Offshore Radio 50th Anniversary Event

March the 28th 1964 marked an important date for broadcasting in the UK – the launch of offshore radio with Radio Caroline taking to the airwaves. Fifty years on, celebrations took place on the seafront at Walton-on-the Naze, and to mark the event, a group of Essex Hams were invited to operate from the event.

The day’s activities included a helicopter flypast, ringing of the Radio Caroline bell, some faces from Radio Caroline’s past, fireworks, live music and of course, amateur radio. The special event callsign used for the day was GB5OR – Five Decades of Offshore Radio, and here is a small selection of photos from the day.

GB5OR Operations

For operational reasons, the team opted to use a single station for the event – a Yaesu FT857 with an LDG YT-100ATU. The rig was powered by two  7Ah lead-acid batteries, and the antenna used was a 9 metre fishing pole. The station was running at 100 watts on 40m for much of the day, with some contacts made on 20m and 10m when pile-ups subsided. The station was active between 11am and 4:30pm. Operators for the day were Charlie M0PZT, Pete M0PSX, Kristian 2E0SSX, Chris G0IPU, James 2E1GUA and Jim 2E0RMI. Several other amateurs turned up to say hello and catch up with the team.

Charlie M0PZT on GB5OR with the lifeboat in the background
Charlie M0PZT on GB5OR with the lifeboat in the background
Chris G0IPU, active on 40m with GB5OR
Chris G0IPU, active on 40m with GB5OR
Jim 2E0RMI taking his turn on 40m
Jim 2E0RMI taking his turn on 40m
Kristian 2E0SSX, busy on 40m with GB5OR
Kristian 2E0SSX, busy on 40m with GB5OR
Pete M0PSX, working the pileup on 40m
Pete M0PSX, working the pileup on 40m
James 2E1GUA, getting chilly at the end of the day
James 2E1GUA, getting chilly at the end of the day (Pic: Charlie M0PZT)
Chris G0IPU and Pete M0PSX
Chris G0IPU and Pete M0PSX (Pic: Charlie M0PZT)

Following excellent results at a recent RNLI SOS Week event, Peter G3SUY took the opportunity to fly his kite antenna from the Naze Tower, close to the GB5OR station. Due to the distance from the main station, Peter had to use his own callsign, and was able to make some great contacts on top-band. From the main station the kite was just about visible.

Peter G3SUY's kite, to the top right of the Naze Tower
Peter G3SUY’s kite, to the top right of the Naze Tower

50th Anniversary

Quite a crowd gathered during the day to celebrate the launch of UK offshore station Radio Caroline exactly 50 years ago. The event was launched by Radio Caroline fan Paul Barber, better known as Denzil from the BBC’s Only Fools and Horses, followed by a trip to the pier to see some Caroline celebrities arrive by RNLI lifeboat.

Crowds gathering for the start of proceedings
Crowds gathering for the start of proceedings (Pic: Charlie M0PZT)
Kicking off events for the 50th Anniversary at Walton
Kicking off events for the 50th Anniversary at Walton

Highlight of the lunchtime celebrations on the pier was a low flyover by the RAF Sea King helicopter, with the RNLI Lifeboat and Police launch just off the pier.

Radio Caroline Team waving to the RAF Seaking Helicopter
Radio Caroline Team waving to the RAF Seaking Helicopter

The launch took place at midday on the 28th of March 1964, and at midday today, members of the Radio Caroline team rang the Caroline bell from an RNLI lifeboat off Walton Pier, accompanied by some midday fireworks. Here’s Essex Ham’s Jim Salmon 2E0RMI, holding the Caroline bell with skipper Captain Campbell.

Captain Campbell, Jim 2E0RMI and the Radio Caroline bell
Captain Campbell, Jim 2E0RMI and the Radio Caroline bell

Well done to all of the amateurs who turned out to spend time celebrating this historic anniversary – a great day, some great contacts, and lots of fun by the seaside.

BBC News Story

BBC’s Look East team were filming during the day. Here’s the piece broadcast on BBC One. Essex Hams Pete M0PSX and Kris 2E0SSX are briefly in shot, as is Charlie M0PZT’s fishing pole antenna:

Photo Gallery

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar Chris Rolfe 29 March 2014 Reply
  2. Avatar John Bowen, G8DET 29 March 2014 Reply
  3. Avatar roger stafford 29 March 2014 Reply

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