James Gentles GM4WZP, who has spoken at the LRS twice before on aerial photography, and now a club member himself, gave a very interesting and entertaining presentation on the history of the pirate radio stations on ships and estuary forts from 1964 to 1974. The talk was nicely illustrated with a number of videos and sound recordings which unfortunately cannot be reproduced here for technical reasons (but the slides are very good)! 

                 Many thanks to James for a great talk and for allowing his slides to be reproduced here.






Caroline Kennedy inspired Irishman Ronan O’Rahilly to start Radio Caroline


Caroline Kennedy



Both Atlanta (with Australian Allan Crawford) and Caroline would be fitted out at ‘quiet’ Greenore Harbour north of Dublin, owned by Ronan O’Rahilly’s father.


Original Radio Caroline, when Radio Atlanta merged the ship sailed north to anchor off Douglas IoM, serving “the North” as Radio Caroline North


Originally Allan Crawford’s Radio Atlanta; when the stations merged the better equipped vessel became Radio Caroline South


Celebrity magnets, but others were here, The highly Americanised Radio London. Famous names - Emperor Rosco and Kenny Everett. 

Other stations too, from forts and ships, colourful and eccentric, but we have little time and must push on…


Hard facts of capitalism, How do you sell radio airtime. Product Placement of Pan Am ties in with MeBo and Edwin Bollier. Major on (Findus) token collection and Bill Hearne’s Cash Casino.


Radio London – typical cramped conditions


 Advertising spot rates.








 Revenue streams and/or “Proof of Concept” to persuade advertisers.


 Tommy Shields, the man behind Radio Scotland.


Fitting out LV COMET in Guernsey.


 There was no engine in LV Comet!


Radio Scotland. 


 A number of pirate radio stations were established in former WWII forts in the Thames Estuary.

The internal conditions were grim - cold and damp.


 Details of various Thames Estuary fort radio stations.


Poll for Caroline's Publicity and Marketing Department.


BBC Restructure Radio Services, August 1967. Interesting branding points: Can't find individual station logos before this time (except plucky Radio 3), after this point no sign of brand coherency.



 Leading up to midnight before the 14th August 1967 pirates stopped broadcasting. Radio London chose to end at 15:00 for maximum audience impact. Rumours were rife that Radio Caroline would not close. It didn’t – moving tendering to The Netherlands, then in 1974 to Spain. We will leave Radio Caroline’s complex story here. 


Ronan O’Rahilly continued to be anti-establishment to the end; reported to be suffering from dementia in 2013.


RADIO NORTHSEA INTERNATIONAL, M.V. Mebo II. We will meet Edwin Bollier at the end of our talk.


 Mebo II jingles. Consider production values.


 Mebo II - descent to anarchy.


 Original licences for ILR stations in 1973-5. Dutch MoA included to show connection with Offshore activity decline.


Mebo Ltd and Bolliere's involvement in Pan-Am 103.