Canewdon and Pirate Radio in 1970

We know that someone recently discovered onlinefocus when they were looking for information about the history of Canewdon. So, for that person, here’s a website that explains how Canewdon gained national attention in 1970 because of the jamming of pirate radio from there …..

The situation changed dramatically when the Government suddenly announced that a General Election was to be held on June 18th. On Election eve I listened during the evening, when?.WHAM! A colossal new “jammer” was switched on completely blocking 244 metres…

…Throughout the following day (June 18) it was switched on and off spasmodically,but it did not really get going in earnest until the weekend. Four days were to elapse before free radio supporters tracked down its location, it was eventually found by a friend of mine, Chris McCarthy of Westcliff-on-Sea. He phoned me at 2 p.m. on Sunday June 21st and told me he had traced it with the aid of a DF set to the old Battle of Britain radar station at Canewdon, near Southend Airport…..

Early next morning (Monday June 22nd) I contacted the Rayleigh office of Bernard Braine, M.P. to inform him that the Socialist- instigated “jamming” of R.N.I. was now being conducted from his constituency. I was told that nothing was known about it and that I was the first person to report the matter. Many others were to do so during the week ahead! As a direct result of our complaints Mr. Braine sent the following message, dated June 25th, to the newly appointed Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Mr. Christopher Chataway, it read:

“Many of my constituents especially in the Rochford, Wakering and Canewdon area are complaining that as a result of the jamming of Radio Northsea broadcasts ordered by the late Labour Government, there is serious interference with the reception of normal B.B.C. programmes. There is also much resentment of this interference with the freedom of the individual. I would request, therefore, that you order the cessation of jamming forthwith, and in any event, investigate the complaints of interference with normal reception. I would hope that you could make an early statement as to the intention to provide for free enterprise radio being brought within the law.”

This brought prompt action, and Canewden ceased to be used for “jamming” purposes after June 29th. We must not overlook the part played by our two local papers, the “Southend Standard” and “Evening Echo”, in getting Canewdon closed down, their forcefully expressed condemnations must have been a contributory factor.

Radio Caroline had attempted to influence the outcome of the election by broadcasting anti Labour and pro Conservative propaganda. During the run up to the Election a big rally was held in London.

Another website here gives a choice of original Radio Caroline recordings to listen to (including jamming!) . Such as this piece on the day after the election.

  • Don’t forget that the jamming was not because Radio North Sea was broadcasting political messages. It was the other way round. The jamming started in April 1970 in various forms and from various locations, as a result of which the political messages started around the start of June 1970. History should not be allowed to re-write the order of events.
    My memory is that Canewdon was used only on polling day. A mobile government owned 2MW transmitter was used from land owned by the Marconi company in Canewdon. Before and after that a lower powered jamming transmitter at the Naval base in Rochester was used.