Details: The island was constructed in 1964 at a cost of 9 million guilders by a team of broadcasting entrepreneurs, who used it to broadcast radio and television programmes to the Netherlands under the name Radio Noordzee and TV Noordzee. 

The project lasted for just over 4 months, from mid-August to mid-December 1964, before being closed by the authorities. However it gave birth to the TROS, which is now one of the main public broadcasting organisations in the Netherlands.

Radio Noordzee was not the first Dutch commercial radio station. Radio Veronica, broadcasting from the ship Borkum Riff, was already well established, having started in 1960. But the TV station broke the monopoly of the public broadcasters at a time when they could only offer limited fare, and was extremely popular. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine how a station that broadcast such programmes as Mr. Ed (the talking horse), Rin Tin Tin and Mr Magoo could have gripped the nation. But, to be fair, they also showed Alfred Hitchcock movies. 

The idea
The original idea of broadcasting from an artificial platform belonged to one Will Hordijk from The Hague. In 1963 he teamed up with Cornelis Verolme, who owned a shipyard in Ireland, and Pieter Heerema, a shipping magnate from Scheveningen who saw the construction of a TV island as useful practice for his real work: the building of oil platforms, from which he was later to make his fortune. Financing was provided by banking house Texeira de Mattos. The name REM stood for Reclame Exploitatie Maatschappij (Advertising Exploitation Company).

Once the decision had been made to go ahead, events moved quite rapidly. Construction work began at Verolme’s shipyard in Cork, Ireland. The platform had working space and accommodation for up to 25 people. The roof served as a helipad, and as the base for a 60 metre high antenna mast. Heerema’s Global Adventurer, the first ship in the world to be converted into a crane vessel with a lifting capacity of 300 tons, brought the prefabricated sections over to the Netherlands. She arrived off the coast of Noordwijk on 3 May 1964. As holes for the supports were bored in the sea bed, two Dutch naval ships anchored half a mile away to observe what was happening. 

Race against time
It was a race against time, as the authorities had already started preparing legislation. The team had overlooked one vital thing. Radio Veronica was broadcasting from a ship in international waters, and at least for the time being was out of reach of Dutch lawmakers. But fixing REM island physically to the seabed 10 km off the Dutch coast proved to be a miscalculation. Territorial waters were not extended, but the Dutch government did introduce a law by which Dutch legislation became applicable to North Sea installations that stood on the Dutch part of the continental shelf: the ‘North Sea Installations Act’. The continental shelf is the part of the North Sea bed where the Netherlands can assert economic rights, such as gas and oil extraction. [Information by Piet van der Vooren]

On 29 July 1964, the first radio test transmission was made from REM Island on 1403 kHz mediumwave. The transmitter power was 1 kW. This was followed by the start of TV tests on 13 August, and the official opening of TV Noordzee on 1 September. Special antennas had to be purchased to receive the broadcasts on VHF Channel 11, but the Dutch public were very enthusiastic, and by October 1964 audience surveys showed that TV Noordzee had 2 million viewers every night. The TV and radio broadcasts were not made concurrently. Radio Noordzee operated between 9am and 6.15 pm, and 15 minutes later the TV station signed on. 

To help finance the operation, 7 million guilders worth of shares were issued, and many small investors became minority shareholders. On the date of issue, 13 August 1964, the share price was 20 guilders. Within 10 days, their value had risen to 143 guilders. 

But the politicians in The Hague weren’t among the station’s biggest fans. With almost indecent haste, they rushed through the legislation making the broadcasts illegal. To counter this, a new legal broadcasting society – TROS – was created. By the time the Dutch parliament passed the anti-REM law by a vote of 57-9, TROS already had 150,000 members. The minimum annual fee of one Dutch guilder may have been one of the reasons! 

REM, meanwhile, announced that its TV operations had been sold to a British company, High Seas Television. One Eric Bent from Weybridge, Surrey was named as the new owner, having paid the princely sum of £100! TV Noordzee made its last transmission on 14 December 1964. Ownership of REM Island itself was transferred to a Panamanian company. 

Radio Noordzee continued broadcasting, but on the morning of 17 December 1964 a flotilla of boats accompanied by police helicopters arrived at REM Island. Dozens of police officers disembarked, and at 7 minutes past 9, Radio Noordzee went off the air.

In 1974, the Department of Public Works began using REM Island as a base for carrying out marine investigations and measurements [Meetpost Noordwijk by Rijkswaterstaat].

In October 2003 the authorities decided it is surplus to requirements, and a spokesman said that it had come to the end of its life and would be dismantled. [Text by Andy Sennitt, Radio Nertherlands Media Network]

In the summer of 2004, the monitoring station was dismantled and a few months later the REM Island was put up for sale. As the platform was in poor condition and no unused structures are allowed on site, the REM Island was demolished in September 2006. During demolition, the building was burnt off the undercarriage and placed on a pontoon, which was towed by a tug to the Vlissingen-Oost port on 24 September. The hollow legs of the support structure were then cut loose from the inside with a cutting robot six metres below the seabed. The 30-metre-high substructure was then lifted by the floating barge Rambiz of the Flemish salvage company Scaldis and towed in the barge’s hoists also to Vlissingen-Oost, where it arrived on 26 September 2006.

In 2009, Amsterdam housing corporation De Key bought the platform and moved it from Vlissingen to Delfzijl. There it was rebuilt, and a floor was put on top. At the end of March 2011, the REM island was transferred to Nieuwe Houthaven, near the Haparandadam in Amsterdam. This area is being developed into a residential area. The renovated REM Island has housed a restaurant since 2011 and is also a publicly accessible viewpoint overlooking the Houthaven and the IJ River.

In 2016, housing association De Key put REM Island up for sale, as the housing association felt it no longer fitted within its core tasks. On 1 June that year, it was sold to tenant Newpeople Next BV. At the time of the sale, it was agreed that the restaurant would remain on the island. Newpeople wanted to further develop the rest of the platform.


Offshore radio stations: Radio Noordzee from 29th July till 16th December 1964, TV Noordzee from 12th August to 17th December 1964

Location: Six miles off Noordwijk, Netherlands

Noord-Hollands Archief, collectie Fotopersbureau De Boer – REM-eiland – 1964-12-16 – NL-HlmNHA_1478_02992K00_06