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Radio Caroline North - History (6)

When it came to the vote, the lower house, the House of Keys, supported Roy McDonald's amended resolution, but the upper house, the Legislative Council, voted unanimously against it. The House of Keys immediately adjourned to its own chamber and voted to continue with its previous decision to fight the imposition of unwanted mainland legislation. Ronan O'Rahilly who had witnessed the debate from the public gallery told waiting reporters afterwards that Radio Caroline North would remain in Ramsey Bay whatever the Manx or British Governments decided, any prosecutions of staff or advertisers which arose as a consequence would, he said, be fought all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

On 15th August 1967 Radio Caroline North was, technically, still not outlawed as were all other offshore stations. This anomaly occurred because the station's ship was anchored off the coast of the Isle of Man whose Government had refused to implement the Marine  etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Act. The Order in Council imposing the British version of the Act on the Island did not come into effect until 31st August 1967 so supplies and personnel could quite legitimately be transferred to and from the ship using the Island's ports. However, English staff on board the MV Caroline had decided, like their southern colleagues to quit the station on 14th August 1967 for fear of prosecution.

DJs Tony Prince and Dave Lee Travis, newsreader Dave Williams and  Canadian  DJ  Jerry  King left the ship late in the afternoon of 14th August and  arrived  in  Ramsey  Harbour  aboard Offshore III  in the early evening  to be met by a crowd of fans and well wishers. Earlier that day a similar crowd had seen five other DJs leave for the MV Caroline in defiance of the new law - Englishmen Dee Harrison, Martin Kayne and Mark Sloan, together with Canadian Don Allen and Australian Jimmy Gordon all joined the ship to continue Caroline North programming after August 15th.

As the Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Act was not  actually applied to the Isle of Man until 31st August 1967 Radio Caroline North continued to be serviced from Ramsey for a further two weeks although such arrangements had now been outlawed on the British mainland. The last tender left  Ramsey at 8.30pm on 31st August 1967 to make the final delivery of supplies and crew before the provisions of the British law became effective on the Isle of Man. Also during the evening of 31st August 1967 the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's ferry, Manxman took over 2,000 people on a special cruise from Douglas to Ramsey Bay, circling the MV Caroline.  

At midnight  on 31st August, Don Allen, Senior DJ on Caroline North, played the Manx National Anthem, thanked the Isle of Man Government and people for their continued support and announced  the continuation Radio Caroline International in defiance of the new law. . After a period of two weeks grace (and regular tender runs) because of a quirk in the legislative processes, Radio Caroline North and its crew had now officially joined its southern sister station in being totally isolated from Britain. Although they didn't know it at the time, it was to be another six weeks before a tender even visited the radio ship again.

On land Caroline Singel 160House in London and the Northern office in Liverpool were closed and the station's operational headquarters transferred to a new office in  Amsterdam. (See I WAS THERE in the Interactive Zone on the right)

Ronan O'Rahilly, as an Irish citizen, continued to operate quietly from an office at the former Radio Atlanta headquarters in Dean Street, London using the cover of a company named Mid Atlantic Films. In response to any enquiries from the press or authorities O'Rahilly claimed now to only be involved in the film production business. Although this was partially true the company also acted as a secret base for recruiting Radio Caroline staff and obtaining supplies of records.


Radio Caroline offices were also claimed to exist in New York, Paris and Toronto, but in fact the New York office was only an accommodation address in Madison Avenue and the Toronto office was the headquarters of the company run by Terry Bate. Neither office in North America produced any real advertising contracts for Radio Caroline, although the number of American religious programmes aired by both the North and South stations did increase to about two hours a day during the latter part of 1967.

Revenue from these sponsored religious programmes undoubtedly helped keep the stations on the air in the absence of any 'mainstream' advertising income. The Paris office, too, did not succeed in generating advertising income for the station and plans to open further offices in Tokyo and Germany never came to fruition. The station's new address in Holland was not revealed to listeners for over two weeks after the Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Act had come into force, a factor which added further to the feeling of isolation for DJs on the radio ships who had been used to receiving a regular supply of fan letters and record requests from their audiences.

What really did keep Radio Caroline on the air financially after 14th August 1967 was the heavy promotion of Major Minor records featuring artists such as David McWilliams, Raymond LeFevre and his Orchestra, The Dubliners and the Roberto Mann Singers, as well as a large number of relatively unknown Irish folk singers. These 'plug' records -which numbered up to fourteen an hour at one point, were contained on a list supplied to both ships and DJs were instructed to play them to the exclusion of anything else they may have wished to include in their programmes.


Radio Caroline International’s offices at Singel 160, Amsterdam


Click on picture to enlarge

The Times

14th August 1967

Radio Caroline North’s last tender from the Isle of Man leaves Ramsey Harbour, 31st August 1967

The Times

1st September 1967


Amaco advert.mp3

Radio Caroline North going illegal, Don Allen

31st August/1st September 1967

Caroline North going illegal.mp3

I rented the building Singel 160, Amsterdam in July, 1967 and put in a few desks and supplies, but no staff were actually in the building until the morning of 16th August, 1967.

I hosted a dinner party for eight at the Savoy Hotel in London on the evening of the 15th August and at midnight we toasted the introduction of the Marine etc Broadcasting (Offences) Act.  George Brown, a Minister of the then Wilson government was at the next table and, at my invitation, joined us in the toast!!

At 7.00 am the next morning I flew seven staff members and myself to Amsterdam in my own aircraft and we opened the new Radio Caroline International office at 9.00am. By 11.00 am our new office had become a tourist curiosity and the tour boats were all stopping on the canal to loud applause!



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