Announced wavelength : 355 metres.
The Olga Patricia was built in 1944 at Wheelers Skipyard in New York, as a
landing craft, 167 feet long and 562 tons. After the war she was used as a
cargo vessel and carried back to the U.S.A. bodies of G.I.'s killed in
Korea. At the start of 1966 she moved from the Panama Canal Zone to the
Dodge Island Skipyard at Biscayne Bay, Miami. Here she was fitted out
surrounded by a security screen that would have done credit to the F.B.I.
Visitors were told the ship was being fitted out for oceanographic
research, but one of the men working on the ship told a reporter that he
was a DJ, and had a contract promising him £28.50 per week with free food
and board. A press conference in London on 20th April 1966 revealed that
two radio stations were to start broadcasting from the ship in a week or
so. Transmissions were due to start on 30th April 1966, but the ship had
still not arrived at her anchorage.
Location : On board the Olga Patricia, later renamed Laissez Faire,
anchored in international waters off Walton on the Naze.
Owners : Peir - Vick Ltd, 17 Berkeley Street, London W1
Address : Britain Radio, 32 Curzon Street, London W1.
Tel : Mayfair 3742.
Hours of transmission : 24 hours, later 6.00am to Midnight.
The first test broadcasts went out on 3rd May 1966, but if the ship had in
fact arrived at her anchorage or not cannot be discovered. These tests were
on 1320kHz (227 metres) with a power of 55kW, from the Continental
Electronics transmitter. Tests were spasmodic to start with and trouble was
experienced with the equipment. At the start of June the station, together
with its sister station, Radio England, had received more than 300 letters
regarding the tests. On 3rd June 1966 a transformer failed and a new one
had to be obtained from Dallas. This same day Italy complained about
interference being caused to Rome II by Radio England, and once the
transmitter was repaired the stations swopped frequencies. Britain Radio
was now on 845kHz (355metres), but because of the complaint transmitter
power in the evening was reduced to less than a quarter of its daytime
On 19th July 1966 it was announced that both Britain Radio and Radio
England had applied for licences to broadcast from land. Needless to say one
was not granted. The Olga Patricia dragged her mooring on 4th September
1966, one mile or so towards Harwich, Walton lifeboat in the area on
another call made sure that all was well. History was made on 29th
September 1966 by M.M. McLaren, the Ratepayers candidate in a by-election
for Harwich Town Council, when he advertised on the stations, but the
legality of the broascast was doubtful. If the broadcast had any effect
will never be known, but he won by 260 votes.
Although popular, Britain Radio did not attract the audience it had hoped
to lure away from Radio 390, being too brash in its presentation while
still trying to be relaxed. As a consequence the station closed down on
22th February 1967, around this time a gale caused damage to the 210 feet
high mast which needed a trip to Amsterdam for repairs. The station was
replaced by Radio 355.
Do you remember those 'Golden' days of Offshore radio? If you wish to add anything
to these pages then please
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