It wasn't only the offshore stations that were selling radio-related teeshirts, as these adverts from Sixties publications reveal. Advertising standards being somewhat lax in those days, it was common for fanciful claims to be made. (All clippings kindly scanned for us by Hans Knot, from the Luuk Meuwese collection.) The Headquarter & General Supplies advert in particular, has sparked a number of memories.

In 1966, thanks to the popularity of the TV series starring Adam West, Batman fever was in full swing. The offshore stations were under threat, so two Norfolk garment manufacturers, C.E.G. Cutouts Ltd, above and Fabric Advertising Ltd, below, rushed into production of 'fab teeshirts' enabling supporters to 'show the PMG you mean business by uniting now'. (We don't imagine the PMG would have been very likely to have noticed.) Fabric Advertising even claims to have engaged the personal assistance of Batman himself! (Did he and the Boy Wonder go around delivering them in the Batmobile?)

Both companies sold sloganed tees relating to the crime-fighting Caped Crusader, including 'Batman for PM' and 'Protected by Batman'. It's extremely doubtful if this was 'authorised merchandise', or if the teeshirt printers had even heard of such a thing. Meanwhile Radio London promoted its own 'Batshirts' for 12/6 (which appears to have been a standard price). According to this Kenny Everett commercial, they came in two designs, one bearing the bat logo and the other, a picture of Robin, 'in a typical Robin pose'. Just a handful of watery waves away, Radio England played their 'That Man' jingles - sounding remarkably like the singers were chanting the name of a certain popular comic book character. (Hear a selection on The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame SRE pages)

Some of the shirt slogans took lyrics from pop hits e.g. 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction'; 'They've Taken me Away, Ho Ho'. Another related to well-known TV commercial 'Ssssh! You Know What' (Schweppes tonic water). 'Kimble is Guilty' refers to Richard Kimble (David Janssen) the main charter in US TV drama series 'The Fugitive', which aired between 1963 and 1967.

The Free Radio association launched in 1967 and sold their own 'Fight for Free Radio' shirts without assistance from the Caped Crusader. A rally was organised in Trafalgar Square on Sunday, May 28th by Miss Carole Robertson or Miss Caroline Robertson, depending on which part of this 'Time and Tide' feature you read.

Teeshirts were one thing but the 'Most Fantastic Radio Offer of 1966' was made by Headquarter & General Supplies of Coldharbour Lane, London. A 7-transistor Russian-made trannie, allegedly offering the same performance quality as a model costing 15 guineas (£15.15s), was a snip at £5.19.6d plus 4/6d 'pastage and poking' (to quote Ed Stewpot). Buyers could even pay for it by installments! Apparently these bargain wonder-sets measuring approximately 6 x 4 inches ran on a PP3 battery and 'annihilated distance at the flick of a switch' - something everyone would love to do when stuck in a traffic jam!

How many rushed to buy these miracle trannies? Some of our site visitors may even have one still! Did the Russian radio 'annihilate distance at the flick of a switch'? The advert has prompted a big response.

Jon Myer:
Nice to see the Headquarter & General Supplies cutting. I remember their adverts well.
I never bought anything from them myself so can't report back on that 7-transistor radio, but I do remember a school-friend buying a tape recorder from them. It was terrible! It didn't have a capstan to regulate the speed. The tape was pulled along by the tension from the take-up spool which meant that as the amount of tape on the spool changed, so did the speed. We didn't try anything fancy – just talking into the microphone – but the results were inaudible. Not a great advert for Soviet technology.

John Sales:
I often used to visit the Headquarter and General (H&G) store in Coldharbour Lane, SE5. The shop where my Dad worked was also in Camberwell, SE5, and I frequently used to go into work with him on a Saturday. H&G was just a short bus ride away and, as I thought at the time, a very interesting place to escape to. The company also advertised quite extensively in the national press and sold all manner of stuff, but what I particularly remember are binoculars, various radios and camping equipment! They were even advertising Beetle Wigs (note incorrect spelling!) at one time. 
I actually bought a couple of 'Eastern crystal germanium pocket radios'. In 2016, some appear on ebay for around £35, but in 1966 they cost 5s 0d each! Being in the early days of my electronics interest, I used to build a small transistor amplifier and use the radios to drive a loudspeaker.
I also bought one of those tape recorders mentioned by Jon Myer, where the tape was pulled along by the tension from the take-up spool, but I didn't buy it from H&G. I remember getting it home and trying it out by recording some music from the TV. I just couldn't believe how bad the playback quality was! My recorder wasn't Soviet, it was made in Japan (it was still rubbish!), but I do remember H&G used to sell something very similar. After the very bad experience I'd had from buying this thing I couldn't believe how good the quality was when, some years later, I purchased my first Philips Portable Cassette Recorder! Now that did have a capstan and pinch-roller.
As well as H&G there was another shop fairly close by in Denmark Hill called 'Davis'. They sold similar sort of stuff to H&G and I believe they were connected with them in some way. I actually bought a cheap film projector from them in order to view my newly-purchased Radio London Film! It scratched the film to blazes, because it was really badly made (the projector, not the RL film!). It always puzzled me because, in the advert, it clearly said a free screen was included with the projector, but I didn't get one. Then, one day I happened to turn over the cardboard box, in which the projector was supplied. Yes, you've got it, the "Free Screen" was, in fact, the underside of the box which was white in colour and marked "Screen"!
I had to laugh, when I read that the 7-transistor radio was supplied with an "Extensive aerial socket!"  They also say the radio could be used in a car -  I dread to think what that would have sounded like! I guess there was no such thing as the Trades Descriptions Act in those days so advertisers could make all these outlandish claims in relation to things they sold. 

I've been looking around and found this page about Headquarters and General on the British Record Shop Archive:

They even have the ad for the rubbish tape recorder! The writer of the British Record Shop archive worked for H & G at one time and says, "One of the products they became famous for was the cheap mutli band Russian radio - it was actually a very good product." Unlike the tape recorder!

Jon Myer:
That does look very much like the tape recorder my school-friend had. What a waste of £4/19/6d!
I am intrigued by the advert for assorted Top Rank records. "Leave perfect choice to us..." Who on earth would buy a bunch of records without knowing what they're going to get?

Caroline's Ray Clark:
Re the article about the supa-dooper tape recorder, my mum bought that very one, around 1964/5 I guess. I was 10 and had SO much fun recording silly voices and sound effects. You certainly couldn't use it for recording music as the speed increased as you got closer to the end of the tape... but I think it went some way to 'lighting the radio spark' for me. Headquarter and General have a lot to answer for!

I took this photo from someone selling one on ebay about 2 years ago. I was tempted to bid.... but then again...

(Webmaster's note: Seeing as he felt that in a small way, he owed his broadcasting career to a naff tape machine purchased from H &G, Ray brought the subject up as a discussion topic on BBC Essex Saturday morning programme, Planet Ray. It seems some of Ray's listeners recalled Headquarters and General and had also been customers of the company.)

Alan Hardy:
Ah the memories! I remember going to H&G one Saturday with my parents and we bought some of those Top Rank records. We were therefore able to choose what we wanted ourselves – although I can't remember if that was the reason for going there. Dad bought the records and I remember us getting Wilbert Harrison's 'Kansas City' (now worth £20), and singles by Dee Clark, The Club Quintet's 'Bluer Than Blue' which is great and others that I can't remember. My brother has them now in his loft – which probably means they're warped and unplayable!  We also got some Top Rank albums including Humberto Suarez & his Cuban Strings 'Dance Fiesta In Havana' which I have in my collection and is one of my favourite albums.  Looking at the ad, the '6 transistor pocket radio' looks very familiar, so I wonder whether I might have bought it. I don't have any other memories of it though, so maybe I soon replaced it for something better!  If I had a time machine, H & G is the type of place I'd like to go back to, just for the fun of it!

John Sales:
(John was so enthused by this subject that he went on ebay and bought a 1966 radio!)

It's exactly the same model of radio I refer to in my comments above - an eastern crystal germanium pocket radio'.  They were 5s  0d in 1966, but unfortunately I had to pay rather more for this particular radio! You can clearly see the H&G badge on the front. 

If you read the posts on this blog, there's a chap who bought one of these infamous tape machines from H & G and persuaded his dad to go and take it back for a refund. From reading posts about the camping gear, it seems the tents leaked too and there's a comment from someone else who was disappointed with his H & G tape recorder! For photos of trannies ands early tape machines, visit Dusty Gizmos.

Ray Clark found a page from the Daily Mirror for the Easter weekend of Caroline's arrival in 1964 (weatherwise, 'the dullest Easter for eighty years') and featuring an H & G advert. As the stories make very interesting reading, we are providing a large version of the page. (Click on the small version.) The advert promotes the Remington 'Princess' ladies' shaver for 39/6, simulation (i.e. 'fake') lambskin coats for £5.19s 6d and acoustic guitars for 6gns. It's unfortunate for H & G that they are not selling radios this time, as Caroline's arrival and the sensationalistic story on this page would undoubtedly have prompted a few sales.

We'd also like to hear from anyone who owned a Big L batshirt or any other item of Radio London merchandise, such as those on the above order form. We can't recall even seeing a photo of one.

Did you buy one of Big L's own 8-transistor radios for 5 guineas, an identity bracelet, or maybe a Binatime watch (not on the order form) for 99/6d? What about a Sabona copper bracelet, to try and boost the signal on 266 into your trannie? We would love to hear from you and especially to see photos. (Sadly, my pocket money didn't stretch to purchasing a batshirt as well as a Radio London teeshirt – Mary)

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