It is not for a shortage of books, magazine articles, newspaper stories and both radio and television programs as well as movies, that questions about the real origins of Radio Caroline have remained hidden for so long.
All of the other primary offshore broadcasting stations of the Sixties were headed by operations with registered offices at identifiable addresses. But not Radio Caroline. In fact, it seemed to the interested observer that there was no managing company. 'Caroline Sales' existed in name only, but in 1964 it did not exist as a company, even though spokesmen claimed in the press that it did.
Radio Caroline had an impressive address, but as government inspectors from the British Board of Trade soon discovered, although there were a plethora of activities taking place at that address, none of them seemed to be running a business that was popularly known as 'Radio Caroline'.
However, Radio Caroline did have a parent company, and that was Project Atlanta Limited at 47 Dean Street; not at 6 Chesterfield Gardens which had been rebranded as 'Caroline House'.
But when Project Atlanta Limited was focused upon, it seemed to be the parent company of a short-lived station called 'Radio Atlanta' which soon became 'Radio Caroline South', and when it did, a press release indicated that it would continue to be run by Project Atlanta Limited. But as for the original 'Radio Caroline', well it had a separate public relations firm, but seemingly it lacked an actual company behind it.
At least, that is the way it appears in all those books and articles which focused upon an Irish gadfly who misdirected everyone with lies and deception. The company behind 'Radio Caroline' was Project Atlanta Limited, but the strength of that company was not in its chairman, nor its managing director. They were titles representing two men who were fronting for a blue-ribbon board of directors and one man in particular: Jimmy Deterding.
The mythmakers all claimed that Project Atlanta Limited ran out of money and so its managing director resigned and its chairman then ran-off to engage in a foolhardy exercise in trying to grab control of another offshore station called 'Radio City'. That venture created more misinformation and misdirection when the owner of 'Radio City' was shot dead in his home by the chairman of Project Atlanta Limited.
Meanwhile, other offshore broadcasting ventures attracted a lot of attention of their own, and three of the noisiest came from Texas and were promoted by Don Pierson. But he had no knowledge about the origins of 'Radio Caroline', he only knew what the news media was pumping out, and this caused him to make a lot of errors in judgment with those three stations.
At the time, one man named Jocelyn Stevens who was well connected within British Establishment circles, seemed to be the person that the young Irish gadfly was fronting for. But Jocelyn Stevens was not 'Mister Big', who Jocelyn Stevens went on television to claim that such a person did not exist. But he did exist, very quietly within his vast Norfolk estate. His name is Jimmy Deterding and he is the grandson of Sir Henri Deterding who founded the Shell consortium of companies.
It had been known since at least the days of World War II when Sir Winston Churchill imported a team of Texans to explore for, and then pump out oil from onshore wells in England, that those wells went into fields that extended offshore. Vast amounts of natural gas were also discovered and then pumped from onshore wells in Holland, and again, it was known that those fields also extended out into the North Sea.
But even as the Sixties dawned, the technology to retrieve natural gas and oil from the North Sea was in its infancy, and again all eyes drifted across the Atlantic Ocean to Texas to see what could be achieved. Jimmy Deterding lived 'just down the road' from Bacton in Norfolk where the story of North Sea natural gas and oil exploration would come alive.
However, in those days the interest in retrieving those resources was not only outpacing technology, but it was also outpacing laws which could guarantee ownership. Everyone knew that vast sums of money would be involved in the initial exploration phases alone, and that knowledge translated into a potential Wild West type of environment. The stakes were as high or higher than those previously driven to claim gold, or just land itself.
But this land was under the water, and since it was beyond the territorial waters of various nations bordering the North Sea, it raised questions about legal ownership, and they were questions that at first could not be answered. It was not so much a question about rival prospectors, but about rival governments. What would they do?
So while all eyes were on the Irishman and disc jockeys, the big story involving billions of Dollars worth of potential profits, was being discussed in Houston, Texas, and in subsidiary offices within London. None of them had anything to do with offshore radio or television broadcasting.
Jimmy Deterding was their man on the spot, because 'Radio Caroline', like REM Island, served more than one purpose. To listeners and viewers they were broadcasting stations, but to the people behind the scenes, the Caroline ship and REM Island were means to test the legal waters of their intended claims to ownership of North Sea natural gas and oil fields.
No one has ever explained any of this before, but you are now reading it free of charge as a public service in the public interest. Yes, at least one book will follow in the wake of this Blog that will put this entire story together in context of both the times and the people who lived through the Sixties, and who were 'there' at the birth of this enormous offshore industry in the North Sea.
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