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The Mast

Originally Radio 270’s Marine Director, Bill Pashby, had advised that installing a tall aerial mast on the Oceaan VII  would cause problems. He preferred a wire running from stern to bow, strung between the ship’s existing masts . However broadcast ‘experts’ advised that this aerial array would severely limit the station’s  coverage area and a single tall mast would enable the signal to cover a much wider area.

The advice of the experts was taken and during fitting out a 161’ (49m) aerial mast was installed on Oceaan VII. The top 100’ (30.5m) was a welded -section alloy Sparlight yachting mast and the the bottom 61’ (18.6m) was an alloy test mast from the racing yacht Norsaga. This was to prove  a costly error.

As the Oceaan VII was making its way from Grimsby to Scarborough the night before Radio 270’s planned opening date (1st April 1966) it encountered a severe storm, resulting in the mast snapping at the welded point and the top 100’ (30.5m)  fell into the sea.

Senior DJ Roger Gale described events in a BBC Radio Humberside documentary - The Radio 270 Story- many years later:-

“The mast snapped in the middle and the top half lifted off and went straight over the side, leaving about 60’ or 70’ still standing.

The mast was hollow and then filled with water as the ship rolled over on its side. There were only three of us on deck and the rest of the crew were trapped below. There was some serious thought for a while that the boat was going to go over and sink.

The skipper’s son lost a finger because when the mast went over the side his hand was on the rail. One of the mast’s stays, which was about an inch thick, went straight across his hand and took one finger so he was in a bit of a mess. But he was there, the skipper was there and so was I and the first thing we did was to break out the fire axes because we had to cut the mast loose.

Bill Pashby and his family actually came out in his fishing boat but they couldn’t get alongside us because it was so rough, so they lay off about half a mile away while we literally cut the mast loose, which took us about 45 minutes. I remember lying on the bow sprit with the two other guys holding my legs while I was hacking this wire to pieces.

We got a hell of a rollicking when we got onshore because the aluminium was worth a lot of money. Of course we were concerned with saving the ship - we weren't so concerned about anything else and we didn’t tie a marker buoy at the position in Scarborough Bay! ”

The loss of this mast section effectively ended the planned (and much publicised) opening of Radio 270 and cost the company thousands of pounds, not only to have a replacement mast installed but also other remedial work carried out on the Oceaan VII at the insistence of the then Board of Trade officials.

It was to be a further nine weeks before Radio 270 was able to go on air.


Twenty three years later - in 1989 - a 30’ section of the mast from the Oceaan VII  was caught in the nets of a local trawler Success.


Do you have any other memorabilia about Radio 270 which we could add to this Special Exhibition?

If you do, and you are willing to allow the Museum to use it, please contact


We look forward to hearing from you

special exhibition

Scarborough Evening News, 1989

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About Radio 270

People Behind the Station

The Mast

Ship For Sale




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