Radio UK International was one of the early land based pirates in the UK. Transmissions began, intermittently, early in 1969 from 14 Sleetmoor Lane, Somercotes, Derbyshire and continued until the 20th of September 1970.
They first broadcast on Sundays only, using 50 Watts on 227 metres, 1320 kHz medium wave. Later this was increased to all day Saturday and Sunday with approximately 250 Watts and occasional short wave broadcasts using 40 watts on 6230 kHz.
The high power 1320 kHz TX had a crystal oscillator using an EL84 valve, and 2 off EL34s in push-pull modulated the screens. The output amplifier consisted of 4 x 807s in parallel giving around 250 Watts into a quarter wave Marconi type aerial (inverted L, 40 feet high 100 feet long).
Plans had been made to increase the power by building a new transmitter using 2 off 813 valves. An announcement was made to the effect that the transmission on the 13th of September would be the last for a while, whilst the new transmitter was built. Fateful words that Sunday…
The increase in power and hours of broadcast meant the station gained more listeners, but also the interest of the authorities. The station was first raided by the Post Office radio services on the 13th of September 1970 at about 1225 and the 250-Watt transmitter was taken. The following Sunday a spare transmitter was set up in a house on Birchwood Lane, Somercotes, but after about an hour the Post Office radio services raided this new address. Whilst they where trying to gain access at the rear of the premises, the station operators bailed out of the front upstairs window of the house. The record playing when the transmitter went off the air was Smokie Robinson’s “The Tears of a Clown” just at the bit where it goes “and there’s no one around”. The headlines of the Derbyshire Times and the Derby Evening Telegraph read, “Pirates Escape Through Bedroom Window”.
The raids resulted in a court case on the 2nd December 1970. Although they had been running for nearly 2 years, they only admitted to being on for 12 weeks. Never the less, the operator was prosecuted for contravening the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 and fined £45 with £5 costs on top. Two other people who had asked to have a go at being DJs were also prosecuted but only received a small fine. The station was not heard again.
However……Several other people operated under the name Radio UK International during the same period. One of these was Don Wilson from Denby Drive in Mansfield, who called himself Dave King. He used a 100 watt transmitter with Cathode modulation and using a KT 88 valve. He operated from a loft above the garage of his house on 1197 kHz, but said that it was 255 Metres Medium Wave (Come alive on 255). Most broadcasts were done on Sundays between 10am and 4.00pm, although often could be heard on Saturday afternoon as well. He was raided in July 1970 and was later fined £30 with £5 costs.
Occasionally Dave’s station also broadcast under the name Radio Atlantis International. This name was also used by a station in Somercotes who used to broadcast as Radio Atlantis South. A third transmitter was located in Hucknall by someone calling himself Mike Severn. He managed to avoid the Post Office and went on to work for several ILR stations including Radio Trent and Swansea Sound.
More on Radio UK International can be found here:
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