Being born in 1959 and with television still restricted to just a few hours a day, the radio played a bigger part in my early years. But even that was limited, mornings were spent travelling from home to my Nan's from where i went to school and the evenings travelling home again, and back then very few cars were fitted with a radio as a standard feature.

My earliest memories of listening to radio was the massive 'Radiogram' that sat in the corner of our living room, this really was a big piece of furniture and it took up the whole wall beside the window and dwarfed anything else in sight. It was solidly made from highly polished dark mahogany wood and it stood taller than I was, the front speaker panels covered in gold cloth.

If I used both my arms I could just about lift the insanely heavy wooden lid high enough to slip my hand inside to turn the big Bakelite knob to the on position. As you lifted the lid you immediately smelled the thick rubber mat from the turntable, and was dazzled by the almost amber light behind the radio scale, that showed channel markings for 'Radio Luxemburg' or 'World Service'. Then you would have to sit for the five to ten minutes that it took for the valves to warm up, hearing the deep vibrating hum and smelling the dusty generated heat from deep inside, as you waited for it to eventually crackle to life and the sound start to come through from the big speakers behind the heavy cloth. Without an external aerial it would be a frequent necessity to keep re-tuning to stay on frequency and stop the annoying hissing and whines.

The record player was rarely used, mainly because the 'Needles' that came in small tins were very expensive, they broke easily and needed replacing frequently, and not many weeks went by without a valve blowing inside rendering it useless until a repair man called to replace it.


With travelling and school during the week, and Saturdays filled up as it was always 'Shopping day' due to everything being closed on a Sunday, it only left us Sunday at home.

Sunday was always 'Radio Day', it was put on first thing in the morning at breakfast and we would then listen to the news on the World Service, then 'Two-Way Family Favourites' the show that had requests for family events and passed messages to those British Forces stationed abroad.

My parents favourite was 'The Archers', but the highlight for the day for me was to listen to Jimmy Clitheroe as 'The Clitheroe Kid'.


Sunday evenings the radio would always be on too, sitting down at the table to have tea we would listen to 'Sing Something Simple', Harry Secombe, Billy Cotton Band Show and the Big Bands.

We upgraded our 'Wireless' over the years to smaller ones, still heavy and made from heavy duty Bakelite, I was forever getting electric shocks from the knob retaining screw, a bolt of power that made your teeth rattle and body jerk as if in a fit. They may have been smaller than the Radiogram, but they stoo till took quite a while to warm up, and even though they had a long wire as an aerial, they still often went off frequency.

As a young child I was limited to the type of music my parents chose to listen to, music ranging from the War time tunes to big band music, the nearest we got to pop music or 'That awful Noise' as my Dad called it, was the occasional modern tune such as 'My boy lollipop' by Millie and later songs like 'Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep' by Middle of the road when it was played on Family Favourites on a Sunday.

Sometimes when visiting my Nan's house, my aunt Lesley would let me listen to some of her records on her more modern radiogram, and I got to hear more modern music like Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the Beatles, Dave Clark Five and the Beach Boys.


It wasn't until I got my first handheld Phillips transistor radio for my birthday around 1965/6 that I could at last listen to the modern sounds played on the radio. Luxemburg was still a popular channel, and I was blown away with the start of Radio One after it's introduction in 1967.

I remember spending the summer holiday in Cornwall with the little hard plastic plug stuck in my ear and forever being told to 'Shut up' for singing along to the music that they couldn't hear, that's when my uncle wasn't borrowing it to hear the latest football scores and running out the PP9 battery that only lasted days.

I had not long had this radio when my parents decided to emigrate to Australia, it did not work when living in Eastlakes just outside of Sydney, and I had to wait until we returned to the UK to use it againI


I went through quite a variety of radio's in my early teens in the 70's, there was a boom in the trend of advertising using novelty radio's, It seemed at the time that you could get a radio that looked like anything you wanted, a coke can; wimpy burger; cars; teapots; footballs; fruit and even a Dalek from Doctor Who. The only thing they did not look like was a radio!

I saved up the money from my paper round and milk round and bought a slightly better one, but most radio's from around that time were still mono and sounded as if your head was in a bucket. Even after Stereo radio started being broadcast in 1973 I still had a mono radio, I did not have a true stereo radio to listen to until I left home and got married in the late 70's.

As a child I spent a lot of my time in my bedroom, hardly ever without music playing, even doing homework I had to have something playing in the background. Every night was spent in bed with the sweaty plastic earplug in my ear listening to the pirate radio stations of the time. I continued to do this for many years and listened to the late night music and phone-in programs of the various pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline, Laser 558 and new commercial stations such as LBC and Radio London.


Pirate radio was broadcast off-shore out of British Waters from old ships, or on the old wartime Maunsell Protection Forts at Red Sands in the English Channel.

Red Sands - Maunsell Fort

Ross Revenge - Radio Caroline

Communicator - Laser 558

click to listen

Radio Caroline

Laser 558

Radio Luxembourg

Invicta Radio