Radio 270




It was in November 1965 that a group of Northern businessmen got together, the purpose to set up an offshore commercial radio station. After six months of planning it was hoped to start on 1st April 1966. A Dutch fishing vessel, Oceaan VII was purchased and arrived in Scarborough on 26th February 1966 and within hours work had started to convert her into a radio station. The opening had to be cancelled as vital parts had not arrived from America, and the following day, 2nd April 1966 at 9.00am a force seven gale and heavy seas caused 100 feet of the mast to collapse. With her propeller fouled a distress call was put out, but was cancelled after the crew had managed to free the propeller. Two local keel boats, 'Progress' and 'Utilizer' escorted the ship into Scarborough. The opening programme was to have been a prayer for those at sea and a blessing of the ship by Rev. Hedley Pickard.

The rough weather continued for some weeks before the Oceaan VII could be towed to Grimsby by tug for repairs. Transmissions eventually started on 4th June 1966 on 1115kHz (269metres), with a power of 10kW. The station was off the air several times in the first few weeks due to technical problems.
Bad weather in July 1966 put the station off the air again as she was forced to take shelter. On 21st July 1966 the Oceaan VII entered Bridlington for provisions and to repair damage to the aerial. But soon Radio 270 was back on the air.

Drama.

Early in the morning of 28th October 1966, an unstamped letter addessed to Radio 270 arrived at Scarborough post office, as the station had instructed that no unstamped letters would be accepted, it was opened so that it could be returned to the sender. Inside was a printed note, "There is a limpet mine attached to the ship. This is not a hoax". The police were informed of the letter, which had been posted at Foggathorpe near Selby. A hoax was suspected but they decided to inform Radio 270, just in case. A gale prevented the tender from leaving Scarborough and Humber Radio refused to take a radio telephone call because of a ruling forbidding calls to offshore radio stations brought into effect on 9th February 1962.
Wilfred Proudfoot, managing director of the station tried to contact the Postmaster General, but could not contact him. His deputy, who lived near Scarborough got in touch with London, but all they could advise was that the police should ask Humber Radio to allow the call. They agreed, but no reply could be obtained from the radio ship, who because of the ruling, did not keep a permanent radio watch. The station kept on broadwasting unaware of the drama on shore. At 4.20pm consideration was being given to sending out the lifeboat, when the Burmah Oil rig Quest drilling nearby radioed that she had managed to contact the station. The crew searched the ship, but found nothing. Later Mr. Proudfoot left on a coastguard cutter to carry out a fuller inspection. Because of the rough seas they were unable to board the ship, but Captain Hodgson was sure his ship was safe.

At 5.35pm on 3rd November 1966 Humber Radio received a call from the Oceaan VII, "I have seized main shaft bearing and will require tug assistance".
The station was off the air because of this, and unable to pass any messages direct to the owners. She arrived in Scarborough at 8.00pm with the 'Success II' in attendance. Repairs were carried out and within a few days Radio 270 was back on the air. But she still had problems and was off the air later in the month and again in December for a number of days. The anchorage was moved to a more sheltered position off Bridlington.

On 4th August 1967 the Oceaan VII left her anchorage and reappeared on the 13th, her position in that period is unrecorded. Trouble was experienced in supplying power due to jelly fish being sucked into the cooling water intake, causing the equipment to run at the wrong speeds.

In common with most stations Radio 270 decided to close with the Marine Offences Act taking effect. On the afternoon of 14th August 1967 it was intended that the DJs on shore leave would go out so that the entire broadcasting staff would be on board to say goodbye. Rough weather prevented this, and one of the DJs arranged with a friend to have a tape of their farewells flown out. The problem was that he was with the RAF, so when a helicopter appeared over the radio ship at 9.15pm it was a great surprise to all on board. The package was dropped, but was lost in the sea.
Inside was a message telling those on board not to mention the drop as to do so would cause a lot of trouble. But they did not get to read this note, and thanked the 'helicopter boys at Leconfield'. The next day an official enquiry was held as to why the training flight had carried out this unauthorised action. It was reported that the Prime Minister himself called for a report on the case.

The last hour of Radio 270 had to go out with just those on board, and at 11.59pm the station closed. The broadcasting staff were taken off and arrived ashore at 1.00am to be met by a crowd of well-wishers. The ship moved close to shore, and at 3.30pm the next day sailed to Whitby.
After nearly becoming Caroline in 1968, the ship had the mast and broadcasting equiment removed and was offered for sale at 12,500. There were no takers and she was later broken up.

The Oceaan VII was built by A. Vuijk & Zonen of Capelle in 1939, 118 feet long, 179 tons, and the radio mast measured 154 feet. On board was a water distillery unit, the galley was fitted with every modern appliance. The aerial was of the vertical birdcage type, the transmitter a RCA BTA 10J1 with a power of 10kW. Under the wheelhouse the ship's four cylinder 240h.p. engine was run every evening after close down to ensure the ship's capability of sailing under her own power. Two 40h.p. auxilaries drove air compressors, pumps etc., including if necessary an emergency 5kW generator. Two 50 K.V.A. Dale Marine generators supplied all electricity. 6,000gallons of oil were held in the main tank together with two reserves of 650 gallons each. There were two studios on board, one for presenting programmes and one for news.




Do you remember those 'Golden' days of Offshore radio? If you wish to add anything to these pages then please E-Mail me
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