Between 1957 and 2016 51 music based hospital broadcasting services are known to have started in 24 of London’s 32 Boroughs and in the City of London.
In March 2016 16 music based services were operating in London. Note: Two Radio Lollipop services were also operating in London. See Part 6 for further details
The first two music based hospital broadcasting services in London started broadcasting in 1957: Lewisham (2 September) and Kingston-upon-Thames.
During the 1960s services are known to have also started in the boroughs of Chelsea, Greenwich, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Newham, Southwark, Waltham Forest and Westminster.
NAHBO’s 1974/75 Directories of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded 6 music based services in London: (1) Walthamstow Lions Hospital Radio formed in June, 1969, at Whipps Cross Hospital (2) Radio 70, formed in December, 1969, at the East Ham Memorial Hospital. (3) Radio St Nicks formed in March, 1971, at St Nicholas Hospital. (4) Queen Mary’s Broadcasting Service formed in August, 1971, at Queen Mary’s Hospital (serving two hospitals). (5) Radio Kings formed in December, 1972, at King’s College Hospital. (6) Radio Whittington formed in May, 1973, at Whittington Hospital (serving eight hospitals).
In 1977 NAHBO’s Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations listed 19 services operating in London.
By 1990-91 five of the services that were operating in 1977 had changed their names or were operating at a different hospital:
- Whipps Cross Radio (original service called Walthamstow Lions Hospital Radio)
- Parkside Hospital Radio (original service called Radio 5)
- Riverside Radio (original service called Charing Cross Radio)
- Radio Hither Green (original service called Park Radio)
- Radio St Stephen’s moved from St Stephens Hospital to the Westminster Hospital.
Lost Hospital of London:
1.1 Hospital Radio Barnet (1978)
Hospital Radio Barnet was established in 1978 and broadcasts to Barnet Hospital.
The service was started by Alan King, Phil Murphy and Len Briveau, originally broadcasting from “a broom cupboard in the hospital”.
In 1978 the charity Friends of Barnet Hospital (FBH) asked Geoff Thomson, who owned a television and radio rental and repair business, to help them set up a hospital radio station. With the help of friend John Knott, Geoff established a small studio inside the hospital, installing the cabling and equipment himself.
On 11 November 1978 Barnet Hospital Radio officially went live.
Since then the radio station has been required to relocate twice. “In the summer of 1982, with an ever expanding record library taking up space, we moved into our second home. Len spotted that some old doctor’s premises had become vacant, and after much negotiation we moved into more spacious accommodation. Then, of course, the hospital got rebuilt, and in late 2002 we moved into our current studios”.
The service has close links with the Barnet Football club and over the years it has relayed many commentary services to the patients.
1.2 Finchley Memorial Hospital Radio (Start Date Required)
Finchley Memorial Hospital Radio provided a service to the Finchley Memorial Hospital.
1.3 Radio Edgware (1965)
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations records that in July 1965 a station called Radio Edgware started broadcasting at the Edgware General Hospital.
The service was the idea of Dr John Cohen who had heard of a similar service in Birmingham. A local newspaper report read: “Operating from the electrician’s workshop at the hospital, a group of enthusiastic young people currently send out a 90 minute programme especially for patients every Sunday evening. At the moment, all the programmes are taped before hand and consist of music and request shows. But before long the ambitious organisers of the service hope to switch to live broadcasts and shows, with news bulletins, interviews and outside broadcasts from such places as Edgware Football Ground. Two organisations are currently running the service. The local Jewish Youth Voluntary Service and the International Vision and Sound Club produce a half hour programme each. They have been busy at the hospital for 10 weeks, and hope that they will soon have more permanent premises from which to send out their programmes”.
“The main people behind the scheme are Dr John Cohen, who acts as a co-ordinator, Mrs Cohen, technical expert Richard Porte and Michael Solomons. Richard and Michael are both 17 and attend Orange Hill Grammar School at Burnt Oak”. The newspaper report added: “The hospital’s League of Friends has come forward and promised to provide a hut which the broadcasters can turn into a studio”.
A small hut, measuring 12ft x 12ft, was built in the grounds of the hospital and by the summer of 1966 live programmes were being broadcast using: 2 Goldring TX56 turntables, a crystal microphone, 2 Grundig TK30 tape recorders and a passive mixer built out of a cigar box.
Mike Solomns recalled in March 2017: “Radio Edgware was started by me as a Jewish Youth Voluntary Service (JYVS) group leader in 1965. The Stanmore Kenton Edgware JYVS group was known as SKEJ.
Broadcasts during the first year included local news provided by the local paper and a piano music program recorded live in a local minor celebrity’s home as well as request programmes. Another thing we pioneered was sending volunteers to visit patients in the wards. On the face of it the young people were just gathering record requests. Actually, an important part of this was providing comfort to patients who had no visitors.
After a year, the running of Radio Edgware was taken over by Len Elman who sadly died last week. Len went on to start Radio Harrow then Radio Northwick Park.
Although started by the SKEJ group, Radio Edgware quickly amassed a large membership and “declared independence” under my leadership. Whether we were right or wrong, it happened and by the time the first article appeared in the local paper. When Len Elman succeeded me at Radio Edgware in 1966, it was again fully re-integrated with SKEJ and the non SKEJ members who made up my core team came with me to start Radio Brockley”.
Minutes of a Radio Edgware/Radio Mount Vernon meeting dated 23rd April, 1970 record “John Spencer (Chairman) announced that Radio Edgware and Mount Vernon had joined partnership”. See Hillingdon. 12.3 Radio Mount Vernon. A short time later John wrote: “Radio Vernon/Radio Edgware has had a chance to settle down and is now starting to function properly”. How long this partnership lasted is uncertain.
Records thought to be from 1974/75 show Martin Freedman, L H Bernard and Tim Fine as “Joint Group Leaders of Radio Edgware & Radio Mount Vernon”. By May 1970, the service was broadcasting on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and Tuesday evenings. In 1974 the number of members had reached 35.
Alan Smith, the Station Manager, wrote in 1990: “In 1975 the hut was demolished. In 1977 a new room was allocated for us to broadcast from. After this long break off air a new group was formed. At 7.1Opm on Christmas Eve 1979 Radio Edgware went back on air. In 1989 the station suffered a robbery. Since I have been manager we have formed a stronger group, determined to be back on air as soon as we get our new equipment. I also have made plans for speakers to be put in the children’s ward, so that the children and teenagers will be able to enjoy Radio Edgware as well. Today we are still the only radio group affiliated to J.Y.V.S”.
Alan added in 1993: “Hospital Radio Edgware is now a group of about 25 volunteers. We broadcast every Sunday between llam and 7pm. In 1990, Hospital Radio Edgware split from the now abolished J.Y.V.S. and became a bigger and stronger self-regulating group. It is still the only hospital radio station, to our knowledge, which is run and staffed entirely by Jewish volunteers aged between 16 and 25. In January 1991 we started broadcasting from our new studio complex, based inside the hospital grounds. It consists of a separate record library as well as a presenters, engineers and recording studio. I have been with Hospital Radio Edgware for just over 5 years (being manager for about 3 years). My sister, Amanda Smith, who has been treasurer for 3 years, has been with the radio station for 4 years. Other long serving members include Hilary Davidov (5 years) and Simon Hill, who is co-station manager (3 years)”.
The Edgware General Hospital closed in 1997.
1.4 Radio Friern (1971)
Friern Hospital’s internal broadcasting service started in 1971 after funds were raised by the Minchenden Grammar School.
With grateful thanks to Paul Sparrey, a member of Radio Friern from 1980 to 1988 who provided the following information about the service:
Keith Rowe, a co-founder of the station wrote: “As far as the inception of the Radio Friern is concerned it’s not really a long or convoluted story – just three guys, Paul Gee (real name Gammon), Dave Lowe and I. I remember that it was Paul who went to the hospital on spec. He was told to contact the entertainments manager, Eric Walsh
We started broadcasting late summer/autumn 1971 from a dingy little studio in the Patients Club that was located in the centre of the hospital complex. The studio was completely full of fairly basic equipment with just enough room to squeeze in two presenters.
When we started broadcasting it was to the startling number of one Patients Club and two or three wards. It must have been an audience of 75!”
Paul added: “Early in 1980, an article was printed in one of the local newspapers about Radio Friern, the hospital radio service serving the patients and staff of Friern Hospital which was a large psychiatric facility set within a vast 110 acre site in the London Borough of Barnet.
At the time, Radio Friern was broadcasting at weekends from 9am-7pm and for a couple of hours on Friday evenings. In previous years, the station had dabbled with ‘weeknight evening’ broadcasting, but only once or twice a week. Now they were looking for a Monday to Friday schedule from 7pm-10pm. Remember, these were still the days of only three terrestrial television channels and these were really the only ‘distraction’ from what Radio Friern would have to offer.
Due to the nature of the hospital, the programmes on Radio Friern were music-based although presenters were encouraged as part of their training to include ‘spoken-word’ features rather than “Two/Three In A Row” or “Seque” sections (although a few still did!).
Patients AND staff could listen to the programmes, as they were transmitted through a large number of simple, but effective, speakers fitted all around the Hospital and of course anyone could telephone the studio, using the internal service, for requests, dedications or a just a chat (which was conducted off-air between records). These speakers only relayed broadcasts from the Radio Friern studio. There was no alternative listening.
The control desk in 1980 was very basic. A ‘home-made’ fascia of hardboard, with a row of small plastic knobs beneath a line of little silver switches on top of it, allowed the presenter to play records from twin-turntables, play audio cassettes and cartridges and tune to ‘professional’ radio stations if necessary. It wasn’t about what we had – it was about what we could do with it
In 1983, a BBC engineer joined the station, rebuilding the entire control desk with metallic components he gathered from here and there. He gave up long hours – sometimes into the early hours and through the night – and the revamped studio was functioning by the end of November 1984”.
Paul added: “My involvement at Radio Friern was to come to an end as Easter 1988 approached. I did return for a couple of Sunday shows in the Summer of 1989 to cover for someone on holiday and again in July 1990, which turned-out to be my final broadcast, when members of the team were participating on our Radio Friern float in the local Finchley Carnival, something we had done since 1985”.
Radio Friern’s final broadcast was on Saturday 13 March 1993. Friern Hospital closed on Wednesday 31 March 1993.
In 2012, one of the former Radio Friern volunteers contacted another with the aim of reuniting some of the ex-presenters.
A local newspaper reported in December 2012: “Friern hospital radio DJ calling for reunion. A hospital radio DJ is aiming to reunite former DJs and producers who worked at Friern Hospital Radio in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Martin Rosen, 63, is calling on former volunteers at the hospital radio station to come forward for a reunion celebration in the new year. Radio Friern ran from 1971 until 1993 when the former psychiatric hospital in Friern Barnet Road was closed. Mr Rosen, who now presents an evening show at Barnet Hospital Radio and volunteered at the station until its closure, said he was keen to meet up with former colleagues”.
Paul reported in February 2017: “Overall, we currently have a Facebook membership of 12 (the Group is open to former volunteers, staff and patients of Friern Hospital), although the 12 are all former presenters. Having said that, we have made contact with more than twice that number and we know of one or two who have sadly passed away.
The reunions are going strong and indeed we have another pencilled-in for Friday 7th April”.
Radio Friern group Facebook page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friern_Hospital (Radio Friern information)
2.1 Central Radio (Start Date Required)
Central Radio provided a service to the Central Middlesex Hospital.
2.2 Middlesex Hospital Radio (Start Date Required)
Middlesex Hospital Radio provided a service to the Middlesex Hospital.
The hospital closed in 2006.
2.3 Radio Northwick Park (1971) / Radio Harrow (2015)
Radio Northwick Park was originally founded by a group of volunteers from the Jewish Youth Voluntary Service, who had previously set up a hospital radio service at Harrow Hospital on Roxeth Hill. See Harrow: 10.2 Radio Service at Harrow Hospital.
Minutes dated May, 1970, record: “Radio Northwick Park, at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow. Hospital not yet built. Expects to broadcast January 1971. A general meeting of all those interested in the station, in helping to run and lead, is to be held on Wednesday 20th May“.
A further report, dated 1970, read: “As the building of the new Northwick Park Hospital progresses, so preparations amongst the Jewish Youth Voluntary Services members, who will be running the hospital’s own radio station, are going on a pace. There is great enthusiasm for this, their biggest venture yet. It is intended to operate the internal radio station on 3 nights a week, starting at the beginning of 1971. Some of the proposed programmes include a nightly magazine programme, national and local news, live shows from the wards. For the patients from far afield, it is hoped to broadcast get well messages from relatives”.
A newspaper reported on 25th December, 1972: “Radio One disc jockey Dave Gregory swapped his chair between turntables for that of question master on Monday evening when he compered a local hospital radio quiz at Northwick Park Hospital. The voluntary workers who run Radio Northwick Park, Radio Brockley at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and the stations at Edgware and Mount Vernon hospitals, all pitted their wits against each other”
In 1971 a permanent studio was built in the basement of the new Northwick Park Hospital and Radio Northwick Park went on air in April 1971.
In 1993 the service had about 50 members and was broadcasting 40 hours per week to the Northwick Park Hospital.
In 2015 Radio Northwick Park, shortly after the breakdown of the hospital’s internal radio systems, merged with Harrow Community Radio (HCR). HCR was a non-profit community radio station that had been set up in 2010 to engage with those who lived and worked in the local community.
Rebranding under the new name of Radio Harrow, with the guidance and support from the Hospital Broadcasting Association and the Charity Commission, a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) was set up and assets from both existing organisations were merged.
The founding members are Matt Blank, Keith Chilvers and Ben Hart.
The new organisation has 150 volunteers, two state of the art studios, a production area, equipment to enable it to broadcast via the Internet and FM waveband and the ability to produce outside broadcasts from anywhere within the London Boroughs of Brent, Harrow and Ealing.
Radio Harrow started broadcasting from its studios in the Northwick Park Hospital on 19 April 2015.
Ben Hart of Radio Harrow reported in March 2017: “The first patient power service in the form of Patientline was installed at Northwick Park for Radio Northwick Park, now Radio Harrow. Patientline (Hospedia) was removed from the site in 2015”.
Note: Hospedia acquired Patientline (incorporated July 30, 1993) during July 2008.
https://www.hbauk.com/system/files/On_Air_Issue_125.pdf. Page 8 (Winter Issue 2009)
2.4 Radio Wembley (Late 1960s)
From the late 1960s a service called Radio Wembley broadcast from the Wembley General Hospital. The actual start date is not known and it is thought that the service only operated for a brief period. However, it is known to have been in existence in 1970.
It is reported that the service was connected, via a two way telephone link, with Radio Brockley at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore. See Harrow. 10.1 Radio Brockley.
3.1 Citybeat (2005)
The hospital broadcasting service Citybeat was established in 2005 providing programmes to the University College Hospital.
4.1 Radio St Stephen/Radio Chelsea and Westminster (1961)
In 1961 a hospital radio service was started at St Stephen’s Hospital, Chelsea. The original broadcasters included members of the local constabulary who between their shifts would drop into the studio and play taped music.
In 1977 there was a considerable effort to reconstruct and reorganise the station. A small number of people worked on a full-time basis on the project and, in spite of one or two initial setbacks, the station once again became a flourishing concern. The studio itself was set up in exactly the same spot as it was back in the 1960’s – right next to the boiler room in the hospital basement.
By the mid 1980s Radio St Stephen’s was broadcasting between 7pm and 11pm on weekdays and from 10am to 6pm on Saturdays. John Beazley, the Station Manager, wrote: “Radio St Stephen’s is a charitable organisation and is totally dependent upon the contributions and goodwill of the broadcasters, listeners and local residents of Kensington and Chelsea”.
It was in the mid 1980s that the service also began broadcasting to the Westminster Hospital.
Prior to this a service called “Westminster Radio” had operated from the Westminster Hospital for a period of two to three years in the 1970s. NAHBOs 1977 Directory records: Westminster Radio. Westminster Hospital. Contact: Alex McFarlane.
In 1989 St Stephen’s Hospital closed and the service moved to the Westminster Hospital.
In 1993 the Westminster Hospital closed and for the second time in four years the service had to move. By February of that year the service, still called “Radio St Stephen’s”, was broadcasting 21 hours per week with 48 members from a studio in the new Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. Shortly afterwards the name of the service was changed to “Radio Chelsea and Westminster”.
In November 1993 John Doohan wrote: “Re: Radio Chelsea & Westminster (formerly Radio St Stephen’s). Jack Fox and myself are founder members from April 1977. Paul Robinson was also a founder member but is no longer with us. Maree and Ronnie Morris, as well as Mary Fox joined us during the course of 1978“.
2016: “Welcome to Radio Chelsea and Westminster. We are a hospital radio station for the patients and staff at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London SW10. The charity was founded at the original St Stephen’s Hospital on this site in 1977. We proudly continue to provide a full service – music, requests and news programming 24 hours a day via the hospital intranet, online and Hospedia bedside radios on Channel 6. Our striking, purpose-built retro studio is on the 2nd floor of the hospital near lift bank C”.
4.2 Radio Brompton (Start Date Required)
Radio Brompton provided a service to the Royal Brompton Hospital.
5.1 Croydon University Hospital Radio/Radio Mayday (1972)
The Radio Mayday, the working name for the Croydon University Hospital Radio service, started broadcasting to the University Hospital (formerly called Mayday Hospital) in 1972.
NAHBO’s 1974 directory records Radio Mayday. Studio: Mayday Hospital. 13 members. Four hospital served. Address: Royal Marsden Hospital, Downs Road, Sutton. Start date: July 72. Contact: Tony Maberley.
“Radio Mayday is a charitable radio service broadcast exclusively for patients in Croydon University Hospital. It provides a mix of requests, music, news, information, comedy and sport. It is available for free from all bedside entertainment terminals on Radio Channel One”.
“We also have live commentary from Selhurst Park for Crystal Palace’s home matches; the daily Mayday Magazine, with a mix of the topical features, entertainment and music; The Mayday Comedy Hour, a mix of classic and contemporary comedy; live services from the hospital chapel; the monthly Matron On Air, where the patients can question the hospital Matrons; and much more besides!”.
In October 2014 Radio Mayday was forced to cease broadcasting when its contract with Hospedia, suppliers of analogue bed side play-out units, came to an end.
The Croydon Citizen news magazine reported on 11 March 2016: “It’s time to bring back Croydon University Hospital radio”.
6.1 Radio Enfield (1970)
Radio Enfield, the working name for Radio Enfield Hospital Broadcasting, started broadcasting on 24 May 1970 to the Chase Farm Hospital.
By 1973 the service had expanded to include the Highlands and South Lodge Hospitals (March 1972) and the North Middlesex Hospital (January 1973).
Note: Live football commentaries from Enfield Football Club in Southbury Road were introduced from April 1979 and from the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in 1980. A side effect of receiving the Tottenham commentary service was that Radio Enfield could also be heard at the Prince Of Wales Hospital in Tottenham.
In 2003 Radio Enfield’s first FM broadcast on 101.4FM took place.
In 2016 the service was being provided to the Chase Farm Hospital.
7.1 Woolwich Hospitals Broadcasting Service – Meridian Radio (1962)
A service that became known as the Woolwich Hospitals Broadcasting Service started broadcasting to the Brook General Hospital and the Memorial Hospital in 1962, possibly 1961.
Prior to this, individuals visited the wards in both these hospitals playing records using old wind up record players and later tape machines. A service that was extended to include the showing of cine film and photograph displays with a talk.
Eventually a Photography Club and a Gramophone Club was formed. An alliance developed between the two clubs resulting in them sharing their expertise and manpower so they could bring greater coverage in supplying programmes to the two hospitals.
In the 1962 the Brook Hospital TV & Radio Club and The Memorial Hospital Radio Friends formed the Woolwich Hospitals Broadcasting Service (WHBS).
At the Brook Hospital the Photography Club had occupied a room beneath one of the wards and it there that the first studio was established, with the service relayed to the Memorial Hospital via a GPO land line. “The photography club mainly at the Brook hospital occupied a room beneath one of the wards where the birth of broadcasting within that hospital began to take shape”
At the same time the Gramophone Club had succeeded in wiring the wards in the Memorial Hospital to enable them to play recorded music from a central point to headphones and in some cases speakers.
Shortly afterward the Royal Herbert Military Hospital was connected to the GPO landline system. In 1977 the hospital closed.
In 1995, with the opening of the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, the Brook Hospital closed and the studio was moved to the Memorial Hospital.
In 2016 the service was referred to as “Meridian Radio”, the working name for the Woolwich Hospital Broadcasting Service and was broadcasting from a studio in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“Meridian Radio is now available online and is dedicated to providing a local radio service to South East London, and worldwide on the internet or by using the TuneIn App”.
7.2 Radio St Nicks (1971)
Radio St Nicks started broadcasting to the St Nicholas’ Hospital in Plumstead in March 1971.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory records Radio St Nicks. The Studio. St Nicholas Hospital. 25 members. 1 hospital served. Contact: Steve Spitty.
The hospital closed in 1986.
8.1 Hackney Hospital Radio (Start Date Required)
Hackney Hospital Radio provided a service to the Hackney Hospital.
The hospital closed in 1995.
In January 1928 headsets were being used at the West London Hospital in Hammersmith – the earliest known report of a radio service being made available to patients in a London Hospital.
The hospital closed in 1993.
9.1 Charing Cross Radio – Riverside Radio (1963)
A service called Charing Cross Radio started at the old Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham in 1963.
David Winterburn, of Riverside Radio (Charing Cross), wrote in 1992: “The present Charing Cross Hospital stands on the site of the old Fulham Hospital. The original Charing Cross Hospital off the Strand closed in 1973 when the combined new hospital in the Fulham Palace Road opened. Prior to the new hospital there is little information to my knowledge on services provided at the two ‘old’ hospitals. However, I understand in the Fulham area there was a sports service which was provided to several hospitals and possibly a music service too”.
On 21st July, 1976, ‘Charing Cross Radio’ restarted broadcasting at the new Charing Cross Hospital (Fulham). Of the four founder members two, Tim Matthews and Paul Vanzeebroeck, remained with the service into the late 1980s.
In 1992 the service, now known as ‘Riverside Radio’, had 45 members and was broadcasting some 55 hours per week to the Charing Cross Hospital. David Winterburn, the Programme Director, was the longest serving member (9 years). Ron Critcher, the hospital’s Voluntary Services Co-ordinator, who joined in 1982, was still assisting the service.
An article in “ON AIR” Issue September/October 2005, Page 6 reads: “Riverside Radio, Charing Cross Hospital’s very own radio station, is fast approaching its 30th birthday. The first broadcast, which took place on Saturday, 21 July 1976, came live from an old laundry room complete with aluminium sink and sink dryer”.
Riverside Radio was removed from the list of “Registered charities in England and Wales” on 17 Sep 2010.
9.2 Radio Hammersmith (Start Date Required)
Radio Hammersmith provided a service to the Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road.
10.1 Radio Brockley (1966)
A letter dated 31st August, 1966, signed by M Solomons, B Cobden and I Downs, was sent to Mr Roantree of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Brockley Hill, Stanmore.
It read: “We will be pleased to arrange a programme for your patients similar to the one which is now operated at the Edgware General Hospital under the name of Radio Edgware. Provided that minor technical difficulties can be overcome we hope to be able to start installing equipment in the air raid shelter by the weekend, particularly if Mr Upton is able to fit a temporary wooden floor and lightning by then. If all goes well, we should be able to broadcast our first programme on Sunday 11th September; it will be available from 7.30pm to 9pm every Sunday from then on. It is hoped to call the service Brockley Radio”.
The 4 founder members were Mike Alinek, Barry Cobden, Ian Downs and Mike Solomons who were assisted by 2 others. All 6 had previously volunteered at Radio Edgware at the nearby Edgware General Hospital. See Barnet. 1.3 Radio Edgware.
Tape recorders, a mixer, amplifiers and other equipment were built by and provided by members and the station was officially opened by Harrow East MP, Roy Roebuck, on Sunday 2nd October 1966.
A constitution was drawn up and one of the four articles read: “Radio Brockley was instituted by the four under-mentioned persons for the purpose of providing a personal radio service to the patients of a hospital: Mr M S Alinek, Mr B M Cobden, Mr I C Downs and Mr M S Solomons”.
By October 1970 the service had started to broadcast on Wednesday evenings for two hours, increasing the weekly broadcasting to 5.5 hours. Presenters included Tony Moxen, Tim Fine (who also presented programmes on Radio Vernon, Edgware), Barry Cobden, Dick Gee, Nick Toff, Ruth Alinek, Richard Hartley and Eddie Solomans.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations records: Radio Brockley, formed in October 1966. Studio address: Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Contact M S Solomons.12 members. Number of hospitals served: 1 (+ others on tape). No sports service.
In 1986 Keith Reeve, a member since 1977, wrote: “The service’s first studio was located off the main ward area. This site was fraught with problems as space was very limited and the roof leaked, so waterproof canvas had to be suspended from the ceiling to protect the equipment and staff! Thankfully, this home was replaced by our current studio area in the early 1970’s, although the layout of the studio was modernised in 1984. Also at this time a major update of the mixer took place thanks to Marconi Space & Defence financing the construction and installation of the unit. Finally on Saturday 12th January, 1985, the new studio was officially declared open”.
In March 2012 the service piloted a webstream via the internal WiFi Spark pay-for-use service which has been recently installed around the hospital. The RB WiFi Spark webstream was officially launched by HBA President June Snowdon during the anniversary weekend in late September.
Radio Brockley was the first hospital broadcasting service in the UK to broadcast via this method.
In 2016 the service was broadcasting on 999 AM – LPAM (low power).
10.2 Radio Harrow (1967)
A hospital broadcasting service started at the Harrow General Hospital, broadcasting Sunday mornings, in November, 1967. A programme entitled ‘Good Morning Harrow’ was presented by Len Elman. It is thought that the service later moved into permanent premises in Florence Nightingale House.
Records dated February, 1969, state: “Radio Harrow may be extending hours to the hospital by one hour, to three hours every Sunday morning. Following a meeting of the Harrow Jewish Youth Voluntary Services (JYVS) Radio Harrow is to become affiliated to Stanmore, Kenton, Edgware JYVS. This means that SKEJ now has two radio stations in the group. The first joint Edgware-Harrow meeting took place on the 22nd January“. Note: SKEJ stands for ‘Stanmore Kenton Edgware Jewish Youth Voluntary Service’.
A report on Radio Harrow circa 1970/71 read: “Over the last 3 months we have had some minor troubles with the mixer which has now been rectified. The system is to be completely re-wired in the Autumn. Radio Harrow expects to close down around the beginning of 1972“.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has though the following entry: “Radio Northwick Park/Radio Harrow Hospital Broadcasting Network, Harrow Kenton. 50 members. Two hospitals served. Start date November 1967“.
Harrow General Hospital closed in 1998.
See Brent. 2.3 Radio Northwick Park
11.1 Harold Wood Radio (1964)
A service called the Warley Hospital Radio Service was started by three members of a local cine club on 14 February 14 1964. “The shows were pre-recorded”.
Dennis Rookard, who joined Harold Wood Radio on Boxing day 1964, reported: “The secretary of the hospital gave them the use of an old dressing room in a largely unused recreation hall and to get started the members had to raid each other’s homes for items of domestic equipment. Another initial problem was the distance from the radio room and the distribution box, some 800 yards away. One day they came across a large reel of telephone cable and within days a service was being broadcast to the wards. By the time I came on the scene the service was able to offer some 15 hours a week of requests and magazine programming, along with the more basic top twenty shows”.
“In those days, the station provided shows for Warley Hospital in Brentwood and Victoria Hospital in Romford”.
The studio and equipment was very basic, consisting of two Garard SP 25 record decks that fed into a home built six channel mixer, an old B & 0 tape recorder, a battered old public address microphone and a set of what seemed like world war two vintage headphones.
The service was fed down a half mile length of overhead cable into a socket marked “tape recorder” on the hospital’s radio relay box. Then, in order to get the signal into the wards, one of the station’s staff had to walk across the hospital grounds, open a cupboard that housed the relay box, switch on a monitor speaker and wait for a suitable moment to switch the hospital’s amplifiers from the BBC to Harold Wood Radio.
Within a few years the service began to develop into other areas of programming, starting with a Sunday evening local magazine programme that used to invite local people to the studio to be interviewed. Shortly afterwards programming expanded further afield when each Sunday evening John Durant started taking his tape recorder along to a local folk club to record the evening’s entertainment. Then, on a Wednesday for half an hour or so, he would play tape to the patients.
Dennis Rookard, who remained a member until 1973, added: “We even got into the field of drama. I found that the area around Brentwood and Having had some 18 drama groups. All were performing plays and when contacted a few said they were interested. Rather than record from the stage I formed a hospital radio drama group, calling it the ‘Woodfield Players’. They would take a play, work on it and after two weeks or so I would go along to the house of one of the members to record the script. In all we managed to record some twenty plays, some of them by local writers. They were happy days”.
Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s Harold Wood Radio continued to broadcast to the Harold Wood Hospital all day Saturday, Sunday from 9am to l0pm and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7pm to l0pm. Thursday was set aside so that a two hour programme could be recorded on tape.
NAHBOs 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Harold Wood Radio (incorporating Warley Hospital Radio Service). No sports. 32 members. Serving 3 hospitals. Studio address: Harold Wood Hospital. Contact: C L Hind, Rainham. Start date: February 1964. Hospitals: 3 (Soon to expand).
During the station’s first decade of broadcasting no less than fourteen of the original sixteen founder members moved into the broadcasting industry, including Noel Edmonds.
Until the late 1980s the service was relayed to the patients of the Warley Hospital in Brentwood on a Sunday morning, immediately after the church service. The service also expanded for a short period into the nearby Victoria Hospital where a small studio was used once per week.
In 1992 the service had 57 members and was broadcasting 35 hours per week to the Harold Wood Hospital. The longest serving members were Steve Shrimpton (20 years) and Ian Wager (about 15 years).
In 2000 the Hospital Trust wanted a single radio station to serve the Harold Wood Hospital and the Oldchurch Hospital, both of which would close when the new Queen’s Hospital was opened (in 2006).
After much negotiations regarding studio location, site links & setting up the new association, Oldchurch Hospital Radio and Harold Wood Hospital Radio came together creating Bedrock Radio; a new charity that was registered on 22 June 2002. See Romford. Bedrock Radio.
Broadcasting ceased at Harold Wood Hospital when the hospital closed at the end of 2006.
12.1 Radio Harefield- Harfield FM (1964)
In 1964 a hospital broadcasting service called Radio Harefield started at the Harefield Hospital in Uxbridge by a hospital secretary and a telephonist. Two of the early members were Andy Lee and Derick Spencer.
Derick wrote in 1972: “The station has been on the air since 1964, when it began with a one–hour programme of requests from a small and draughty corner of a stage in the hospital social area. Today the service has a two studio complex from which they present a two-hour programme each weekday plus shows for younger listeners. On Saturdays the service broadcasts an hour long sports show”. Derek added that much help came from the local press and team managers of local football clubs.
Derek Thompson, who joined the service in 1974, reported in 1986 that initially there was a team of about 5 people who made use of one record deck and a microphone, which was part of the sound system for the concert hall. This system included a radio receiver which was distributed to the wards. The presenters would switch off the radio and patch in the concert hall power amplifier to the wards for their weekly programme. Sometime later a proper organisation was formed and the service applied for registration as a charity in 1970-72. They were then given new premises in the old projector rooms for the concert hall where they still are.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Hospital Radio Harefield. Harefield Hospital. Contact: Derek Thomas.
In 1993 the service had 15 members and was broadcasting 10 hours per week to the Harefield Hospital. Two of the longest serving members were Adrian Johnson (11 years) and Denise Edmonds (10.5 years). It was in 1993 that Radio Harefield had to stop broadcasting but on 1 October 1994 the service resumed from a new studio.
The following year, on 19 November 1995, the service started broadcasting on FM 118 (LP) and became known as “Harefield FM”.
12.2 Radio Hillingdon (1970)
On the Sunday before Christmas in 1970 two young apprentices from EMI, John Mandrak and Steve Jones decided to broadcast some Christmas carols and messages to the patients of Hillingdon Hospital, using equipment set up in a staff rest room. See Hounslow 13.1 Radio West Middlesex.
The following month (January 1971) three more EMI apprentices joined them, David Brown, Gerald French and Pat Flaherty and Radio Hillingdon was born.
The idea to brighten up the patients time in hospital came from another EMI employee, Alan Hardy, who was at that time running a similar service at the West Middlesex Hospital. After this initial launch, a weekly programme of requests was broadcast live each Sunday evening.
A short time after this, Radio Hillingdon set up a small studio in an electrician’s shack where evening and weekend programmes were broadcast. Eventually, the shack needed to be demolished to make way for hospital expansion and the Hospital provided a brand new, purpose-built complex which was officially opened by Henry Cooper OBE in December 1978.
This is still home of Radio Hillingdon, which in 2016 was broadcasting 24 hours a day and can be accessed for free via the Hospital’s Hospedia system on Channel 45 and via the internet and mobile phone apps.
12.3 Radio Mount Vernon (1969)
Radio Mount Vernon started broadcasting to the Mount Vernon Hospital in 1969.
When Broadcasting first commenced, programmes were relayed from a room used by a bank operating at the hospital during the day and then, in the evenings Radio Mount Vernon staff would move in and set up their makeshift studio, only to take it all down again at the end of the evening.
Minutes of a Radio Edgware/Radio Mount Vernon meeting dated 23 April 1970 record “John Spencer (Chairman) announced that Radio Edgware and Mount Vernon had joined partnership”. See Barnet. 1.3 Radio Edgware. A short time later John wrote: “Radio Vernon/Radioi Edgware has had a chance to settle down and is now starting to function properly”. How long this partnership lasted is uncertain.
Records thought to be from 1974/75 show Martin Freedman, L H Bernard and Tim Fine as “Joint Group Leaders of Radio Edgware & Radio Mount Vernon”.
Having established itself as a credible service to both staff and patients, it was deemed necessary to provide Radio Mount Vernon with more suitable accommodation. During the early 1980’s the hospital management offered the radio station a new building and after extensive refurbishment a mobile building was transformed into “Fellowship Cottage Studio’s”.
By the 1990’s new premises were required and the management at the hospital offered to convert a former staff flat in the Vernon Village into a new studio complex. After months of planning and construction, Radio Mount Vernon started broadcasting from the new building in June 1996.
13.1 Radio West Middlesex (1967)
On Whit Saturday 1967, Radio West Middlesex’s first programme was broadcast to patients of the West Middlesex hospital in Isleworth.
In 1967 three apprentices working for EMI at Hayes decided that they would like to organise radio programmes for hospital patients. On their behalf the EM! Apprentice Association officially wrote to three neighbouring hospitals; West Middlesex, Hillingdon and Hounslow, asking if they would like such a service. The choice was West Middlesex because they replied first!
After various meetings and a great deal of preparation the fIrst programme, a record request show called ‘Needle Talk’, was heard on 27 May 1967. There were no facilities within the hospital for live broadcasts and consequently the programme was pre-recorded on a Friday evening in a makeshift studio elsewhere, and then relayed over the headphone system to the patients on the Saturday morning. The programme continued to be produced each week in a similar way with various volunteer presenters and producers until 1972.
By that time the team had grown larger and space had become available to allow the hospital to have its own radio studio. A weekly country music show ‘Sounds Like Country’ joined ‘Needle Talk’, pre-recorded whilst work took place converting two rooms in the West Middlesex Hospital into studios. Just over 18 months later the hospital patients heard the first live broadcast. As the station’s facilities increased the production of more programmes followed and the service started to broadcast most evenings of the week, and at various times during the day at weekends.
Alan Hardy wrote in 1986: “The first recorded programme (Neddle Talk) was, and still is one hour long. It was presented by the three apprentices; myself, Chris Payne and Chris Haynes. I still present the same programme today, 19 years on! In September 1967 the two Chris’s went on to other things. Chris Payne left EMI and went to his home town of High Wycombe where he was instrumental in helping to start the High Wycombe Hospital service. I continued with a variety of Apprentice Association helpers. Several of these lived in the Uxbridge area, but were keen on helping me. However, I thought it would be more fruitful if they set up their own station at their local hospital – Hillingdon Hospital. Thus you’ll find 3 (I think) EMI apprentices starting Radio Hillingdon in around 1968/69“. See Hillingdon 12.2 Radio Hillingdon (1970).
Alan added: “Our service at West Middlesex operated purely under the name of the programme ‘Needle Talk’ until the second programme ‘Sounds Like Country’ began, although I think we ran under the production title of ‘Studio 4’ for the first few months for some reason! From that second programme we became Radio West Middlesex. That was around late 1971, early 1972. The first live regular broadcasts began and developed from around late 1974/early 1975, although we always organised live specials every Christmas Eve, usually broadcasting all day”.
In 1991 the Hospital was renamed the West Middlesex University Hospital.
The service reported in 2012: “45 years later our record request show Needle Talk still goes out on Saturday mornings and is still presented its original host”. (Alan Hardy).
14.1 Radio Moorfields (1974).
Radio Moorfields provided a service to the Moorfields Eye Hospital.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Radio Moorfields. Moorfields Eye Hospital. Contact: Ivor Gilbert.
Ian Chambers, who was a member from 2003 to 2006, recalled in 2016: “Radio Moorfields – run by the Moorfields League of Friends. Notable founder and life president Ivor Gilbert (ex Whipps Cross HR) stayed until closure in early 2000s, when the hospital no longer wanted a hospital radio station”.
The service ceased broadcasting in 2006.
14.2 Radio Whittington and Radio Royal Northern (1973)
Radio Whittington (“NURSE”) and Radio Royal Northern were two hospital radio stations serving the Whittington Hospital in Highgate and the Royal Northern Hospital in Holloway. Both services were formed in 1973.
NAHBOs 1974 Directory records: Radio Whittington (“NURSE”). Whittington Hospital. May 1973. 8 members. Broadcasting to 8 hospitals.
Programmes were broadcast from three adjacent studios housed within the basement of the Whittington Hospital. The broadcasts were commonly networked under a combined service name of London Hospitals’ Broadcasting (L.H.B.), with ‘opt-outs’ available to provide specific programmes, such as request shows.
Paul Sparrey presented various programmes for the service between 1975 and 1979.
Paul recalled in 2016: “The station broadcast from three adjacent studios in the basement of an administration block within the St Mary’s Wing of Whittington Hospital. The premises, in fact of the former mortuary!
Studio One was the Radio Whittington main presentation/production studio and the main studio for most of the output of L.H.B.
Studio Two, parallel to Studio One and separated by a mere 5-6 feet was the presentation studio for Radio Royal Northern. It was also the back-up studio for Studio One should it be necessary.
Studio Three sat immediately in front of Studio One, separated by a large window pane in the centre of the dividing wall. There was a large circular table from which three microphones housed on a ‘holding rod’ protruded from a round hole in the centre. There were also several chairs. This meant that several presenters or studio guests could be on-air with the programme being controlled from Studio One.
At the far end of the complex was the record library, engineering room *where vast reel-to-reel tape recording machines operated “in readiness of ‘going commercial’ ) and the switches that split Radio Whittington and Radio Royal Northern for their own Request Shows etc.
Daytime programming was built around music-based output. Evenings were very diverse and included: Specialist music programmes on Mondays and Fridays, Radio Bingo with prizes on Tuesdays, Request Shows on Wednesdays, a live celebrity interview show on Thursdays and a local news and Arts programme on Fridays. On Saturdays there was a live three and a half hour sports programme featuring exclusive live commentary from Arsenal Football Club.
There was also a weekly programme from the editor of one of the popular ‘free’ magazines handed out at London’s tube and train stations and another from the then man in charge at the World Wildlife Fund, Richard Adams.
The live chat show featured a celebrity who would attend the station for free and chat to our presenter about their live and career and select some of their favourite tracks between the chat. The station founder would thumb through the showbiz directory ‘Spotlight’, telephone the celebrity’s agent and see if they would be willing to come down. Many personalities of the day attended in their personal time. I particularly remember the actor Peter Cushing.”
In 1979 the London Hospitals’ Broadcasting organisation was re-launched with a new team and much-improved studios, under the names of London Network Radio.
Whittington Radio had a small station located at the back of the Whittington Hospital.
Paul added: “I think the Whittington service ceased due to the Hospital requiring the space”. Later on the Whittington Hospital was briefly served by Barts & London Chest Hospital Radio. See 21.2.
The Royal Northern Hospital closed in 1992.
A service was being provided to the Whittington Hospital in March 2011. See the following dated 18 March 2011 link:
The service to the Whittington Hospital ceased a few years later.
- Kingston-upon- Thames
15.1 Kingston Hospital Radio (1957)
Kingston Hospital Radio originally started broadcasting at the Kingston Hospital in 1957 but only it operated for a brief period.
It was one the first music based service to start in London. The only other music based service starting in London prior to 1958 was Radio Lewisham (see Lewisham 17.1).
Reference to re-establishing the service is found in a letter that Sonia Newman, who left the service in 1970, wrote in October 1987: “In August 1959 a Mr Tony Vokes had a letter published in the Surrey Comet asking for volunteers to help set up and re-establish Kingston Hospital broadcasting service. The idea being to run a record request programme. In due course a meeting of would be helpers was held. There were, I think, 8 people who worked in pairs on a rota system, so only having to give time to the programme once in four weeks”.
Sonia added: “This was alright at first but it wasn’t long before people began dropping out including my brother’s partner. This is where I got involved, as I started to go up to the hospital to give Christopher a hand. Tony Voles himself had dropped out. He had been the programmes link with the League of Friends. About this time Mrs Peggy Nightingale, an ex-patient in the hospital, joined us. She, over the next dozen years proved to be the programmes guiding light. The broadcasting equipment, such as it was, was housed in a very cold vestry next to the chapel in a long demolished part of the hospital. We ran the programme at first on Monday evenings from 8pm until 9pm, but such was its popularity that we started at an earlier time for those wards with earlier visiting times.
Later on we had a programme on Wednesday as well, between 8pm and 9pm. We were moved to a new home up in the roof of the maternity block. With us on the programme were Reg and Valerie Vincent. Reg was a staff photographer on the Surrey Cornet. When he and Valerie moved back to their home town of Weymouth they helped to set up the broadcasting service at Weymouth Hospital”.
During the 1970s Kingston Hospital Radio was broadcasting at least one show a day. The service further expanded in the 1980s with more than 24 hours of programmes going out on air each week.
In 1992 the service had 40 members and was broadcasting 36 hours per week to the Kingston Hospital. The longest serving member was Alan Baccoline, who joined in 1977.
16.1 Radio Becket (Start Date Required)
Radio Becket provided a service to the St Thomas Hospital.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio Becket (St Thomas’ Health District (Teaching) Broadcasting Unit). St Thomas Hospital Medical School. Contact: P M Dear.
When Radio Becket closed Radio Guys provided a service via landlines from Guys Hospital in Southwark. See Southwark. 20.3 Radio Guys.
Radio Guys ceased broadcasting in the late 1990s.
16.2 Radio Kings (1972)
Radio Kings started broadcasting in at the King’s College Hospital in December 1972.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory recorded: Radio Kings. King’s College Hospital. Denmark Hill. 10 members. Contact: John R Groves.
The hospital closed in 1993.
17.1 Radio Lewisham (2 September 1957)
Radio Lewisham was one the first music based service to start in London. The only other music based service starting in London prior to 1958 was Kingston Hospital Radio (see Kingston-upon-Thames. 15.1).
Radio Lewisham was conceived by Peter Hurll in 1956. He had previously taken some tapes to plt ay to a friend in a ward at St Thomas Hospital and it had been a great success. Shortly afterwards he read an article about a hospital in Scotland that enjoyed a sports service and he thought that a music service would be a better idea.
Steve Catchpole of Radio Lewisham reported in 1990: “Peter Hurll and Harry Nightingale were radio repair engineers in a shop in Lewisham and they knew a postman by the name of Stan Chidgey who had a good speaking voice. Together they approached Lewisham Hospital and with considerable encouragement from the hospital engineering staff and Matron Bell, Radio Lewisham presented its first pre-recorded music request show on 2nd September, 1957. The first four or five shows were recorded and thereafter were presented live”.
In 1982 Stan Chidgey completed 25 years of broadcasting at Lewisham Hospital. Peter Hurll was still with the service in 1990, retiring as station manager after 32 years. Peter never presented a programme, happy to act as a manager and engineer, building most of the necessary equipment on his kitchen table at home. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to Radio Lewisham in 1985. Other long serving members in 1990 were Bob Eisinger (20 years), Paul Temple (17 years) and Steve Catchpole (17 years).
Steve added: “Over the years Radio Lewisham has adopted the style of BBC Radio 2 for middle of the road music presentation and currently presents only on a Wednesday evening. The station is a minimum 3 man operation so it relies considerably on team work which is perhaps why we have stayed together so long. Our current staff is about eight persons and we are not a charity or a member of the Hospital Radios Organisation. The station has no fund raising activities as all material and equipment is scrounged, borrowed and hand built. We have recently been lucky enough to ‘find’ a computer and several terminals so that we can re-catalogue our library of some 20,000 records”.
17.2 Park Radio Hospital Broadcasting Service (1967)
In January 1967 Norman Dean persuaded his TOC H Branch at Lee in South London to start a hospital broadcasting service at the Hither Green Hospital.
Following a talk with Roger Golding, a nineteen year old telecommunications engineer who estimated that a transmitting unit and record decks could be assembled for around £30, an appeal was launched. Only about £12 was raised but the TOC H Lee Branch and other private donors raised the amount to £20 and the project was launched. Roger joined the newly formed service, becoming the engineer responsible for assembling the equipment, as well as a DJ and turntable operator.
An article written by Huw Gibbs for TOC H in November, 1967 read: “Within nine months of launching its first appeal for funds Radio TOC H at Lee in South London, which broadcasts regular weekly programmes to patients at Hither Green Hospital, has been visited by a recording unit from the BBC, who taped the proceedings for a programme called ‘Outlook’.
The one hour TOC H programme is organised by Norman Dean of the TOC H Lee Branch who, with the help of four non TOC H men, distribute, collect and sift the request slips, an operation taking some-times a whole week-end, ready for the broadcast on Monday evenings. The station has two record decks, a collection of some eight hundred records, which took six months to collect and cross index, its own studio and a ward coverage of most patients in the hospital.
John Percival, a sixteen year old school boy, and his friend Bill Dawkings volunteered their services after reading a story in the Evening News. The remaining member of the team, Bill Bulline, another non TOC H man, is also connected with Radio Lewisham at a neighbouring hospital. It was Bill who designed and built the dispenser stand from which hospital visitors can select a record, placing their request slips in a box provided. He also takes his turn as DJ and turntable operator. The station covers ten of the fourteen wards and Friends of the Hospital are planning to make the head sets available to the remaining wards soon”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Park Radio Hospital Broadcasting Service (Hither Green Hospital). Contact: Peter Stemp.
The Hither Green Hospital closed in 1997.
18.1 Hospital Radio Nelson (Start Date Required)
Hospital Radio Nelson provided a service to the Nelson Hospital, Kingston Road.
19.1 Radio 70 (1969)
Radio 70 provided a service to the East Ham Memorial Hospital. Despite its name it is thought that broadcasts started in December 1969. A 1975 amendment to NAHBO’s Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations included: Radio 70 (East Ham Memorial Hospital), 8 members, serving 2 hospitals, formed December 1969, contact: Ken Collins.
A NAHBO article published in May, 1972 read: “The Broadcasting Service of the East Ham Memorial Hospital, Radio 70, has gone international. Dave Bolton reports that a 20-minute programme about Radio 70 has been broadcast over Radio Hilversum, the Dutch short-wave service. Some time ago, Dave sent a letter about the service and Radio Hilversum asked for recordings of the station in action. The result was a programme at the end of which the Dutch presenter appealed over the air for equipment for the London East-End Hospital. The response so far, reports Dave, has been little short of fantastic: the station has had over 14 offers of help from places as far apart as Finland, Norway and Germany”.
Radio 72 (SHRS), Stavanger, Norway wrote: “We have had a connection with one hospital radio station in London, called Radio 70, which is located at East Ham Memorial Hospital. The reason we call ourselves Radio 72 (SHRS) is because we started exchanging programmes with this hospital, and received a few in return, in 1972. Radio 70 is to stop their shows because this hospital is possibly being disconnected 1.1.83″.
The East Ham Memorial Hospital closed as an acute hospital in 1981.
19.2 Woodside Radio (1983)
Woodside Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Newham University Hospital in 1983.
The planning of Woodside Hospital Radio started in 1981 when St Andrews Radio Manager, Bob Rush and Peter Goody (Executive Director Metropolitan Hospitals Radio) were asked to oversee the start of a radio station; to supply the equipment and to recruit and train volunteers.
This took place between 1981 and early 1983, with the main equipment donation coming from West Ham Round Table.
Assisting in the early days were, Mike Woodward, Gary Spence, Terry Elliot, Danny Slevin, Som Guru and John Rolls. Gary Spence was still involved in the station in 2016.
20.1 Dulwich Radio (1975)
Dulwich Hospital Radio started broadcasting to the Dulwich Hospital in 1975.
In 1975 the South London Press reported that a new radio service was to be launched at the Dulwich Hospital. An early member who read this report was Pat Marsh.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Dulwich Radio. Dulwich Hospital. Contact: Mrs C Hamilton Barratt.
Arthur Dodd recalls joining 1987 and being interviewed by the committee “whose ‘big wheel’ was Vic Short who had professional experience and had worked at The Whittington Hospital in North London.
“My first programme was entitled ‘From Arthur’s Archives’ and the very first number played was ‘The March of the Movies’ by Louis Levy and the Gaumont British Symphony Orchestra. I was all at sea with the equipment but this was overcome with time as I developed a confidence and style. Other presenters skilfully assembled programmes to include country music, news on the hour and request programmes. These were interspersed with interviews with local celebrities and recorded programmes hired from British Telecom.
Most of the staff were volunteers and we were sustained by voluntary contributions, some of which, in a most touching way, indicated the value of what we were doing. The studio was re-equipped and there was talk of moving to King’s when Dulwich Hospital closed down. It was not to be. Our administrator, Vic Short became ill, key workers left and by the mid 1990’s the ship had foundered”.
Ian Chambers, who was a member from 1983 to 1987, recalled in 2016: “Radio Dulwich & St Francis (RDSF) – I joined in 1983, team included Pat Marsh (later and still BBC Radio Kent) and Tim Gillett (later and still I think BBC Radio Essex). Around 1985, as St Francis, the adjacent hospital to Dulwich, could no longer hear the radio signal, the station re-branded as Dulwich Hospital Radio. Dulwich Hospital later closed”.
The Dulwich Hospital closed in 2005.
20.2 Radio St Giles (Start Date Required)
A service called Radio St Giles provided a service to the St Giles Hospital, Kingston Road.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio St Giles. St Giles Hospital. Contact: D Brown.
The hospital closed in 1983.
20.3 Radio Guys (1970s)
Radio Guys provided a service to the Guys Hospital. It began as a tape recording club in the 1970s. Volunteers relayed programmes to the patient’s bedside headsets. Pre-recorded programmes were replaced by live transmissions when suitable facilities became available.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio Guys. Studio: Guys Hospital. Contact: M J Smith.
A move to Hunt’s House provided space for two studios, which lead to the transmission of two simultaneous networks. GST and GST GOLD enjoyed an increase in audience when additional landlines carried the programmes to patients at St. Thomas’s Hospital when the hospital broadcasting service at that hospital ceased. See Lambeth. 16.1 Radio Becket.
Towards the end of the 1990s Hunt’s House was demolished as part of a redevelopment scheme. New premises for the radio station were not provided and Radio Guys ceased operating.
Mike Smith was one of the founder members. He managed the station from its early tape recording club beginning until it ceased.
- Tower Hamlets
21.1 Radio St Andrews Airwaves (Circa 1980’s)
Radio St Andrews provided a service to the St Andrews Hospital, Devons Road, Bromley-by-Bow. See section 21.2. Barts & London Chest Hospital Radio.
Ian Chambers, who was a member from 1990 to 2005, recalled in 2016: “At St Andrews Hospital, Bow, London E3, Radio St Andrews was active in the 1980s, but closed and reopened as St Andrews Airwaves, under new management in 1991.
Continued until the last patient left in around 2002, by which time some of the volunteers had moved to help Radio Moorfields and to form London Chest Hospital Radio. Martyn Grant was with them from Radio St Andrews days until eventual closure”.
The hospital closed in 2006.
21.2 Barts & London Chest Hospital Radio (2009)
Barts & London Chest Hospital Radio was the working name for the London Chest Hospital Radio (LCH) that was established in 2009 and broadcasted to the London Chest Hospital, Mile End Hospital and St Bartholomews Hospital.
“From our studios we broadcast a mix of pre recoded and live show 24 hours a day 7 days a week to the patients, staff and visitors to the London Chest Hospital on special radios on 66.0 FM. Our studios are located within the hospital ground close to the St James Street entrance. We visit the words on a daily basis to meet the patients, staff and visitors to have a chat and collect any request or messages you have”.
“We have many years of experience in hospital radio having all broadcasted on hospital radio at two different station until they closed a few years back due to NHS restructuring. The stations were St Andrews Airwaves at St Andrews Hospital in Bow East London and Moorfields Eye Hospital in the Centre of London”.
Ian Chambers, a member from 2005 until 2015, recalled in 2016: “The combined team and equipment, music collection, etc from Radio Moorfields and St Andrews Airwaves went to form LCHR, at London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, which launched in 2010, broadcasting off normal wave band on FM and giving each patient a fixed frequency portable radio to listen in. Probably the most costly way to do hospital radio! We believe a first as no-one else was doing it this way. Later joined by volunteers from the then closed Paddington Hospital Radio and Radio Whittington.
The station expanded to take in St Bartholomews Hospital (Barts) via intranet to bedside units there and re-branded as Barts & London Chest Hospital Radio.
London Chest Hospital closed in 2015, and the station moved to Barts to become Barts Radio”.
See 25. City of London for further information.
21.3 Metropolitan Hospital Radio/ Whitechapel AM (1976)
In October 1976 Metropolitan Hospital Radio started providing a pre-recorded request service to the patients in the London Hospital. “Ward visitors would collect requests and record them on tape in a member’s home each week and play the recorded requests to the patients. In those early days we had three request programmes a week and we had many ward visitors to make this possible”.
“The founder members had been given two small rooms in the old nurses home but they needed to raise money to build the studio and buy the much needed equipment, so although they began broadcasting in October 1976, we were not able to ‘go live’ until July 1978 and the first record we played was ‘We’ve only just begun’ by the Carpenters”.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations has the following entry: Metropolitan Hospital Radio. The London Hospital. Contact: Peter Goody. Thomas.
The service reported in 2016: “Our Charity is still called Metropolitan Hospitals Radio, so named when It was started, in the hope that it would expand in the future. The name changed in the ’80’s to coincide with broadcasting on AM radio through a landline induction loop being installed around the Hospital due to the fact that the bedside radio system was failing. So Whitechapel AM was born as ‘Whitechapel’ gave the location of the Hospital more credence than ‘Metropolitan’ did”.
“We have had three ‘homes’ in the Hospital and we moved to our fourth about three years ago when the new building was opened and our old building was closed down”.
- Waltham Forest
22.1 Whipps Cross Hospital Radio (1970)
A hospital radio service was run at the Whipps Cross Hospital by the Whipps Cross League of Friends, in the early 1960s. It is not known how long this service operated. There was no studio, just a microphone and amplifier.
The idea to restart a broadcasting service at the hospital came from Chris Rowell in 1969, who had previously been connected with the hospital broadcasting service in Chelmsford.
Phil Hughes, the Station Manager of Whipps Cross Hospital Radio, who joined the service in 1972, wrote in 1993: “During a visit to the local office of Commercial Union Insurance about cover for the equipment Chris Rowell met Ivor Gilbert, a committee member of the Walthamstow Lions Club. Ivor obtained the financial support of the Lions Club and the station, an 8ft x 8ft shed within the grounds of the hospital, was constructed in three months. The equipment comprised a 10 channel mono mixer, two turntables, two tape machines, a microphone, a speaker and a clock. The station went on air in June 1970. It broadcast for just three hours on Sunday evenings. The presenters were Chris Rowsell (Station Controller), Ivor Gilbert, Terry Martin, Tim Holland, Phil Webster and John Pinneger. The station was sponsored by the Whipps Cross Lions Club and called Walthanstow Lions’ Whipps Cross Hospital Radio”.
Later in the year a second hut was added to provide room for a second and third studio. By October of the following year the service was broadcasting five nights per week. Phil Hughes joined Whipps Cross Hospital Radio in 1972.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcastng Organisations recorded: Walthamstow Lions Hospital Radio (Whipps Cross Hospital), 30 members, formed June 1969, contact: Ivor Gilbert.
The hospital radio mobile disco was established as a fund raiser in 1976 and proved to be very successful. The radio service itself was extended by landline to Chingford Hospital and then to Wanstead Hospital (both now closed), and broadcasting hours rose to 40 hours a week. In 1980 a line was connected to Leyton Orient and regular football commentary started.
In November 1982 the service ended its association with the “Walthamstow Lions” and became a registered charity in its own right. Due to a shortage of money the service to Chingford was reluctantly closed as the hospital became a geriatric unit.
In 1986 the Wanstead Hospital closed.
At the start of 1988 the hospital allocated the station a new area under D Block, which at the time was a store. In August, 1989, after 18 months of fund raising, work began stripping and cleaning each room, installing power and making the entrance secure. On 18th November, 1992, the new three-studio complex, with a workshop, record library and office was opened.
In 1993 the service had 47 members and was broadcasting 30 hours per week to the Whipps Cross Hospital. The longest serving members were Phil Hughes and Paul Noble (21 years each), Mike Jones (18 years) and Ian Betteridge, the Chairman, (more than 15 years).
In 1998 the first of two Restricted Service Licences were bought for a one month period of broadcasting on FM with adverts and a 24-hour schedule. In 2002 a computer playout system was purchased with a lottery grant to enable 24-hour broadcasting. Patientline arrived in 2004 with bedside TV and radio units.
23.1 Radio 9 (Start Date Required)
A service called Radio 9 broadcasts to the Springfield Hospital, Tooting.
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio 9 (Tooting). Springfield Hospital. Contact: Ray Oxley.
23.2 Queen Mary’s Broadcasting Service (1971)
Queen Mary’s Broadcasting Service started broadcasting in August 1971 at the Queen Mary’s Hospital. The service was also relayed to a second hospital.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory recorded: Queen Mary’s Broadcasting Service (QMBS). Queens Mary’s Hospital. Separate sports service. 9 members. Contact: John Money.
24.1 Radio 5 – Parkside Hospital Radio (1967)
A hospital broadcasting service called Radio 5 started at the Paddington General Hospital in Harrow Road on 10 December 1967. The founder members were Rik Bean, Jan Taranczuk and Chas Lee. The following year the Paddington General Hospital was renamed St Mary’s Hospital (Harrow Road).
The service rapidly expanded and within five years it was also broadcasting to the Samaritan Hospital for Women (1970), Western Opthalmic Hospital (1970) and St Mary’s Hospital in Praed Street (1972).
NAHBO’s 1977 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations recorded: Radio 5 Hospital Broadcasting Service. Studio: St Mary’s Hospital. Contacts: Peter Fielding and Bernard Forbes.
Further expansion took place in the 1980s with the service being connected to Paddington Green Children’s Hospital (1981) and St Charles Hospital (1986).
St Mary’s Hospital (Harrow Road) closed in 1986.
On 1 January, 1990, the name was changed to ‘Parkside Hospital Radio’ to avoid any confusion with BBC Radio 5. In 1993 the service had 65 members and was broadcasting 67 hours per week to 5 hospitals in Paddington and North Kensington. The long serving members were Arthur Falkener (24 years), Peter George, Peter Fielding and Bernard Forbes.
Terence Garwood recalled in 2017: “During 1982 I joined Radio 5 Hospital Broadcasting service for the two Saint Mary’s Hospitals in Paddington, which went on to be Parkside Hospital Radio then Paddington’s Hospital Radio. To the best of my knowledge Paddington’s Hospital Radio ceased broadcasting completely in around 2010/11 just before The London Olympics”.
24.2 Radio St John (about 1977)
A service called Radio St John provided a service to St John’s Hospice. The service started in about 1977.
- City of London
25.1 London Barts Hospital Radio (January 2016)
See 21.2 Barts & London Chest Hospital Radio for previous history.
In January 2016 a new service called London Barts Hospital Radio started broadcasting to St Bartholomews Hospital.
A report on the new service’s web site dated 23 February 2016 read “Having launched our new station in January, we’re now getting regular listeners throughout the week, and particularly during our live shows every Saturday between 10am and 6pm.
Still a little work to do on our studio room, including dividing it into two rooms so volunteers can relax while a show is underway in the studio.”
Ian Chambers, the Station Manager of Barts Radio reported in 2016: “Launched January 2016, broadcasting initially online at www.bartsradio.london and bedside units. Still going strong and planning expansion in 2017, including taking in Mile End Hospital. One of 4 thriving HRs within the Barts Trust – Woodside HR, Whipps Cross HR and Whitechapel AM being the others.
So, with the various name changes along the way, I’m onto my seventh London station, fourth hospital, in 33 years!”
Ian added in January 2017: “We are the 2nd option at Royal London after Whitechapel AM”. See Tower Hamlets. 21.3