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volume 2
august 1999

Ten years ago to the day


  Remembering the entering of Radio Caroline
by Christopher Edwards
  A full year has past since Howard Rose, here in this journal, formulated his thought for August 14th, 1967 — the day of the Marine Offences Act. The wish he expressed there to revive Caroline is shared by others. This year on August 19th Christopher Edwards wrote us, memorating another occasion — the actual end of Radio Caroline. Speaking in the same vein as Rose, Edwards calls for a new life for Radio Caroline.
1 Ten years ago to the day. European radio listeners who were tuned to on 558 KHz on 19 August 1989, around lunchtime, heard this message: "This is Radio Caroline, the radio ship Ross Revenge, anchored in the international waters of the North sea. This is a Panamanian vessel being boarded illegally on behalf of the British and Dutch goverments. There's a Dutch tug alongside and they have already boarded the ship and used violence against crew members." Radio Carolines crew managed to carry on broadcasting for almost an hour until the boarders switched off the stations transmitter. The worlds most famous free radio station had been reduced to the silence by the British and Dutch authorities.
  Radio Caroline´s ship the MV Ross Revenge crossed the Thames Estuary on June 21st 1999, the longest day of the year, and berthed at Southend pier head. The tug Horton skippered by Andy Wood nudged the 1000 ton ship into position as dusk fell. The crew have been working all week preparing the ship for public display. The boat opened for tours on Tuesday June 30th. The purpose of the Southend summer visit is to earn revenue for more ship repairs and fresh broadcasting projects (photo © Mike Webb 1999).
2 The background. Radio Caroline started broadcasting pop music at Easter 1964, from a boat outside of British territorial waters, and importantly outside of the British governments control. Radio listeners loved it — from 0 to 8 million listeners in just 15 days. Governments hated it. Radio Caroline survived in international waters, with a few breaks to replace hijacked or sunken ships, until the end of 1990. After the raid — the ship had been left at sea — the radio stations engineer managed to get some things back together and Radio Caroline returned after a few weeks break.
  Seeing Ross Revenge for the first time was Caroline newest and youngest presenter DJ Sarah Miles who travelled out into the estuary to meet the ship. Ex London station Liberty, DJ Sarah said 'The ship has obviously been through tough times but has survived come what may, just like Radio Caroline. All my broadcast heroes have worked on Caroline, I'm so proud to be following in their footsteps'.
3 New legislation. During 1990 the British government wrote new legislation, giving themselves powers to board ships in international waters. Boarding a ship in international waters, without permission is an act of piracy. The new law would make piracy by the British government legal. Radio Caroline reluctantly closed down in November 1990, before the new law came into force in 1991. The Ross Revenge remained at sea with a caretaker crew, until a storm broke her anchor and washed her onto the Goodwin Sands, a notorious ships graveyard. The Ross Revenge was rescued and taken to a UK south coast port. The ship still exists and is nowadays used a base for short term broadcasts.
  A full tour of the ship with opportunities to take photographs or video footage has been priced at £3.00 adults and £2.00 children. A full range of Caroline merchandise including photos, videos caps and Tee shirts can be purchased in the on-board shop (photo © Mike Webb 1999).
4 Is this the end of the story? No, because in Europe, some people are fighting to revive the legendary station from a boat at sea. Radio Caroline is part of the European cultural heritage and must be preserved. France Radio Club are campaigning in the European parliament. It is this simple idea that we are trying to make happen. Hoping that someone, somewhere wants to regenerate this glorious madness and get involved in an adventure that carries the names of "liberty " and "freedom".
  Visitors to the Ross throughout most of August will have the added thrill of seeing Radio Caroline in full operation with 24 hour a day live transmissions courtesy of a 28 day RSL from Monday July 26th till Sunday August 22nd, however those touring the ship on weekends will no doubt find it strange that music is emanating from the ship but with no apparent DJ's present to play it. Due to the unprecedented popularity of the boat, weekends can be quite hectic on board. Transmissions are therefore sent from Caroline's studios in Maidstone via ISDN to the ship (photo © Mike Webb 1999)
5 Saving the station that started it all. If no one had got involved in the mad adventure, European commercial radio may not have evolved into what it is today. Our aim only consists of saving the pioneer that started it all, and giving her the right to live again, freely. It was ten years ago today, that the British and Dutch governments acted illegally and forceably to silence people whose only crime was to play music and whose inspiration coincided with John Lennons song "Imagine ..."
6 For any reactions and questions e-mail:
    Offshore_echos@hotmail.com France.radio.club@wanadoo.fr  
  1999 © Soundscapes