Do You Want to Know a Secret?

Where were all the offshore DJs and staff on August 14th 2017?

Aboard the Tattershall Castle on the Thames, enjoying Offshore 50, of course!

(Below: the Caroline contingent)


What we're gonna do now is go back...way back

Co-Organiser Mary Payne explains how the Offshore 50 reunion came about

It all started in July 2016, with an email received by Jon Myer at the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame, who has been a friend for many years. 'Neddy' Noel Miller (Radio 270) had written from Australia, asking if Jon might be able to arrange some sort of 'Pirate Piss-up' for the 50th Anniversary of the MOA. Over at the Radio London website (which is by no means concerned only with Radio London) Mary and Chris also started receiving enquiries from offshore friends overseas, asking if if it was worthwhile booking a trip to the UK for the following summer.

Jon suggested to us that we might be able to arrange something for offshore broadcasters and staff (aka 'Wets') if we could find the right pub. From the outset, guests told us that they would favour a London venue and would prefer a private function. We were already meeting Jon and other friends regularly for drinks on the Tattershall Castle (Tatty), but never considered it possible that we would be able to book part of the ship as our venue.

The next month, we convened on the Tatty to discuss ideas for commemorating August 14th 1967, roping in Alan Hardy, our friend since 1966. Alan's an offshore enthusiast and experienced broadcaster of many years' standing. Also involved was Ray Clark, who broadcast on Radio Caroline in her later years and has written a book on Caroline's history. Ray had participated in previous Pirate BBC Essex recreations and he currently presents programmes on both BBC Essex and the present incarnation of Caroline.

After the five of us had met, come up with suggestions and suggested plans as to what we might do to commemorate the 50th Anniversary, the meeting had broken up and it was just Chris and me left. He disappeared off to the bar and didn't come back for some time. When Chris returned he told me had enjoyed a long chat with the Tatty's Event Manager, Emanuela. He had explained all about what we were planning and why and Emanuela was very enthusiastic about the idea. They had pencilled in a booking for the ship's function room, The Stateroom, for Monday August 14th 2017. It seemed a long way away, but suddenly, things were taking off!

Once we and Jon (left of photo with Guy Hamilton) set about making enquiries as to how much interest there would be from Wets for the function and the venue, we were astonished at the immediate and enthusiastic response from all over the world. We had a limited-capacity private room and it seemed that virtually everyone wanted to come! Our reunion had to be kept strictly under wraps, as we were not going to be able to accommodate gatecrashers.

We decided on the name Offshore 50 and compiled an Official Invitation, which we despatched in early February 2017 to everyone involved in Sixties offshore radio for whom we had contact details – broadcasters, engineers, office staff, et al. The response form was designed to allow anyone who was unsure of their exact plans, but hoped to be there, to be added to the guest list and send their confirmation later.

I was working on the Offshore 50 logo and we were liaising with both Radio Caroline and BBC Essex. At this stage, neither station had any concrete plans in place for the 50th commemoration, while Offshore 50 was full steam ahead.

Ray Clark decided he wanted to be aboard Caroline's Ross Revenge (which was after all, the ship from which he had broadcast as a pirate) and would have to miss Offshore 50.

Finally, we were able to reveal our secret to our friends and ask for their assistance, which they gave willingly. Alan Field, John Sales, Pauline and Dave Miller, Jenny Royal and Dave Rimell gave us sterling support. Sylvan Mason kindly agreed to be our Official Photographer, Jackie and Chris Dannatt brought part of their Flashback exhibition (if only we'd had room to display more of it). Inge and Ben Meijering travelled from the Netherlands to ensure that we had a video recording of this special day, while journalist Stewart Payne handled press enquiries. Paul Rowley spent all day on the Tatty's bridge, delivering reports to BBC local radio stations across the UK. Paul managed to complete 54 separate broadcasts across the day and enjoyed every minute of it!

We are very grateful to all our assistants and to Emanuela, for being tremendously helpful and supportive to us and our ship-load of pirates.

Our only regret as Organisers is that it proved impossible to talk to each and every one of our guests. From the feedback we have received, we believe that those who travelled from far afield have now decided that it was indeed worth their while!

To misquote the song, "our secret is no secret anymore".

Mary Payne – August 2017
pp Mary and Chris Payne, Jon Myer and Alan Hardy

Chris and Mary
Alan

Our photographers on these Photoreport pages are Sylvan Mason, Inge Meijering, Guy Hamilton,
Martin van der Ven, Hans Knot, Mary Payne and Mark West (Wesley)

OFFSHORE 50 TEESHIRTS AVAILABLE HERE