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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

Pictured in summer 2004

Screaming Lord Sutch & his backing band the Savages were touring Britain & parts of Europe at the time with an unusual & 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 in late 1967

No transmissions were made from the boat, but what is certain Radio Sutch boarded the disused WW2 Army Fort on Shivering Sands. Above pictured in 1977 after the catwalks had collapsed, said to have been assisted by grapling hooks

Abandoned by the MoD since 1958 the forts had been mentioned by the Cornucopia's captain & other Kent & Essex fisherman. Reg & David seized upon the idea & transferred their gear aboard the derelict fort

Being comparatively easy to board & 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 & Knob Channels the station found plenty to talk about as ships sailed close by making their way to & from the Thames, Medway & 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 1 & 2 centre left

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

Not knowing where Radio Sutch was, Eric & Don 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 & other supplies there & then on his Harvester 2

Much to the delight of those on the Harvester they were greeted by David Sutch & a bevy of partially clad girls

The supplies were sent aboard & it was to be the beginnings of the South Thames Sales Office & 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, from Record Shop, the Radio City South Thames Office, to Fruit & Vegetable Shop, Carpet Shop & Book Shop

20a Oxford Street as the Record Centre you could buy the latest chart hits EP's and LP's, get yourself a record player or tape recorder or buy a Kay Greeting Card. 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 & 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

The premises have since been a fruit & vegetable shop, the carpet shop Rival pictured above & at the time of publication a book shop see below

16 West Cliff in 2005

Eric K Martin's Whitstable home at 16 Westcliffe just round the corner from The Record Centre pictured in summer 2005

Making more tender tapes

Very early lash up of gear to record Radio City Tender Shows in 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 9th 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

Old 405 line ITV London television & FM radio along with 625 line UHF Aerial on the roof of 20a Oxford Street

Brian Hitcham of Best Books 2005

Proprietor of Best Book Deals Brian Hitcham runs 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 available from the Offshore Shop

Oxford Street Books 1

Oxford Street Books Logo

Now trading as Oxford Street Books

Afterwards at at Whitstable Castle Tankerton at 14.30 & 15.30 we'll be giving an audio visual presentation on the Radio Forts

The next day Sunday 31st July there will be follow up presentations at 11.00 & 14.30 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 about 1964/65 from Kings Agency. He came from Liverpool & 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, but when he came of 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.- Dave Elliott

Radio City had all sorts of people come & go on an adhock basis, anyone who was willing & partly able got a turn on the station, most like this guy passed ito 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