During the 1960's, Europe enjoyed an era of broadcasting popularly called "pirate" radio. These radio stations were not in fact "pirates", nor were they illegal, they simply broadcast from ships and marine structures outside of their target countries territorial borders.
Propably the most famous of the offshore "pirate" radio stations was Radio Caroline, that broadcast on and off for nearly 30 years. But that's another story.
This is the story of the offshore stations based on former wartime defence forts in the British Thames estuary. The Radio Forts are the subject of a new double CD from Offshore Echo's, that tells the story of the Fort based offshore radio stations, Radios Sutch, City, Tower, Invicta, KING, 390, Essex, BBMS and the story of Sealand.
Hear Screaming Lord Sutch tell how he discovered an abandoned wartime defence fort and started Radio Sutch. When Sutchs manager Reg Calvert took over the station, he changed the name to Radio City. Calvert was later shot dead in a dispute over ownership of a transmitter.
Radio Tower, was a much smaller station, that never really managed to get much beyond the test transmission stage, but they had ambitious plans for an offshore television station.
Radio Invicta was based on a larger fort, but was not a great success. Following a tragic accident in which the stations owner drowned, the station became KING Radio. It took former advertising agent Ted Allbeury to get the operation going professionally. He changed the name to Radio 390 and the music format to sweet music, aiming the station at the housewife audience.
Roy Bates talks about Radio Essex, based on the Knock John naval fort. The station was later renamed BBMS (Britains Better Music Station). Prince Roy Bates also recounts how he set up the Principality of Sealand on another nearby fort. Sealand recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.
The Radio Forts is narrated by Greg Bance, who also remembers how he was once known as Roger Scott. Now on a double CD, with remastered, expanded and new content from original LP. Theres new airchecks and new interviews, plus a 12 page photo booklet and colour covers.
Click below to find out more about the Radio forts
The Sea Forts Radio Sutch
Radio City Radio Tower
Radio Invicta & KING Radio 390
Radio Essex & BBMS Sealand Main Page
The Radio Forts CD costs £21.99 post free, from:
Post Offshore Echos, PO Box 1514, London W7 2LL, England
The Radio Forts pages by Chris Edwards. Thanks to Jim Parkes for historical text and to Francois Lhote for images.
Version 2.1 19 October 2000