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Radio City - History (3)

In the meantime Oliver Smedley and Kitty Black drove from Gravesend to the home oBoarding party on one of the towersf Radio London's Managing Director, Philip Birch, and agreed to meet again later that same day at Project Atlanta's offices in Dean Street, London.

At the meeting Smedley proposed that, having gained control of Shivering Sands Fort, he should be included in the merger deal agreed between Radio City and Radio London. Reg Calvert joined the meeting later and made it clear  that he had already entered into a contractual agreement with Radio London, so was not interested Smedley’s proposal.

On Tuesday 21st June 1966, the day after his station had been silenced, Reg Calvert reported the raid to police at Scotland Yard. The police were uncertain whether or not they could take any action because it was thought by them that Shivering Sands was outside British territorial limits.

In the meantime Smedley had approached Ted Allbeury, Managing Director of Radio 390, offering to ‘sell’ him Radio City Allbeury agreed to discuss the proposal with his board of directors - it had certain attractions for him because if UKGM had come on the air as part of the Radio City/Radio London deal it would have provided competition for Radio 390 in the easy listening market.

Having received nOliver Smedley's houseo assistance from the police, and hearing of the offer by Smedley to ‘sell’ Radio City to Radio 390,  Reg Calvert drove later that same evening to Major Oliver Smedley's house at Wendons Ambo, near Saffron Walden, Essex. He was accompanied by  engineer Alan Arnold, whose company had built (and still owned) the aerial on Shivering Sands Fort.

Calvert entered the house by forcing his way past Smedley's housekeeper and secretary, Pamela Thorburn and a scuffle developed. Meanwhile, Alan Arnold  had gone to seek help, but as he went outside he heard a shot and returned to find Smedley in the doorway of the dining room holding a shotgun and Reg Calvert lying dead in the hallway.

Major Oliver Smedley was arrested and formally charged the following morning with Calvert’s murder. He appeared before a special court in Saffron Walden on 22nd June 1966, where his solicitor told Magistrates that his client completely denied the charge of murder. After a five minute hearing the Magistrates remanded Smedley in custody for a further eight days.

The same day as Smedley's Court appearance police officers went out to Shivering Sands to question the seven Radio City staff and members of the boarding party who were still occupying the Fort. They left three and a half hours later having taken statements, but without making any arrests.Dorothy Calvert

On 23rd June 1966 Calvert's widow  Dorothy appeared on television stating that she hoped to have Radio City back on the air in two or three days time. She also announced that the negotiations to sell Radio City, which had been taking place before her husband's death, were now in abeyance.

Without warning on Sunday 26th June 1966, exactly a week after arriving, the boarding party left Shivering Sands Fort. Using a spare transmitter crystal which had been hidden from the boarders, Radio City started test transmissions again at 9.30pm that evening and by 10.00pm the station was back on the air.

Major Oliver Smedley appeared in Court again on 18th July 1966 when full details of the dealings between Reg Calvert, Oliver Smedley and Philip Birch were revealed publicly for the first time. The catalyst to the whole affair was Smedley's fear that Calvert had double crossed him and he wished to reclaim the Project Atlanta transmitter from Shivering Sands before it could be used by any 'rival group'. Details of the meeting in Project Atlanta's offices in Dean Street on 20th June 1966 were also outlined to the Court. During that meeting it was alleged that Reg Calvert  had made a number of threats to use a nerve gas which he claimed to have invented to remove Smedley's boarding party from the Fort.

After a 50 minute retirement the Magistrates decided to commit Oliver Smedley for trial at Chelmsford Assizes in October, but on a charge of manslaughter rather than murder and Smedley was granted bail.

At the hearing inMajor Oliver Smedley leaving court Chelmsford on 11th October 1966 Oliver Smedley's solicitor argued that his client had acted in self defence, protecting himself, his housekeeper and his home from a violent intruder. The jury, without retiring to consider the evidence presented to them on direction of the Judge, returned a 'not guilty ' verdict and Oliver Smedley left court a free man.

These dramatic events, which became known as the 'Radio City Affair', did much to shatter the fun packed, 'pirate' image of the offshore radio stations, revealing a ruthless world of double-dealing, financial intrigue, physical violence and death threats. Although Project Atlanta had, for a time, been joined with Radio Caroline and merger negotiations had taken place in 1965 between Caroline and Radio City, Radio Caroline now did everything possible to disassociate and distance itself from the unsavoury events on Shivering Sands Fort. Likewise Radio London's Philip Birch, who had negotiated the UKGM deal with Radio City's owner Reg Calvert, immediately withdrew from the agreement. This also effectively distanced Radio London from events at Shivering Sands.

Radio Caroline Newsbeat announcing the death of Reg Calvert, 22nd June 1966

Caroline Newsbeat 22.06.66 Shooting of Reg Calvert.mp3

Dorothy Calvert

Click on picture to enlarge

Major Oliver Smedley’s political activities and some internal shots of Radio City with Reg Calvert on air.

Radio City News announcing that the boarding party had left, 27th June 1966

Radio City News announcing the boarding party had left.mp3

Radio City back on air - Ian MacRae, 27th June 1966

Radio City back on air 27th June 1966 Ian Macrae.mp3

The Times 27th June 1966

The Times 19th July 1966

Radio City returns after the boarding party had left, 26th June 1966

Radio City return to air announcement.mp3

Radio London News reporting Oliver Smedley charged with murder, 22nd June 1966

Radio London News announcing Smedley charged with Calvert murder.mp3

Major Oliver Smedley leaving Chelmsford Court, 11th October 1966

Oliver Smedley’s house near Saffron Walden, Essex

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Raiding party on one of the towers

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Carmen Hair Rollers

Radio City commercial Carmen Hair Rollers.mp3