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Radio London – Pirate BBC Essex 2009 Photo Gallery

"This could be the last time", they warned in 2007. Luckily, it wasn't! 2009 marks the 45th anniversaries of the launch of Radios Atlanta, Caroline, City and London and with the release of Richard Curtis's comedy 'The Boat That Rocked', sparking renewed interest in the subject of offshore radio, BBC Essex got the go-ahead for an Easter pirate broadcast. The historic lightship LV18 was one of two vessels used in the filming of 'The Boat That Rocked' and her owner, the charity Pharos Trust, hoped that the resulting interest in the ship will help raise funds for her preservation for the Port of Harwich.

Instead of being anchored offshore in the harbour as before, this time, the LV18 was tied up alongside the Ha'penny Pier. This meant that visitors to the pier could see what was happening aboard the ship and many of the DJs took the opportunity to venture down the gangplank and talk to the audience.

Participants from the real world of Watery Wireless were LV18 old hands Mike Ahern, Paul Burnett, Dave Cash, Ray Clark, Roger Day, Tom Edwards, Steve England, Dave Owen, Keith Skues, Rosko, Norm St John, Alan Turner and Johnnie Walker. There was a new 'cabin boy' – Tony Blackburn, who brought his famous canine pal Arnold with him to Harwich. Another welcome addition to the schedules was Caroline South's pop-singer DJ, Steve Merike, and on Easter Sunday, Gary Walker of the wonderful Walker Brothers was honoured with his own one-hour show. Also making his broadcasting debut from the LV18 was Paul Freeman from Radio Essex – the original fort-based station, that is. Paul, who enjoyed every minute of the weekend, was christened 'The YTS Pirate' by Dave Cash.

The weather was kind, with plenty of spring sunshine, the exception being Easter Monday, which was overcast and chilly. This, however, did not deter the visitors who came to the pier in droves. Huge crowds greeted Tony Blackburn and Arnold on Saturday afternoon and welcomed Johnnie Walker when he arrived later that day to present his 'Pirate Johnnie Walker' programme, which was aired nationwide on BBC Radio 2.

It's not my intention to write a full report of the broadcast, but rather to let the following eight-page gallery encapsulate the event. Full descriptions are on the enlarged versions of the photos. I know a great deal of hard work went into this broadcast – it was hard work just capturing it on camera! I also appreciate that if I thank individuals, I run the risk of forgetting someone. Please, Gerald Main, Tim Gillett and everyone at BBC Essex, Tony O'Neil and the Pharos Trust, the Ha'penny Pier management, Chris Dannatt and Andy, the Pier Hotel staff and all the guests who participated in the event and last but not least, Daphne, give yourselves a big pat on the back and an OBKnee! I hope you will all be pleased with the Radio London photo gallery.

I'll finish with a quote from Gord Cruse, after the 2007 Pirate BBC Essex. "Are we allowed to have this much fun?". Gord, we just did – and I wish you could have joined us.

Mary Payne

Click on the thumbnails to see full-size photos and descriptions

Use the arrows at the top of the page to navigate. The house symbol returns you to this page.

All pictures copyright Chris and Mary Payne at Radio London Ltd, unless otherwise stated.

Many thanks to everyone who has very kindly sent us photos to include in this gallery.

No photos may be reproduced without express permission from the copyright holders.

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Gallery on The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame

Photos on Gary Walker's official website

Photo report from Peter Messingfeld in Germany, who visited Harwich on Easter Monday

The 'Gay elephant' newscast and other clips are available on YouTube
Martin van der Ven's Offshore Radio Guide has a gallery and report courtesy of Steve Szmidt 

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