Following 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 O’Neil is Project Director and Trustee of the Pharos Trust, a charity founded to save the vessel for its home port of Harwich.

(left) 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.

The 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 in order.

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.

Chris (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.

Nick 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.

One 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.

Our 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".

LV18, August 2007

Seven-page Pirate BBC Essex 2007 Photo album
  Links to other photo-galleries and video clips of the event:

Click here for The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame

Click here for the BBC Essex website for photos, audio and video clips

Check out the CBC TV feature for Canadian TV here and the BBC Look East feature here.

Click here for the Offshore Echoes photo gallery

Click here for galleries and links in Martin van der Ven's Offshore Radio Guide

Click here for extensive Pirate BBC Essex coverage on Gary Walker's Official Website
This is what started it – Pirate BBC Essex 2004
The ship came in at Easter 2009!


Back to 'Otherwaves'
Home