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Radio Sutch & City - Part 10

The Sands still Shiver more adventures from the Thames Estuary Radio Fort

Updated: 28th January 2015 Issue: 5

With thoughts & comment from former Radio City Boys Ross Brown & Ian MacRae

Shivering Sands in 1967

1. Shivering Sand Army Forts

Home of Radio City on 299 mmw the Shivering Sand Army Forts with the rented big mast removed very soon after the station closed down in February in 1967

Ross Brown in Radio City T Shirt

2. Ross Brown gets the first 1966 Tower of Power T'Shirt

"It seems I was very camera shy in the 60s the only photo I have is this one with beard wearing Radio City T'Shirt taken at the London Office" - Ross Brown (RB)

Finished in Blue on White imagine the shock I had when presenting at Invicta Radio Group a listener arrived proudly wearing his original 1966 T'Shirt! - Ed

To mark the 40th anniversary of the closedown of Radio City & the Marine Etc Broadcasting Offences Act see our 2007 Radio City 299 T'Shirt 

Oxford Cinema

3. The former Oxford Cinema

Next door to the Radio City Office at 20a Oxford Street Whitstable, became a Bingo Hall

"I remember the record shop that doubled as an office for the South Thames region, & the funny cinema next door!" "These days my wife & I love traveling we have been to Spain, Portugal & many countries" - RB

Pictures of the Record Centre at 20a Oxford Steet in Sutch & City - Part 8

In its Cinematic days breakdowns were common, the programme invariably began late, lip sync' sound was unheard of

More often than not just one of the old two 1930's projectors worked at any one time so reel changes took an age to complete!

Come back senior projectionist Wally Duke all's forgiven

See the Oxford Cinema's second projectionists comments in Sutch & City - Part 5

Shivering Sands in 2005

4. Shivering Sand Army Forts

Shivering Sands from the Paddle Steamer (PS) Waverley on 29th September 2005

"We've been to Tonga a small Pacific island with Palm trees to attend a media conference, not bad work" "I am back in radio too reading the newspapers for print handicapped people, I read once a week on Thursday evenings for two hours & I'm really enjoying the challenge" - RB

Ian MacRae on air

5. Ian MacRae with the hits of the day

Here's one of me in what was laughingly called a studio - Ian MacRae (IM)

* Hat to help keep warm, the forts were cold drafty old places in the winter months - Ed

Fred Flintstone

6. Fred Flintstone

Radio City Yabadabadoo - IM


Audio Break

Ian MacRae after closedown on 4th July 1966 playing the fool in the studio after closedown, before the engineering messages were relayed. This edited of the full version is a sketch of a character to be introduced to the Auntie Mabel Hour

Press Cutting Prisoners listen to Radio City Press Cutting Prisoners listen to Radio City

7. Whitstable Times

Music on the run - Extract from the Whitstable Times

General Electric TCK-7 transmitter rebuild

8. General Electric TCK-7

Thank you for your "Radio Sutch & City " pages, here's the General Electric TCK-7 transmitter, I mentioned - Bob Bartola (BB)

Thanks again from your friends across the pond - BB

26/12/07 - Picture above from Bob Bartola seems to show a TBA, a higher-power HF rig running a pair of 833s - Rob Flory (RF)

General Electric TCK-7 transmitter rebuild

9. General Electric TCK-7 transmitter, close-up

Pictures of the General Electric TCK-7 rebuild by Bob Bartola, similar model transmitter used by Radio City

See original Radio City transmitter picture & detail in Sutch City Part 4

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, RF

Alongside Gun Tower 1 Shivering Sands

10. G1 & Control Towers with antenna

Shortly after being found guilty & fined £100 by Romford Magistrates Court under the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949 for using a transmitter without a licence, Dorothy Calvert arrived at the Fort at 11.00 on 8th February 1967

Listening to BBC radio news

11. Control Tower listening to BBC

Tom Edwards, Adrian Love, myself, Paul Kramer & Dorothy Calvert in the Control Tower listening to BBC news telling us Radio City has been found within the re-drawn territorial water limit & had to close - IM

Radio City closed down for the last time an hour later with the transmitter shut down for the final time at just after midnight

Ian MacRae on tender back to shore

12. Ian MacRae on Harvester II

Note: The southern Shivering Sands Buoy which could be heard on-air, no longer on station

Me going ashore to Whitstable on one of the Harvester Tenders. We were trying to
beat a storm, you can just see the approaching storm clouds building in the North West - IM

Shivering Sands from Waverley

13. Shivering Sands from The Waverley

Leaving Shivering Sands behind from the PS Waverley on 29th September 2005

Waverley off Scotland

14. The Waverley cruising in home waters off Scotland

The story will continue in Sutch & City Part 11

Tony Pine & Ian MacRae

15. Tony Pine & Ian MacRae

Catch up on the foreshore at West Beach Whitstable

Tony Pine, Ian MacRae & Bob Le-Roi

8. Tony, Ian & Bob

Tony in the middle of a plumbing job at a leisure site on Seawall, West Beach, Whitstable on Tuesday 2nd May 2006

See & hear Ian MacRae & his fellow presenters on Australia's 2UE

12/112/06 - Dear Sir, Going through the 10 parts of the Radio City 299 history a few questions remain open:

1. I cannot see any of the metal guy ropes which should hold the mast. Difficult to imagine the engineer could do without them. As space on the fort was limited, I imagine, stabilizing the mast was a problem. Or not?

Answer 1 - Of course the mast was guyed ,there are some pictures showing the detail if you look carefully

2. Shivering Sands can be seen from the coast, but there are no photographs which confirm that the coast can be seen from the fort

Answer 2 - You're not looking in the right place, there are pictures of the forts with coast in background, navigate from Boat Trips pages, there you will see this detail

3. Radio City was not directly related to the history of World War II but I have been asking myself why the forts were set up in the open sea where they could easily be spotted by hostile planes. I think three miles did not make a great difference, neither for the British nor for the Germans. But admittedly this question is beyond Radio City 299

Answer 3 - Fort Fax page has all the detail of why the forts were built, we also have books CD's & DVD's for sale which are ideal to learn more

4. Why was the power of Radio City only around 2 kW (?). If any saving on installations was deemed necessary in those days then least of all on the transmitter, I think. Because any off-shore station manager or owner of the Sixties knew that kilowatts meant coverage, and coverage meant revenue from advertisement

Answer 4 - Radio City was not cash rich as our equipment testifies, the TSA was primarily London & SE of UK, but we had good reception in other parts of Britain & a good part of mainland Europe

The 299 mmw ex-US Naval rig was rebuilt & greatly modified by our 1st engineer Don Witts, later TX engineer Ian West did a fantastic job by building his own transmitter from parts which achieved around 800 watts. City never had RCA tranmitters like the other stations, but produced a very acceptable signal for the required TX footprint due to the efficient 200' antenna. Radio 390 despite opinion seldom ran their 10kw at more than 5kw, like City the ir 150' mast did produced a signal sounding more powerful than it actually was - ED

11/12/06 - Interesting story so far ten parts of Radio City. The drawings are impressive. Unfortunately, this station was in contrast to Radio 270, Radio 390 & Caroline South too weak to be received in Northern Germany. I felt, however, that there was a station in the background. Only once on a Sunday in 1966 it broke through with a fairly strong signal & was captured with a tube-powered radio built in 1937 but was impossible with any Japanese transistor. It is regrettable that no attempts have been made to revive Radio City 299 after the pattern of Radio Caroline and BigL. DVB-S MPEG-2 in a London studio could not create the atmosphere of an off-shore fort, vinyl & the adventurousness of the staff, I think. Sincerely - Gerrit Thiessen - Germany

4/12/06 : I enjoyed the new material & especially the bits about Macca.  I have lost contact with him over the years. In fact quite a few of my "Offshore" colleagues have left the studio & are now working for the big sender in the sky.  I was shocked to find out how many have passed on.  Unfortunately I have never been a great correspondent & now regret not having kept touch with my former colleagues, what I am saying here is, your web production is a 'gem' with all its history & for me, many great memories of some really good times, I hope you keep up the steady stream of memorabilia, for one reader (me) it is precious. Thanks - Ross Brown

Ross was Ross Brown on Radio City & later Freddie Beare on Radio Caroline North

1/12/06 : Remember you asked me what I knew about the 299 transmitter, when I told you Tony & Sam took it down to the station in our band wagon? I'm pretty certain that they picked it up from Southampton, which would make a lot of sense, as Reg was based there for a few years & obviously had contacts there, also it being a NavalPport & the transmitter an ex-US Naval item. Keep up the good work - Tom Long - Pinkertons Assorted Colours

30/11/06 : Interesting stuff. I'd forgotten all about that mucking about stuff after close-down. The first photo on the page is a great shot of the towers with the big mast of Radio City in 1967 - Ian MacRae

Grateful thanks to Ian MacRae now running All About Radio & Boost Digital Australia, Ross Brown of Pacific Media Unit in Australia & to Bob Bartola & Niel Edwards for their contributions to this feature

The story continues in Sutch & City Pics - Part 11

For all the Radio Sutch & City features navigate from ScrapBook Index

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

N.B. To mark the 40th anniverasary of the closedown of Radio City & the Marine Etc Broadcasting Offenses Act see our 2007 Radio City 299 T'Shirt

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

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


[HOME] (c)Bob Le-Roi 2006