TopFoto / Retronaut /

By Mark McConville


REMARKABLE images have offered a glimpse behind the scenes at pirate radio station Radio Caroline in the 1960s.

Stunning shots show Disc jockeys and crewmen of the pirate radio station Radio Caroline North pictured aboard their vessel anchored four miles of Ramsey, Isle of Man, Pop singer Twinkle braves the wind and spray on board the pirate radio ship and Radio Caroline DJ Simon Dee during his show.

TopFoto / Retronaut /

Other incredible pictures show it wasn’t always fun and games as the pirate radio station is shown in Frinton, Essex after running aground following heavy storms, the pop pirates in jovial mood after Walton police station after being rescued and live pigeons and chickens running on the deck of the ship.

In Europe, Denmark had the first known radio station in the world to broadcast commercial radio from a vessel in international waters without permission from the authorities in the country that it broadcast to.

The station was named Radio Mercur and began transmission on August 2, 1958. In the Danish newspapers it was soon called a “pirate radio”.

Encouraged by Scandinavian and Dutch pirates, in February 1964 Ronan O’Rahilly obtained the 702-ton former Danish passenger ferry, Fredericia, which was converted into a radio ship at the Irish port of Greenore, owned by O’Rahilly’s father.

Pirate queens 25th anniversary, Radio Caroline celebrates today with disc jockey Simon Dee. 8 April 1964. TopFoto / Retronaut /

The Irish musician, manager and businessman started Radio Caroline after he failed to obtain airplay on Radio Luxembourg for Georgie Fame’s records because it was committed to sponsored programmes promoting major record labels; EMI, Decca, Pye and Philips.

Financial backing for the venture came from six investors, including John Sheffield, chairman of Norcross, Carl “Jimmy” Ross of Ross Foods, Jocelyn Stevens of Queen Magazine, with which Radio Caroline shared its first office.

Back on land again , the pop pirates of the ship Radio Caroline in a jovial mood at Walton police station after they had been rescued from the ship in heavy seas . 20th January 1966. TopFoto / Retronaut /

O’Rahilly named the station after Caroline Kennedy, daughter of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. On a fund-raising trip to the US, O’Rahilly reportedly saw a Life Magazine photograph of Kennedy and his children in the Oval Office that served as the inspiration for the name “Caroline Radio”.

Unlicensed by any government for most of its early life, it was a pirate radio station that never actually became illegal, although after the Marine Offences Act (1967) it became illegal for a British subject to associate with it.

Pop singer Twinkle braves the wind and spray with pirate radio station ” Good Guys ” ( left to right ) Keith Skues, Bryan Vaughan and Don Allen , all disc jockeys, to take the tender out yesterday to Radio Caroline moored off the English coast, for a champagne celebration launching the station’s ” Good Guys ” project . Radio Caroline’s record-spinning ” Good Guys ” will go out of their way to encourage good will and courtesy in all their broadcasts and appearances, and will present many big-prize competitions and new programmes on the air. The idea for ” Good Guys ” , who have the distinctive uniform – comes from America where it encouraged and backed Jack Spector of the ” WMCA ” station. 25 May 1965. TopFoto / Retronaut /

The Radio Caroline name was used to broadcast from international waters, using five different ships of three different owners, from 1964 to 1990, and via satellite from 1998 to 2013. Since 19 August 2000, Radio Caroline has also broadcast 24 hours a day via the internet and by the occasional restricted service licence.