In 1966/1967, with the outlawing of offshore radio on the horizon, Radio Caroline boss Ronan O'Rahilly arranged for workmen to take over the disused Roughs Tower anti-aircraft fort. Eighteen miles
from Southend, it was safely outside territorial waters. A French aviation company, L'Aeronaute Ltd., was commissioned to convert the fort into a supply base for Radio Caroline South. They cut away some of the wartime
superstructure, threw the anti-aircraft guns into the sea and constructed a helipad.
Terry writes: “In 1967 I flew Ronan in my own plane to Southend to make the first chopper landing on the Roughs Tower. We had chartered a small two seat helicopter to take us one at a time. He went first and was
dropped off on the Tower. Second trip with me aboard, fog rolled in and we couldn't find the tower, so headed back to Southend and left Ronan on the Tower where he spent the night alone! First light next morning, we
took off in the chopper to find Ronan in high spirits, having had a very restful night's sleep!”
Terry adds a footnote: “the small chopper we chartered had just returned from Japan, where it had starred in a James Bond film!”
Some £15,000 was spent converting the fort into a heliport and supply base for the Mi Amigo. Unfortunately the story leaked to the newspapers. Bate and O'Rahilly didn't want their plans to become public knowledge.
Terry says: “that same day, the press got onto the story of our landing and this clipping is the cover story I invented!”
Ultimately all the hard work and expense did not benefit Radio Caroline at all. Roy Bates, the former owner of Radio Essex, moved in while the fort was unoccupied. He and his men claimed squatters
rights. They set up defences and, when the Caroline staff tried to return, they were fought off (see cuttings). O'Rahilly was forced to give up Roughs Tower. Roy Bates went on to establish
Sealand on the fort - his own independent country.
Terry has also forwarded this press advertisement which, as he says, “ran in all the UK dailies” in 1967.