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729, 765 & 1530 MW


10 – 17 April 2004


Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Pirate Radio off the Essex Coast





Forty years ago this Good Friday, a new sound was heard across radio sets in Essex and much of eastern and southern England. They were test transmissions for something called ‘Radio Caroline.’ The following day, Saturday, offshore pirate radio started to the strains of the Rolling Stones’ Not Fade Away. 


For the next three years Radio Caroline built up an audience of an estimated eight million listeners. It led to many other offshore radio stations, many of them broadcasting off the coast of Essex.


The broadcasters and their listeners were part of the sixties social revolution. They were the generation who’d never had it so good. The generation who discovered the pill, who campaigned against the threat of nuclear war, who questioned the wisdom of the establishment. They were the generation who developed their own pop music and wanted to hear it.      


The offshore stations became known as the pirates, not because they were illegal but the newspapers used the phrase to describe the gallivanting, swashbuckling behaviour of a group of sixties social rebels.


In fact it wasn’t until August 1967 that the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act was passed. That act made it an offence to broadcast to Britain from an offshore vessel, or to support a broadcast.


Forty years on, pirate radio has a special place in the memories of those millions of listeners who recall the excitement of finding something so radically different on their radios.  


Pirate BBC Essex is for those fifty plus year olds. It’s also for those who weren’t there but who want to discover, forty years later, a little of what it was all about.


For the first time, Pirate BBC Essex brings the BBC and pirate radio together. Forty years on the auld rivals have laid down their cutlasses and are as one.            


Pirate BBC Essex is a partnership between the BBC’s county radio station and the Pharos Trust, Highlight Media, the Harwich Society, UltraLab, the Electric Palace, Harwich Town Council, Tendring District Council, Switchgear Electrical, Adsteam Ltd and Milsom Hotel Group. 


For more information contact Tim Gillett, Programmes Editor BBC Essex 01245 616042 or Tim.Gillett@bbc.co.uk




THE LV18 – “A Local Vessel Of National Maritime History”


Pirate BBC Essex will be broadcasting from the LV18 – one of the last manned lightships to be built for Trinity House.


She was built in 1958 and served Britain at various points around its coastline before being the last manned vessel to be decommissioned in 1993 as remotely controlled lightships were established.


She’s now owned and looked after by the Pharos Trust, a registered charity, which is carefully restoring her to her former glory. In a first phase of restoration much of the exterior of the ship was cleaned up, with the superstructure and lantern tower re-painted.        


The Pharos Trust is now endeavouring to get a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the next phase of restoration. The Pharos Trust’s Tony O’Neil said, “we’ve already received a grant by the East of England Development Agency for Phase 1 of the refurbishment, the next phase is to take her into dry dock for a bottom scrape. That’ll be more than a £100,000 worth of work. But it needs to be done.”


LV18 is moored in Harwich harbour and Tony O’Neil’s objective is to make the ship a tourist attraction and a lasting symbol of the town’s link with Trinity House, whose national operations headquarters is in Harwich. “Our endeavour is to save this historic maritime vessel for its home port of Harwich.” It would also be used for educational purposes and to study navigation and maritime subjects.  


LV18 is no stranger to radio broadcasting. In recent years several community based radio projects have won temporary licences to broadcast to the north-east Essex area. The ship has two studios with the broadcast studio ideally placed with windows looking out across the harbour to the Essex and Suffolk shores.


An extra generator and fuel are being shipped in to provide extra power for the Pirate BBC Essex project. They’re being provided by Switchgear Electrical from Witham which specialises in heavy duty electrical installations. The equipment will be lowered onto the LV18 deck by crane courtesy of Adsteam Ltd, one of the sponsors of the project.             








729, 765 & 1530 MW


10 – 17 April 2004




10 PM – 1 AM


Picture: Keith Skues.


Keith Skues is “the jewel in the crown of East Anglian radio” – that’s according to his fellow legend John Peel, and to his thousands of fans. 

He is the only broadcaster in the world to have completed broadcasting with Forces Radio, the pirates, Radio Luxembourg, independent local radio and BBC national, regional and local radio.

His broadcasting career started the year the LV18 was built – both are in excellent form.

Keith was an original Radio Caroline presenter, and also broadcast on Radio London, before joining the Radio 1 launch party. It was there his vast knowledge of popular music was crystallised in the award winning ‘The Story of Pop.’     

Keith was programme director of Sheffield ILR station Radio Hallam in the seventies and eighties, and rejoined the BBC in 1995 where he can be heard throughout the East each weekday night between 10 and 1.

Pirate BBC Essex is pleased that Keith Cardboard Shoes Skues will be broadcasting his show across the region from LV18. And many of the songs you’ll hear will be some of the 250,000 records from the Keith Skues vinyl library.








10 AM – 1 PM




Picture courtesy of www.RadioRewind.co.uk

Dave was one of Britain’s pioneering pirate broadcasters, making his debut on Radio London, off the coast of Essex. “Kenny and Cash,” his show with the legendary Kenny Everett, was loved by millions of listeners and set Dave off on a career that’s lasted forty years.

Dave was one of the launch presenters on the happy, new sound of Radio 1 in 1967.

In 1973, he went independent, becoming the lunchtime sound on Capital Radio in the seventies with his trademark COD quiz. More recently Dave has been working for BBC Essex and Saga Radio and can be heard each weekend evening on BBC Radio Kent.           

Dave was born in England and spent part of his childhood in Canada. He’s also a novelist, keen Chelsea fan and the Pirate BBC Essex crew are pleased he’s a talented cook. 

He’s also recorded a single called “Groove Baby.” Will we hear it on Pirate BBC Essex?  

The dog in the picture isn’t coming aboard!




6 – 10 AM

Ray Clark 


Ray Clark is no stranger to broadcasting from ships, but says he still gets a bit seasick. He was driving buses when he jumped ship and went off to broadcast on Radio Caroline. He helped launch the Southend based Breeze AM at its launch, playing the golden hits and becoming the station’s Programme Controller. Ray’s well known to thousands of listeners in East Anglia, for his highly creative Saturday morning show on BBC Essex, and his weekday afternoon show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.         




1 – 4 PM




Forty years ago when pirate radio started, Steve was tuned in to his tranny in the kitchen trying to get the best signal and telling Mum –“this is really special.” After working as a TV and radio engineer, Steve got behind the other side of the equipment, joining Southend based Essex Radio. He was poached by the BBC in 1988, and was soon presenting the afternoon show on BBC Essex. Known affectionately as the Housewives’ Choice, Steve has just recorded his best ever listening figures.










4 – 7 PM


Image: Ian Wyatt.


Ian was raised on the sounds of the Sixties as they echoed around his childhood Colchester home. The youngest member of the team, Ian has made Pirate BBC Essex possible through his technical prowess. He’s also an accomplished producer of outside broadcasts with last year’s BBC Essex Steve’s Summer Saturday series and many other specials to his name. Ian is a regular broadcaster on BBC Essex.



7 – 10 PM



Tim Gillett is a trained news journalist, breaking into radio in the early eighties. After various stints working in the independent radio across England, Tim became group News Editor of Southend based Essex Radio and Breeze AM before moving to BBC Essex in the nineties. There he re-shaped the breakfast and lunchtime programmes and created the popular Sunday morning music nostalgia show John’s Journey Back In Time, a show he still produces. As BBC Essex Programmes Editor, Tim’s drawn up the Pirate BBC Essex schedule and play list.







1 AM - 3 AM

In the best traditions of pirate broadcasting, Pirate BBC Essex is pioneering new talent.

Oliver Rogers is the producer of Eric Hall's popular Monster Memories programme on Sunday afternoons on BBC Essex.

He's also produced a Bing Crosby special programme for BBC Essex.

Oliver has just completed a post graduate diploma in Radio Journalism.




Garry Lee has been a broadcaster for twenty years, having been a presenter of many special licence radio stations. Garry knows the LV18 like the back of his hand!

He was the Programme Director of Harwich Haven Community Radio which broadcast from the LV18 in the summer of 2002. The station's call sign was Radio Mi Amigo.

Garry currently presents for the Dutch based satellite station Radio Seagull.






Test transmissions for Pirate BBC Essex start on Friday 9 April, forty years to the day after Radio Caroline began trials.  


Pirate BBC Essex will be playing pop music from the pirate radio era of 1964 to 1967.


“Those years of emerging British pop music are cherished in the memory of pirate radio listeners,” said BBC Essex Programmes Editor, Tim Gillett. “We’ll also be featuring many of the songs championed by pirate radio like that David McWilliams classic The Days Of Pearly Spencer.”


There will also be the latest news headlines, as listeners in 2004 would expect and at breakfast and tea times, Pirate BBC Essex will be offering news and travel.


“Listeners will know that they can get the best of the pirate era’s music and the latest news and information to get them out and about,” said Tim.             


Ray Clark will be lighting up the day on Pirate BBC Essex between 6 and 10 am with his memories of sixties pirate radio. “I’ll also be able to tell you what the weather’s doing, as I look out over the bridge of ship to see what’s brewing,” said Ray.     


Sixties pirate Dave Cash is in the chair from 10 am till 1 pm with his memories from pirate radio the first time round and re-playing some of those silver sixties sounds.  


Steve Scruton’s 1– 4 pm show will feature a Top 20 each day, starting with the British singles chart from Easter 1964. Steve’s show will go out on BBC Essex FM too – that’s 95.3 and 103.5 FM  


As workers ashore prepare to go home, Pirate BBC Essex is expecting a power surge as those car radios are switched on. Ian Wyatt, on from 4 – 7 pm, will have the best of the music plus the essential travel and news headlines.      


As dusk falls over the harbour and the headlights come on, the Double Decade Show with Tim Gillett hits the waves after seven with as many golden memories as possible from the fifties and sixties, but remember we stop in August, 1967! Our first Double Decade show on Saturday April 10th will feature the best of the party hits from the two decades.


Keith Skues, on between 10 pm and 1 am each weekday night, will be featuring some of the quarter of a million discs from his famous record boxes as Pirate BBC Essex returns to the days of vinyl. Keith’s show will be broadcast across the Eastern region.


“I’m expecting a few pirate originals to drive down and flash their headlights at me,” said Keith. “Back in the sixties, they were all lined up at Frinton and we used to play games – one flash if you think the answer is the first one, and so on. It was real interactive radio!”       


Forty years later, in the hi tech twenty first century, listeners will be able to reach their presenters by text or email.


“We’ve managed to secure the great help of UltraLab at Anglia Polytechnic University,” said Ian Wyatt. “They really are at the cutting edge of new technology and somehow have set up equipment so messages can be sent direct to the ship’s studio. This is ship to shore 2004 style.”


Keith Skues’ final show on Pirate BBC Essex on Friday April 16 will close the station with an on board party as the presenters and the crew say their goodbyes.


On Saturday April 17, they’ll be brought ashore for a special programme from Harwich quayside hosted by Ray Clark and broadcast on all BBC Essex frequencies.




Listeners and visitors to Harwich between April 10 and April 17 will get the chance to see an exhibition about pirate radio off the Essex coast in the sixties.


Among the exhibits will be some of the equipment radio presenters used forty years ago and a re-creation of the Radio Caroline Studios aboard the vessels Mi Amigo and Ross Revenge. 


There will also be photographs of the ships and presenters, copies of play lists and examples of some of the merchandise like car stickers stations used to promote their on air sound.


Also on display will be vintage radio sets from the sixties period and before, and there will be the chance to watch live images from the LV18 studio.


Most of the exhibits have been loaned by the National Vintage Wireless and Television Museum, run by curator Tony O’Neil. They will be from his permanent exhibition housed at the High Lighthouse in West Street, which is open from Whitsun till September 12.30 – 4.30


Visitors will also be able to make a short recording of themselves as pirate DJ’s in the exhibition centre on Ha’penny Pier, which has been kindly provided by the Harwich Society. 


There will also be the chance to speak to pirate legends Keith Skues and Dave Cash in “An Audience With The Pirates” which will be staged in the historic Electric Palace Cinema just yards from the quayside. Videos of footage from those sixties pirate radio days will also be shown.               


If you have any memories to share or any artefacts and memorabilia that might be of use to the exhibition, please contact: tonyradiomiamigo@hotmail.com


For more information about the National Vintage Wireless and Television Museum, contact Tony O’Neil on 07796 280980


For more information about the Electric Palace cinema, contact Colin Crawford on 01255 553333  


For more information about the Harwich Society, contact Bernie Sadler on 01255 503633




Easter Saturday 10 April


9 am – 1 pm – Ray Clark – on 95.3 & 103.5 FM too till 12 noon

1 pm – 4 pm – Steve Scruton

4 pm – 7 pm – Ian Wyatt

7 pm – 10 pm – The Double Decade Show with Tim Gillett

10 pm – 1 am –



Easter Sunday 11 April


1 am – 6 am – Garry Lee    

6 am – 10 am – Ray Clark

10 am – 1 pm -

1 pm – 4 pm – Steve Scruton

4 pm – 7 pm – Ian Wyatt

7 pm – 10 pm – The Double Decade Show with Tim Gillett

10 pm – 1 am -



Easter Monday 12 April – Friday 16 April


1 am – 6 am – Garry Lee (except Friday)    

6 am– 10 am Ray Clark

10 am– 1 pm Dave Cash

1 pm – 4 pm Steve Scruton – on 95.3 & 103.5 FM too

4 pm – 7 pm Ian Wyatt

7 pm – 10 pm The Double Decade Show with Tim Gillett

10 pm– 1 am Keith Skues – across the East   









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