IC Newsreel Number 2: 1970

March 2nd, 2015

The second and final IC Newsreel was recorded on 2 March 1970. It was shown, like the first programme, at lunchtime the following day in the Junior Common Room in College Block (Sherfield). This final programme was a bit different and had a scoop too. Prior to the main recording, the Yugoslavian Prime Minister was visiting Imperial College and we were able to get the departure of him, his Police escort and his entourage.  Andy Finney and Vivienne Taylor stood outside the mechanical engineering building to cover the event, even though this was not originally their intention for being there. Andy was on a very long-range radio microphone and we used the longest lens possible on the camera, which (along with a second camera) was located on the third floor of the electrical engineering building. Because we had no way of inserting the item into the actual forthcoming news programme, Andy had to pre-record the item as it was happening, and we ran the item before the main program started. Not the conventional way to make a news program, but at least it was new and it was unique for that time. The news item by Andy is then followed by what was called a ‘crash’ edit (stop recording then restart again) so there are a few wobbles on the screen before the main programme starts.

Included in the programme were interviews with the three main candidates for the election of IC Union President. The first ever recording of this type.  Judith Walker won the election and became the first female in the role. She talks to Vivienne Taylor, also seen in IC Newsreel Number 1.
Just as we had ended the main recording and faded to black, the current Union President Piers Corbyn asked to be able to say a few words. So, following yet another crash edit, we faded back up and sort-of started again. The reason for these types of stops and start edits was because we only had one Ampex Videorecorder and that could not actually edit anyway.

Sadly no photos were taken at the time of these two news programme recordings, only the videotape survives, which is rare. The upper photo is of the TV studio in the late 1960’s and the lower, is just before the Philips Videorecorder, seen in the photo, was replaced by the Ampex, which was used to record the two IC Newsreels. The opening coverage of the Yugoslavian Prime Minister’s visit also gives the original view across Dolby Court, all the way from Electrical Engineering to Mechanical Engineering, a view now lost forever with the creation of the Faculty Building.

Colin Grimshaw March 2015

IC Newsreel Number 1: 1970

February 17th, 2015

Recently digitised from the video archive collection is the very first news-magazine programme made by the student TV service, STOIC. 45 years ago on the 17th February 1970 an experimental programme was made to ascertain the feasibility of producing such a news programme on a weekly (or at least a regular) basis. At this time, STOIC used the TV studio facilities of the Electrical Engineering Department, as seen over in the right hand photo and with me operating a camera.

John Brown 1970The original plan was to produce a light hearted and simple programme, reflecting what was currently happening in and around college. However, at 10am on the morning of the recording on Tuesday 17th February, the Pro-Rector Lord Jackson (1904-1970), who was also Professor of Electrical Engineering, died. Plans were immediately changed and his colleague, the Head of the Electrical Engineering Department Prof John Brown (seen on the left in the video) appeared to pay tribute. This itself is a unique recording, having been made within hours of Jackson’s death.

Although this was only a trial programme, some effort had been put into trying to make it look as professional as possible. A filmed report (on 8mm film) was shot at a Touchstone weekend being held at Silwood Park. Piers Corbyn, the controversial students union president (1969-1970), appeared in an interview. Another filmed report was on the first major event to be held in the then newly opened College Block (now renamed Sherfield Building). The programme was presented and linked together by Vivienne Taylor who went on to present a local TV programme on London’s Thames Television.

The programme was shown the following day (18th February) in the then new Junior Common Room in College Block. A copy of the original flyer can be seen below. It’s amazing the recording has survived all these years. The original one-inch Ampex videotape still exists, but only because I had given STOIC the videotape to record on, with the very intention of it being kept for posterity and 45 years later, I’m glad I did! If I hadn’t, then like many BBC videotapes, it would have been erased and used again for another programme.

Experimental Newsreel

Colin Grimshaw February 2015

Mathematics at Imperial since 1956

February 4th, 2015

This presentation was recorded on 29 January 1998 at the Chapman/Whitehead Memorial Meeting. Alfred Whitehead (1861-1947) and Sydney Chapman (1888-1970) were both former heads of the Mathematics Department during the 1920’s.

The presentation is by Walter Hayman and consists of personal recollections and memories. Hayman joined the college in 1956 and was appointed to a chair of Pure Mathematics. He retired in the 1980’s and is now an Emeritus Professor in the department.

Colin Grimshaw February 2015

Unveiling the bust of Patrick Blackett 1997

January 25th, 2015

On the 26th November 1997 a bust of P.M.S. Blackett, sculpted by Sir Jacob Epstein, was unveiled in the Blackett Laboratory to mark the centenary of Blackett’s birth. Blackett 2Patrick Blackett was head of the Department of Physics from 1953 to 1963 and was responsible for the design of the Physics building (since renamed the Blackett Laboratory). He was awarded a Nobel prize for research carried out while he was at the Cavendish Laboratory. He later became president of the Royal Society and a life peer. Talks about Blackett were given at the ceremony by Sir Bernard Lovell and Norman Barford. The bust, which is located in the main entrance hall of the Physics building, was unveiled by the president of the Royal Society, Sir Aaron Klug.

We have no moving images or sound recordings of Blackett in the Imperial Archives. I have found what must be one of a few moving images of him on the British Pathe web site and you can see that short clip below, but even then he’s mostly in the background.

During the unveiling ceremony there were speeches by Sir Bernard Lovell, Norman Barford and Sir Aaron Klug who then proceeded to officially unveil the bust which was mounted in the main entrance of the building.

Colin Grimshaw January 2015

Academic interviews: Robert Spence 2015

January 12th, 2015

Just made available on Imperial’s YouTube channel is a new archive interview between Professor Lord Robert Winston and Emeritus Professor Robert Spence. This is the second in a series of Academic interviews with current and past members of Imperial College London. I’ll say no more about the video as it’s mostly self explanatory. To see all of Bob’s videos featured in this discussion simply click on his name in the text above.

Colin Grimshaw January 2015

Engineering the Hovertrain 1972

January 1st, 2015

Proving extremely popular are the videos and films made with Professor Eric Laithwaite. Laithwaite Eng HovertrainIn this blog I’m pleased to be able to bring you one of several films that were in the personal collection of Eric Laithwaite and that I was lucky enough to be able to secure in the Imperial Archive after he’d died.

Engineering the Hovertrain was made in 1972 by the then, Central Office of Information. It’s about the only real example of the creation and operation of the experimental hovertrain vehicle the RTV31, seen running on the test track that was built in the UK.

Colin Grimshaw January 2015

Academic Interviews: David Phillips 2014

December 17th, 2014

David PhillipsThis is the first in a series of interviews with leading academics from Imperial College London. The aim, is to gain an insight into the person and also the work that they are carrying out at the college. Our first interview is with Professor David Phillips who came to the Department of Chemistry at Imperial in 1989 from the Royal Institution. There, he was deputy to the Director, Lord George Porter; who prior to David, had also come to work at the college in 1987. At Imperial David held the Hoffmann Chair and his work studied the fluorescence in biological systems. He later became the head of the Department of Chemistry (1992-2002).

David is well known for his lively and entertaining lectures, normally ending with very loud bangs and flashes. You can see Chemical Christmas Crackers, one example,  or a even Little Light Relief, both on our YouTube channel. In 1987 David jointly presented that years Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled Crystals and Lasers.

For this interview, Professor Lord Robert Winston talks to David Phillips about his life and work.

The next video in this series will be Robert Winston talking to Professor Robert (Bob) Spence.

Colin Grimshaw December 2014

Final LMS lecture videos go live

December 1st, 2014

After some effort, the final batch of videos we made in conjunction with the London Mathematical Society (LMS) have now gone live on the Imperial YouTube channel.

U-Matic cassetteThe final 6 videos now concludes the upload of all of the remaining LMS lectures in our video archive. The previous blog about the LMS videos explains all the details of how and why we recorded them, so going there will fill in all the gaps. As usual, it was the same old problem and story of oxide and goo shedding from the U-matic videotapes. I explained all of this in the blog about beating the goo, but it involves taking the cassettes apart (seen on the left with just the spools of tape showing) and heat treating them. Needless to say, this is a time consuming process taking at least a day before you can find out whether or not the tape will playback well enough to digitise. If not, then you start the process all over again! So a good few weeks went by before I could end the upload process.

Colin Grimshaw December 2014

Lord Flowers Interview: Dec 1980

November 3rd, 2014

I have recently rediscovered the first interview shot with a Rector in colour. It was recorded in December 1980 in the Sherfield Building office of Lord Flowers (1924-2010) who was Rector from 1973 to 1985.

Lady and Lord Flowers Dec 2000

Lady and Lord Flowers in 2000

The student TV (STOIC)  had expressed an interest in interviewing him and I agreed to collaborate in the recording to enable it to be shot in colour. I thought at the time, that this would be good from an archive point-of-view. And 34 years later, my idea has just paid off! There are several other blog entries on Lord and Lady Flowers, but this one had escaped me until now. The interviewer is Mike Prosser, with an introduction made in the college’s former TV Studio. The interview was made as a ‘special’, within the normal weekly programme called News-Break. That programme was transmitted to all of the college halls across campus, as well as the union building. As in previous early colour videos  featured within this blog, it will not be up to even the standards of a modern domestic camcorder, but at least we do have it.  The previous colour interview with Lord Flowers was featured in my 2010 entry. That previous video was from 1984 and I had only just rediscovered it, so this 1980 video is adding to our collection. The last time I saw Lord Flowers was during a short visit to his house and we were sitting around his kitchen table having lunch with Lady Flowers.

Colin Grimshaw November 2014

Colin Vickery with Bob Spence: 1997

September 15th, 2014

In 1997 Professor Bob Spence interviewed Dr Colin Vickery, a colleague of his from the Department of Electrical Engineering. The intention was to show the video during an Alumni event that Colin was unable to attend. I hope that maybe some of those same Alumni will watch that video once more.
Colin Vickery has very kindly sent me some words to put the video into context, so most of this is his hard work and not mine! And Bob Spence has provided me with the excellent photos that were taken at Bob’s 80th Birthday celebration in 2013, that I also attended.

Colin Vickery in July 2013

Colin Vickery in July 2013

Colin was, at the time of the interview, running a postgraduate section on microprocessor applications.  Bob Spence and Colin Vickery had shared a flat during the time that they were doing PhDs under Roy Boothroyd who was Prof Colin Cherry’s Reader. Colin Vickery had come back from industry where he’d spent a couple of years with the Plessey company working in a small research unit in Romsey and was appointed as a lecturer for a period, working for Cherry/Boothroyd and was then invited to join Prof Bruce Sayers in his Engineering in Medicine section where he stayed for many more years. Prior to this, he’d travelled to Houston, USA, where he joined a summer school which was run for a mixture of Medical and Engineering people. There he learned basic physiology, while the medical people learned basic electrical engineering.

Colin with Sinclair Goodlad

Colin with Sinclair Goodlad

Eventually, Bruce Sayers became Head of Electrical Engineering and Colin was given a postgraduate section devoted to microprocessor applications, working alongside colleagues Dick Wilde and Bill Cutler who were both on his staff. After a year or two they were appointed as consultants on the government Mapcon scheme (Microprocessor application consultants) and did a variety of feasibility and implementation studies including small hydroelectric projects, such as Wookey Hole and Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. He joined with Prof Anderson in a project, for a firm in Horsham, de-boning bacon backs using robotics. It was exhibited in the exhibition at the college in 1985 (City and Guilds Tech2000) which Margaret Thatcher opened and then toured; telling them all that, ‘..she knew all about bacon’ (her Father was a grocer)!

In June 1998, a year after this interview, he suffered a stroke, but continued to work for the college part time until 2010 when he was 75 years old. This interview is a reminder of those times now long past and some of the people that made up the college in the 1950’s and onwards.

Colin Grimshaw September 2014