Coniston House Wyndam Road Camberwell
Coniston House Wyndham Road, Camberwell, London was the first tower block used by Horizon Radio. The first problem was to get a key to open the locks on the hatch to the roof. It must have been destiny as those keys along with caretaker uniforms including the ties fell into Chris’s hands at a chance meeting at Swan National Car Rental Horseferry Road Westminster. Not just the key to that block, but every tower block in London. The cost, 2 front tyres and a full service on a caretakers car. The caretakers department was being scaled down at the time, so the communications (transceivers) they used were being phased out. At 460+mz, they made a very nice link transmitter. Thanks to Pyers playing with one of them. 29 transceivers soon followed?
Broadcast Day One
Sunday 11th October 1984 at 6pm, for 7pm broadcast. Nigel and Chris go up the block with what turned out to be a transmitter that moved (when it got hot), two car battery’s and a auto reverse Sony Walkman cassette player plus a dipole aerial. 2 hour broadcast (1 tape). Then they got out quick. The landline, telephone Horizon used had lite up like a Christmas tree, so many messages and requests. Horizon Radio was born.
Every Sunday the same thing right up to Christmas, when the first live broadcast took place. A link from Comber House just off band two at 108.5 vhf-fm. Nigel did his 1 hour live show first, Chris sat around the corner watching the block. Nigel then went on block duty, Chris is doing a show. 25 Minutes later, Nigel is back at the flat (studio) OFF OFF OFF, after the (big Christmas greeting to Anne at the front door). Nigel had spotted Eric & Co (RID) trying to track the studio. Eric (RID) was well on the way to the flat. Thanks to Nigel and Radio Jackie, where he had helped out in the past and learned the ropes, we got away with it, but lost the transmitter and 2 new car batteries.
Radio Jackie always had a team on the ground when broadcasting, they spot Eric (RID), transmitter is away quick. Horizon Radio always did that right up to March 1984, thanks to Nigel’s time at Radio Jackie.
No transmitter for a couple of weeks as Nigel was trying different designs. Then we got a couple of broadcasts out off Wandsworth Road/Union Road, but nearly got caught on the second one. But again we had thought about it! We put one lift 2 floors below roof, stopped the door from closing on it, walked to top floor, called the other lift and thought we had jammed that, but had not. Grabbed the equipment at the end of transmission, Then we realised the lift was on the way up, we legged it down to second lift at speed. We then heard Eric and Co above us on their radios, to the crew waiting downstairs. We used the 2nd lift down to 4 floors above ground and hid the transmitter in an alcove. We then walked down the stairs arguing the toss whose turn it was to buy the first pint at the pub. (Nigel and Chris did not drink by the way). On arrival at ground floor RID/Police were waiting for us. They had heard our conversation/argument (put on) over whose turn it was to buy the drinks. They asked where we had been, we told them in a friends flat and now going out to get -issed and asked them (RID/police) if they wanted to come and get -issed and if they had enough money to buy a few rounds, but hurry up as its 10.20pm. They told us to —- off, so we did. We hid and waited till they had gone, then went back and got the equipment. Horizon Radio did not go there again.
First DJ Joins Us Gary Lee!
Gary Lee (RIEP Gary), join us as a presenter, we try a Parliament Hill (out In The fields Site), naff not one phone call from 3 hours of broadcast. Hello Peckham Rye Hill Park, that worked too well as Eric arrived on Broadcast day 3 from there. The transmitter and tape machine was on a balcony, 2 floors below the roof. Coax to aerial up top. 11pm & end of broadcast, Don and Chris go in to take aerial down. Nigel goes for the transmitter. Just as Don and Chris get to top section of the roof, Chris saw out of the corner of his eye police and Eric climbing through the hatch to lower roof. “Don’t speak a word Don”, leave it to me says Chris. Now Don and Chris have the uniforms of the caretakers on including ties. Chris knows the emergency phone number will not be answered after 9.45pm. It did not matter as if it was answered, up on the staff rota board, there was a notice saying Chris Stewart Sundays is an emergency caretaker. (Nice to have friends in the right places). Chris verbally (VERY) lays into Eric Gotts, calls him a Pirate idiot and to wait there on lower level as he is going to arrest him and his fake cop in uniform mate.
Eric must have been stunned as he waited there until Don and Chris had took the aerial down and Chris smashed it over his knee. They go down to Eric & the police who wanted to ask questions (not before Chris had said his bit). Police ask what office do you work from, whats the telephone number. Police radio in to control to get someone to phone the number Chris had given and bingo, no one answers, but answerphone kicks in “Sorry our caretakers are out at the moment on an emergency call out, please leave a message or call back later”. Eric was not convinced, you could see that, but Police said OK go on your way. Don and Chris go to exit the roof, as Chris leaves, he shouts back “If you lot are not off this roof in 10 minutes, I will lock you in”. They then join up with the rest of the lads up the hill and fall about laughing. That was fun to say the least.
Other Transmitter Sites
Horizon Radio used other transmitter sites for a while like, 1 Greystead Road Forest Hill, by this time Barry T, Barry Jameson, Greg Adams had joined the station. All shows were still on prerecorded tape. Finally we had sorted out our rubbish transmitter after the Pimlico Meeting told Chris what was wrong, Nigel had built Pyers design and 35 watts. Summertime 82, the studio in the roof had built itself, (if you know what we mean). We visited Rye Hill Park Nunhead again and saw how to hide a transmitter and link aerial along with switching it off and disconnecting the coax to the aerial if the hatch to the roof was moved. If no one went up to the roof, it was ready for next broadcast, just switch on from studio. Eric went up a few times but could not find it, but always smashed the Slim Jim aerial. A couple of hours work and £10 if that, new aerial. Eric did tend to leave us until last after that, but with the network informing each other he was out, we could just turn off and most times he would not even bother going there. Nigel left Horizon Radio in around July of 82. Stress levels were high. If not for that Nunhead install (Nigel’s Idea) Horizon Radio would have closed down, as no transmitter builder.
Chris took up the task of transmitter building and by Christmas 1982 had mastered the art with help from Pyers (amazing guy so young, so brilliant). A new 80 watt transmitter for the long Xmas broadcast. Horizon Alldayers then arrived (first in London) Easter 83 at Kisses Peckham, no live broadcast planned as we where coming off 1 Greystead Road Forest Hill. Kisses is open, Chris goes up to transmitter site to get transmitter and Eric and co were kicking down the lift-room door as it was jammed. Silly person, he should have just walked around the side and used the other door, that is what we did. We lost transmitter no 2 that day. About 19 months, just two transmitters lost.
We used other sites for a while, but other stations were also using them too. The Rye Hill Park was a safe transmitter site with all bank holidays extend broadcasts coming off it. Christmas 83 17 days and nights on the trot. Just after that Eric or someone << got the Rye Hill transmitter. They got in through the second hatch and did not even bother to put that hatch back, limited space so who went in was small. Horizon Radio hid another transmitter on Rhy Hill Park, but that was only fired up after 11pm (on auto) as we used Stockwell as main site. At Stockwell we had access to the roof lower, from a top floor flat and had measures to keep Eric out so we could get the transmitter out. We also used spotters on the ground to keep an eye out for Eric.
Horizon Radio Tower Block Tales Stockwell.
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