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

Industry and City & Guilds 1986

August 1st, 2014

Way back in 1986, Bruce Sayers, then Dean of City and Guilds College, asked me to make a video which would give a view and a voice as to how C&G was connecting with Industry. Ten final year C&G students were interviewed and their opinions sort on both industry and their future careers. The then president of the Imperial College Union, Christine Taig fronts the video. Peter Moore was then the Careers Advisor for Mechanical Engineering and had studied some of the reasons why graduates did not want to actually work in industry after leaving college. It ends by making the point that then, in 1986, 20-30% of C&G graduates ended up in non-techincal jobs.

As usual there are some nice 1980’s stock footage shots of the college. The sequences with Christine Taig were of course shot years before the many changes across campus that built the Faculty Building and lost the grass and trees area, then called Dalby Court. You’ll see the view across that area and with Mechanical Engineering clearly in total view and this is how it would have seen, when the area was first built and designed.

Colin Grimshaw August 2014

Opening of the new college entrance: 2004

June 27th, 2014

Ten years ago this week, Her Majesty The Queen crossed the threshold of Imperial College’s newly-built main entrance and Tanaka Business School* on a blustery, bright 24 June 2004 and made history. HRH - 01Surrounded by cheering wellwishers, she passed through the doors of the gleaming landmark building and paused opposite the imposing image of a multi-coloured scan of a brain, representing the brainpower of the institution. As a Malcolm Arnold fanfare struck up, provided by the College’s chamber orchestra, The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of York, joined rector, Sir Richard Sykes to meet and speak to Lord Foster, whose company, Foster and Partners, designed the building. A visit to a lecture theatre, led by Tanaka Business School principal, Professor David Begg, HRH - 18included a few words with students to discuss the mortgage industry, as well as a closer examination of research projects and spin-out ventures. The Queen, Visitor of Imperial College, who last came to the College in 1998 to open the Sir Alexander Fleming Building, signed the visitors’ book before receiving a bouquet from eight year old Alexander Tanaka.

* The building has subsequently been brought into line with the overall Imperial College branding and is now known as the Imperial College Business School.

There is no commentary on this video

Colin Grimshaw June 2014

Professor Patrick Purcell: 1995

June 1st, 2014

Professor Patrick Purcell (1929-2007) was described in his Times obituary as “Pioneer of computing and design“. As far as I know, this is the only interview made with Patrick, whom I got to know during his time as visiting professor of human computer interaction at Imperial College London. I had actually known him prior to that via LIVE-NET Video Conference from Northern Ireland linking through to Imperial.

Video Interface 1995

A Video Interface recording 1995

Until his death, he worked along side Professor Bob Spence, who commented after Patrick’s death “…when I realised that Patrick Purcell was approaching retirement from his appointment in Northern Ireland I immediately suggested to the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of Imperial that he be invited to be a Visiting Professor. A very selfish act, no doubt, but one I have never regretted…”

At my suggestion, this interview was recorded for an outside company called Lantec and was in the occasional series called Video Interface. Because of Patrick’s depth of knowledge of all things ‘digital’, this was the obvious first question posed to him at the start of the interview by Steve Bell. It was recorded in the Imperial College TV Studio in June 1995.

Colin Grimshaw June 2014