East End Memories

RADIO LUXEMBOURG – 208-ON-THE-DIAL -
STATION OF THE STARS

AFTER THOUGHT


Farmhouse in Oakley

By 1960, my musical tastes were broadening and the time spent listening to Radio Luxembourg became less. Even so, whenever possible I would tune in to 208 and catch the DECCA-sponsored showcase shows on Monday and Wednesday nights. There were still some great discs being produced on the London American label. I am afraid that the shows sponsored by E.M.I. and the other smaller record companies had fallen by the wayside at this time. It was not until 1963-1964, that Radio Luxembourg became my station of choice once more. By now, I was in my second year of college and was sharing a house with three other students. We had rented an old farmhouse that was said to be part Tudor in the village of Oakley, which is in a then-forgotten part of Buckinghamshire near Brill. Living where we did, in what was then countryside, required driving to and from college each day. This was a distance of some sixteen miles a day and took us along winding and twisting lanes without the aid of street lamps. Since we went home around 10 p.m. each night, our only light came from the headlights of the car. Our route often proved hazardous especially when once a mist had fallen, which was generally the case in winter. The route was also potentially treacherous from any animal out for an evening stroll. It was necessary to maintain a constant vigil since it was commonplace to encounter a deer leaping across the road just as we were approaching or to come across the odd cow or two out for a wander and enjoying their freedom after escaping through a broken fence. It was during these rides home that the car radio would be turned on and tuned to Radio Luxembourg. Most nights, we were lucky as reception was good. Each one of us in the car had been brought up listening to Radio Luxembourg although none of my colleagues was as obsessed with early rock quite to the extent that I was. The ride home was made all the more pleasant by our community singing! Once a favourite song was played, none of us could help ourselves, and we would all sing along with the singer. There was one song in particular that we all liked and would sing at the top of our voices as we whizzed around those dangerous bends and that was Then he kissed me by The Crystals. I remember that we were very much taken by the basic tune of the song and by the violins, which seemed to carry the listener around and around and up into the clouds! Despite the passing of years and the changing of tastes, whenever I hear that particular song, no matter where I am or whom I am with, my imagination quickly whisks me up and transports me away to those dark and winding lanes on a winter’s night and into that old Ford Prefect where once more I am seated with those three fellows and us singing at the tops of our voices ……… Well he walked up to me and he asked me if I wanted to dance …………………

Charles S.P. Jenkins

In 1971, I returned to Europe after living for two years in Toronto. I was now settling into life in Paris and was working at a large hospital in the south-east of the city. I remember on one evening, soon after going to work there, I found myself alone in the laboratory and feeling a bit melancholy. It was late autumn when the light in Paris can be quite startling. The roofs of the buildings about the laboratory were of terra cotta and gave off a warm glow from the reflection of the setting sun. The sky was still of an intense blue together with a few wispy clouds. The evening air was still and warm. I remember sighing. Such evenings tend to fill me with melancholy, as they cause me to think back and relive past events. As I stood there, my mind wandered back to when I was a child and I remembered times spent looking out of windows and watching the beauty unfold in the sky as the sun slowly set. I turned on the radio that was on a shelf in the hope of finding some suitable music to fit the mood and getting a little annoyed that I could not find anything pleasing. I began to move the dial along the medium wave without thinking. Suddenly, I heard the familiar sound of the gong and I realised that I had tuned into Radio Luxembourg! It wasn’t that I had forgotten about the station, it was just that I hadn’t thought of it in what seemed an age. I was surprised when I realised that I had not listened to it in over four years! As I listened, I recognised that its format had changed. There were no longer sponsored programmes. Now disc jockeys played the hit tunes of the day with suitable breaks for commercials. It was like being back in North America! I remember, as I stood at the open window and smoked, I watched the sun as it set and saw those brilliant colours stretched across the sky slowly fade away to night, and I was filled with an unbearable sadness while in the background I could hear the radio station that had once been of such importance to me. I never did listen to Radio Luxembourg again after that evening.

Charles S.P. Jenkins

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I remember listening to Radio Luxembourg as a kid. From 1950 to about 1955, I remember various artists having their own show. I remember listening to the likes of Winifred Attwell Show, Vera Lynn, David Whitfield and Frankie Laine, each with their own fifteen minute programmes. There were a number of game shows too.

Radio Luxembourg was a commercial station and so had adverts. The one advert that especially sticks in the mind is Horace Bachelor with his spelling of Keynsham, spelt K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M! I think that it would be impossible to forget that one! I also remember fondly The Ovaltineys and can still remember their introductory song …… We are the Ovaltineys, little girls and boys! Ovaltine is a malt drink and was enjoyed at bedtime by many people in Britain since it production here in 1913. I remember reading that the company closed its British plant in 2001. The drink is now produced only in Switzerland, but it is still available to all around the world.

Sometime in the mid 1950s, things changed at Radio Luxembourg. This was due to changing musical tastes with the coming of rock ‘n’ roll. I liked the Decca Record Shows the best, especially Jimmy Savile’s Teen and Twenty Club. In these shows, you got to hear the really great stuff was being released on the London label. Sadly the reception was not always good and the signal would fade away when your favourite records were being played. I never realised it at the time, but most of the programmes that we listened to on Radio Luxembourg were not recorded on the Continent at all but in London. Apparently they were transported to Luxembourg and then beamed back!

Radio Luxembourg was not popular with the B.B.C. and with a number of idiotic people who wrote letters to newspapers denouncing the music that was played and saying that it would corrupt the minds of the young! I wonder what these people would say now to Punk, Rap and Gangsta Rap? Regardless of the critics, the radio station was greatly loved by just about everyone under twenty five and had a vast audience in the late 1950s. In the mid-sixties, with the arrival of the pirate radio stations, the numbers listening to the Radio Luxembourg declined and continued to do so once the B.B.C. changed its format and began to play more and more of the music that the listeners wanted.

Eventually, Radio Luxembourg closed down. This was a sad day for everyone that remembered the station during its heyday. Today we are inundated with music. We now have it in Hi Fi and in a digital format. As great as the quality now is, and as faultless as the reception is, I sometimes wish for that balmy times when I used to lay in my bed at night with my transistor radio tuned to Radio Luxembourg pushed up against my ear. These were happy and special times and the music never sounded better to me!

Submitted by a visitor to the website


It is amazing what memories the mind will drag up ………. and the time by my H. Samuel Everite watch is...............

Regards

Rob Humphreys

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Dan Dare was my favourite Radio Luxemburg programme in the early 50s, but I could barely hear it as the reception we had was quite poor. I used to be an avid wireless "tuner in" i.e. I drove my Dad to distraction fiddling with the wireless (a 1930’s one not one of those new fangled transistor things) and trying to get Radio Luxemburg, Hilversum, Radio Athlone, AFN, British Forces Network, and Voice of America English language broadcasts. The latter I could usually get pretty well and the main programme on there seemed to be by Jo Stafford. RadÝo Luxemburg I could listen to on my grandparents' Rediffusion cable service as they had it as part of their package, but that was only once or twice a week when we visited them.

Bob Saunders

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