In Early 1999, the heart of Radio Caroline was once more massaged back to life by her stalwart supporters. At that time airtime was restricted to just 8am to 9pm Saturday, and 8am to 9pm Sunday every weekend using cacapcity which had been vacated by European Klassik Rock. However from small seeds big things grow, and within a year the listener funded programmes were running 7 days a week.
Meanwhile, the Ross Revenge had undergone a major paint job, and was to be proudly displayed on the end of Southend Peir for the summer season. Volunteers from Carolines large circle of friends and supporters were called upon and pressed into service as tour guides, cooks, painters and toilet repairers!
The ship was towed across the Thames to the peir in the evening on 22 June and within a few days a gangplank had been installed, shoreside electricty connected and was officially declared open to visitors.
Above (L-R): An evening low tide and you could almost swim out to the ship; A firey sunset along the River Swale and Dungeness Power Station!
A few days later, and the Ross is firmly attached to Southend pier, where she was open to the public to give a taste of what life was like onboard the worlds most famous radio ship.
Onboard the Ross life goes on, even though several hundred people a day are visiting the ship.
On Monday 9th August, the Mayor of Southend, Cllr Tony North paid an official visit to the Ross Revenge where he was shown round by station manager, Peter Moore, then spent a while meeting the volunteer crew.
The Flint Cross Motel near Cambridge was the scene for Carolines Christmas bash on 18th December 1999. It was said by many to be one of the best attended events so far - many supporters, new and old came along, no doubt inspired by the successful summer in Southend and the regular satellite broadcasts.
Meanwhile, in Maidstone the weekend satellite programmes continue to attract new listeners and supporters. Here are Dave Foster and Johnny Lewis doing their thing in the orignal satellite studio, with the Alice 828 desk.
In 2000, two significant events marked Carolines year. The Supporters Convention of 12 August in Gilligham was well attended, and provided a focal point for everyone to get together. Just one week later, on the 19th of August, a 600 Kilowatt test transmission took place on 1296Khz AM, to test daytime recption into mainland Europe.
The convention was held in the King Charles Hotel, Gillingham, Kent - just a few miles from the Ross Revenge at Queenborough - tours of the ship were available the following day. It was generally accepted as being one of the best attended and star packed offshore radio conventions for many years - here are a small selection of photographs of the day proceedings.
Bob Le Roi and Bob "Buzby" Lawrence
Bob Le Roi with Mike Barrington
Bob Le Roi and Kevin Turner
Johnny "The Lad" Lewis enjoys a pint while Bob chats with Dave The Fish.
Bob, Johnny and Dave again
Nigel Harris and Dave "Fozzey" Foster
The following weekend, 19th August, saw the Dutch arm of the support group hold their own convention onboard the M.V. Norderney, home to Radio Veronica from 1960-1974 in Leeuwarden. The ship has been used for many years as a floating nightclub. This event was arranged to demonstrate the potential for international broadcasting in the new millenium when the normal satellite programmes were relayed on 1296Khz using 600kw of radiated power from the BBC worldservice site at Orfordness. This transmitter is now operated by Merlin Communications, and its radiation pattern did not cover far into the UK, but it provided a very strong signal throughout Holland, Belgium, Northern Germany and France. Nearly 1000 reception reports were received for these broadcasts, proving that the station can still pull a large and enthusiastic audience. Funds and investors permitting, Caroline could use this facility permanently for Europe-wide broadcasts.
Meanwhile, back on the ship......
To some the year 2000 may have been the year of the Donkey or of the Cat, but to Caroline it was the year of the Generator! A new economical 4-cyl Perkins with brand new 20Kva alternator was finally brought into life over the Easter weekend, and since then has been the ships main power source and proven to be 100% dependable. This has taken much pressure off the well used "deck" Perkins, which is now used only when its extra power is required, eg. for the electric welder or various pumps and motors. Down in the hold, the port side broadcast MAN 6 cyl has been brought back into life for the first time since the early 90's, although it still requires a few minor adjustments to its fuel supply system. The injection pump, starter and water pumps for this unit were cannibalised from the starboard MAN, which having flawlessly powered Southend pier last summer, subsequently failed in a shower of sparks and flames when next fired up during the winter. The failure is thought to be due to a major collapse of the rear alternator bearing which deposited metal fragments into the windings thus causing a short circuit. This 250Kva alternator will need rebuilding before this generator can be used again.
Left: The new Perkins Diesel awaiting install; Right: The old Combine Harvester genny.
The new Perkins is located in the position in the hold vacated by the former "combine harvester" generator which expired a few years ago. The Monster V12 MAN which was put onboard before the mast collapse in 1987 but never used in earnest has also been brought back into life. This unit was disconnected and isolated a few years ago when a potential buyer came forward, however, this plan fell through and the set has lain unused since then. It's electrics were overhauled and reconnected, 10 gallons of fresh oil were poured into it, and it was fired up for a few brief minutes. At that time for technical reasons it could not power the ship, but this problem has since been rectified.
Left: The new Perkins being lowered into position by Peter and Paul; Right: The Perkins powers the ship a few weeks later.
Left: The portside MAN 6, rebuilt and running for the first time since Dover; Right: The Monster V12 MAN, once again ready for action, and awaiting a clean coat of paint.
A new set of lighting batteries, rescued from a defunct fork-lift truck now enables the DC emergency lighting system to be operated throughout the night, thus saving fuel on the generators. The emergency lighting system had fallen into disrepair for a few years, but in 2000 and 2001 it has been thoroughly rebuilt, and extended into parts of the ship it previously did not extend to, such as the trasnsmitter and generator rooms, and the bridge and upstairs cabins.
Meanwhile in the engine room, the ships 30KW DC 3 cylinder MWN "harbour" generator has been fitted with new pipework with a view to using this as an emergency standby lighting generator. This set is not thought to have run for perhaps 15 years. An added advantage of this generator is that its cooling water can be pumped through the ships central heating system.
Above: Two views of the new pipework being fitted into the tight cramped space under the engine rooms plates. The grey and green pipes are new - imagine what the old ones looked like.
And speaking of the engine room...... Whilst the ship has spent a few quiet summers in Queenborough, the engineering crew have been spending their weekends down in the bowels of the engine room. The lack of visitors on the scale of Southend, and the availability of the crew have prompted some much overdue work in the engine room. Under the floor plates are a multitude of pipes: fresh water, salt water, fuel, lubrication, hydraulics, and trawling functions such as Cod liver oil, refrigeration, etc. Although some of these are now surplus, many are still essential for the ship. The crew were busy identifying and removing the unused ones, cleaning up and restoring the valves on the essential ones, and where necessary, replacing these with brand new lines. Many of these pipes date back 40 years and have received no attention at all for the last 18 years. It sounds like a simple job, but steel pipes, 150mm (6 inch) in diameter, several metres long are not easy to work on. Especially when they have to be cut and welded to size on the deck, then manhandled into the bottom of the engine room to fit into an exact space. Many knuckles were scraped, fingers squashed, and welding rods burnt, but after 18 months of work, the ship once more contains solid top quality marine grade pipework for the essential services. With this completed, the main engine will have clean and reliable feeds of water, oil and hydraulics - just one more step along the road of making her run again.
During the pipework period, the crew took a few weekends out to install the new galley, which was kindly donated by our friends in the Dutch support group. The old galley, which, after many years of damp and neglect was in very poor condition and was pulled out in one evening. The remainder of that weekend was spent installing the basics of the new galley. Further weekends were spent finishing off the fitting, and paying attention to the detail. The ship now has a first class galley, with a new oven and hob, as well as the original cooker and about 4 times as much work surface to make catering for large numbers of hungry people much easier.
Whilst all this work has been going on around the ship, the electrical team have been busy re-wiring large parts of the ships AC electrical system. A number of new lights have been donated to us, and many of these have been fitted in areas which were previously poorly lit. Adequate lighting in the port and starboard forepeak areas means these can be efficiently used as storage and work areas and not just junk rooms. The portside has been fitted out as a pipe fitting workshop, with a threading and cutting machine, ventilation system and welding plant. Power point circuits have been completely rewired in the forepeaks, generator room, transmitter room and engine room. All these areas are now fitted with UK three pin plugs, correctly fused, and safety is ensured through the use of earth leakage reisdual current breakers on all sockets.
During the latter half of 2002, work has started on overhauling the main engine, and attending to some of the minor faults it has known to suffer from for the past decade. A full description of the engine works will appear on the engine page shortly.
Thanks to the genorosity of supporters, both long term and new members, and the enthusiasm shown by visitors to the ship, the restoration and rennovation work will continue at good pace. We are always pleased to welcome visitors on board, and show how our supporters money is being spent. For further details of the next public viewing times on the ship, please contact the email addresses shown at the bottom of this page, or make contact with the head office in London, as detailed on the Radio Caroline Official website, www.radiocaroline.co.uk. Thank you for your continuing support.
Caroline is always on the lookout for materials to improve her home with. It is sad that engineering items which are either rusting away in a scrapyard, or just thrown away could be put to good use on the ship and save the organisation a fortune in buying new parts. Items particularly in demand include mechanical and electrical items such as the following:
[Electrical items first]
1500mm (5 foot) T8 flourescent tubes, fittings and complete assemblies, especially enclosed weatherproof types;
Compact low-energy flourescent lamps, both ES and BC fitting;
Conventional light bulbs, of either 40 or 60 watts, both ES and BC fitting;
Metal clad fixtures such as sockets and switches of quality make;
Wire-armoured power cable, of any length or type, but especially 2 core 2.5mm. Also glands, fittings and accessories;
Single and 3 phase mains panels, metal cased of quality make;
Minature Circuit Breakers, RCD's and similar;
[And mechanical items]
3 inch internal diameter steel (weldable) pipework;
Bends, 90, 60 and 45 degrees for above;
Gate valves, flanges and other fittings for above.
All kinds of various diameter hose, especially fuel/oil resistant types;
Welding rod's for arc welder;
Paint of all colours!
Protective undercoat - red oxide or zinc phosphate.
Steel stock materials - bars, rods, brackets;
If you can help with any of the above, Caroline may be able to arrange collection from around the country, or smaller items can be posted to Caroline Support Group, 426 Archway Road, Highgate, London, N6 4JH.
Please E-Mail in the first instance to caroline[at]radio.fm or ship[at]rossrevenge.co.uk
Swale and Queenborough Harbour
Medway Ports Authority
Email to : ship[at]rossrevenge.co.uk - replace the [at] with an "@" !