Monday, 12 February 2018


Even in Belgium hardly a day went by or newspapers were reporting on the rapidly expanding British offshore scene. On my 17th birthday the Flemish newspaper ‘Het Volk’ announced that Screaming Lord Sutch was all set to start broadcasting from the fishing trawler Cornucopia in the Thames Estuary. The next day, Saturday May 27th 1964, I managed to pick up Radio Sutch, which was calling itself ‘Britain’s first teenage radio station’. The new pirate was only on the air for a couple of hours in a row. Also, the station started very late in the morning. Not knowing any better at the time I thought that the dj’s were plain lazy and overslept or maybe had wild all night parties and were subsequently suffering from a collective hangover. This proved not to be the reason for the late start however. Later I learnt that the transmitter was battery operated, hence the rather flexible broadcasting times. 

The signal, on an announced 197m (next to Caroline), was fairly weak. Especially in early evening the green tuning eye on the Saba radio at home started winking erratically as interference from other stations moved in. It also soon proved that the crew of motley minions around David Sutch were in fact broadcasting from one of the derelict towers of Shivering Sands Fort off Whitstable in Kent. As a result it was the first offshore buccaneer to take up residence on one of the wartime anti-aircraft sea forts off the British coast. They had been designed by Irish-born Robert Maunsell and the last one was abandoned by the Navy in 1958. 

In the early 60’s Screaming Lord Sutch was known for his horror-themed stage show, dressing as Jack the Ripper. From the start Sutch was of course plugging his own records on the station. In fact I remember being quite taken by ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ and ‘The Monster Man’.  When I listen to the songs now, I can only conclude that there must have been something wrong with me at the time. There probably still is.

In the 60’s David (Screaming Lord) Sutch also started to dabble in politics of sorts. In the General Election on October 15th 1964 he stood in Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Lancashire constituency. He managed to amass 518 votes.  Years later (in 1977) I briefly met Lord Sutch when he appeared with his group the Savages at ‘Flashback ’67’, the convention held at London Heathrow commemorating 10 years of Marine Broadcasting Offences Act.   

More of AJ's radio- and other anecdotes.

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