The original boats that rocked – Pirate ships ahoy!

Preparing for a new show I stumbled across these films of the original pirates satellites – the offshore broadcasting Pirate Radio ships and forts such as Radio Caroline, Radio London, Radio 270, the fort radio stations of Radio 390, Radio Invicta, Radio City, and Radio Essex aka Sealand – and the most dramatic of all – Radio North Sea International, which survived attacks, fire bombings, Government jamming, political activism (note from the video above they got sold out by the Conservatives too!) and the inevitable anchor failings – there’s even an interview with John Peel at the end of this edited highlights of ‘The Show Must Go on’ which is very pertinent to Radio Clash’s manifesto of being basically a one-person radio station, of sorts:

You might recognise the mayday calls from the Radio Soundhog vol 4 mix – which is not only highly recommended, that’s where I first heard them. Love to see the full film of this – sadly only part one in lowres seems to be on the net, although there are some clips here.

I’m amazed that the film ‘The Boat that Rocked’ came out so tame, because not only do you have rival ships such as Radio Veronica firebombing the opposition over a strange convoluted contract to stay off the air which they legally overturned but the fire bombing was the response, you also have shootings. Earlier on you had the likes of Radio City, originally setup by Lord Sutch in 1964 as Radio Sutch on the Shivering Sands fort in the Thames Estuary then ran by his manager, who in a fracas about a transmitter ended up shot dead by one Major Oliver Smedley! Drama indeed.

The end of this era was also dramatic – what with RNI ships Mebo I and Mebo II being sold off to broadcast to Libya then used as target practice, to the eventual dramatic sinking of Radio Caroline in 1980:

(is this from a documentary?)

And the Ross Revenge which was the comeback of Radio Caroline in 1983 raises something which is still the case – inane chatter on radio, and the fact that people just want to hear good music – does this sound familiar (6Music is even guilty of that). There still a need for radio station that isn’t formatted or playlisted or full of inane chatter…although the rather strange hippy Loving Awareness which became part of Radio Caroline (as well as evangelical programming!) wasn’t totally popular – until indeed that broke it’s anchor and ran aground in 1991.

I do think there is a cracking indepth documentary or film to be made about this period although this documentary called London Pirate Frequences covers what pirate radio later became but also covers the offshore history too, by going back almost to the start and visiting the Red Sands Fort – former home of Radio 390 / Radio Invicta – and the sad mysterious story about ‘Tom Pepper’ aka Harry Featherbee and 2 others, it seems Radio Invicta had a troubled history to rival that of RNI.:

More Related Posts

Tim B Written by:

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *