M.V. Mebyon Kernow

Ship details: The ship was a typical small Cornish style fishing trawler about 30 feet long by 10 feet wide renamed the Mebyon Kernow (Sons of Cornwall). She was a working fisher under her real name and would continue to fish commercially.

In 1969, a small group of young members of the Cornish Nationalist Party (and free radio supporters) hatched a plot to end the BBC (thus English) monopoly of broadcasting in Cornwall. The plan was to provide a weekend service of free radio from a ship off the coast using pre-recorded programmes from a shore base.

A studio was constructed using two SP25 turntables, three assorted reel-to-reel tape machines and a much modified Eagle mixer (actually two such mixers combined to give eight mono channels) with a Sure microphone.

A radio ham constructed a transmitter to run at 500 watts on approximately 232 medium wave. It was modified to work off the trawlers power supply which caused many technical problems.

The transmitter was tested (using the name Radio Concord) on shore in June 1969 at full power for three hours with a programme of music and 'commercials' in support of the Cornish Nationalist Party, a workers occupation of a local industrial factory Maxam, and the Close Nanskute Now campaign (an English germ warfare establishment located on our coast). The test was too successful and produced a lot of local press coverage which alerted the authorities!

The first off shore transmission was on a Saturday afternoon in mid July from a location off Penzance Bay. Unfortunately it was also the last!

After being on air for just over an hour a Police launch and another official looking launch was seen speeding towards the ship. Undoubtedly some person had informed the authorities in advance otherwise they could not have reacted so quickly.

In a prearranged drill the output stage of the transmitter was dumped overboard and the ship continued to fish mixing with the rest of the fishing fleet. The authorities made no serious attempt to find her and went away
after some time in the area.

This was the end of the project, with an informer involved the risks were too much.

Offshore radio station: Radio Concord on a Saturday afternoon in mid July 1969

Location: International waters off Penzance Bay (Conwall, UK)

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