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The Radio Tower Project - Part 2

Issue: 5 Updated: 1st February 2013

The full & real story of the ill fated Offshore project to launch a Pirate

Television Channel & Radio station from the Sunk Head Fort

Part 2 of the 5 part feature: Tower Television

Sunk Head Fort in choppy seas

Welcome back to Sunk Head with the often choppy seas around the fort

Radio Tower car sticker

The Radio Tower 236 Car Sticker produced in 1965

It's colour is accurately reproduced & measuring 46.1cm (18.25") x 75.cm (3") made of a polyethelene material it pre-dated the Britain Radio England sticker of the same type produced in 1966

Dave Simser & Bill Rollins Dave Simser

Dave Simser watches young Bill Rollins on radio test transmissions Dave Simser wonders if anyone can hear us?

Radio Tower Studio

The Radio Tower Studio!

Supply boat circles fort 3

Friendly greetings from those on Sunk Head

Press report on Tower TV launch

Press report on planned start of Tower TV

Main photograph John Boulter on Camera & Dave Simser

Chris Gosling (Chris G) announcing & the Sunk Head Fort right


Audio Break

Radio Tower testing on 236 mmw during December 1965 with John Waters about to hand over to Graham London

With the project moving forward Eric Sullivan made contact with Robin Garton who ran Martello Studios from his families Martello Holiday Park at Walton-on-the Naze

Robin Garton in 2004

Robin was keen to promote semi-pro & amateur bands, he was to produced & host the Sounds Good Show a pilot was produced but the programme never aired

Robin gained the heady title of Advertising Manager, with his recording studio earmarked to make other pre-recorded programmes & advertisements

Open reel of Radio Tower Jingles

Open reel tape master of Radio Tower Jingles November 1965

It was at the Martello Studios the Radio Tower home spun jingles were produced

7" acetate  of Radio Tower Jingles

Acetate 7" record pressing

Dave Simser by 3.7" gun Tower TV test card by gun

Tower TV on the deck of the Sunk Head Fort with Dave Simser, Chris Gosling & John Boulter on Camera

With Derek Massen now running the operations side, he got cold feet over the tests, not wishing to do anything illegal he pulled out of the project

Dave Simser on camera by gun

Blowing a bit with Dave Simser holding on his signature Big T 10 gallon hat & John Boulter on Camera

Meanwhile on-shore Peter Jeeves with salesman Bob Record sold advertising, said to include the News of the World Newspaper, Timex Watches & the 7th Day Evangelists

Locally, an Anglian turkey farm, in Colchester the Scotch Wool Shop & T.H.E. Estate Agents located in the same building as Radio Tower at 15 Trinity Street

Dave Simser holds his hat on! Chris Goslin holds test card

Tower TV quite a blag

Dave Simser gets a grip on 236 Dave Simser, Chris Gosling Bill Rollins wearing headphones with John Boulter on Camera

Television transmissions were supposed to have begun on 9th November 1965 at a power of 10 watts, using equipment built by George Short & a home made antenna system 119'on top of the Fort

Chris Goslin holds test card close up John Waters

Dave Simser, Chris Gosling with John Boulter on Camera & Bill Rollins wearing headphones John Waters with camera & the test card

A follow up report in the East Essex Gazette said that a blurred test card was seen by viewers on Channel 5 (VHF 405 lines) at Walton-on-the-Naze, the reports are unsubstantiated & may have been part of the publicity drive by Tower Television themselves

Dave Simser with test card inside fort

Tower Television John Boulter focusing on the test card held by Dave Simser

Dave had come to England from native Florida with the USAF, as DJ Dynamite Dave Simser he saw Tower as a way of converting the English to American Country Music

He'd been managing Clarke's Newmarket General Store which he renamed The Tower Trading Post

This is probably wishful thinking, other than the simple closed circuit camera & test card it's definite that there was no television transmission equipment onboard when these pictures were taken

Radio Tower transmitter

The actual Radio Tower transmitter, more detail in Part 5

With very poor radio transmitter the Fort barely managing to produce audible radio signals let alone a TV transmission, so it's highly unlikely that any TV broadcast were ever made

Daily Telegraph Cuting (Undated)

The Daily Telegraph (Undated)

Guard John Boulter by a 3.7" gun

Fort Guard John Boulter by one of the big 3.7" guns

Originally Tower followed the example set by Radio Sutch, setting up a batch of batteries for broadcasting, recharged by a petrol generator when the station wasn't testing

Life Magazine article

Photo Journalists report by Martin Stevens for Life Magazine, Saturday January 1st 1966

But the idea made a cracking story just like Radio City & Caroline TV!

Sunk Head with tide dropping

The tide's turned

On 28th November, Eric Sullivan wishing for more reliable tendering, contacted Kees Romas of the Offshore Supply Company

A meeting was hurriedly set up in Holland with the Dutch parent Company Wijsmuller, for a fee of £150 per month their Offshore 1 would make two visits each month, already the Offshore 1 was tendering the Mi-Amigo, Radio Caroline & the Galaxy, Radio London

On the only occasion the Offshore 1 visited Sunk Head with the Tower Crew hidden beneath tarpaulins as it made Caroline's Mi-Amigo & Radio London's Galaxy

Drama struck on the unofficial trip, arriving at Sunk Head the Offshore 1 was dragged into one of the legs & became trapped, with the platform wedged between the vessels two masts

With pieces dropping onto the deck from the Fort superstructure & the likelihood of being holed below the waterline from the remains of the submerged landing gantry, Kees Romas pushed the Offshore 1 full ahead snapping off the rear mast

Eric Sullivan 1966 Tower Press Shot

Press picture of Eric Sullivan

Steaming back to Holland Kees was sacked by Wijsmuller, Eric Sullivan having declined to pay the then extortionate tendering sum to Wijsmuller made Rommers a direct offer to come & work for Radio Tower

Jubilant crew on deck

A jubilant crew prepare to welcome visitors

A wage of £5 a day (£35 a week, £140 a month) was tabled & Romas agreed to work for Radio Tower, searching Holland for a suitable tender vessel he turned up the 69' iron built ex-Icelandic Trawler SS Maarje

The Maarje was taken through the waterways of Holland to Ijmuiden, & rebuilt at a said cost of 17,000 Guilders

Sailing back from Holland in thick fog the vessel berthed at Parkstone Quay, Harwich

Supply boat circles fort 1 Supply boat circles fort 2

Fooling about on the deck as the supply boat circles waiting for the swell to calm

Waving the tender off

Dave Simser waves his 10 gallon hat as the tender leaves

We continue to explore Sunk Head & find out what went wrong for the Television & Radio project on the Fort in Radio Tower - Part 3

Sunk Head

Final view of the Sunk Head

Fantastic updates to your website, especially the Tower Radio series & the Sealand updates. I wish I had known about the"Three Forts Special" Boat Trip sooner as it really is the ideal one for me & I cannot get time to do it! Any chance of this one sailing in next years season? I know a few people who will be interested in sailing on the cruise

Best wishes & many thanks for a great website .... always look forward to the updates - Dave

For the features on the Radio Forts navigate from the ScrapBook Index

See a brief history on all the Thames Estuary Forts navigate from Fort Fax

For a range of Radio Fort documentary programmes, the Sealand VCD, books, & a video on the Navy Forts go to Offshore Shop


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