Cowart's Common Room
Radio London

Before the Party, a little story........and a little tribute to all the marvellous fun we have had on this site here together.

A very long time ago, long before most of you were born, before the days of Radio 1, though not before the days of Tony Blackburn, Pirate Radio was born. Radio Caroline became the most famous station but in those early days it wasn't the most popular. For it competed - in the south and east of England anyway - with Radio London. 'Wonderful Radio London' as the jingle had it. Radio London broadcast from a leaky, US second world war minesweeper moored somewhere off the Dogger Bank, or perhaps it was the Goodwin Sands and which had been renamed the MV Galaxy. They played great music in those 1967 days when all music was great and we thought the days would never end and the sun shone and we all felt immortal. It was the Summer of Love.

But the spoilsports in the government introduced a sneaky little Bill making it illegal to service pirate radio ships. And so Wonderful Radio London took the decision to close at 3 o'clock one summer's afternoon. Radio Caroline - always the less conventional of the two stations - stuck two fingers up at the government and carried on, or anyway said that it intended to carry on. No one knew what would happen when the Ministry sent in the Bailiffs.

We were all very sad that day - 14 August 1967. The station closed at 3 o'clock in the afternoon to allow the staff to leave the ship and return on shore before the Bill came into effect at midnight. The final hour of transmission - from 2 to 3pm was an emotional occasion. I remember we were almost in tears as we sat listening. I still have the tape somewhere in the attic. The final record played apparently was the Beatles 'A Day in the Life' - the last track from the Sgt Pepper album, though I could have sworn it was 'All You Need is Love.' Anyway, shortly after 3 o'clock there was a click and then silence. Wonderful Radio London had gone.

After Radio London closed, the MV Galaxy was taken to Germany and there after a 12 year interval it was sunk in Kiel Harbour, to make an artificial reef, its 212 foot radio mast still valiantly intact and erect, still broadcasting for all I know.

There was some compensation, I suppose. Despite what they had announced no one really knew what Radio Caroline would do. We gathered around the radio again to listen as midnight approached. I have the tape of that occasion somewhere too. And then came the midnight hour and the chimes, and to great applause the music went on.

Life went on of course. And so did the music. Kenny Everett went to Radio 1 which rose with Government and BBC blessing out of that storm-tossed music revolution. But things were never quite the same. Here anyway are both Radio London songs. Enjoy them.

Posted at 20th Apr 2011 - 09:59AM   Posted by Fennie   Radio London Comments: 7

Westerwitch's Avatar There is a lovely film about Radio Caroline called The Boat That Rocked

Posted by: Westerwitch on 20th Apr 2011 at 10:21AM

Fennie's Avatar Yes, but I haven't been to see it. Maybe it will come around again.
Those were the days. LaughingLaughingLaughingLaughing

'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven' -
does every generation feel like this?

Posted by: Fennie on 20th Apr 2011 at 10:50AM

Faith's Avatar I doubt the generation of young people in their teens and twenties in 1914 felt itSad

Posted by: Faith on 20th Apr 2011 at 11:13AM

Camilla's Avatar Ah, Fennie, that takes me back, I was 19 then, and such happy happy days in London.

Posted by: Camilla on 20th Apr 2011 at 11:19AM

Fennie's Avatar Do you remember Radio London, Camilla? Doesn't seem long ago.
Those were the days, my friend!


Posted by: Fennie on 20th Apr 2011 at 11:30AM

Camilla's Avatar Yes, remember Radio London Fennie. Still have fond memories.

Posted by: Camilla on 20th Apr 2011 at 11:47AM

Tiggywinkle's Avatar It was a great time, and I was living in London at the time. Such memories. The owner of Radio Caroline is my best friend's brother. I remember meeting Marianne Faithfull at some Radio Caroline bash. There have been several films made about Radio Caroline, and I think there is a museum somewhere. He still lives in London.

Posted by: Tiggywinkle on 20th Apr 2011 at 07:36PM

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