Reginald Calvert

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Reginald Calvert (born Pearce Reginald Hartley Calvert[1][2] Spilsby, Lincolnshire, 1928 – 21 June 1966, Wendens Ambo, Essex) was the manager of The Fortunes pop group and singer Screaming Lord Sutch,[3] and the owner of offshore pirate radio station Radio City.

Calvert was killed by Oliver Smedley, the former owner of a rival offshore station, Radio Atlanta, who was later acquitted of murder on the grounds of self defence.

Radio City and death[edit]

After Calvert founded the pirate station Radio City, which broadcast from a Second World War marine fort off the Kent coast, seven miles from Margate, Radio Caroline embarked in June 1966 on a joint venture with Radio City. One of the directors of Caroline, Major Oliver Smedley, agreed to pay for a new transmitter to relay Caroline's programmes from the fort, while Calvert, the owner of Radio City, was to continue to run the operation but this time on behalf of Radio Caroline.

Radio Caroline withdrew from the deal when it heard that the British government intended to prosecute those occupying the forts, which were still Crown property. The transmitter turned out not to work properly and Calvert refused to pay Smedley for it.[4]

Smedley's response was to hire a group of riggers who boarded Radio City on 20 June and put the station's transmitter out of action.[5] On 21 June Calvert visited Smedley's home to demand the removal of the raiders and the return of vital transmitter crystals. A violent struggle developed, during which Smedley shot Calvert dead with a shotgun.[5][6][7] During the subsequent trial Smedley claimed that he feared Calvert was there to kill him and was acquitted[1] on grounds of self-defence.

Calvert was buried on 1 July 1966 at St Peter's, Dunchurch. Among the mourners at the funeral were Screaming Lord Sutch and members of the group Pinkerton's Assorted Colours.

Partly in response to the sensational death of Reg Calvert and lurid tales of real swashbuckling piracy the British government brought in the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act (Marine & Etc. Broadcasting Offences Act) 1967, which made offshore broadcasting a criminal offence as of 15 August 1967.[7] Radio City stopped broadcasting after his widow, Dorothy Calvert (whom he had married in 1946[8]) appeared in court charged under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1947, as the station was said to be broadcasting within the three-mile (5 km) limit. Radio City closed down shortly after Mrs Calvert lost the case.

Dorothy Calvert died on 21 February 2010. Her funeral and interment, also at St Peter's, Dunchurch, took place on 5 March 2010.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b UK National Archives, re: Smedley acquittal
  2. ^ National Probate Calendar, 1966
  3. ^ "SCREAMING LORD SUTCH's SAVAGES: Reg Calvert (1938-1966)". Article by Little Big Paddy from The Musicstorytellers. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  4. ^ BBC, Adam Curtis, 13 September 2011: Back Stories - The Curse of Tina
  5. ^ a b Asa Briggs, The history of broadcasting in the United Kingdom, Volume 5. Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 567. ISBN 0-19-215964-X
  6. ^ Mike Leonard, From international waters: 60 years of offshore broadcasting. Forest Press, 1996, p. 139
  7. ^ a b Guardian, All bands on deck, 27 March 2009. Retrieved 28 Sep 2009.
  8. ^ General Register Office indices of Birth, Marriages and Deaths


  • Johnny Rogan, Starmakers and Svengalis: The History of British Pop Management. Futura, 1989. ISBN 0-7088-4004-3 (hardback edition. Queen Anne Press, 1988, ISBN 0-356-15138-7. Both contain a long chapter on Reg Calvert detailing his life)
  • Adrian Johns: Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age. W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 ISBN 0-393-06860-9

External links[edit]