Click on the banners to see the relevant pages                                                                   
Advertise in this space
Sixties City - bringing on back the good times!
   Offshore Pirate Radio

       Click here for great Sixties music, books and other products at Amazon

Having run out of money and facing further prosecution, Roy Bates closed BBMS down on Christmas Day 1966 at 4:30p.m. Some of the equipment was dismantled and moved to another fort, Roughs tower off Felixstowe, which was almost certainly in international waters. The appeal was heard on 17th January 1967 but failed ( as did many others ) due to the court's somewhat dubious decision that Knock John tower was about one and a half miles inside territorial waters and he was fined £100.

Sealand Roy Bates

Also in January some RADIO CAROLINE engineers, unaware of Bates' activities, arrived at Roughs tower and busied themselves with the cutting away of extraneous superstructure, clearing a landing pad for helicopters on the main platform. This was with a view to converting it into a supply base for the South ship. Roy Bates was understandably upset at this having already briefly occupied the fort and another minor 'war' followed which resulted in Bates regaining control and occupation of the tower which he held until August, although no transmissions were forthcoming.

On February 9th Dorothy Calvert's appeal that Shivering Sands was in international waters was rejected by magistrates and she was also fined £100. That night, at the end of normal transmissions, RADIO CITY played 'The Party's Over' followed by the national anthem and disappeared forever into the pages of pirate radio history.

Twenty eight further summonses were issued against Estuary Radio on 13th February. Ted Allbeury resigned from the controlling company of RADIO 390, leaving it in the hands of David Lye, and formed his own company - Carstead Advertising Limited. The proceedings were heard by Rochford magistrates on 22nd February when Ted Allbeury, David Lye, Christopher Blackwell, John Gething, Michael Mitcham, John LaTrobe and Estuary Radio were accused of broadcasting without a licence on four days in January. This time, on behalf of the G.P.O., the Navy produced a photograph of Lt.Cmdr. John Mackay standing on an exposed Middle Sand next to a union jack. The Estuary directors were each fined £40 and the company £200.

Radio Scotland

Even after her trek to the west coast, RADIO SCOTLAND had not found the cure for her problems. On March 13th she was found to be within territorial waters 'in the Firth of Clyde near Lady Isle' and Tommy Shields' company was fined £80 for operating without a licence. Following this, preparations were made to take her to yet another new position back on the east coast off St.Abb's Head in the Firth of Forth, but this was to be delayed due to bad weather. Once the tow was finally started they were again beset by storms which forced them to take refuge in Loch Ewe. Throughout this period RADIO SCOTLAND was losing money through lack of airtime advertising. The directors of City and County Commercial Radio made the decision not to continue with the east coast relocation and moved 'Comet' to a position off the Irish coast near Ballywalter, Co. Down instead. Even there, the bad weather followed her and forced her to take temporary shelter in Belfast Lough.

On April 9th at 12:31p.m. the station finally recommenced transmissions after four weeks of silence with its name changed to RADIO SCOTLAND AND IRELAND, alternatively known as RADIO 242.

In the meantime, the second reading of The Marine etc, Broadcasting ( Offences ) Bill had taken place on March 16th. This was almost simultaneous with an announcement from the Postmaster General regarding the government's plan to provide a popular music programme on national radio by the end of the year, which seemed to be merely a poor attempt at sugar-coating a very bitter pill for the listening public.

On March 18th 1967 Peir-Vick went into liquidation. This was the operating company behind the two stations aboard the 'Laissez Faire'. It was taken over by Carstead Advertising, the new company headed by ex-RADIO 390 supremo Ted Allbeury, called Carstead Advertising. The stations on board were immediately renamed, RADIO DOLFIJN becoming RADIO 227 and BRITAIN RADIO becoming RADIO 355.

Also during March the G.P.O. issued a writ seeking an injunction to stop RADIO 390 broadcasting, followed by a High Court action in May. After adjournment and an appeal, on 28th May Lord Justice Sellers upheld a decision by Justice O'Connor ruling that Red Sands Fort was inside territorial waters and was operating illegally. That same day, a pre-arranged close-down message was read out by senior announcer Edward Cole. This was followed by Alan Price's 'The House That Jack Built' and the national anthem. At 5:10 p.m. on May 28th RADIO 390 disappeared from the air waves forever.

With all these grim happenings, the offshore radio pirates could have been forgiven for losing their sense of humour. This was certainly not the case at RADIO LONDON who made spoof transmissions on April 1st ostensibly from a ( fictitious ) station called RADIO EAST ANGLIA which they pretended was trying to take over their frequency. The spoof station disappeared suddenly at midday when they 'regained control'.

RADIO SCOTLAND AND IRELAND had wanderlust again at the end of April. Their transmitter signal strength was not great enough to reach Scotland properly and so the return to the East coast was finally undertaken. 'Comet' and her towing ship 'Campaigner' reached the new anchorage at Fife Ness on May 8th by which time RADIO SCOTLAND had not only lost about £15,000 in advertising revenue but also incurred the tow and supply costs as well and was in a precarious financial position.

Radio London

On May 12th at 5p.m. the entire Beatles 'Sergeant Pepper' was played by Radio London, two weeks before its official release date, despite the fact that no promotional versions had been issued by EMI. The origin of the music has never been explained, although Paul McCartney's house had been burgled a fortnight earlier and among the items taken were two proof pressings of the disc....

Around the start of June it looked like RADIO SCOTLAND might at last have some competition but a planned new station for Scotland's east coast, KING'S RADIO, failed due to a loss of financial backing on two separate vessels.

July 21st ( possibly 23rd ) saw the closure of RADIO 227 which did nothing special for the occasion, just playing pre-recorded tapes until closedown, and a week later on July 28th RADIO 390 also disappeared. A pre-arranged closedown message was read out by senior announcer Edward Cole. Then, after playing the Alan Price record 'The House That Jack Built' followed by the national anthem at 5:10p.m. there was nothing but silence on 390 metres.

Around the same date a decision was made to close RADIO LONDON down. Perversely, the demand for commercials increased near the end as the companies took advantage of the last opportunities to get advertisements for their products on the air. The final 'Fab 40' on Sunday 6th August was to contain 18 records that had not yet even been put on general release.

Tony Windsor

At 10p.m. on Saturday August 5th RADIO 355 followed its sister station into oblivion when operating contracts expired. All the station's disc jockeys joined Tony Windsor as he chaired the final programme to be broadcast. Following an advert for 'Silexene' paint Tony Windsor spoke for a while then handed over to station owner Ted Allbeury who made a short speech ending with the final words ' . . . goodnight and God bless.' A recording of 'Auld Lang Syne' followed and RADIO 355 disappeared from the airwaves to the national anthem at 21 minutes after midnight. It has always struck me as being quite poignant how many of the stations were to close playing the national anthem of the country that was so keen to destroy them.

Caroline House in London closed on August 8th following which most of the equipment was shipped across to Amsterdam where the station had been operating an office since April.

At midnight on 14th August 1967, The Marine etc, Broadcasting (Offences) Act came into force, which effectively banned all U.K. subjects from being involved with offshore broadcasting within territorial waters and rendering all the pirate radio station operators and personnel open to prosecution as soon as they came within the '3 mile limit'. Television news report - (audio) August 14th 1967

This was not to affect RADIO CAROLINE NORTH immediately as the Manx government initially refused to recognise or ratify the Act, possibly to try and gain some concessions for their own RADIO MANX, but RADIO CAROLINE SOUTH was now vulnerable. RADIO VERONICA, being off the Dutch coast, was unaffected by the British Act but had its own problems in the Seventies when the Dutch government finally got around to passing a similar law. The Act resulted in the imminent closure of all the British offshore radio stations except the maverick RADIO CAROLINE which by now had offices in Holland under the name of RADIO CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL. At midnight on the 14th both RADIO CAROLINE stations observed a minute's silence then broadcast the hymn 'We Shall Overcome' before continuing transmission using their new shared identification of RADIO CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL. Johnnie Walker on the South ship read a statement thanking the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, 'for recognising Caroline's right to exist'.

Marine & Broadcasting Offences Act

Tommy Shields

RADIO SCOTLAND closed at midnight. The last six hours or so of the broadcast was pre-recorded, co-presented by Mark West and Tony Allan, Mark West being their last disc jockey on air, signing off with a bagpipe lament. The staff 'celebrated' its closure by throwing the station's entire record library into the sea and probably regretted it as they had to wait for a further three days before a boat came to take them ashore.

'Comet' was eventually towed to the Fife port of Methil where she was stripped of her radio mast and equipment before going on to Ouwerkerk in Holland to be broken up by the Van de Marel shipworks and sold for scrap in 1969.

The station's managing director, Tommy Shields (left), never really recovered from the strain of these last few months and was to die in a Glasgow nursing home six months later, aged 49, shortly after an emergency operation for a kidney complaint.

RADIO 270 closed down officially at 23:59 p.m. Strangely, their final shutdown had nearly occurred 24 hours earlier than planned when transmissions were interrupted by an overheating generator caused by a shoal of giant jellyfish being sucked into the cooling system's seawater intakes. At the end, the ship only had three broadcasters aboard who had to handle the last 20-odd hours of programmes between them.

The final hours were broadcast by the station's programme director Vince 'Rusty' Allen who played every single one of their jingles and theme tunes. Various recordings and telegrams from the station's management were heard before the final record, Vera Lynn's 'Land Of Hope And Glory'. Rusty Allen then signed off with the emotional words 'I'm sure going to miss you one hell of a lot. I hope some day soon we'll meet again on air. God bless and goodbye' and finally ended RADIO 270 to the sound of the national anthem. The 'Oceaan 7' sailed into Whitby to a hero's welcome the following day and, despite nearly becoming the next incarnation of RADIO CAROLINE in 1968, the twin-studio ship was eventually broken up for scrap. Its transmitting equipment was removed and put into storage, subsequently being transferred to the vessel m.v.'King David' which sported the most amazing transmitter aerial and was to be the home of a pirate station called CAPITAL RADIO which broadcast from off the Dutch coast in the early Seventies.

RADIO LONDON hung on until the next day. Professional to the last, the final hour had been pre-recorded to avoid the possibility of emotions taking over, closing with 'A Day In The Life' by The Beatles followed by the voice of disc jockey Paul Kaye saying simply 'Big L time is 3o'clock and RADIO LONDON is now closing down'. The BIG L jingle was played for the final time before transmission ceased.

Oceean 7 Radio 270

At, or slightly after, 3p.m. Robbie Dale of RADIO CAROLINE gave a eulogy for the station and observed a minute's silence. The 'Galaxy' was towed to an anchorage on the German North Sea Canal where it was eventually sold to a German advertising agency, Gloria International.

Radio Caroline

On August 21st the destruction of the offshore forts was begun by the M.O.D. to prevent any further use by private individuals. Sunk Head was the first to go, watched by Roy Bates from Roughs tower, six miles away.

The Marine etc, Broadcasting ( Offences ) Act was reluctantly ratified by the Manx parliament on August 31st at 8:30p.m. to become effective at midnight. Although now subject to prosecution, 'RADIO CAROLINE NORTH' stayed on the air and at midnight disc jockey Don Allan's voice was broadcast saying: 'This is the northern voice of RADIO CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL on 259 metres, the continuing voice of free radio for the British Isles'.

Johnnie Walker

With the threat of prosecution now a reality the personnel on the South ship had already changed dramatically, the only remaining disc jockeys being Johnnie Walker, Ross Brown, Spangles Muldoon and Robbie Dale, who were later joined by more disc jockeys of other nationalities, but during August and September the ship ran with a skeleton staff.
The North ship was now supplied from Dublin in Eire and the South ship received its supplies from Ijmuiden in Holland. On 26th September the station reduced its broadcasting hours, closing down between 2a.m. and 5a.m, due to the overworked disc jockeys being unable to cope with a 24 hour schedule. Four days later RADIO 1 was heard for the first time. On the day it went live the RADIO CAROLINE South ship encountered technical problems which made it impossible for them to use live transmission, only being able to play pre-recorded tapes.

In December 1967 RADIO SYD was granted a broadcast licence in The Gambia, transmitting from a land-based facility on 329 metres 910kHz. The 'Cheeta II' was sold in 1971 but partly sank in a storm during August of that year.

Cheeta 2 sunk

Don Allen

Both RADIO CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL ships continued as normal until Saturday March 2nd 1968 when the Dutch tug 'Utrecht' anchored about a mile away from 'RADIO CAROLINE NORTH' and refused to acknowledge any attempt at communication.
Don Allan's show, after playing 'God Be With You Till We Meet Again' by Jim Reeves, finished at 10p.m. as usual and the ship settled down for the night. At about 2a.m. on March 3rd crewmen from the Dutch tug boarded the ship, disabled the transmitter and held all the crew and staff in captivity.

Similar events were also occurring on 'RADIO CAROLINE SOUTH' where they had already started the day's programmes when crew from the tug 'Titan' boarded her just after 5a.m. Equipment was ripped out and the station went off the air, without any warning, in the middle of a record. As with 'Caroline', the transmitting crystal was removed and the crew of 'Mi Amigo' were imprisoned. The ships had been seized by their Dutch supply company Wijsmuller in lieu of unpaid debts for their services and were towed to Amsterdam where the crews and staff were released and sent home to England. Despite the earlier threats from the British government, none of them were prosecuted on their return.
Shortly afterwards the vessels were moved to a mooring in the Verschure shipyards.

That was, effectively, the end of RADIO CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL as a pirate station in the Sixties, but Ronan O'Rahilly didn't give up quite that easily . . . . but it would take four years for the station to return to the airwaves. In the intervening years, Caroline would be heard only twice - a one hour 'commemorative' show on the foreign station Radio Andorra on March 2, 1969, from midnight until ten minutes past one, and in 1970 when the MEBO II RNI station transmitter was used in the 'revenge' campaign to back the Conservatives during the British elections because of it's history and familiarity to the british public.

Radio Caroline at Verschure


All Original Material
SixtiesCity 2009