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Model boat recalls Radio London that really made a splash on the air

PUBLISHED: 08:42 28 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:06 28 May 2016

Paul Scripps with his model Radio London ship made for him by a family of model boat builders in France.

Paul Scripps with his model Radio London ship made for him by a family of model boat builders in France.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2016

Her illustrious namesake was a pioneering “pirate” which, from the choppy waters of the North Sea, changed the sound of radio forever.

But this scale model of the MV Galaxy – from which Radio London was broadcast – will be navigating the somewhat gentler surroundings of Diss Mere.

MV Galaxy and Radio London

Originally called USS Density, she served as a minesweeper, seeing action in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945

The ship received three battle starts for service

Decommissioned in 1947, she was later sold to a Greek company as a cargo ship, renamed Manoula

In 1964, she was bought by American businessmen Don Pierson and Tom Danaher who wanted to operate a radio ship off the English coast

Radio London, the Big L or Wonderful Radio London, broadcast from December 16, 1964 to August 14, 1967

MV Galaxy anchored about three miles off Frinton-on-Sea, Essex

Radio London was famed for its jingles, which were new to UK audiences

The station’s novice DJ was 19-year-old Kenny Everett; it also helped launch the careers of Tony Blackburn and John Peel

In 1967, a new law closed the loophole which had allowed the pirates to operate. The last show – Their Final Hour – included farewell messages from Mick Jagger, Dusty Springfield and Cliff Richard

The last song was the station’s theme tune, the “PAMS Sonowaltz”, or Big Lil

The project to assemble the replica has been a labour of love for Paul Scripps, who was only two years old when the pirate station was taken off the airwaves following a change in the law.

From his father, Roy, he inherited an interest in the offshore pirate stations of the mid 1960s – a period affectionately spoofed in the 2009 film The Boat that Rocked. The stations played rock and pop music largely not catered for elsewhere. And by mooring off the coast they could evade broadcasting authorities.

He has had the model built, using the hull of a model torpedo vessel given to him by his father, 40 years ago.

Mr Scripps, 51, said: “I don’t know if I remember listening to Radio London or whether it was the recordings my dad made. My dad was a Radio London fan. And I have always had an interest in offshore radio stations.

The Radio London ship Galaxy off the Essex coast in 1966.The Radio London ship Galaxy off the Essex coast in 1966.

“The model had been made into a torpedo boat but had not been used for a while. But when my father passed away a few years back I thought I had to do something with it.”

Mr Scripps, an engineer, searched the internet for people who may be able to help turn the hull into the Galaxy. A man in France knew of the Galaxy and offered to build her. However, he died before he was able to complete the work.

“The man’s son knew the boat was being made,” said Mr Scripps. “He had marked it all out and had done all the measurements so his son finished it off. The model has every single detail of Radio London. He has done a really good job.”

After 18 months the ship was delivered to Diss and Mr Scripps will now fit a motor to it. He added: “I am sure my dad would be very proud of the ship if he could see it.”

Broadcasting from just off the Essex coast, Radio London helped to launch the careers of many well-known disc jockeys including BBC Norfolk’s Keith Skues.

Now aged 77, he worked on Radio London from the summer of 1966 until the government forced the closure of pirate radio stations in 1967. Mr Skues, who lives in Horning, also spent time on Radio Caroline but said Radio London was the more professional station.

He said: “In my humble opinion Radio London was the best station of them all in those days. I served on Radio Caroline and then going to London, it was like chalk and cheese. London was brilliant. It was a very professional station and those were exciting times. It was a brilliant experience. We spoke to the listeners and treated them like family.”

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