The fans' memories

Discovering K-I-N-G Radio testing

Eddie Austin grew up in Kent. He sent us this story of discovering a pirate radio station on his doorstep:

My great grandfather was a professional fisherman. His boat was often moored in Folkestone Harbour and he had a house beside the quay.
From 1949 to 1970 my parents operated a fish and chip shop in nearby Dover. My father insisted he used only the freshest fish, direct from the boats in Folkestone. He knew Tom Featherbee (also known as Tom Pepper) who set up the offshore radio station Radio Invicta from Redsand Towers in the Thames estuary. The station was often played at home and in the shop, via a little external speaker.
Sadly Tom drowned in December 1964 and the tabloid press reported (inaccurately) that the Irish pop group The Bachelors and singer Dorothy Squires had bought Radio Invicta, and their new replacement station was due on the air soon.
I was 15 at this time and used my Christmas spending money to buy a powerful army surplus receiver. I discovered a new station around 1270kHz. I thought it might be Invicta's replacement but the signal was not coming from the Thames Estuary in the north, but south west from the Folkestone area. I decided to investigate and soon calculated it was being transmitted from near Radio Invicta's offices at 35 Bouverie Square. I headed over there. On arrival I saw there was no wire aerial so I started exploring nearby streets and properties. I soon located a suspicious looking long wire with insulators coming out of Oxford House, a red brick building in the car park behind the old Odeon cinema. I noticed a side door open and crept inside and down to the basement. Suddenly a door opened and I ran - but was soon caught by two men. After a few questions they realised I was not the authorities, or a newspaper reporter, and they kindly invited me in. They were making last minute preparations before taking some new equipment out to the towers. Before leaving I was given a handful of bright red and blue car stickers to pass out and promote the new station. A few weeks later K-I-N-G, “your monach of sound” appeared on 236 metres. It was not a very popular station but remained on the air until September 1965, when it was replaced by the more powerful and highly successful Radio 390.

King Radio car sticker
This King Radio car sticker kindly provided by John Aston.

Many thanks to Eddie for sharing his story.
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