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The range improved of the transmitter makes it possible to have listenings abroad.

café colonnes à Fécamp

At a café in Fécamp, Fernand Le Grand and the Captain Leonard F. Plugge have an important meeting that leads to the creation of English broadcasts from Radio Normandy

Portland Place London

Portland Place in London, home of the IBC (International Broadcasting Company) in charge of English broadcasts from Radio Normandy. 

Reception test unit

In the south of England one could see broadcasting vans, designed to test the signal strength of Radio Normandy.

Stephen Williams
Stephen Williams,
English announcer on Radio Normandy from the beginnings.
Then he gone to Radio Paris and started  Radio Luxembourg english service in 1933  

(photo 1994

Interview of Stephen Williams

happy listening RN

Seen on the British side,
the advent of offshore radio (called "pirate radio" by the media) that broadcast from ships or abandoned military forts since the 1960's, don't represent the birth of commercial radio across the English Channel. Since the 1930's, radio waves beamed from the continent, by private transmitters, such as Poste Parisien, Radio Luxemburg or Radio Normandy on behalf of the IBC (the International Broadcasting Company) an organisation already considered illegal by the young British Broadcasting Corporation. 

Capt L. Plugge

Captain L. F. PLUGGE

We know about Captain Leonardo F. Plugge, he had been a consulting engineer for London's underground railway, and he perfected the first radio - telephone for cars. He also "invented" special glasses to watch television and took part in scientific research with the Royal Air Force. Plugge was a Conservative MP for Rochester, to the south of London. This seemingly eccentric man understood the importance of  commercial radio (forbidden in his country) and conscious of the importance of a potential market he created the International Broadcasting Company. On a trip to France he met Fernand Le Grand and started negotiations to be able to air broadcasts to his compatriots using the transmitter of Radio Normandy, which became the first rival station to compete with the BBC: "Several hundred thousand English listeners to the station, and more than a quarter happily pay a shilling a year" A recent survey organized in the streets of Fécamp, by a British radio station, gave testimony to the Captain's passage in the city. Young Fécampois did not know that their city sheltered, in the pre-war days, a powerful English language radio station, comparable to their own Europe 1 or RTL long wave stations.
As for Captain Plugge, he retired to California and died discreetly, aged 92 years, in 1981. 

The first commercial broadcast
to England was in 1925

This first broadcast came with the initiative of Captain Plugge. He succeeded to persuade Selfridge's - a British department store - to sponsor a "talk" on fashion, over the airwaves of Radio Paris, that broadcast from the Eiffel Tower. Only three people wrote to say that they had heard the broadcast, that had not been publicised.

The first broadcasts of the IBC with the antenna of Radio Normandy, begin at the end of 1931, during breaks in French broadcasts on 269.5
Love scenesmeters. In March 1938, the wavelength changed to 212.6 m and later to 274 m (the start of Louvetot). Most shows are recorded in London, no less than twenty one British businesses patronize these programs of varied music.

Advertisements are forbidden beyond the English Channel. Money flows in. Businesses spend £400,000 in 1935 and £1.7 million by 1938. Broadcasts take place between midnight and one and at the weekend up to three in the morning.

The transmitter has a power of 500 W but stage amplifiers give it, in reality, a power of 8 kW. Programmes - 15 minute long shows were recorded, mainly on discs in London. There were also some live broadcasts.


"The First Pirates
of the airwaves"

  from The Guardian (May 2nd, 1983 >>

(click on the picture) >

British programme


  7.00 am   to 11.45 am
  1.30 pm   to   7.30 pm
10.00 pm   to   1.00 am

  7.00 am   to 11.30 am
  2.00 pm   to   6.00 pm
12.00 pm   to   1.00 am

The other hours were occupied by the French programmes, excepted the night between 1 to 6

< Click on the programme for enlarge (Thanks to Keith Wallis)


 The Children's favourite radio program broadcasted from the IBC Stations Radio Normandy and also Radio Luxembourg :

"We are the Ovaltineys"...

Advertising is abundant on Radio Normandy and the other IBC stations. The business is prosperous.

< The owner of the IBC, Leonard Plugge
and Madam, one sunny afternoon
at the Ascot racecourse

Roy Plomley at Eastbourne Theater recording a broadcast of "Radio Normandy Calling" for the next sunday

> How a radio program was carried out in the studio
of Fecamp (or Caudebec) in the 30ies ?

  The answer is given here > David Newman's Letters

> Below, an extract from the magazine "Best of British" thanks to the website   can be seen here :


< ... and no more radio installations !!!

Bob Danver-Walker

Roy Plomley (in nov. 1936)

During their stay at Fecamp, Radio Normandy's announcers had a room at the "Hotel de la Poste"

David Davies

Programme Conference, International Broadcasting Co

Jack Hargreaves - the man with cigarette - (author and TV presenter in the UK) became, at a very young age, the Head of Programme Production at the International Broadcasting Company and Radio Normandy.

He took control of all kinds of 'paid for' programming and hired the acts, wrote the scripts and oversaw the process until it no longer needed him. He grew the IBC from 2 shows a day to over 80 a week. His enormous talent brought him the rank of Major in the Army, and he pioneered forces radio.

His major coup in the Second World War was to find Lala Andersen and get her to broadcast the song 'Lily Marlene' to the German public. A little like getting Vera Lynn to sing ' There'll be blue birds over...' in similar circumstances.

(Jack Hargreaves : 31 December 1911 – 15 March 1994)

(photo Simon Baddeley)



The reception area of Radio Normandy.  : the analysis of the mail confirms the result of measurements of electric fields carried out by the IBC. All the South including London and its surroundings is covered by Radio Normandy programs. The force of the signal weakens in north as this chart shows it. Nevertheless, some listeners from these areas declare to listen frequently with satisfaction.

And now the last Norman centimetres at the edge of cliff of Fécamp (do not push!), the continent stops here.
England is very close… but more than one hundred twenty kilometers !