the unprecedented success of Pirate BBC Essex broadcast from the restored
lightship LV18 at Easter 2004, everyone wanted to know, "When's
the next one?" The following Easter, during a BBC Essex outside broadcast
from the Caroline ship Ross Revenge, it was announced that the
station was hoping to organise another Pirate BBC Essex in 2007. At Easter
2004, they had celebrated the launch of Radio Caroline, forty years earlier.
August 2007 was more poignant, as it commemorated the end of an era for
radio - the 40th anniversary of the enforced closure of the majority of
the offshore stations by the Marine Offences Act.
The LV18 is one of the last manned lightships to be built for Trinity
House. She was built in 1958 and served Britain at various points around
the country's coastline before being decommissioned in 1993 as remotely
controlled lightships were established. Tony ONeil is Project Director
and Trustee of the Pharos Trust, a charity founded to save the vessel
for its home port of Harwich.
Tony demonstrates how Pirate BBC Essex has to be wound up every morning
to get the station on the air.
In August 2007, watery wireless favourites flew in from around the globe
to board the LVI8 and be a part of something very special. John
Kerr, Norm St John and Graham Webb came from Australia, Gord Cruse and
Keith 'Keefers' Hampshire travelled from Canada and Bud Ballou and the
Emperor Rosko, from California. They joined former 'Wets' Mike Ahern,
John Aston, Dave Cash, Ray Clark, Ian 'Wombat' Damon, 'Tatty' Tom Edwards,
Roger 'Twiggy' Day, Guy Hamilton, Duncan Johnson, Keith Martin, Keith
Skues, Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart, Johnnie Walker and Mark Wesley. Caroline's
Steve Young, who was disappointed to find himself unable to travel due
to passport problems, sent recorded messages from Canada.
former renegades complemented the BBC team of Graham Cooke, Tony Currie,
Tim Gillett, Alison Hartley, Steve Scruton, Glenn Speller and Ian Wyatt.
Mike and Charlie were the engineers, with the massive task of tech support
provided by Chris and Jonathan. The ship's Master somehow kept them all
It has to be said of Daphne, the infamous permanent resident of the LV18,
that she is literally a loose woman (she regularly falls to bits to prove
it) and answers to nobody but herself.
Many of the rare tracks played during the broadcast came to BBC Essex
courtesy of the guys at Oldies Project.
Pirate Ray Clark, who has already made a name for himself as a documentary-maker,
produced a new programme 'All at Sea August 14th, what happened
next?' which can be downloaded from the Pirate BBC Essex website.
There was plenty going on ashore too. To coincide with the broadcast,
Cashman and Rosko organised two 'Last Time' dances (the first, on August
9th, also featuring Johnnie Walker), while three Audiences With the Pirates
raised funds for the Electric Palace Theatre.
Some of the audience stayed up late to participate in the tradition of
flashing - communicating with the ship from the shores of Harwich and
Shotley either via powerful torches or their car headlights.
(left) and Jackie Dannatt attracted massive attention with their
marvellous offshore memorabilia display in the exhibition centre on the
Ha'penny Pier. In fact, they left Harwich with far more material than
they brought. Thanks to a number of kind and unexpected donations from
several members of the public, they could hardly cram all the amazing
offshore artifacts into their overcrowded vehicle.
Walker the Pier Manager and his deputy Mick, were kept on their toes by
one or two unexpected events, but kept everything flowing smoothly. Alan
the ferryman did a roaring trade and the Pier Cafe did likewise.
Pirate BBC Essex received extensive media coverage although it
has to be said that some of the reports proved less accurate than others.
BBC TV had a crew broadcasting live from the LV18 on the first day, with
coverage both on local and national news and starring the irrepressible
Emperor Rosko, startling the News 24 breakfast presenters with his live
studio appearance. CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) produced a nice
feature, contrasting Gord Cruse's offshore experiences in the Sixties
and now and Meridian TV produced a good item. Sky TV sent a crew aboard,
although their feature seemed to focus on the current pirate radio scene
rather more than the historical event being commemorated. Paul Rowley
provided the Beeb's radio coverage, reporting to numerous local stations
up and down the country.
huge difference between the years 1967 and 2007 was that in the Sixties,
the only way of communicating with the DJs was via snail mail, which could
take a week or more to reach them. In 2007, over 3000 listeners communicated
with the guys on the ship instantly, via text and e-mail. That can truly
be called positive feedback. One instance of the power of the internet
is that while on the air, DJ Mike Ahern received messages from both his
sons and their families in Australia.
pages of photos aspire to encapsulate the essence of the most enjoyable
event that was Pirate BBC Essex 2007. We offer our warmest congratulations
to all the participants and sincerely hope this is NOT "the last time".