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Amendments & Updates

                                                  1970’s and 1980’s stations

Britain

More offshore radio stations were established off the British coast than in any other region. They flourished in the ‘Swinging 60’s’, until legislation was introduced in 1967 to outlaw them, but Radio Caroline continued to defy the new law and broadcast for a further seven months.

Amazingly, offshore radio broadcast from ships anchored off the British coast had a revival in the 1970s and again in the 1980’s, with stations targeting not only British audiences, but also Dutch and Belgian listeners.

This Gallery includes information about all stations whose output was directed at British audiences or who operated from ships anchored off the British coast, but whose programmes were aimed primarily at Dutch and Belgian listeners.  (These also appear in Gallery  3 - The Netherlands and Belgium)

Follow these links for detailed information about each of the offshore stations which operated off the British coast during three decades:-


1960s Timeline   >>> Britain Timelines 60s

Gallery

4


Planned & Short-lived  Stations

In addition to the stations which did broadcast there were often plans for stations which never materialised or only lasted a very short time - days or even just a few hours.

Click on the blue arrows to read more.

         

         


The Voice of Slough/ Radio LN/Radio ELB/GBLN


GBOK


Radio Rag


Radio Free Yorkshire


Radio Albatross


Radio Red Rose


Radex


Radio City (West)


Radio Pamela


Radio Channel


Radio Freedom


Radio Manchester


UKGM


Radio 390 North and Radio 390 VHF (FM)


Radio Kent


Radio East Anglia


Radio Aberdeen/Kings Radio


Radio Concord

1960s





CNBC

(Anchored off the Netherlands, target audience Britain)



Radio Caroline

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio Atlanta

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio Sutch

(Positioned off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio Caroline South

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio Caroline North

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio Invicta

(Positioned off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio City

(Positioned off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio London

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



KING Radio

(Positioned off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio 390

(Positioned off Britain, target audience Britain)



Tower Radio/Radio Tower

(Positioned off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio Essex

(Positioned off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio Scotland

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio 270

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio England

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



Britain Radio

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



BBMS

(Positioned off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio Dolfijn

(Anchored off Britain, target audience The Netherlands)



Radio 355

(Anchored off Britain, target audience Britain)



Radio 227

(Anchored off Britain, target audience The Netherlands)


BBMS

RADIO

227

RADIO

355

 Floor 1

Back to

Floor 1

The Voice of Slough

Radio LN/Radio ELB/GBLN

The first public announcement of the project appeared in The Times on 10th October 1961. John Thompson, a 42 year old journalist from Slough, and co-director Robert Collier, a wholesale newsagent, were the driving force behind the scheme. Together they had formed a radio broadcasting company - The Voice of Slough Ltd. with a nominal share capital of £3,000 and registered offices at 35 Beechwood Gardens, Slough. Technical adviser to the project was Arnold Swanson, a 56 year old Canadian millionaire who had made his fortune from the invention and manufacture of car safety belts.

Read more>>>

GBOK

At about the same time that the Voice of Slough (or GBLN) was first due to come on air, December 1961, the project lost its technical adviser, Arnold  Swanson. Reportedly Swanson had been offered a 59% share in the Voice of Slough in return for his financial support estimated to be in the region of £100,000. However, he had now decided instead to launch his own station -  GBOK  (Great   Britain OK) - from an 84 year old former lightship, which  he claimed to have purchased. This wooden vessel, the Lady Dixon, which he re-registered in Liberia, had been built in 1878 to serve as a lightship off the north west coast of Ireland.


Read more>>

Radio Rag

An (unconfirmed) offshore radio station broadcasting from 21st-24th June 1964 to promote Leeds University students’ Rag Week. The vessel supposedly used for these broadcasts was a 26’ yacht, Carmen.

Radio Free Yorkshire

On 5th July 1964 John McCallum, Liberal candidate for Bridlington and John Crawford, Liberal candidate for Howden used a ship anchored in Bridlington Bay off the Yorkshire coast to broadcast as Radio Free Yorkshire.

John McCallum was quoted later as saying that the broadcast had been made to "demonstrate the dangers of pirate radio and to protest against the conditions which allow pirate radio to exist."

 

Radio Albatross

Reports appeared in June 1964 that another offshore radio station, Radio Albatross, was to begin broadcasting from an ex-trawler anchored in the Wash.

The station was intended to be local in appeal with news and events listings aimed at the target area of East Anglia.

However despite repeated reports throughout the summer of 1964 the station never actually came on the air.

Radio Red Rose

Many businessmen explored the possibility of establishing offshore radio stations having witnessed the success of Radio Caroline. One such venture was planned by three Liverpool club owners, James Ireland, Alan Williams and Mr S Roberts, in July 1964.

They hired a ship, Red Rose, and were reported to have made test transmissions for an hour and a half from a position twenty miles off Liverpool on 12th July 1964. After this broadcast the ship reportedly headed back to Amsterdam for the installation of additional equipment and an increase in its aerial height. However, although the backers announced that their station would start broadcasting 24 hours a day from the beginning of September 1964 nothing more was heard of this venture or of Radio Red Rose.

Radex

In April 1965 stories began to circulate about another planned offshore broadcasting project. Using the name Radex ,plans were announced to launch a 24 hours a day pop radio service and also twelve hours of television programmes to be broadcast on Channel 6. This was a reserved channel allocated to the Radio Astronomy Service at Cambridge and was not available for use by either the BBC or Independent Television companies.

Professor Martin Ryle, Director of the Radio Astronomy Service was reported as saying "If this station comes on the air at the same time as we are working we just cannot operate. We are using two large radio telescopes and one would be put out of action. I am absolutely appalled by the incredibly feeble action being taken by western Europe against these pirate radio stations. People just do not seem to be worrying. I am very worried by all this."

The Radex project, which was registered in the Bahamas, planned to use a ship anchored off Whitstable, and was reported to have had American backers who put up over £1million to launch the stations and keep them on the air. However, the backers later withdrew their support and the project never materialised.

Radio City (West)

Radio City owner, Reg Calvert,  made an attempt to launch a second station in April 1965 when he tried to purchase an ex-supply boat from the Royal Navy. He planned to anchor this vessel in the Bristol Channel and use it as a base from which to beam radio (Radio City West) and possibly even television programmes (City TV), to the west of England, Wales and the south Midlands.

Radio Pamela

Test broadcasts from a boat, Pamela, anchored off Clacton, Essex  were heard on 13th May 1965 under the call sign Radio Pamela.

The station, set up by businessman Reg Torr, only ever broadcast once again, on 19th May 1965 on 223m (1343kHz). The station broadcast with a 25 watt transmitter and was intended to broadcast at weekends providing a local service for Clacton and surrounding areas. Reg Torr subsequently went on to help launch Tower Radio.

Radio Channel

Another offshore radio station announced  plans to launch in the autumn of 1965. Based on a former Italian naval vessel anchored off Bexhill-on-Sea Radio Channel planned to broadcast 24 hours a day, but the station never actually came on the air.

Radio Freedom

Publicity material was issued in May 1966 announcing the launch of a politically based offshore radio station – Radio Freedom, to be anchored off the Essex coast.

The station was to be “the first offshore station to broadcast unfettered, without fear or favour, political thought on a wide range of subjects”.

Although a start date of early August 1966 was mentioned Radio Freedom never came on the air.

Radio Manchester

Radio London had plans for expansion in April 1966 by following  Radio Caroline's example and establishing a sister station serving the north of England from an anchorage in the Irish Sea, using the call sign Radio Manchester.

Staff from Radio London even examined the Cheeta 2 after Radio Caroline South had finished using her, with a view to the ship becoming the base for Radio Manchester, but the vessel was found to be in such an unseaworthy condition that this idea was pursued no further.

UKGM

A planned second outlet in the south for Radio London came about in April 1966 when Managing Director, Philip Birch, opened negotiations with Radio City's Reg Calvert. He proposed a takeover of the fort-based station to re-launch it as an easy listening service to rival Radio 390 and the recently announced Britain Radio, using the call sign UKGM - United Kingdom Good Music.

A deal was struck in May 1966 under which Radio London would manage the UKGM operation for Reg Calvert and take 55% of its advertising revenue, while the Radio City boss would retain ownership of his station and all its equipment. In addition both stations (Radio London and UKGM) would have a joint servicing and tendering arrangement as well as a combined advertising sales company. It was planned that the agreement would come into effect on 1st June 1966 and that UKGM would become fully operational on 1st July 1966.

Early in June 1966 two DJs from Radio London, Keith Skues and Duncan Johnson together with Office Manager Dennis Maitland, went to Shivering Sands Fort to assess the condition of Radio City's transmitter and studio equipment. At about the same time all City's DJs were invited to Radio London's headquarters in Curzon Street to be told of the plans for UKGM and offered jobs on the new station.

However, the merger plans did not go ahead quite as envisaged. It came to light that, as well as negotiating this deal with Radio London, Reg Calvert had secretly continued to have parallel negotiations with Major Oliver Smedley of Project Atlanta - the original organisation behind Radio Atlanta in 1964 which also had links with Radio Caroline from July 1964 until December 1965.

In these negotiations Smedley offered Calvert £10,000 cash for Project Atlanta to purchase Radio City outright or, alternatively, the equivalent amount of shares in a joint operating company. Reg Calvert remained non-committal to Smedley's offer while at the same time continuing his clandestine negotiations with Radio London, which eventually culminated in the UKGM proposal.

Plans for the launch of UKGM were first made public in a newspaper article on 16th June 1966. Oliver Smedley, reading for the first time of this agreement between Radio London and Radio City, feared that he was being double crossed by Reg Calvert and that his Project Atlanta transmitter on Shivering Sands (for which he had still not been paid by Calvert) would be put to use by the new easy-listening station. He arranged a boarding party to take over Shivering Sands Fort and set in motion a chain of events which led to Reg Calvert being shot dead.

Philip Birch withdrew from the UKGM deal when he saw Reg Calvert’s threatening behaviour at a meeting in the Dean Street offices of Project Atlanta on 20th June 1966.

Radio 390 North and Radio 390 VHF(FM)

Shortly after coming on the air in late 1965 Radio 390 had commissioned a survey to establish independent evidence of its audience level and signal strength for the benefit of potential advertisers. The results had shown not only that the station's signal was strong in a surprisingly wide area of the south and Midlands, but that there was a huge demand for its style of 'sweet music', easy-listening programmes.

During May 1966 Ted Allbeury, Managing Director of Radio 390 opened negotiations with Mrs. Britt Wadner, owner of the former Scandinavian station Radio Syd, to purchase her radio ship, Cheeta 2, which was lying at anchor off Harwich having fulfilled her role as a temporary home for Radio Caroline South. Although others, notably Radio London, had looked at the possibility of purchasing Cheeta 2 nothing had ever been concluded and because of tougher laws passed in Sweden at the beginning of 1966 there was now no possibility that Radio Syd could ever return to the air from its former anchorage off Malmo.

The plan was to anchor the Cheeta 2 off the coast of the Wirral peninsular in the north west of England to broadcast 'sweet music' programmes under the call sign Radio 390 North. With the original station on Red Sands Fort renamed Radio 390 South, this would have given listeners and advertisers an easy listening station with almost national coverage and an alternative to Radio Caroline's national pop music service.

Another finding of the 1965 survey indicated that there would be a demand amongst listeners for VHF (FM) transmissions from Radio 390 to London and south east England. The station made plans to introduce such a service in the summer of 1966 on Radio 390 South in parallel with the increased national coverage.

However, differences of opinion amongst the Radio 390 board of directors and prosecutions brought against the station by the authorities combined to prevent these advanced plans being put into practice. Cheeta 2 also suddenly became unavailable at about this time. The vessel had been moored off Harwich since ending her service with Radio Caroline South, but in mid-July 1966 she dragged her anchor in heavy seas and had to be towed into port. Here a writ of attachment was nailed to her mast by creditors and she was impounded by the Admiralty Marshall pending the outcome of an outstanding salvage claim.

Radio Kent

In September 1966, shortly after being issued with a summons for broadcasting Radio Essex from the Knock John Fort, Roy Bates announced that he had taken over another fort at Tongue Sands, 9 miles off Margate, and would use this as a broadcasting base for a new station - to be known as Radio Kent.

However, Roy Bates did not pursue this idea and instead transferred all his broadcasting equipment from Knock John Fort to Roughs Tower (later renamed Sealand) in December 1966, after closing BBMS (which had replaced the former Radio Essex).

Radio East Anglia

On 1st April 1967 some DJs and engineers on Radio London played an April Fool’s hoax on listeners. Normal Radio London programmes were ‘interrupted’ by a ‘new’ station calling itself Radio East Anglia, between 9.30am and 11.55am. Hundreds of listeners even telephoned the Post Office to complain about the ‘new’ station affecting reception of Radio London!

Radio Aberdeen/Kings Radio

The station was planned by students from Aberdeen University to promote their 1967 Charities campaign. Using a converted 65’ fishing vessel, Jubilee, anchored off Aberdeen they planned to broadcast on 216m from 10th-22nd April 1967.

Radio Concord

Established by a group of members of the Cornish Nationalist Party to provide a weekend service for Cornwall. They planned to use a fishing trawler which was temporarily renamed Mebyon Kernow (Sons of Cornwall), anchored off Penzance Bay.

A test transmission using the call sign Radio Concord, took place in June 1969 with a 500 watt transmitter on 232m medium wave from a land-based location with a three hour programme of music and promotions for the Cornish National Party.

The first transmissions from the offshore base came in mid July 1969, but after only an hour on air the sight of a police launch approaching the Mebyon Kernow forced Radio Concord off the air. Those involved quickly threw the transmitter overboard and the ship ‘merged’ with the rest of the fishing fleet to avoid detection.

CNBC Radio Caroline Radio Atlanta Radio Sutch Radio Caroline South Radio Caroline North Radio Invicta Radio City Radio London Radio 390 Tower Radio/Radio Tower Radio Essex Radio Scotland Radio 270 Radio England Britain Radio BBMS Radio Dolfijn Radio 355 Radio 227 Sponsorship opportunity  available here!

Contact:- orm@offshoreradiomuseum.co.uk

KING Radio