Early volunteers collect patient requests

History

Radio Clatterbridge was founded on 9th April 1951. It was a pioneering idea that would stand the test of time.

You can use this timeline to read about all significant events or continue reading below for a brief version of our history.

The organisation itself began life as a group of lads from a local youth group, the Port Sunlight Boys’ Club.

They set about brightening the days of patients at Clatterbridge General Hospital by playing them songs from a portable record player.

Members of the Port Sunlight Boys' Club
Members of the Port Sunlight Boys’ Club

So popular was this idea, that it soon became possible to buy permanent gramophones and “broadcast” the songs back to the patients from a purpose-built studio within the hospital.

By the early 1960s, the new radio station was broadcasting a number of programmes every week. One of those, Sunday Spin, became a milestone in musical history. The presenter, Monty Lister, became one of the UK’s first celebrity interviewers.

He caught up with everyone from Gracie Fields to Cliff Richard and even recorded the first broadcast interview with a new up-and-coming band, called The Beatles. 

Here you can hear the earliest recording of Radio Clatterbridge, some of Monty’s interviews and his reflections of the time. 

Roger Hazlewood, a schoolboy, joined Radio Clatterbridge at a time when interest from the Port Sunlight Boys’ Club began to wane. 

Roger became Station Manager and rescheduled broadcasts on Saturdays. Within two months he had enough volunteers to present programmes on every day of the week.

Our studio in the 1970s
Our studio in the 1970s

By the mid 1970s, Radio Clatterbridge’s original studios were showing their age. The charity simply moved to the front of Larch House (the cheapest option!) Gerry Marsden opened the new studio. 

We also bought our first cassette player, allowing all presenters to record their programmes for the first time. Here’s an idea of what we sounded like… 

With the opening of Arrowe Park Hospital in 1982, A&E, general wards and maternity were moved out of Clatterbridge. Mental health, cancer and elderly wards remained.

Radio Clatterbridge also stayed to continue broadcasting to a now more specialised audience.

Digital technology was first introduced during the late 1980s, as the station (now equipped with two studios) took delivery of it’s first compact disc player.

In 1993, Radio Clatterbridge moved to a temporary home near to St John’s Hospice. The temporary move lasted for nearly a decade.

Our volunteers in 1991
Our volunteers in 1991

Radio Clatterbridge made its permanent move into the old boiler house, renamed Larch House, over the winter of 2000/2001. The station’s new home had to be developed from scratch.  

Radio Clatterbridge was re-launched and reopened in April 2001 by Monty Lister.

Monty Lister opens the new studios
Monty Lister opens the new studios

Successful applications for a number of grants enabled Radio Clatterbridge to fit a new studio for the new millennium. You can take a tour of the current station building here.

In 2003, new computer equipment enabled the station to do something it had never been able to do before: Radio Clatterbridge began broadcasting around the clock. One thing didn’t change, however. Patient requests remained at the heart of all programmes.

Clatterbridge has been expanding for decades becoming much more than a hospital. Hospices, nursing homes and other facilities opened up on the site but it was difficult for the station to reach these new areas using the old landline system of broadcasting.

Mike McCartney turns the transmitter on with Steve Lord
Mike McCartney turns the transmitter on with Steve Lord

In 2011 the station took another stride forward. It was awarded a licence to broadcast on medium wave using the 1386am frequency.

Six years later, we began streaming our programmes live over the internet and launched our own smartphone app. The station is now truly available to anyone anywhere within Clatterbridge Health Park.