Radio Caroline Hits 50

I’ve no idea who Rob Hadgraft is.  (Apologies for that Mr Hadgraft!)  However, Rob has produced a most interesting blog version of the events of 50 years ago as Radio Caroline was being prepared.  It’s written with quite a lot of knowledge and detail from a behind the scenes perspective.  He updates it every few days so it is sort of running in real time like a diary of events as they unfolded 50 years ago.  A brilliant and interesting read, it starts thus:

Fifty years ago today the lives of millions of British teenagers were about to change forever.

Under a veil of secrecy, a vessel set sail from Greenore in Ireland, organised by a group of mystery men who had an incredible dream – to start a revolution that would turn pop music, youth culture and radio in the UK completely on its head. 

The motor vessel ‘Caroline’, formerly a 700-ton passenger ferry called the Fredericia, was under the command of Captain Baeker and heading round the coast towards East Anglia. It had a remarkable 160-foot tall aerial, which needed 300 tons of concrete ballast below to keep it from toppling over. The ship had been rented from a Swiss company and taken from Rotterdam to Ireland to be secretly fitted out. After months of work it was now ready for its new job.

At 7pm on the evening of Good Friday, 27th March 1964, the vessel took up a position just off the Essex coast near Harwich, a spot carefully calculated to be in international waters, and not in the path of the frequent merchant ships using the busy port. Caroline dropped her two-ton anchor chain and work immediately began on getting a broadcasting signal set up. The waters off Harwich had been chosen as suitable for their equipment to be able to reach most of London and SE England via 199 metres on the medium wave, according to the man who set it up, a former BBC technician called Arthur Carrington.

On board during that evening, shorts tests were carried out. At five minutes to midnight the silence was suddenly broken on 1495 kHz (201 metres) by intermittent crackling and then the song ‘Round Midnight’ – recorded by Hammond organ wizard Jimmy McGriff – could be clearly heard…….. 

Read much more here.