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Radio 390 - History (3)

A naval surveyor at the Ministry of Defence told the court that he calculated the area of water in the bay to be 683 square miles, five square miles more than in the semi-circle across the indentation of the coast. To arrive at this calculation he had drawn a line from Walton-on-the-Naze to North Foreland and included tidal water in the River Thames up to Greenwich and in the River Medway up to Rochester.

A further argument by the Post Office to substantiate the claim that the Fort was inside territorial waters was based on the provision in the Geneva Convention relating to low tide elevations. This provision determines the starting point for calculating British territorial waters and includes all 'islands' uncovered at low water. The Post Office claimed that because Middle Bank, a sandbank off the Isle of Sheppey, was regularly uncovered at low tide it met this provision and, therefore, formed the baseline from which the extent of territorial waters could be calculated.

Sir Peter Rawlinson, summing up on behalf of Estuary Radio Ltd. said the prosecution  had only been able to place the Fort within territorial waters by taking into its calculations stretches of the River Thames and River  Medway to provide an area of water just sufficient (by only 5 out of 683 square miles) to comply with the terms of the Geneva Convention.

Despite these arguments, however, the magistrates found that the Post Office had proved its case and fined Estuary Radio Ltd. £100 for using an unlicensed transmitter inside territorial waters, while Ted Allbeury and David Lye were given unconditional discharges.

Although immediately giving notice of appeal against the Court's decision Ted Allbeury announced that, pending the outcome of that hearing, Radio 390 would have to close. So at 11.00pm on 25th November 1966 Radio 390 played a tape recorded message from Mr. Allbeury in which he explained to listeners the reasons for the station having to go off the air.The duty announcer then said simply "This is Radio 390 now closing down." and the station closed in the usual manner by playing the National Anthem.

Radio 390's appeal against conviction was heard by the High Court on 12th December 1966. After hearing the arguments presented by both sides the Court ruled the following day (by a majority of 2 to 1) that the  provisions of the Order in Council of September 1964 did have the effect of bringing Red Sands  Fort inside British  territorial  waters and as a consequence  the station had been illegally transmitting from that location. It was suggested that Estuary Radio Ltd. could take the case to the House of Lords for final determination. However, Ted Allbeury told reporters outside the Appeal Court that it would be too costly and ultimately pointless to do this and, therefore, Radio 390 would stay off the air.

However, Radio 390 resumed broadcasts again at midnight on 31st December 1966, claiming it had new evidence to show that Red Sands Fort was at least one and a half miles outside British territorial waters.

During the prosecution of Estuary Radio Ltd.in November 1966 the Post Office had relied on the exposure, at low tide, of Middle Sands sandbank to argue that the three mile territorial limit could then be calculated from this point. Radio 390 had now taken measurements of its own and was satisfied that the Middle Sands sandbank was in fact never fully exposed at low tide.


However, the optimism that this new evidence would be successful in persuading the authorities that the station operated outside British jurisdiction was not shared by all at Radio 390. Managing Director Ted Allbeury resigned from the company on 10th February 1967 saying "I honestly believe a ship has greater potential than the Forts. The Forts are constantly being harassed by the Government. I have not been able to persuade my shareholders to take a ship and am therefore hamstrung to continue."

Two days later it was announced that he had joined rival (ship-based) station Britain Radio, which he intended to re-launch with a format similar to Radio 390 and  that he had taken with him a number of the fort-based station's announcers.

Radio 390 returns to the air - Ted Allbeury, 31st December 1966

R 390 returns 31st December 1966 Ted Allbeury.mp3

Click on picture to enlarge


Radio 390 commercial - Compat.mp3

The Times

26th November 1966

The Times

14th December 1966

Silexene paint

Radio 390 commercial - Silexine paint.mp3

The Times

2nd January 1967

Daily Mail

14th December 1966

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