Crowds get nostalgic in Harwich as veteran radio pirates mark 50th anniversary of station shutdowns

Pirate radio event in Harwich. The broadcast is taking place from the LV18 Lightvessel on Harwich Qu

Pirate radio event in Harwich. The broadcast is taking place from the LV18 Lightvessel on Harwich Quay, featuring broadcasters Johnny Walker and Ray Clark under the banner Pirate BBC Essex. Pictured is Roger Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

More than 1,000 people visited Ha’Penny Pier, in Harwich, this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the shutdown of pirate radio.

Pirate radio event in Harwich. The broadcast is taking place from the LV18 Lightvessel on Harwich Qu

Pirate radio event in Harwich. The broadcast is taking place from the LV18 Lightvessel on Harwich Quay, featuring broadcasters Johnny Walker and Ray Clark under the banner Pirate BBC Essex. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Pirate BBC Essex welcomed veteran broadcasters Johnny Walker, Roger Day and Keith Skues to the LV18 studio from August 12 to yesterday, as well as Ray Clark, Tom Edwards and Norman St John.

The event was held to celebrate the broadcasters who revolutionised pop music in the 1960s, and to mark the anniversary of the Marine Offences Act which shut down all but one of the pirate radio stations in 1967.

“It has gone brilliantly,” Paul Turvey, who helped put the event together, said.

“The act meant that at 3pm on August 14, 1967, Radio London, which was being broadcast off a ship off Frinton, closed down because they did not want to be broadcasting illegally.

Pirate radio event in Harwich. The broadcast is taking place from the LV18 Lightvessel on Harwich Qu

Pirate radio event in Harwich. The broadcast is taking place from the LV18 Lightvessel on Harwich Quay, featuring broadcasters Johnny Walker and Ray Clark under the banner Pirate BBC Essex. The pirate vessel fills the air with sounds. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“Fifty years on, everybody came together to say we have to mark this, but not because it was a joyful occasion - it was actually quite sorrowful. This is a way of appreciating what everyone did and what was lost at the time.”

The event saw the veteran broadcasters take to the airwaves, as well as an exhibition featuring recently discovered photographs from pirate radio ships including Galaxy, or Radio London, and Amigo – Radio Caroline.

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Mr Turvey added: “For a lot of people who come to see us they were radio listeners themselves. They were children at the time and the teens and 20-year-olds listening to the pirate radio, as the BBC would only broadcast pop music three hours a week.

“The pirates were playing it all the time and in 1967 [when they were shut down] it really hit them hard and if we can put the public back in touch with the original DJs, it reconnects them to their youth.”

This is the fourth time BBC Essex has hosted a radio event of this kind in Harwich, but is likely to have been its last.

The event was also a time for remembering Dave Cash – a 1960s radio pirate whose ashes were scattered at sea, live on air.

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