Radio Clatterbridge, one of UK’s first hospital radio stations, celebrates 70 years on air

One of the country’s oldest hospital radio stations will mark its 70th birthday tomorrow with a special day of programmes.

Radio Clatterbridge began broadcasting in 1951 when members of Port Sunlight Boys Club took a record player onto the wards to play music to entertain patients.

Initially had a mixed reception. Those closest to the speaker complained it was “too loud”. Meanwhile, those at the far end of the ward said they “couldn’t hear the music.”

But the hospital authorities were convinced the idea had merit. As a result, they agreed to fund a studio and a transmission system connected to each bed.

A clipping from a Wirral Globe article states how Radio Clatterbridge, on the eve of its 30th birthday, was one of the first hospital radio stations (Image credit: Wirral Globe, Radio Clatterbridge Archive)

Famous faces

The station famously recorded the first radio interview with The Beatles in 1962, at Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight.

Founder member Monty Lister – who sadly passed away in 2019 – also recorded conversations with huge chart stars including Sir Cliff Richard, Bill Haley and Gracie Fields.

Monty Lister also recorded interviews with Eddie Cochran, before his untimely death in a plane

Extracts from some of the interviews will be broadcast as part of the birthday celebrations. Not only that, but rare archive audio pieces will also be played, alongside some of the most popular requests from the last seven decades.

Some of the most popular artists of choice range from: Abba, Queen and Status Quo through to Michael Buble, Tina Turner and Robbie Williams.

Founding member, Monty Lister, held numerous interviews with famous faces including Sir Cliff Richard and Eddie Cochran (Image Credit: Radio Clatterbridge Archives)

A modern hyper-local radio station

Today, around 25 volunteers run Radio Clatterbridge. Some members have clocked up almost half a century of service.

Hundreds of requests are played annually from a fully computerised studio. This means patients and staff have always been at the heart of the output.

“We know from the feedback we get from listeners that there is still a place for 2021 for a hyper-local radio service.”

Steve Evans, Chair of Radio Clatterbridge

Radio Clatterbridge Chair, Steve Evans, said: “We’re really proud to have been serving the Clatterbridge Health Park for 70 years, in particular over the past year when the NHS has played such a vital role in the battle against COVID-19

“The pandemic means we can’t have studio visitors or a big get-together for members past and present, but we will be marking the occasion by playing the most requested songs from over the years along with vintage interviews and telephone conversations with members past and present.

“Sadly, some of the individuals who played a pivotal role in making the station the success it is today have passed away in recent years, including founder member Monty Lister and our patron Sir Ken Dodd. Fortunately, our extensive audio archive means their memories and recollections will live on forever.

Over the years, Radio Clatterbridge has adjusted to the needs of its listeners – such as streamlining a call-in service, 24/7 broadcasting and even mobile phone compatibility (Image credit: Radio Clatterbridge Archives)

Yet despite the passage of time, the station’s dedication to listeners has not wavered.

Mr. Evans explained: “Despite the passage of time, our prime aim of providing music therapy for patients remains the same.

We know from the feedback we get from listeners that there is still a place in 2021 for a hyper-local radio service providing requests, relevant information and entertainment.”

If you would like to learn more about Radio Clatterbridge, you can check out their website at: