Little Yellow Cottage – Update 12 – The Pirate Years!

Hello again Peeps,

This one’s about love, death and racing, oh, and wirelesses. We also take a look at pirates. I’ve seen and heard them all, read on…

Lee Waring was here following the granting of planning permissions from the Conservation people. He’s putting a work schedule together so Jack Hallam has been along to measure up the windows and Niel Diuffield has been to offer advice regarding some of the brickwork and internal structure. Jack’s got an unexpected hole in his work plan at the factory so George is very happy. It means my windows can go in soon and the lime-plastering can start after the floors are fixed. I’m listening to what they say and feel better when I hear the plans, things are looking up.

Lee and Neil

My walls have seen and heard many things. Tales of happiness, triumph and; of course, the odd tragedy, this one is in a stock-car. 

Tommy had entered a stock-car race to buy Laura, his teenage sweetheart, a wedding ring; however, it ended in disaster when he crashed and the car burst into flames. As he was dying he repeated the words,  “Tell Laura I love her” and the adolescent girls in my rooms throw themselves into their pillows in a fit of teenage grief as Laura is heard praying in the chapel. Tommy’s final words are fading as his life ebbs away and oblivion awaits, “…my love for her will never die”.  Ricky Valance is playing on the Dancette…

Over the coming years, many of my older occupants will say, “In my day, at least you could hear the words – and they meant something!”

“Hmmm…”, I hear you say.

In my living room, the wireless is on constantly with the friendly voice of the presenters on the Home Service. It fills my room with news, current affairs, the odd play and some sport. It keeps my occupants informed and enlightened but bores the youngsters to the bone. 

In the 1960s a number of things happen that enables the youngsters that had been stampeding around my rooms begin to influence what is transmitted but it involved some huge shifts in who the target audiences should be for national radio i.e. The BBC.

New and more sophisticated wirelesses are emerging and can operate without the main electric supply. They’re usually made from plastic with transistor technology and powered by small batteries. It means they’re very portable and I find that the main one that has always been in the living room remains on the ‘Light Program’ or the ‘Home Service’; however, the children have their own now and, whilst they’re not supposed to have them after six, they sneak in to each of their bedrooms and they listen to anything but the BBC – for now!

At night, the walls in my upper rooms see and hear the teenagers say goodnight and ascend the ‘wooden hill’ then scurry across the bedroom floor with the ‘trannie’ (it had a more innocent meaning then) disguised as a book or wrapped in clothing for the morning. In the early 1960s they’d disappear under the covers and tune in to Radio Luxemburg (Radio 208) and I’d hear Horace Batchelor telling them about his  ‘Infra-Draw-Method’ of winning the Football Pools. He would spell out the town of the place that you had to write to with your cheque, he’d spell out,  K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M.     It’s a small town near Bristol and I think the only person to make money from his ‘method’ was him but his sponsorship meant that there would be lots of music emanating from under the sheets but only during the evenings. It would fade, crackle and distort then come back in a hiss of clarity for a few seconds then the cycle would repeat.

In the mid1960s after The BBC dinosaur had ignored the changing needs of the population Pirate Radios ware set up. ‘Radio Caroline’ was probably the best known nationally but ‘Radio 270’ was the one that looked after the needs of the youngsters of Whitby and Scarborough.

They’d heard of the new station and were moving the dial around the 270 mark on the medium wave. It couldn’t be heard all over Whitby but for the lucky few that caught the first broadcast ’Strangers in the Night’ by Frank Sinatra would be their first record followed by more wonderful music for the next 18 months.

My family-occupants would discuss the DJ’s and the music over their meals. They were not to know it at this point, but in another decade or so, Whitby would get its very own pirate radio which would be ‘pop-up’ and totally illegal but very, very popular.

Just before 0700 on the 30th September 1967, the family were gathered around the breakfast table. Bacon, egg, black pudding and fresh bread were being served and the dial on the living room wireless had been moved for the first time in ten years. There was no guarantee that any transmission would be received but suddenly, with some minor adjustments and a degree of breath holding they hear a voice burst from the speaker, 

“Good morning everyone, welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1…” 

Tony Blackburn had been recruited from one of the many pirate ships that were being closed down due to the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967. He’d done his apprenticeship with Radio Caroline and Radio London opening his new show on Radio 1 with ‘Flowers in the Rain’ by the Move and a new era of music on national radio was dawning. The dial was swiftly returned to the frequency of the Home Service which is now the new Radio 4 after the novelty of that first morning and that’s where it stays but only in my living room. Up my spiral staircase in the youngsters’ bedrooms, it’s firmly Radio 1.

National radio had been difficult to pick up in parts of the town but I’d overheard it was getting better; however, many of the larger conurbations including Teesside were being treated to local radio but this was difficult to receive in Whitby. So…

In 1979 the pirates return! Art Garfunkel is singing about death in ’Bright Eyes’ as Hazel, the rabbit and star of the show, lies wounded. My walls have seen it several times and it always makes the attentive audience cry – but does she die? You’ll have to watch it and see! Cliff is worried that ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ and Dr Hook is ‘In Love with a Beautiful Woman’.

My walls hear a very popular trio of DJ’s who’s anarchic broadcasts on 102FM would make them local heroes for all. Actually, it would be all except a local councillor nicknamed Clothy Dogg who, apparently, was somewhat aggrieved at the amount of dog poo around the town. Nowadays one of them helps run Whitby Memories, an excellent Facebook page which shows old images of Whitby with a huge following.

Currently, music is on in my living room. Ed Sheeran has just finished and there’s some rap on now but I know it won’t last long when George comes back in the room. It’ll be switched to some ‘proper music’. He’s not as old as I am but he’s acting like all the other parents that have lived within my walls. Y’see, if youngsters can’t annoy the older ones with their music, they’re really not trying. 

 It’s a small portable speaker that George brings in and takes away again. I’ve never seen it plugged in and all the music and sounds that come out of it are from his phone but he’s always looking for somewhere to plug that in; a bit like a land-line really! How things that change for the better, really just change!

George is doing a bit of painting over the next week and there may be some brick refurbishment internally but the main work will happen soon. It’s all down to getting fitted back into the diaries of builders, plasterers, electricians and joiners. They’re all busy at this time of the year but, to coin a nautical expression, with luck and a fair wind, we’ll be on our way.

Love – Little Yellow Cottage…x

I’m just a little cottage but I’ve seen and heard a lot and there’s more to come…

Enjoy the snaps.

Feel free to share and comment – I do enjoy comments.

13 thoughts on “Little Yellow Cottage – Update 12 – The Pirate Years!”

  1. Always loved this Fascinating little cottage, my gran lived up church street so passed many times its been empty for so long… pleased its going to get some TLC..

  2. When we walk past my kids are obsessed with the door they see a sad face in it, we always talk about the door when we go past x

    • Dear Angela and children,

      The old hinges and the letter box are currently being sandblasted and repainted. The Little Yellow Cottage still has a long way to go but, hopefully, in the next few weeks the sad face will be replaced with a contented face and your kids will be happy too.

      Love LYC x

  3. Thanks you. jgh, if any of the DJs contact me, I’d love to publish their names but I do believe that one of them has died and not sure about the others so I though the best thing would be to keep it anonymous.

    Thanks again,

    G. pp LYT x

  4. One of my hobbies is transcibing census, electoral registers and election results. I’ve recently arrived at the era of “Clothy Dogg” and smile at the number of names I recognise. 🙂

  5. I came to see you last week for the first time you are so small squashed in between the two houses I’m glad I have found you I love your door

    • Hi Hellen, there was a ‘slum’ clearance that I’ll talk about.

      If you’re walking past in the future and there is work happening, knock on the door. You’ll be amazed at how big I am inside.

      You’ve triggered a great idea for a future post.

      Many thanks and kind regards,

      G. pp LYC x

  6. When she was little, my granddaughter ( now an elderly nineteen)used too kiss your front door and say she was going to live in you one day 🙂 She’ll be delighted that you’re being put to rights!

  7. My husband being a builder, we love your updates. We’re not local but usually visit 4 or 5 times a year. Hope to see you soon.

  8. Day uncle Captain Olaf Hodgsom used this uncomfortable moored anchored vessel as a retirement job,he used to fish if conditions were right,Galehodgson

    • Apparently, there was a particularly bad night off Scarborough after which the DJ’s wouldn’t return unless it was re-sited and it was moved to a point off Flamborough.

      It’s lovely to hear about your Uncle Olaf though Gale.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Kind regards,

      G. pp LYC

    • Hi Elizabeth, I’m putting together a carousel of photos which I’ll publish when we’ve made some more progress. I’d really like to do a before and after for everyone.

      I’ll also be inviting all the people that have taken the trouble to comment so I’ll let you know when finished so you can come and have a cuppa and look around.

      Thanks for your comment.

      G. pp LYC x


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