Marine Offences Bill – 14th August 1967 by Andre Martin

Andre Martin…. Thought for today – For those who remember – today say the end of many of the off-shore radio stations, under the Marine Offences Bill – 14 August 1967 was the date and our choice of music supplier was restricted by Government Application of the Law – a sad day. Would radio in this country have been any better if Radio Caroline, London etc had been given broadcasting licences and allowed on land !- Big L closed down at 3.00pm but Radio Caroline kept going. Here are some memories from the Big L Final Day.

Graham How… Without doubt, the pirates changed UK radio for ever. Even Harold Wilson and Tony Benn with their heavy-handed, suspect legal actions could not stop the public demanding an end to the restrictive (and very dull) practices within the BBC. Even though it did take quite a few more years before the MU’s ridiculous needle time restrictions were finally squashed.

Jim Breeds… One of the few things I have never been able to forgive Tony Benn for doing. I was a member of the Free Radio Association and other pressure groups. I had the magazines and posters that I had in my bedroom window (“Make Wilson Walk The Plank” poster was my favourite). My bedroom window was at the back of the house so only me and our two immediate neighbours could see them, but it was the thought that counted. Dad wouldn’t let me put it in the front windows because (a) it’s about that awful music you play on that transistor radio, and (b) the police will come to arrest us. AT least Caroline defied the Act and Radio Nordsea was great to listen too as well, and we got Radio 1 out of it too, followed eventually by an Act of parliament that opened up commercial radio. I could just about pick up Capital Radio when it started broadcasting to London by using my mum’s metal washing line as an external antenna for my tranni. It was a good station in those days too, playing progressive and underground as much as pop. It’s crap now of course. I had loads of FRA magazines, posters, and stickers and pin badges. I think my Mum must have thrown them out years later when I was working in London. Also another organisation I joined to fight for Free Radio (can’t remember the name) published great little magazines monthly and I still remember reading about their newest discovery – a band that had just started gigging and was hoping to get a recording contract. They were called Deep Purple.

Cathy Knight… I used to Listen under my bed Covers on my Which Would now be a Retro Transistor Radio 📻 to Radio London … I Could not pick up Caroline …!!!

Jaffa Peckham… Did anyone, like me, listen to this closing down show live? I was an avid Radio London listener and was staying with a French family when they broadcast it. There was a radio and pinball (‘flipper’) machine in their cellar amongst the wine, the junk and hung garlic. I spent happy hours down there during my stay listening to Big L, but the last show brought a year to my eye. 🥲 (Could have been the garlic, I suppose!) x

Radio London Is Now Closing Down – 14th August 1967

Andre Martin…  This happened  today 14th August 1967 at precisely 3.00pm, the airwaves on 266 Radio London ceased forever. What were you doing when this happened ?

Nick Prince… The bill responsible for the demise of pirate radio was called the Marine Offences Act (1967) as well as several similar names such as the Marine, Broadcasting (offences) Act (1967). Tony Benn was the Postmaster General at the time and it was he that oversaw the banning of pirate radio in the UK. His act replaced the British Wireless Telegraphy Act (1949). This earlier act was put in place to prevent European broadcasters from broadcasting English services to the UK from other countries. Radio Luxembourg and Radio Eireann owned by RTL and RTE respective were quite legally licenced from their own countries and got their signals to the UK by using high power transmitters. Try as they did, the British government could not stop these two. Also in 1965, plans for a pirate broadcaster by the name of Radio Channel were announced in the national press. This was to start test transmissions from the MV Laissez Faire between Bexhill and Beachy Head.To my knowledge these test transmissions never took place but the MV Laissez Faire became home to the twin stations Swinging Radio England and Britain Radio soon after. Maybe someone can shed more light on Radio Channel.

Jim Breeds… What I was doing was listening to the closedown. I was a member of a number of organisations opposed to the MO Act (I still have a copy of it somewhere) including the Free Radio Association and others. I so wish I still had all the newsletters they sent me! And button badges. And my “Make Wilson Walk The Plank” poster that Dad wouldn’t let me put in the front window because, he said, the police would arrest him! So it went in my bedroom window instead where only the neighbours could see it when they were in their back gardens, lol.

Geoff Peckham…  I was too young to understand the politics behind their demise. I just loved Radio London and was staying with a French family when it closed down. I listened to Big L’s final broadcast in the cellar playing pinball among strings of garlic and onions. I got really upset when they played the closing music.

Dave Nattress… I remember so many of the “Pirates” well. In the mid-sixties I went on a caravan holiday to Herne Bay,right on the Thames estuary of course and close therefore to several stations. Herne Bay; we knew how to live!! Anyway, I had a tiny, tinny, transistor that picked up the local pirates including of course Radio London, Radio Caroline and Radio City? One I think broadcast from a “Sea-fort” in the estuary. I think there was also another Pirate way up in the Irish Sea somewhere – beyond the 12 mile limit – would it be Radio 275 or something like? I’m going from memory – I haven’t researched any of this but I dare say, all things are on the web now. If it wasn’t the Pirates it was just Radio Luxembourg from about 7.00 pm until early the next morning, or…the BBC Light Programme! All on the Medium Wave of course and pretty poor reception generally. Lots of French interference – so nothing’s changed there then!

Joe Knight… Remember

Jeff Belton… Thought Radio London was still going in the 1980’s ?

Radio London – started 50 years ago 6.00hrs 23rd December 1964.


Andre Palfrey-martin collection

Andre Martin… Forgot to mention – 50 years ago this morning at 06.00hrs 23rd December 1964, Radio London BIG L started transmission to the South-East. Another Christmas present for us all.

Mick O’Dowd… Wonderful Radio London! BIG L!

Will Cornell… I told Alan about this one time, but Ed Wallace, a local radio personality here in Dallas did a special segment one morning on his “Wheels” car talk automotive news show. He detailed the whole history of “Radio London” and how a local Dallas car dealer in the early ’60s saw how successful local station KLIF was….KLIF was one of the first “top 40” format stations in the US. This car dealer took a vacation to London and noticed there was no station playing that format in spite of the huge amounts of great talent coming from the UK (and Europe). Because of BBC-government ties and red tape, there could be no station set up on British soil, so he bought this boat (prob. the one above), set up transmitting equipment on board, and enabled our British brethern and sistern to hear the kind of radio they really wanted to hear. I wish Ed Wallace had kept an MP3 of this broadcast to be accessed on the KLIF site or his own, but no such luck. Many recording studios locally here in the DFW area continuted years later to specialize in broadcast jingles by the way.

Andre Martin… Excellent information, thank you – will archive for future reference. Some might enjoy this.

Andy Qunta…  that takes me back! Excellent!

Alan Esdaile… The Jingles sound great and bring back lots of memories.

Will Cornell… To this day, whether I want to hear what Radio London sounded like….or for that matter what that top 40 format sounded like here (maniacal djs, tons of reverb in their voices talking 90mph, commercials and songs running into eachother, NO dead air at all, and everything from the Supremes, to Johnny Cash, to the Byrds, Petula Clark, in otherwords, anything and everything that was selling at the time regardless of genre or “market”…I just listen to “The Who Sell Out”. I have a msg to Ed Wallace to see if he can provide the audio link or transcript to that show I was talking about, if so I’ll get it over to SMART.

Jim Hobbs… Yea, but was it as good as Arrow FM? … I joke, of course!

John Storer…  No idea now how I discovered Radio London (presume one of the older kids on our estate in Ore told me) but it was definitely the station that kick-started my enduring obsession with listening to music. Have a clear recollection of a lovely summer’s day when on holiday at my Nan’s in Eltham and laying on the grass outside with several of the local kids and us all listening to Radio London on my uncle’s transistor radio. It was always Radio London for me, never Caroline. Also remember a house up on The Ridge that had a huge placard in their front garden which read “Kill the Marine Broadcasting (Offences) Bill”