Radio Caroline at 50 years

Radio Caroline circa 1960’s.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William Lee, who shares this item from ABC News:

Radio Caroline: Golden age of British pirate radio remembered, 50 years on

They were the pirates of the open seas — bringing rock and pop music to a new generation.

And the British government was furious.

Back in the 1960s, when pop and rock were taking over the music scene, British teenagers had to turn to pirate radio stations to hear bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Barred from broadcasting from land, stations such as Radio Caroline and Radio London had taken to the water, using rusty old ships moored in international waters to broadcast to millions of eager listeners across the UK.

The government wasn’t happy and 50 years ago, on August 14 1967, the Marine Offences Act made it illegal to support the ships or broadcast from them.[…]

Continue reading…

William note that this story can be found on multiple news sources, but the ABC has more photos.

Other sources include:

Many thanks for the tips, William! Like many Post readers, I do love Radio Caroline!

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8 thoughts on “Radio Caroline at 50 years

  1. VPaul

    News from Free Radio Caroline –
    Official Statement

    The following announcement is made by Free Radio Caroline:

    Free Radio Caroline wants to make clear that the licensed
    stations proclaiming to be the “real Radio Caroline” are using the
    famous name without the agreement of the Radio Caroline legendary
    founder Ronan O’Rahilly.

    Radio Caroline was a free offshore radio at sea from 1964
    until 1990, without any official control but with high respect from all
    over the planet, an iconic face of freedom of expression.

    Stations on land controlled by governments will never be the
    real Radio Caroline and are violating Ronan O’Rahilly requests and the
    message of the station “Loving awareness is free”…

    It’s time for a new and free Radio Caroline.

    The legend lives on…


  2. Brian Lister

    In the sixties I was an avid shortwave listener in my teens and became fascinated by the offshore pirates – especially the lower budget, low power, ones on the forts. I then started keeping notes about who was running them and how they were resourced. Shameless plug: I’ve just published that material in a book Pirate Gold – the real story behind the offshore radio stations of the 1960s. It has quite a bit of technical detail on frequencies, powers, transmitter types etc. which might interest people here, as well as some fascinating background to the funding of the operations. See:

    1. Bill Lee

      Good set of related links at Mr. Lister’s web page above.

      [ And don’t forget that SW radio’s great friend, Ex-WRTH editor, RNLW, BBC, etc. ANDY SENNITT has a Monday broadcast from the “pirate ship” Radio Seagull == ]

      Useful links:

      The Offshore Radio Museum
      An online museum devoted to recording and preserving the world-wide history of offshore radio and television broadcasting.

      The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame
      Photos, audio and memorabilia from the UK offshore stations

      Offshore Echos
      Website of a magazine devoted to offshore radio

      Hans Knot’s International Radio Report
      A vast collection of offshore radio news and memories regularly updated

      Bob Le-Roi
      Sales and information on offshore radio

      Paul Rusling
      Links to a wide range of information and books about offshore radio

      Pirate Memories
      Vintage pirate radio recordings and memorabilia

      The Offshore Radio Guide
      ‘Your Watery Wireless Website’

      The Broadcasting Fleet
      A tremendous source of information on radio ships and structures

      The Story of Offshore & Pirate Radio
      A brief history:

      Reg Calvert
      – plays and books by his daughter Susan Moore

      Radio City
      Eric Jay’s Radio City photo album

      Radio Caroline
      The present-day Caroline organisation’s website

      Ross Revenge
      The cyber home of the Ross Revenge ship

      Radio London

      Red Sands Radio
      Recent broadcasts from the Red Sands fort

      Project Redsand
      The ambitious plans to preserve and restore the old Army fort

      A history of Sealand from the Principality’s official website

  3. Bill Lee

    Other Radio “Carolines”

    Remembering the pirate station that was the first Radio Scotland
    By Graham Stewart BBC Scotland

    3 hours ago 24:00 UTC From the section Scotland

    Fifty years ago Scotland’s own offshore pirate radio station closed down, bringing to an end a radio revolution which captured the hearts of millions.

    “Radio Scotland” was the brainchild of Tommy Shields, a former PR man with STV who ran his own advertising agency.

    In the summer of 1965, inspired by pirate pioneers such as Radio Caroline and Radio London, Shields purchased a former Irish lightship, the Comet, for £7,000 – and spent about three times as much adapting the vessel for use as a floating radio station.

    ….When they were back on land the disc-jockeys made personality appearances at the Radio Scotland “Clan Balls” around the country – in venues like Glasgow’s Locarno, McGoos in Edinburgh and the ice rinks at Inverness and Ayr.
    These became the Scottish showcase for major British groups of the sixties such as The Kinks, The Troggs, The Searchers, The Animals and Manfred Mann…..
    [ MORE ]
    Six years later [after closure of “Radio Scotland”] Radio Clyde was launched as Scotland’s first licensed independent radio station – the same night the BBC, rather cheekily, rebranded their Scottish Radio 4 opt-out service “Radio Scotland”.

    2. ===
    What was Radio Yorkshire?

    Trouble in the air 50 years ago…
    How they sank Scarborough’s pirates The Radio 270 ship The Radio 270 ship
    by David Behrens Published: 08:53 Saturday 12 August 2017

    ….Radio 270 was a roomful of electronics in the former fish hold of a 1939 Dutch lugger called Oceaan-7, operated for 15 months by Wilf Proudfoot, a Scarborough supermarket owner and Conservative politician. He had been an MP in the early 1960s and would be again a decade later. Its disc jockeys included the future BBC presenters Philip Hayton and Paul Burnett, as well as two Australians who styled themselves as Neddy Noel and Dennis the Menace.

    Read more at:

    “In those days, you could only really hear pop music in the evening on Radio Luxembourg. The BBC Light Programme didn’t play the songs of the day, and when it did they were versions by strange session musicians like Bob Miller and the Millermen.”
    Radio 270’s signal could be heard across Yorkshire and as far south as Nottingham and Derby. “It was a very small boat, the smallest of all the radio ships,” said Mr Rusling, who later worked on board Radio Caroline.
    “But it was the only one that operated with a proper captain and could actually get under way. “It used to steam in and out of Bridlington and Scarborough at midnight to pick up supplies. Sometimes it was still there at six in the morning when transmissions started. On one occasion two local bobbies sat on the ship when it went on air.”
    [ MORE ]

    3. And Radio Caroline gets a real license on Monday

    Basildon, Canvey, Southend ECHO

    …. What followed has been 50 years, on and off, of unpredictable radio from Caroline, most recently operating online at
    Amazingly, after all these years of fighting for survival, Radio Caroline has, at last, been recognised as a legitimate broadcaster, licenced by Ofcom, and soon to resume serving the Clacton area and beyond on 648kHz, medium wave.
    After a 50-year struggle you might wonder why a licence wasn’t granted in 1967, just as millions of listeners wanted.
    You can celebrate Caroline’s achievements this Sunday, August 13, at a special event to be held at the Princes Theatre, Clacton.
    (Ray Clark broadcasts on BBC Essex and Radio Caroline and has written “Radio Caroline, The True Story of The Boat That Rocked” published by The History Press.)
    [ MORE ]

  4. Tom Reitzel

    I heard some of the history of Radio Caroline on 7490 kHz (Aug 12th, 2017 I believe). It’s history was quite interesting and the programming was quite excellent. Personally, I’m glad that the British government fumed and I hope even more governments fume into the future. 😉

  5. Bill Lee


    Harwich and Manningtree Standard
    link it to a Harwich light-ship hosting a pirate broadcast for 3 DAYS, THIS WEEKEND!


    THE last BBC Essex pirate radio show will be aired in a special three-day broadcast in Harwich.

    The town will be awash with former radio pirates who revolutionised popular music in the 1960s from Saturday August 12, to Monday, August 14.

    BBC Essex will be broadcasting live from the LV18, the last manned lightship, at Harwich quay.

    Ray Clark will be broadcasting from the ship on Saturday and Liana Bridges, along with former Radio Caroline pirate Barry Lewis on Sunday at 9am.

    Keith Skues will be on air on Sunday night for a three-hour regional show with guest Roger “Twiggy” Day.

    The LV18 studio will be live from 9am to 3pm on Monday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Marine Offences Act, which shut down all but one pirate radio station in 1967.

    Tony O’Neill, from the Pharos Trust, which owns the red lightship, said: “The BBC and Pharos Trust will also being hosting an exhibition of pirate radio memorabilia on the Ha’Penny Pier over the three days.

    “The exhibition will include recently discovered and unique photographs from 50 years ago of the pirate radio ships Galaxy and Mi Amigo.

    “Many of the radio pirates will also be appearing at the Electric Palace cinema on Saturday and Sunday evening to speak to visitors and introduced a screening of The Boat That Rocked.”

    On Monday the ashes of the late Dave Cash, a 1960s radio pirate and BBC presenter will be scattered from Harwich Lifeboat by his widow Sara Cash.

    Those wanting to pay their respects should gather on Ha’Penny Pier from 10.30am.

  6. Mike Bott

    Bill Rollins Teatime Pirate Radio Special was excellent yesterday on the 2NG broadcast from WBCQ. It, and this article, helped me better understand what transpired in the U.K. at the time. Luckily for me, I had The Big 8 CKLW pouring into NW Ohio to listen during the day. At night, WCFL & WLS both out of Chicago, filled my room with music.

  7. Mark

    So it only took 50 years but Radio Caroline now has a full time _legal_ transmitter now. They’ve bagged themselves a local AM license. Some how I just don’t think it’ll be the same?


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