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The DJ pirates of the Irish Sea
The Caroline DJ's meet their fans in September 1967
The Caroline DJ's meet their Manx fans in September 1967

When Radio Caroline was disbanded following the Marine Offences Act there was heartbreak among listeners.

Before Caroline, radio broadcasting was dominated by the BBC and pop music was only played for one hour a week.

Then along came pop entrepreneur, Ronan O'Rahilly who, unable to get his artists played on the BBC, set up this own pirate operation.

Caroline captured the hearts of the nation and gathered a listenership of approximately four million people.

Radio Caroline was a revelation because it played pop music all day and it quickly built up a devoted listenership across northern England and Ireland.

The competitions were also legendary. One lady in Wales won £4000 in 1967, a substantial sum which would have easily bought a house at the time.

Image courtesy Manx National Heritage
The Rolling Stones arrive in the Isle of Man on their way to Caroline

There were no "phone-ins" in those days so everyone who wanted to enter a competition had to send in a token from advertisers packaging.

Dedicated postal staff

Radio Caroline's postal address in the Isle of Man was PO Box 3 and it became the most written to address in the north west of Britain at that time.

The Isle of Man Post Office needed dedicated staff to handle the volume of mail flooding into the station.

The DJs were big stars and were also well known celebrities on the Island - Tom Lodge compered dances at the Palace Lido and Ray Teret had a boutique, the 'Ugli Bug Boutique' in Douglas.

Other names on the station were -'Daffy' Don Allen, Mick Luvzit (who received about 1000 fan letters a week!), Jerry 'Soopa' Leighton, Tony Prince ('Your Royal Ruler') and Dave Lee Travis.

Married live on air

Many DJs had their own T-shirt designs which fans could buy and many of the top stars of the day including Jimmy Saville and Hermann's Hermits appeared as guests on the station.

Mick Luvzit actually married his girlfriend live on air in 1966 - in the only case of a wedding on an offshore radio station and the first live on air wedding (though the idea has been copied since).

The ship MV Fredericia (renamed MV Caroline) was registered in Panama and so acknowledged Panamanian law.

Image courtesy Manx National Heritage
MV Caroline anchored of Ramsey Harbour in the North of the Isle of Man

Although the captain of the ship performed the wedding ceremony, he had to contact the Panamanian consulate in London to obtain the correct form of words for the ceremony.

The ship MV Caroline was anchored three miles off Ramsey and was tended by vessels from Ramsey which brought the DJs fresh food, water and other supplies.

They also brought special guests out to the ship, including Jimmy Saville, the rolling Stones and the Beatles.

Radio Caroline remains the stuff of legend even after all this time.




SEE ALSO
The Royal Ruler on Radio Caroline
24 Nov 09 |  History
In pictures: The Queen's Pier
20 Nov 09 |  People & Places
Scarlett Point to Buenos Aires
24 Nov 09 |  Arts & Culture
Radio Caroline remembered
13 Aug 08 |  England
Radio Caroline film premiere
23 Mar 09 |  England
Keith Skues aboard Radio Caroline
09 Apr 09 |  TV & Radio
Radio takes to the high seas
31 Mar 09 |  Entertainment
Pirate radio returns to the seas
09 Aug 07 |  Essex
Blackburn on his radio career
24 Sep 07 |  Entertainment
Living the life of a pirate DJ
02 Apr 09 |  TV & Radio

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