Robin Banks in the Radio Northsea International studio. Photo by Age Jager (see Flickr for more).
Robin Adcroft was born and brought up in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. A fan of the sixties pirates, he became involved with the Free Radio Association, a protest group fighting for the survival of offshore
broadcasting. As the FRA's Photographic Officer, he visited a number of the stations, taking pictures for the organisation to sell to its members. He was particularly impressed by Red Sands fort, the home of Radio 390.
Radio 390 announcer Lee Gilbert, left, with Robin on a visit to Red Sands fort. Photo courtesy of David Sinclair.
Robin, far left, on board the Radio 390 tender. Photo published by the Free Radio Association and kindly provided by George Morris.
The photo on the left shows Robin on one of the towers that made up Red Sands. With him is Radio 390 presenter Lee Gilbert. Robin also appeared in one of the photos marketed by the
Free Radio Association. He is on the far left of the group in the picture on the right.
Robin's fascination with the former World War II anti-aircraft fort continued and, while working at Twickenham film studios in 1968, he discussed it with director Richard Lester. Lester was in the process of making the Peter Cook / Spike
Milligan film, The Bedsitting Room, and became equally enthused. He wanted to shoot part of the film on the fort but, sadly,
the budget would not allow it.
While continuing to work in the film industry, Robin got involved with land-based pirate radio, in particular Radio Free London which was based in his shared flat in Addison Gardens, west London. A number of former offshore disc jockeys
were there too including Spangles Muldoon and Andy Archer. He also broadcast as ‘Roger Lane’ on a couple of other land-based pirates, Channel Radio and Radio
Towards the end of 1972 Radio Caroline returned to the air, anchored off Holland. Both Spangles and Andy were on board and they sent for their old mate. Robin joined Caroline as an engineer in January 1973 and it wasn't long
before he was hosting shows too.
Robin Adcroft on Radio Caroline International on 389 metres. This was the pop service. Simultaneously on 259 metres, the station was providing a Dutch language station by day and a rock service at night. Unfortunately the dual outlet
operation only lasted a few weeks. This recording comes from Jan Kat's collection, shared on-line by J.P Legein from the archive of Golden Radio Vlaanderen (duration 2 minutes 52 seconds)
Robin in the Radio Caroline studio. Photo by Martin Stevens, reprinted from ‘Dee Jay & Radio Monthly’.
In August 1973 Robin transferred to Radio Northsea International. Again he was mainly employed as an engineer but he also presented programmes, this time under the imaginative pseudonym of Robin Banks.
At the time the rest of the DJ team consisted of Mike Ross, Don Allen, Brian McKenzie and Graham Gill, with
occasional assistance from Robb Eden.
Robin Banks on RNI from the evening of 13th April 1974. Recorded from the station's FM outlet, the tape was kindly shared on The Offshore Radio Club Forum by Hans Hendriks.
The “Bobby” who is mentioned was 14 year old Bobby Schmidt, the nephew of engineer Rudi Kagon, who was visiting the ship that weekend (duration 3 minutes 50 seconds)
Robin spent just over a year on RNI but at the end of August 1974 the Dutch government introduced legislation to outlaw offshore radio. The station closed down.
“Robino Banco” opening and closing his last show on Radio Northsea International, 30th August 1974. Clip edited from a longer recording shared on the Radiotrefpunt (radio meeting point) forum by MartinJA (duration 7 minutes 25 seconds)
Robin Banks on the final hour of RNI's International Service, 30th August 1974. Recording kindly shared on The Offshore Radio Club Forum by Hans Hendriks
(duration 2 minutes 11 seconds)
The owners of the ship had plans for it to continue broadcasting in the Mediterranean as Radio Nova International and Robin was employed to prepare the studios, transmitters, etc.. Unfortunately the station never
made it onto the air. For a time he worked with Spangles Muldoon in his electronics firm, with Robb Eden as a DJ in Dutch clubs and as an engineer for Rank Xerox but then returned to radio when he joined the Voice of Peace, the offshore
station anchored of the coast of Israel.
In the meantime, RNI's old ship, the Mebo II, was purchased by the Libyan government. After leaving the Voice of Peace, Robin spent some time on the Mebo looking after the technical side. Occasional test transmissions were heard back
at home featuring familiar voices or pieces of music and on 14th August 1978 the last English-language programme was broadcast from the ship when Robin and Prinz Holman co-hosted an hour long show on the anniversary of the British
Marine Offences Act.
Radio Northsea's old theme tune, Man of Action, being played on a short wave test transmission from the Mebo II in Libya on 2nd May 1977. Recording kindly shared on The Offshore
Radio Club Forum by Hans Hendriks (duration 49 seconds)
Old shipmates, reunited in 2011. Left to right: Robin, Andy Archer and Johnny Jason. Photo courtesy of Robb Eden and Hans Knot.
Robin continued to work in broadcast engineering, installing equipment all over the world. He was involved in the land-based pirate boom in Ireland and, briefly, with eighties offshore station Laser-558. Radio
consultant Paul Rusling employed him on a number of occasions and, following Robin's death, posted the following tribute on-line: “Robin was our key contractor for far-flung emergencies, always happy to fly off at the drop of a
hat; he revelled in getting to a ‘disaster’ and fixing things quietly and without a fuss. A real engineer. The most ‘offshore’ that Robin got was probably a mission I sent him on to the Azores one Christmas to
fix an arcing Harris rig which we had only done the previous month. I think he was the only engineer willing to work over the holiday. Robin turned down the triple fee payment saying ‘I don't want to make money out of Christmas
and someone's dire need’. He was that kind of guy - generous and big-hearted and always ready to help out. Offshore radio has lost a quiet giant.”
Robin never lost his fascination with Red Sands fort and became one of the leading lights of the campaign to preserve it, Project Redsand. Unfortunately he developed kidney cancer. He returned to his home town of Cheltenham. A popular
man, numerous former colleagues visited to wish him well but sadly he passed away on Sunday 16th September 2018, aged 68.
A number of friends and former colleagues have paid tribute to Robin on social media:
“Good bye Robin. Sad to hear the bad news. Through your response from yesterday we see that we have given you Robin, a little joy in the last few hours. We keep you in good memories. Edwin Bollier, Erwin
Meister and Victor Pelli - RNI & MEBO Group.”
Edwin Bollier (RNI co-owner)
“My old friend Robin Adcroft passed away at the Leckhampton Court Hospice near Cheltenham on Sunday September 16th. I went to see him with Robb and Nickki Eden a fortnight before he died and we spent most of
the day reminiscing about the adventures, narrow escapes and countless laughs we had together over the past 51 years. Despite being very weak and struggling with his breathing, he was the perfect host as ever. During the last few days
of Robin's life, our small group of his oldest friends were in regular contact with each other and sending messages of support to keep his spirits up, Robb and Nickki, Brian McKenzie, Roger Kent (who also visited him two days before
he died), Johnny Jason, A.J. Beirens, Michael Lindsay, Victor Pelli and Edwin Bollier. But above all, the frequent visits and the love and support Robb and Nickki Eden gave to Robin and his partner Zac goes way beyond words. I first
met Robin in 1967 when we were both volunteering and anoraking at the Free Radio Association in Rayleigh, Essex. He was the Photographic Officer and had just returned from taking photographs aboard all of the remaining pirate radio
ships. He was a wonderful character and we hit it off straight away. Aside from his talent as a photographer, he was a great mimic too and would keep me in fits of laughter with tales of what went on in the committee meetings. One of
his party pieces was imitating a rather eccentric and slightly deaf member of the committee. If she hadn't heard a particular point which was being discussed she would exclaim rather loudly ‘I didn't quite hear you
eeeeuggghhh!!’ It became one of his catch-phrases and I'm sure many of his friends reading this will recall the countless occasions they heard those words flowing from his mouth in a high pitched scream. As will those crazy days
at 14 Addison Gardens which became the most disreputable flat in Shepherds Bush in the late 60s. It will bring a smile to the faces of all who shared that particular period of madness in Robin's life. I'll never forget it. He began
his offshore ‘pirate’ radio career on the Mi Amigo in 1972/73 but is best known for his work on Radio Northsea International where he presented programmes using the name Robin Banks. Banks was the surname of his beloved
grandmother, who like Robin, was a great character too. After R.N.I. closed, Robin continued to work for the MEBO organization, which took him to all parts of the world. It's such a pity he never recorded the stories of his adventures
in Libya which were every bit as exciting as his days on the ’pirate’ ships. Robin will be greatly missed by the many people he crossed paths with. He was loving, gentle, witty, down to earth and above all one of the nicest
people you could ever wish to meet. My thoughts are with Zac, Robb and Nickki and the wonderful memories of a dear friend.”
“My dear friend Robin, remembering those days in Addison Gardens 1968 when you used to go to bed fully clothed so that you would get up and out the flat within a couple of minutes to get the tube to work!
Electricity was free, the 'phone in the hallway was rigged for free calls, we ate at the Wimpey on Shepherds Bush most evenings - all making a quick escape when Mr Younghusband came for the rent which was about £7 a week!
Then Chris (Cary a.k.a Spangles Muldoon) invented The Caroline Club and the rest is history. We will all be in that place soon Robin. Save a place for me and look after my Chris. xxxxxxx RIP I am so sad.”
“I made Robin's acquaintance in the early 70s, when he visited me in Belgium. He knew me from North Sea Goes DX on RNI. Robin dearly wanted to be part of the offshore scene and was more than qualified.
Some time later he was on the air, first on Caroline and then on RNI, where he soon acquired a very large following. He often spent his shore leave at my apartment in Ostend, where he built a small FM transmitter for me. The signal
only covered part of the town but we had such fun walking through the streets listening to our station, which didn't even have a name. Boys and their toys. As we both had been on board at Christmas 1973, after the demise of RNI, Robin
invited me to spend Christmas 74 with his family in Cheltenham. A wonderful time. Especially having the Boxing Day meal at the house of Granny Banks, who was an exceptionally good cook. Afterwards Robin spent quite some time on the Voice of
Peace. On the way back to Britain he always stopped off at my place to recount his many adventures. It is a pity he never wrote them down. Especially the many adventures he had when the renamed Mebo 2 was broadcasting from Libya. For
instance about the time when the high power from the transmitter singed the washing of the locals, which they traditionally hung up on clothes lines around the port. So the transmitter output had to be reduced until the clothing burnt
no more. When we were equipping Radio Nova in Ventimiglia, Robin used to play music and RNI jingles for us on the shortwave from Libya which was just across the Med from us. There are so many stories that connect us, too many to recall
them all. Just a day after his passing, Robin is already sorely missed. Goodbye Robino Banko. (‘y su cajetilla musical’ - as the jingle went).”
“Very sad to hear this news. I first met Robin Adcroft (as he was then) in the early 1970s when he helped Eddie Austin run a land-based MW pirate Channel Radio in Dover. He became Robin Banks when he joined
RNI. Life seems far too short for so many free radio pioneers.”
Andy Cadier (a.k.a Martin Kayne)
“Here was a radio legend. Unfortunately for me, I believe we never met. There can't be many who can say that! Another real good'un lost from this life and our world is now a place which just became that
little less beautiful. RIP dear Robin.”
Greg Bance (a.k.a Arnold Layne)
“Very sad news. We had known each other for 50 years. Great broadcaster in both the presentation and engineering fields.”
“Very sad. Saw him about 2-3 years ago. We were to work on a West African AM broadcast site near Cameroon. It never happened but we had meetings regarding this project and I did export the transmitter to the
area. I have known Robin since the late 70s and worked with him in Ireland at one time. I will miss him.”
“A genuinely nice man. Very sad news. RIP.”
Bob Lawrence (a.k.a Richard Thompson)
There is also a tribute to Robin on the Offshore Echo's website.