Radio Scotland (pirate ship)

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Radio Scotland
RS 242 logo med.png
Broadcast area Scotland, Ireland
Frequency 242 metres Template:Frequency
First air date 31 December 1965; 51 years ago (1965-12-31)
Last air date 14 August 1967 (1967-08-14)
Format Varied
Owner City and County Commercial Radio (Scotland) Ltd

Radio Scotland was a Scottish pirate radio station which broadcast at various points off the Scottish coast between 1965 and 1967, with a mix of pop music and programmes of Scottish interest. It was conceived of and run by publicity and advertising executive Tommy Shields.

The Comet

The Comet was a former Irish lightship, weighing 500 tons and measuring 100 feet in length.

Fitting out of The Comet

Rigging the aerial mast on The Comet

Work to adapt The Comet for broadcasting purposes was given to RCA, an American company which was not subject to British or European government sanctions and was therefore one of the only available sources of broadcast transmitters to pirate radio stations.

The sound desk was built from scratch by engineer Tony Rock, who had just joined RCA's UK division in Sunbury-on-Thames. The desk consisted of a U-shaped console with a custom-designed mono control panel, Wearite tape recorders and two Garrard transcription turntables on a separate gimbal-mounted table. (Most vinyl discs were largely mono recordings at the time and there was no stereo pop radio.)

When the desk was completed, Tony and his colleague, Stan, flew to Guernsey in the Channel Islands, where the rest of the RCA engineers had been pre-wiring the transmitter and equipment racks in a repair yard warehouse at St Sampson's Harbour, where The Comet was berthed. The studio was installed in the Captain's sleeping quarters, the heavy generators were squeezed into the engine room and, finally, the giant 250ft aluminium mast was lowered into position by the dock cranes.

The sound console was tested at the harbour using two 45 RPM singles — 'Help' by The Beatles and 'Zorba's Dance' by Marcello Minerbi. It was not possible to test the transmitter in Guernsey, however, as there was a Post Office monitoring van parked close to the dock. To avoid the ship being impounded by the government, transmitter testing would have to wait until the Comet was outside the three-mile limit. [1]

The Comet then made its way, under tow, to its final destination off Dunbar.

The DJs

The DJs worked a fortnight on the ship, and a week on land during which they made personal appearances at ballrooms and clubs throughout Scotland.

Paul Young, Jack McLaughlin, Alan Black, Charlie White, Tony Meehan, Cathy Spence, Ben Healy, Bob Spencer, Mel Howard, Eddie White, Bryan Vaughan, Jimmy Mack, Richard Park, John Kerr, Peter Mallan

242 magazine

Radio Scotland had its own monthly magazine which ran from April 1966 to ??.

It was produced by David Gibson for Town and Provincial Enterprises Ltd, a London-based publisher. It was printed by Bell, Aird and Coghill Ltd, 58 Cadogan Street, Glasgow. Editorial and advertising was handled by Radio Scotland from its Cranworth Street headquarters.

The name of the publication began simply as '242' and was described as 'Radio Scotland's Showbeat Monthly'. By issue 7, in October 1966, the title became '242 Showbeat' with the description 'Radio Scotland's monthly'. By issue 9, December 1966, it was called '242 Showbeat Monthly'.

Cathy Spence had her own regular column of '242 Clan News'. Cartoons penned by DJ Alan Black were frequently published in the magazine, including many of his DJ colleagues.


  1. I Built Radio Scotland by Tony Rock, Pirate Radio Hall of Fame

External links

[1] [2] [3] [4]