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Jenni Baynton – Dave Francis


The home of Radio Seagull is the former Trinity House light vessel number eight, nowadays better known as Jenni Baynton. There is a story behind the reason why the ship was renamed and funny enough the reason to call the ship after Jenni was not Jenni herself, but a man called Dave Francis.

When Radio Seagull was in her first years struggling to survive a very loyal and devoted member of the crew was Dave Francis. Dave was from Hoddesdon UK and used to work for Thames Water until he retired early. He got involved in offshore radio in the sixties when Radio Caroline anchored off the Isle of Man. He never became the DJ he might have wanted to be deep in his heart, but he did contribute to the offshore station in many ways.

I was there in 1997 or 1998 when Dave proposed to Jenni Baynton on the Radio Caroline ship Ross Revenge, at that time moored at Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey. Sadly after some time, Jenni was diagnosed cancer and passed away July 15th 2000.

On Jenni’s tribute page Dave wrote:

“As many of Jenni's friends now know, not only did she have a wonderful way with words, she had an unbelievable effect on myself. I still have the first draft of Jenni's story of becoming part of the Caroline family and there are the corrections she made on this. This did take some time as I was playing with a white Sooty bear glove puppet and, no, I am not going to tell you what I was doing with Sooty but she got her own back on me later on for, as I pulled back the covers on our bed, I found the Sooty bear now wearing a large pair of industrial gloves!

She was a very unique lady.

Love from Dave Francis “

Dave Francis had become a ver important mainstay for Radio Seagull and we tried to find a way to compensate his effort one way or another. When we bought the LV 8 I suggested to him to rename the ship after Jenni, which moved him to tears.

In September 2005, Dave was holding the brand new transmitter for 1602 in his workshop and we had made arrangements to move the transmitter to Harlingen. A transmitter engineer who was travelling to Holland to install it met up with Dave on a parking halfway the engineer’s trip to the ferry. After Dave had put the transmitter in the boot of the engineer's car, he collapsed. A few days later, after having had surgery, he passed away.

So, the reason why we called the ship after Jenni was Dave’s love for her. Luckily he did know we were going to name the ship after her. Unfortunately he never saw the ship, let alone see that the name Jenni Baynton is kept alive by everyone who mentions the ship.

Dave was a very dear friend to Seagull in general and to me in particular. Knowing the last thing he did in his live was carrying the transmitter for Radio Seagull makes it a bit bizarre. When there are radio-sets in heaven I know for sure that Dave and Jenni have their’s tuned to Seagull and every time the “Jenni Baynton” drops anchor at sea they will look at each other and smile, just like I do when I think of them.

I cherish your Les Paul guitar mate!
Sietse Brouwer

 JB at sea

 Jenni Baynton at sea




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