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The Voice of Slough

First amongst these was journalist John Thompson, who together with business associate RobVoice of Slough logoert Collier (a wholesale newsagent) and Peter Duffy (another journalist and News Director of the planned station)  formed a company - The Voice of Slough Ltd and planned to launch Radio LN, (or Radio Ellen after the name of the ship they were said to have purchased) The station had a number of other proposed call-signs including Radio ELB and GBLN (Great Britain, Ellen or Great Britain, London).

Thompson, Collier  and Duffy were soon joined by another Canadian, Arnold Swanson, who was said to have provided substantial financial backing for the project and acted as its technical adviser.

Thompson originally came from Yorkshire but after the end of the Second World War he had emigrated to Canada becoming a reporter on a local newspaper and eventually an announcer and DJ on a Vancouver radio station. In the late 1950s he returned to England working as a journalist for the local newspaper in Slough.

A 70 ton former Admiralty vessel Ellen (previously known as Anti Cyclone)was said to have been purchased and fitted out aElen in Leith Harbourt a secret location in Scotland (subsequently identified as Leith Harbour) with an on-air date for the station planned for 1st December 1961. The project's radio ship was to be anchored not far from the Nore lightship off the Essex coast near Southend and broadcasts were to be on 980kHz (306m) using an RCA transmitter with a power of between 1Kw and 5Kw. All programmes were to be pre-recorded in 'studios' (which had been built by electronics engineer, Roy Barrett) located in two wooden huts at the rear of a cottage in Aylesbury  

Keith Martin, an announcer who had worked with Paul Hollingdale and Doug Stanley at the short-lived Radio Veronica English service, CNBC (and who later went on to become involved with Radio Atlanta and Radio Caroline,) together with DJ Roger Gomez (who later became involved with KING Radio and Radio 270 (using the name Roger Keene) recorded programmes for the proposed station in the Aylesbury studios. Some press reports also named Victor Vicary as the station’s studio engineer and Barry Beresford as an electronics specialist advising the station.

The 24 hoVoice of Slough Ratecard coverur format was, according to the station's publicity material, to be "musical and directed mainly at the young, with regular news commentaries and current affairs programmes throughout the day." Six minutes per hour were to be devoted to commercial announcements. Thompson also hinted that broadcasting facilities could be used to provide a local community station directed at Southend and claimed to have support from the Mayor of the town for such a venture.

Despite initial press publicity in October 1961 the proposed starting date of 1st December 1961 came and went with nothing being heard on the airwaves. The project reportedly foundered when record companies refused to allow the station to infringe copyright restrictions by tape recording discs for later broadcast.

However, correspondence from John Thompson exists which indVoice of Slough Rate Cardicates that as late as September 1962 he was still pursuing plans to launch his offshore station, under the call-sign GBLN. In that correspondence he claimed the ship was being held up by British Customs authorities on a technicality, but that he was trying to free her from "red tape" and put the station on air by mid-October 1962.

The Ellen did sail clandestinely in early October 1962 from Leith to Dunbar, despite a detention order placed on her by the Customs authorities due to the vessel being ‘unseaworthy’. It is rumoured that at this time the ship had been re-named Sylvia to try and confuse the authorities.

However, in Dunbar she was abandoned by her crew who lacked essential equipment and finances to continue the voyage to the Thames Estuary.

This appeared to be the end of the Voice of Slough/ Ellen project. John Thompson did, however, go on to become involved with a British offshore radio station - he was one of the people behind Radio Invicta, which was launched in 1964.

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Almost There !   (4)

Ellen in Leith Harbour

Daily Express

9th October 1961


00 December 1961

Daily Sketch

8th October 1962

Daily Telegraph

29th August 1962

The Times

10th October 1962

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