayed

I believe the Harvesters ended their days on the Medway after Fred was tragically drowned off the harbour in 1974

Shivering Sands Fort close up from 1965

Shivering Sands Fort close up from 1965 showing 3 Gun Towers & the Control Tower which was later taken over with accommodation studio & the record library being moved there

Control Tower Bottom Floor Fort Plan

Control Tower bottom floor

Control Tower Intermediate Floor Fort Plan

Control Tower intermediate level

Control Tower Fop Floor Fort Plan

Control Tower top floor (roof) on which the first run of the "washing line" ariel began & later the big mast was installed

Harvester 2 from G1 Gun Tower Platform


Harvester 2 comes alongside viewed from the then only occupied southern G1 Gun Tower

Plan of Army Fort Layout

Plan of the Thames Army Forts Radio Sutch & City were to take over the Gi Gun Tower before expanding operations into the Control Tower

Drawings by J A Posford the fort builders from "The Construction of Britain's Sea Forts"

For a range of books on the building of the Army & Navy Forts go to Offshore Shop

Cut off from the 30 kw wartime Gardner LV generators on the Searchlight Tower by the Ribersborg collision of 1963 which demolished the G4 Gun Tower, lorry batteries powered Radio Sutch which were charged at night when the station had closed down

Then a pair of small Lister generators were installed in the latrines on the first floor before a Lister JP3 & finally a Detroit flat head diesel came out

Radio City 299 mmw transmitter

Transformers, monitor tuner, oscilloscope, aerial loading & the old US Navy General Electric TCJ-7 our 299 transmitter I was told came from an Aircraft Carrier

Radio City rig was based on the TCJ series transmitter which feed a linear amplifier & 813 output stages as can be seen above

26/12/07 - The General Electric TCJ medium wave TX covers 300 to 600kc, 837 master oscillator, 807 Intermediate power amplifier with a pair 813s in the final amplifier. CW and MCW modes, 400 watts output at 1800V on the plates - 73, Rob Flory


Audio Break

Paul Elvey, Bob Le-Roi & Chris Cross programme links from March 1965 from studio as pictured below

Radio Sutch/City studio

The first real studio consisting a pair of Garrard SP25 turntables fitted with Decca Deram cartridges (No slip pads, we'd not learnt that trick yet!) Not designed for cueing needle changes were frequent

Adverts were played from an open reel Brennel just visible in its scruffy home made wooden case. If you were lucky there was a working Ferrograph to play the religious tapes and record programmes when off-air

The Pirate favored AKG D12 drum microphone was controlled by an elbow switch to the left, the foam pad on the mic' had the words 'aim here'

All fed into a 3 channel home made passive mixer. An Eagle meter glued to the wall above the consol gave some clue to modulation, an amplifier, to the left gave monitoring

Chris Cross at Brennel tape machine

Chris Cross at the Brennel playing out an advertisement from one of the 3" reels located in a rack above. We never ever had 'Spot Master' cartridge machines

Martin Green on air

Martin Green our Dutch DJ on 5x4 the Beatles Vs Stones programme daily at 17.00

Martin Stevens on air

Martin Stevens a chance City DJ was the Offshore Radio photographer

Radio City carnival float in 1965

Leyland J4 lorry the Radio City 1965 carnival float, with final adjustments being made at the stern by station manager Eric K Martin
You can hear Eric K Martin on the CD "The Radio Sutch & City Story" which can be found in the Offshore Shop

DJ's & engineers pose on gun tower G1 fort roof

On top of the G1 Gun Tower Engineer - Phil Perkins with Alexander Dee, Dick Dixon & Chris Cross in the foreground

N.B Phil Perkins a radio amateur (Ham) call sign G3OUF now G3OUV had previously been on Radio Invicta across at the Red Sands Fort he was an Engineer & heard on programes using the name Tony Silver

Engineer Don Witts

Engineer Don Witts looks out from the gun platform to an occasional visitor

Trinity House ship "Patricia"

A Trinity House service vessel the "Patricia" picking up the Shivering Sands south buoy for maintenance in Harwich

Radio City poster

Reg Calvert designed 1965 City Poster

This story continues from Sutch & City Part 2

Also be sure to share Paul Elvey's personal pictures Billericy Boy Paul Elvey shares his photo album of his time with Radio Sutch & City from Paul Elvey 1

For great photographs from the Photo Journalist of the Pirates navigate from Martin Stevens

For the pictures of the 40th anniversary of Shivering Sand broadcasts see Sutch & City Re-Union

For the book of the solitary occupation by Artist Stephen Turner of the Searchlight Tower on Shivering Sands see Seafort Project

22/12/07 - I believe the transmitter pictured on the Radio Sutch page is actually a US Navy TCJ, rather than the TCK. The TCJ is the medium frequency brother to the TCK. Giveaway is 4 band positions on the \"unicontrol\" that sets the frequency. See pictures of my TCK on my Website Cheers, Rob Flory

Your website most excellent. Congrats on a superb website. I've just spent far too long looking at it and enjoying the clips. What colour! Great Radio City pix. As for Eric Martin's VO... Almost as good as Roy Bates' for Channel Airways (which was complete with swooshing effects, as their Tiger Moth flew over!) Have I mentioned our new business site? Try www.zmedia.tv Regards
Gerry Zierler (Guy Hamilton - Radio Essex 222)

Last night we played again your documentary CD on the history of Radio Sutch/City see Offshore Shop I grew up in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Radio City used to be received very well, nearly as loudly as Caroline South but not as loudly as Caroline North which belted in there. I often used to listen to you on City especially I think when I came home from school. I thought the Radio City DJs worked more as a team and were less distracted by personality contests etc than those on the bigger stations. While I was working as an apprentice joiner I was continually re-tuning a massive old mains radio away from Big L to Radio City and piping your output all round the joinery works. It was days before they realised there had been a switch, then it became a race between me and the factory engineer to get to the tuning knob first

For all the Red Sands Army Fort & it's Radio Stations navigate from Red Sands Rendezvous

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

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

Make sure you also see the NAB "Mystery Tower" the forerunner to Maunsell Forts in Sailing the Solent

For the range of documentary CD's in the Offshore Radio "Roaring 60's" collection, the Sealand VCD, books, & a video on the Army & Navy Forts go to Offshore Shop

For a surname A-Z biography of the Radio Sutch & City Jocks The Pirate Hall of Fame

Excel 2

Trips to the Maunsell Sea Forts are arranged throughout the summer from Whitstable Herne Bay in Kent

For details of our sailings to see the sights of the Thames Estuary & North Kent Coast see Boat Trips


[HOME] (c)Bob Le-Roi 2002