MARINE OFFENCES BILL AUGUST 14th 1967 BLOG Saturday 14th August 2021


“No Man Will Ever Forget Monday August 14th Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Seven”

That’s what Johnnie Walker claimed in his legendary “Man’s Fight For Freedom” broadcast in 1967.

 Sadly his other prediction that the government would one day relent and that Caroline would sail “majestically and proudly” up the Thames never did come true. But he was right about one thing – that people would always remember that sad day…..

At the height of the 1960s offshore radio boom in 1966 there had been 10 stations broadcasting from around the British coast. On Christmas Day 1966 BBMS, the former Radio Essex, closed to the sound of The Markeys’ instrumental Philly Dog. DJ Mark West said that the station hoped to be back on the air from a new location in a couple of weeks. The equipment was moved to Roughs Tower, later to be known as Sealand, but BBMS never did resume broadcasting. ONE DOWN 9 TO GO.

On 8th February 1967 Mrs. Dorothy Calvert was found guilty of operating Radio City from inside territorial waters and that night at midnight her station closed down. Then there were 8.

On 23rd July Radio 227, the Dutch language station that had replaced “Swinging” Radio England on board mv Laissez-Faire, closed without warning. Then there were 7.

Five days later on 29th July 1967, at 5.00pm, the fort-based sweet music station Radio 390 also went off the air after losing a final court battle. That left 6..

The next to go was Radio 355. Previously known as Britain Radio, it shared the mv Laissez-Faire with Radio 227. The contract with Wijsmullers, the Dutch company that serviced and crewed the ship, was about to expire and it wasn’t considered worth renewing as the station was going to be outlawed only a few days later. It closed shortly after midnight in the early minutes of 6th August. 5 stations Remained.

As with all the ship-based stations, Radio London had always insisted that it intended to stay on the air despite the impending Marine Offences Act. However, in the event, the sales company could not find sufficient international advertisers prepared to support the station or British ones prepared to break the law. On 28th July 1967 it announced that ‘Big L’ would close down at 3pm on 14th August, just nine hours before the new law would come into force. At two o’clock on the 14th Radio London began its final hour of broadcasting. Disc-jockeys past and present, recording stars and others, paid their last respects in a special show pre-recorded the previous night. Presented by Ed Stewart and Paul Kaye, it was a professional and moving farewell. The last record was played, The Beatles’ A Day in the Life (an album track banned by the BBC), the final advert was aired (for Consulate cigarettes) and then Paul Kaye, the station’s first voice, became its last as he closed Radio London down for the final time. At 3pm 266 metres fell silent. That left just 4 stations.

On the neighbouring ship, the disc-jockeys of Radio Caroline South were listening as Radio London closed down. His voice cracking with emotion, Robbie Dale, welcomed the new listeners who had just tuned across and held a minute’s silence in memory of the departed rival.

At 6.40 that evening the returning Radio London disc-jockeys arrived at Liverpool Street station in London where thousands of fans had gathered. Earlier that afternoon they had seen off the last team of Caroline broadcasters to leave the country. They welcomed the Big L presenters defiantly. The railway station was brought to a complete standstill as the fans swarmed everywhere, waving banners and shouting support for the offshore stations. It was a final act of protest by thousands of unhappy listeners. After two and a half years they were going to have to come to terms with life without wonderful Radio London.

Most of Radio Scotland’s last day’s programmes were pre-recorded. Just two presenters, Tony Allan and Mark West, were left on the ship to play out the tapes. As midnight struck, their DJ colleagues were at a closedown ball in Glasgow’s Locarno ballroom. 2,000 fans turned up to mourn the passing of the station that “swings to you on 242”. Then there were 3!

Off the coast of Yorkshire, Radio 270 called it a day at midnight too. The original intention was that all the DJ team should be on board for the final show. Unfortunately rough weather prevented the tender getting out there, so the broadcasters who were stuck on land recorded some farewell messages. Deputy Programme Director Mike Hayes called up a friend in the RAF and persuaded him to drop the tapes onto the ship from a helicopter. Because this was strictly against the rules, a note was included in the package insisting that no mention should be made of it on air. Great plan – in theory. Except that the parcel missed the deck and ended up in the sea. So, no one got the tapes, and nobody could read the message. The DJs did not know they were not supposed to acknowledge the helicopter pilot who they thought had just flown by to wave goodbye. So, they thanked him on air. This did not go down well back at base and questions were even asked in Parliament. Because the tapes had ended up in the sea, the station’s final hour was rather lacking in content. The last day’s output also suffered from technical problems after some jellyfish were sucked into the generator’s water-cooling system. Although probably not one of Radio 270’s finest programmes, it was an emotional farewell. Vince “Rusty” Allen closed Radio 270 down for the final time just before midnight. Then there were 2!

And then there were two – Radio Caroline North and Radio Caroline South. The north ship, anchored off the Isle Of Man, was in a strange position. Caroline was well loved on the island and the members of the Isle of Man parliament, The Tynwald, opposed the Marine Offences Bill. Despite their objections, the new law was forced on them from London when an Order in Council was issued. This extended the new law to cover the island – but not until midnight on 31st August. This meant that it was business as usual on the 14th – in theory. In practice, most of the existing DJ team decided to leave. Canadian Don Allen, Caroline’s longest serving disc-jockey, was unaffected by the law which only covered British citizens, but all the others headed home. Don was not alone. A new team of DJs arrived on the 14th and the station continued.

Down on the south ship, DJs Johnnie Walker and Robbie Dale had just enjoyed their last shore leave in Britain. Both had said publicly that they intended to continue broadcasting and were hoping that some of their colleagues would join them. But when they got out to the Mi Amigo, they found that everyone had their bags packed. One of the departing DJs, Roger Day, would return a few weeks later after renewing his passport but on the afternoon of 14th August it looked like the station would have to operate with just Johnnie, Robbie and Ross Brown, an Australian who had been working as a librarian on Radio 390 until recently. Later that night an unexpected second tender arrived bringing another DJ Spangles Muldoon. At midnight, as Radio Scotland and Radio 270 were closing down, Caroline continued. A massive audience tuned into Caroline South as Robbie Dale and Johnnie Walker welcomed the listeners to a new era, that of “Radio Caroline International”.

At 1 minute past midnight as the  UK drifted into 15th August JUST TWO REMAINED!!!




2nd March 1968  Radio Caroline South closed as normal at midnight following Johnnie Walker’s programme.

3rd March 1968   Radio Caroline South opened transmissions of as usual at 5.00am, but, at 5.20am the Mi Amigo was boarded by Dutch seamen from the tug Titan and the station was abruptly put off the air. The Mi Amigo’s anchor was raised and the radio ship was taken in tow by the Titan.


2nd March 1968  A tug, Utrecht, anchored a mile from the MV Caroline in Ramsey Bay, refusing to state its intended destination to the Isle of Man maritime authorities. Radio Caroline North ended its transmissions shortly after 10.00pm following the regular Saturday night “Country and Western Jamboree”, presented by Don Allen.

3rd March 1968   At 2.00am the tug came alongside MV Caroline and Dutch seamen boarded the radio ship. They made for the Captain’s cabin and informed the senior DJ Don Allen and the Chief Engineer that broadcasting was to cease, the studios were to be sealed and the transmitter crystal removed.

The tug attempted to take the MV Caroline in tow at 6.00am but difficulties were experienced in raising the radio ship’s anchor. In the end the anchor chain was cut to release the MV Caroline and the tow actually commenced that evening.

Radio Caroline North closed down at midnight on 3rd March 1968. The last record ironically was Jim Reeves “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” During the night the ship was boarded and towed away.

The Radio Caroline name was used to broadcast from international waters, using five different ships with three different owners, from 1964 to 1990, and via satellite from 1998 to 2013. Since 19 August 2000.




                 Station Name                       First                        Last                        Frequency            

                                                Broadcast             Broadcast                            


Broadcast from    Vessel/Fort/Tower               Where Situated




1              Radio Caroline/North         28-Mar-64            02-Mar-68            199m Medium Wave (MW)             

MV Caroline                                                        Off Frinton-on-Sea


2              Radio Atlanta/ Radio Caroline South 12-May-64      02-Mar-68                           

MV Mi Amigo                                                     Off Isle of Man


                2 Carolines merge               02-Jul-64                                                              


3              Radio London                      23-Dec-64             14-Aug-67             266m MW            

MV Galaxy                                                          Off Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex


4              Radio 270                             11-Jun-66              14-Aug-67             270m MW            

MV Oceans Seven                                               Off Scarborough & Bridlington


5              Radio Scotland                    31-Dec-65             14-Aug-67             242m MW                                                             MV Comet                                                                Off Troon


6              Radio Invicta                       29-Jul-64               18-Dec-64             306m MW            

Red Sands Towers                                               Thames Estuary six miles off Minster, Isle of Sheppey


7              King Radio                           18-May-05           22-Sep-65             238m MW            

Red Sands Towers                                               Thames Estuary six miles off Minster, Isle of Sheppey

                King Radio Renamed Radio 390    


8              Radio 390                             25-Sep-65             29-Jul-67               390m MW            

Red Sands Towers                                               Thames Estuary six miles off Minster, Isle of Sheppey


9              Radio Sutch                          27-May-64           01-Sep-64             197m MW            

Shivering Sands Fort                                           Thames Estuary seven miles off Herne Bay

                In Sept ’64 Radio Sutch changes to  Radio City           

Shivering Sands Fort                                           Thames Estuary seven miles off Herne Bay


10           Radio City                             23-Sep-64             09-Feb-67             299m MW            

Shivering Sands Fort                                           Thames Estuary seven miles off Herne Bay


11           Swinging Radio England   18-Jun-66              13-Nov-66            227m MW            

MV Laissez Faire                                                Off Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex


12           Britain Radio                        03-May-66           22-Feb-67             355m MW            

MV Laissez Faire                                                 Off Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex


13           Radio 227                             15-Mar-67            23-Jul-67               227m MW            

MV Laissez Faire                                                 Off Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex


14           Radio 355                             15-Mar-67            06-Aug-67             355m MW            

MV Laissez Faire                                                Off Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex


15           Tower Radio                        15-Oct-65              01-Feb-66             215m MW            

Sunk Head Tower fort                                        Thames estuary 12½  nautical miles off Harwich


16           Radio Tower                         05-Mar-66            12-May-66                          

Sunk Head Tower fort                                        Thames estuary 12½ nautical miles off Harwich


17           Radio Essex                          07-Nov-65            25-Dec-66             222m MW            

Knock John Fort Thames Estuary                   12 miles off Herne Bay in Kent


                * First Broadcast Date may be start of test transmission may be first official programme broadcast                                                               


REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

– Nicolas Chamfort



 “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore


Happiness is….the Offshore Pirate Radio Stations of the 1960s.




Love is…someone who’s always fun to be with.


A time for lack lustre BBC Light Programme music shows…A time for highly commercial 1960s Offshore Pirate Radio Shows fast moving US Top 40 Format.


14th August

1852 The first public lavatory was opened, on London’s Fleet Street.

1888 An audio recording of English composer Arthur Sullivan’s ‘The Lost Chord’, one of the first recordings of music ever made, was played during a press conference in London to introduce Thomas Edison’s phonograph. The gramophone records that followed were one of the dominant audio recording formats throughout much of the 20th Century.

1908 The world’s first international beauty contest was held at Folkestone, Kent.

1930 The ‘cautious’ (!) use of contraceptives was approved by the Church of England.

1948 The closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in London.

1960 The birth of Sarah Brightman, English soprano and former wife of Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Her duet ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ with the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sold 12 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.

1967 All UK offshore pirate radio stations were declared illegal when the UK Marine Broadcasting Offences Act became law at midnight On This Day, but Radio Caroline continued to broadcast until March 1968.


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Reflections of a Top Hit Record

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©2021 Phil M Robinson