Saturday 9th September 2017 - Felixstowe, Suffolk

The Unveiling of the Caroline Commemorative Stone

Photoreport by John Sales and Stephen Raindle

John Sales

I arrived at 1130, just about the time that BBC Radio Suffolk, who had been there during the morning covering the event, were packing-up with the intention of departing.
 
If you want to hear a couple of interviews they conducted while they were visiting the exhibition, which was staged in the town's Trinity Methodist Church Hall (they didn't stay for the unveiling of the stone) here's the link to the BBC Radio Suffolk show broadcast on Sat 9th, with Matt Marvell. It was live from the exhibition after 37 mins and circa 92 minutes in, are interviews with Alan Neddy Turner, Roger Twiggy Day, Chris Dannatt and Ray Clark; at 2 hrs 20, Mark Wesley and finally, Rosko was interviewed in a Mini Moke on the M25 at 70mph!

Albert Hood, Mark Wesley and Tony Prince were all selling signed copies of their respective books on their stands.

(Right and below) Exhibition photos by Stephen Raindle

After lunch, the procession of Mini Mokes, complete with the Emperor Rosko, drove through the town centre on its way down to Wolsey Gardens, for the Radio Caroline Commemorative Stone unveiling ceremony. The Flashback exhibition in Trinity Church Hall was closed from 1400 to 1500 to enable everyone to make their way to the location and see the ceremony. Both past and present Radio Caroline presenters were there, together with the town mayor, Nick Barber, civic dignitaries, members of the local press and a number of men and women who were dressed as pirates!
 
Unfortunately, it was virtually impossible to see the actual unveiling of the stone and absolutely impossible to take any photos of it with crowds of people surrounding it. The photos I did manage to take during the ceremony were mostly taken by holding my camera upwards at arm's length, pointing it in roughly the right direction and pressing the shutter!

Although BBC Suffolk had departed, Paul Rowley did manage to record all of the speeches from the unveiling ceremony.
 
After the ceremony I made my way back to the Church Hall to continue looking around and speaking to people. I left the event at 1800, when it closed.

Of course, the exhibition was also continuing on the Sunday and quite a few people I spoke to during the day were coming along on that day, too. Either they lived close enough for it to be a fairly easy journey or they were staying locally.

Saturday was a great gig and I had a very enjoyable time in Felixstowe. It was actually the first time I'd ever visited the town; it's a very pretty little place and I certainly hope to make a return visit sometime in the not-too-distant future. I'm very pleased that I went along.

Rosko's mini-moke convoy (Photo SR)

Rosko and Felixstowe Mayor, Nick Barber
(Photo John Sales)

Stephen Raindle

Radio Caroline was on the lips and in the memories of many people in Felixstowe on September 9th. Chris and Jackie Dannatt's Flashback exhibition of offshore radio was enhanced by local material belonging to event organisers the Felixstowe & Offshore Radio Group. In the afternoon, a commemorative plaque to Radio Caroline was unveiled on the cliff-top viewing area in Wolsey Gardens. The spot overlooks the part of the North Sea where Caroline first began broadcasting from the mv Frederica, anchored a few miles off the coast over the Easter weekend of 1964.

We arrived at the exhibition mid-morning and found a fair-sized crowd already there, taking in the total nostalgia event which also had a record, CD and memorabilia sale doing brisk business in an ante-room of the hall. The pirate radio exhibition was largely of news, publicity, film and memorabilia items about the era of pirate offshore radio in the United Kingdom from its start until its eventual fall, after government legislation in August 1967. Reproductions of many newspaper items of memorable events relating to the 'pirates' were the main thrust of the exhibition which also had some vintage radios and television sets on display. An early visitor to the exhibition was Roger 'Twiggy' Day, formerly of Swinging Radio England and Radio Caroline in the sixties. By the time we had seen and enjoyed all the exhibits, the hall was thronging with visitors and plenty more were still streaming through the doors.

Next item of the agenda on this warm and sunny day was the unveiling of the commemorative plaque which was due to be at 2.30pm. This was subject to the arrival of guest of honour Emperor Rosko, who was transported from London in a cavalcade of skull & crossbones-beflagged mini-mokes. The convoy had been held up along the way, but arrived in time, much to the excitement of the gathering of Caroline fans who by then must have numbered around 200. Brief speeches were made by representatives of the event organisers - the Felixstowe & Offshore Radio Facebook Group – Caroline's former DJs Tony 'Royal Ruler' Prince, Roger 'Twiggy' Day, Ray Clark, Alan 'Neddy' Turner, Alan Clark, Rosko himself and current Caroline presenter Peter Antony. The polished stone plaque set in the ground was duly unveiled to general applause by the crowd of what can only be described as eternal teenagers. After much general chat about the good old days of offshore radio, many photographs of the plaque and the guests of honour, the mini-mokes were fired up and Rosko and his entourage left for a visit to the exhibition before returning to London. Back at the Trinity church hall, the place was packed with fans of all ages and only after the departure of the various celebrity DJs did the numbers thin out.

All told, it was a very nostalgic, enjoyable and successful event so congratulations to the Felixstowe & Offshore Radio group.

The plaque (Photo: JS)
Tony Prince's speech (Photo SR)

Many thanks to John and Stephen. Other links to coverage of the event:

Wireless Waffle; Carl Squirrell; Ipswich Star


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