An ambitious plan to use a Thames Estuary fort as a broadcasting base was announced in October 1965. Two Essex businessmen, Eric Sullivan (who had previously been involved with Radio Pamela) and George Short formed Vision Productions to launch an offshore radio and television station from the ex-Navy fort at Sunk Head 14 miles off Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex.
Sunk Head was taken over by Sullivan and Short in October 1965 and test transmissions for the proposed radio station -Tower Radio - took place at the end of October 1965, but constant technical problems meant that the station's broadcasts could hardly be received on land, except along the immediate Essex coastal area.
Claims were made that test transmissions for Tower TV took place during the early hours of 9th November 1965, with a blurred picture of a test card said to have been received on Channel 5 in Essex. The television station from Sunk Head Fort was in fact a hoax although there were some photographs published which indicated that such a venture may have been planned.
Tower Radio (and Tower TV) announced plans to start regular transmissions on 1st January 1966, but test transmissions for the radio station ceased abruptly on 20th December 1965 and nothing more was heard from the Sunk Head Fort for over three months.
When the radio station did attempt to return (as Radio Tower) early in 1966 it was stated that the Tower TV project had been abandoned due to lack of investment - many attempts to raise finance and secure advertising had failed.
However, Radio Tower claimed that the British Government had warned them off starting television transmissions. There is some evidence that this may have been the case as the Radio Astronomy Observatory at Cambridge University seems to have been concerned about potential interference to its activities (see press report in the NewsStand column)
Click on picture to enlarge
Television Mail 19th November 1965
26th April 1966
Publicity photograph showing ‘test transmissions’ for Tower TV - Dave Simser (one of the project’s investors) with the microphone, John Boulter using the camera.