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Radio Sutch & City - Part 8

Shiver Me Timbers more from Shivering Sands

Issue: 1 Updated: 4th May 2011

Pop group manager Reg Calvert & David Sutch came up with the idea for a radio station as something of a glorified publicity stunt following in the wake of Radio Caroline

Reg Calvert envisaged a radio station as an ideal platform to promote his roster of groups, especially Screaming Lord Sutch who worked under the Kings Agency banner at London's 'Tin Pan Alley'

7 Denmark Street in 2004

The Radio City Offices at 7 Denmark Street

7 Denmark Street in 2004

7 Denmark Street (Summer 2004)

Screaming Lord Sutch & his backing band the Savages were touring Britain and parts of Europe at the time with an unusual and somewhat macabre Rock Horror Show

Radio Caroline had shown what could be done, so with a miniscule budget Radio Sutch launched from the Pool of London on the old fishing Boat the 'Cornucopia' on 25th May 1964

Shivering Sands in 1977

Shivering Sands Fort (Late 1977)

Above after the catwalks had collapsed, said to have been assisted by grapling hooks

No transmissions were made from the boat, but what is certain Radio Sutch boarded the disused WW2 Army Fort on Shivering Sands

Abandoned by the MoD since 1958 the Forts had been mentioned by the 'Cornucopia' captain and Kent & Essex fisherman. Reg seized upon the idea taking their gear aboard the derelict fort

Being comparatively easy to board and the furthest out in the Thames Estuary it proved an ideal location

Radio Sutch programme schedule

The first transmissions were made on 197 mmw on 27th May 1964 using the most primitive of equipment

Radio Sutch programme schedule

Mock-up of the Radio Sutch Schedule

Close to the Knock John and Knob Channels the station found plenty to talk about as ships sailed close by making their way to and from the Thames, Medway and East Coast Ports

Eric K Martin's engineer Don Witts was repairing a radio set at The Record Centre 20a Oxford Street Whitstable when he heard an appeal for water from Radio Sutch

Whitstable harbour in colour in 1950's

Whitstable Harbour in the 1950's with the 'Harvesters I & II' centre left

The 'Harvesters' were used quite often as umpire boats during the annual regatta

Not knowing where Radio Sutch was, Eric made enquiries at Whitstable Harbour

Harvester 2 with skipper owner Fred Downs

Rare shot of Whitstable fisherman Fred Downs who was persuaded to take out water and supplies on his 'Harvester II'

Much to the delight of those onboard the 'Harvester' they were greeted by David Sutch and a bevy of partially clad girls

The supplies were put aboard on what was to be the beginnings of the South Thames Sales Office and local management of Radio City

The CD the Radio Sutch & City Story recounts the whole tale, go to the Offshore Shop

By September Reg Calvert had sole control of the station having paid £5,000 to David Sutch for his share of the operation

20a Oxford Street in 2004

20a Oxford Street,

Record Shop and Radio City South Thames Office, has since been a Fruit & Vegetable Shop, Carpet Shop, Book Sellers

20a Oxford Street as the Record Centre sold the latest chart hits EP's and LP's, you could buy a record player, tape recorder and Kay Greeting Cards. The record retail part of the business greatly benifited from the promotion it enjoyed on air with Chart Singles litteraly flying out the door

Despite the link with the record shop adverse weather sometimes delayed new records and supplies coming out. I remember in the evenings when we'd closed down for the night, we'd record songs from the old TV in the lounge on the Fort to be played the next day. Especially during the build up to the Eurovision song contest when the station was keen to be first to play the UK's entry

Later Eric later opened a Squash Bar selling cheap soft drinks in the shops basement. The juke box encouraged many to buy the latest singles as the bar became the meeting place for the towns youth

The CD The Radio Sutch & City Story gives an insight to life with the Fort, available from the Offshore Shop

16 West Cliff in 2005

16 Westcliffe (Summer 2005)

Eric K Martin's Whitstable home was round the corner from The Record Centre

Making more tender tapes

Very early lash up of gear to record Radio City Tender Shows (Winter 1964)

Being a small operation the towers were seldom manned by more than 3, with all hands on deck to take aboard supplies & change crews. Itching to get involved I nagged Eric for a piece of the action, to keep me quiet I was tasked with producing filler tapes, played out as the Fort was supplied. For some reason they liked them, from there on it was just a matter of time before I joined the crew on the Fort

Civic a Currys special tape machine 1964

The old Civic bought by my father from Curry's in 1964 looks quite sad these days but a useful deck for maintaining old archive tapes

Based on the Collaro Deck, it benefited from being 3 speed & half track so recordings were compatible for the Ferrograph on the Fort

It also had an amazingly fast forward/rewind speed Don Witt had a similar model which he thought he'd be able to convert to a high speed duplicator, an idea that never came to fruition

Radio City Rate Card 1965

The 1965 Rate Card A 'side

From 1965 things became more commercially aggressive

Radio City Rate Card 1965

The 1965 Rate Card B'side

With posters, letter heads & rate cards produced

Reg & Dorothy Calvert in 1965

Dorothy accompanies Reg on a rare trip out to the Towers for her on the Harvester in the early days of Radio City

Following the raid on Shivering Sands on 20th June 1966 & Reg's untimely death the next day. Dorothy took over running Radio City until it's enforced closure on 8th February 1967

20a Oxford Street in 2005

20a Oxford Street on 15th January 2005 as Best Book Deals

Aerials on roof of 20a oxford street in 2005

20a Oxford Street

Old 405 line ITV London television & FM radio along with 625 line UHF Aerial on the roof

Brian Hitcham of Best Books 2005

Brian Hitcham ayt 20a Oxford Street

Proprietor ran Best Book Deals a thriving retail & on-line internet book business with wife Karen

Best Books logo

1st Book Shop

Making Waves Launch

David Phillips (Arqiva) Roy Gooderson (RG Electronics), Joan Witts*, Brian & Karen Hitchem (Oxford Street Books)

*Widow of 1st Radio Sutch/Radio City Shivering Sands Radio Engineer Don Witts

At launch of Making Waves the Radio Essex story by David Sinclair & Bob Le-Roi on Saturday 30th July 2005 at 09.30am

Oxford Street Books 1

Oxford Street Books Logo

Now trading as Oxford Street Books

Afterwards at at Whitstable Castle Tankerton with an audio visual presentation on the Radio Forts

On Sunday 31st July there was a follow up presentations at The Heritage Cafe St Mary's Hall Town Centre

The story will continue in Sutch & City Part 9

25/5/06 - I Live in Minster Isle-of-Sheppey, a freind of mine told me the other day that her dad (Peter Lane of Eastchurch) used to be involved with Radio City Possibly deejaying, sadly Peter passed away a couple of years ago. I did a search but couldn't find him. She could tell me Peter used to go out to the Forts often. I will try to get some more information from Peter`s family & forward maybe it will jog somebody's memory, many thanks - Paul

1/5/06 - I believe there is a tape of a guy called Dave Jackson who went on Radio Sutch in 1964 from Kings Agency. He came from Liverpool and was only onboard for about two or three weeks. I'm told he was very upset when he arrived at the Record Shop ready to go out to the Fort, they told him that he will not be able to take his bottle of vodka onboard. When he came off it was late at night he'd left his bottle as the shop which was shut so couldn't get it back, do you have any information on him

19/02/21 - You said in your page that you wonted to know what happened to Dave Elliott that went on Radio Sutch and left a bottle of vodka in the record shop! Well here I am still playing radio allthough Ham Radio now. I did end up on Radio City in Liverpool and a did bit on Radio Merseyside, it's good to see my name listed - Dave Elliott

Radio City had all sorts of people came on an adhock basis, anyone who was willing and partially able was given a turn, most passed into ablivion - ED

Grateful thanks to Candy Calvert for the picture of her parents Reg & Dorothy

For all the Radio Sutch & City features navigate from Sutch & City Part 1

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 biograghy of the Radio Sutch & City Jocks The Pirate Hall of Fame

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 2005