STOIC at the Lord Mayor’s Show: 1980

November 1st, 2019

Once again, an ace reporter from STOIC left the warmth of the college TV studio to investigate events in London. November isn’t the best month for things to happen outside and the Lord Mayor’s Show is an example of that. Back in November 1980 Newsbreak reporter Grant Richmond ventured outside into central London to see what was happening. City and Guilds were there, and some of the shots were clearly taken from on top of their float.

And yes, these were still the days some 39 years ago,  of black and white.

Colin Grimshaw November 2019

Lord Flowers Imperial’s finances: 1980

October 15th, 2019

Whilst transferring more of the STOIC videotape archive into digital, I found this interview. It’s one that I had forgotten all about and is with Lord Flowers, then Rector, recorded 39 years ago in the TV Studio in October 1980. He had, a few days earlier, given his address at Commemoration Day. In that address, for the very first time, an appeal had been made to alumni for a covenant from each student of £20 a year for a total of five years. He had explained that this would assist the college with approximately a quarter of a million pounds a year. Just before you’ll see this interview there is a brief sequence actually shot during that speech at the Royal Albert Hall. This is actually the very first time a Commemoration Day had been videotaped, so it’s unique for that alone.

Here, he is talking with Mike Prosser both a presenter and a past chairman of STOIC.

Colin Grimshaw October 2019

Freshers’ Fair: 1980

October 1st, 2019

October is the time of the year when clubs and societies have stalls and events to entice new students to join them. All around the country universities are seeing the same thing happen during freshers week and Imperial is no different.

Luckily, we have a brief record of some of what was happening, because STOIC reported on the fair for the their news programme NEWSBREAK. It looked like a fine sunny day, which for October is a blessing. Grant Richmond, ace reporter, ventured to both the Union Quad and Queens Tower Lawn to speak to some of the freshers. Mike Prosser is heard on the introduction, which shows things like abseiling down the union building! Incidentally, Grant now lives in far north Queensland, Australia. And, were YOU one of those interviewed in this video?

This video is from the digitisation of the STOIC videotape archives, which I’m currently undertaking.

Colin Grimshaw October 2018

Boat Club: 1980

September 15th, 2019

On the 8 October 1980 edition of STOIC’s Newsbreak programme, they featured the Imperial College Boat Club. Still in the days of black and white, reporter Jim Donaldson ventured down the road to the Putney Boathouse. From the top of the building Jim reported on what he was seeing and we get to watch the then novices going out onto the water. Maybe you were one of them?

This is yet another video rescued during the ongoing project to digitise the archive of STOIC and has not been seen since first broadcast 39 years ago.

Colin Grimshaw September 2019

Iranian Embassy Siege: 1980

September 1st, 2019

For a thankfully brief period, 39 years ago, in May 1980, life in and around Imperial College changed. This was due to the now famous Iranian Embassy siege that took place in Princes Gate. The main concern for Imperial College was the fact that in Northside of Princes Gardens the buildings of: Weeks Hall, Garden Hall, Sports Centre and more, all backed onto the embassy building. I recall students from Weeks Hall telling me that they had to keep all windows closed and covered and to stay away from the windows at all times.

That week’s copy of Felix the student newspaper seemed to be somewhat concerned that the Rag Fete would have to be relocated to the Queens Lawn rather than Princes Gardens as planned. They also included a photo of a police marksman somewhere behind the embassy, probably in the rear gardens of college property and that there was also one of the roof of Weeks Hall. There was also mention of at least one Imperial student being arrested.

Clearly this was news for both Felix and in particular for STOIC. With the aide of their trusty portable camera and recorder they ventured off to report of what was happening. Thanks to the current digitisation of the STOIC videotape archive I found all three location reports and saved them. These reports were such hot news that they had to be fitted in prior to and after, the showing of the weekly news programme NewsBreak at lunch time and in the evening. Mike Prosser was continuity voice-over that day and introduced the clips.

Colin Grimshaw September 2019

Stan’s Bar in Southside: 1980

August 15th, 2019

A popular venue in college was Stan’s Bar located in Southside. In 1980, alterations were taking place and in the 8 OCtober 1980 edition of STOIC’s news programme Newsbreak there was a location report. The bar remained in place until the time of demolition of the entire Southside building. If you take a look at the video I shot on 30 June 2005 (during the last week of Southside) you will see the bar towards the end being cleared out and closed up.

I notice that there was also a campaign run to “save the bar”. In the end, the bar was (sort of) relocated in the new Eastside building. And very modern it looked too. Certainly it’s not as dark as Stan’s Bar could be. There’s the odd reference to dark corners in this video report. Being below street level probably didn’t help with lighting, but maybe that’s what students wanted? Perhaps you were standing at the bar when this video was shot in 1980?

Colin Grimshaw August 2019

40 years ago STOIC into Colour: 1979

August 1st, 2019

40 years ago, during the summer of 1979, the TV Studio slipped into colour with the purchase of a single colour camera, portable recorder and edit suite. Before that time everything we made was obviously in black and white and that included the output of the student television service STOIC. They had, at times, been ahead of the college TV studio with some technology. They were first to get a Sony portable videorecorder and associated camera. This allowed them to record items outside of the confines of the studio. When we wanted to do the same we had to move a large videorecorder and take a camera with us on a trolley.

Clearly we had to make a move to upgrade to colour and in the process replace the Ampex One Inch videotape format we’d been using for many years. We needed both colour and also the ability to electronically edit. The U-matic system from Sony was what we selected and the equipment arrived before summer 1979. During the college vacation period we made our first colour production for the Life Science Library. By the start of the autumn term in 1979 we had re-equipped the studio to work only on the U-matic system, but because we still had only the one colour camera, the main studio stayed in black and white (for some while).

A short while after we had received the colour camera, STOIC was clearly interested in also moving away from black and white. But until we moved the entire studio into colour STOIC’s type of programmes were not possible on a single colour camera. However, it was possible to include the occasional ‘single camera’ colour item within a programme. So, just before term ended for the summer of 1979 I consented to the inclusion of a colour item within one of their news programmes. James Miller, a regular on STOIC, had expressed a keen interest to be the first to be seen in colour and I agreed. We thought to do this with a fanfare. So, James linked from an item he’d pre-recorded in black and white on their own portable videorecorder, to him sitting in the studio, also in black and white. At an agreed moment I turn the system switch on the recorder to colour and James’s wish came true. I re-discovered this 40 year old item during the current digitising of STOIC tapes.

Colin Grimshaw August 2019

Linstead Hall Extension: 1978 & 1980

July 1st, 2019

41 years ago in 1978 the big question of the day was will the Linstead Hall extension in Princes Gardens be built, because finances were not going as planned ? As you will see from the video, this question was being asked in both Felix the student newspaper and on STOIC during its weekly news programme Lunch Break.

We are indeed lucky that during the current digitising of batches of STOIC videos, I’ve found two items related to this topic. The first from 1978 has an on site report from James Miller and then an interview, in the TV Studio, with James Sinclair talking to Hugh Barrett, the then Student Union President. Lastly and amazingly, we have another on site report by Mike Prosser after the project was actually completed and the building finally opened.

Colin Grimshaw July 2019

Vision from the past

June 26th, 2019

We will be having some newly discovered items coming up in future blogs. I’m now slowly working my way through many boxes of videotapes from the extensive archive of STOIC and digitising then. If you recall, I managed to save these from being trashed many years ago when STOIC had to clear out their space for rebuilding. If I hadn’t had the college archives take the lot, then they would, by now, have been recycled!

Why is this collection important to Imperial? Well, in the TV Studio we had a specific remit and that was to record what was required for teaching, promotion and so on. All of these jobs created income for the studio and we could not just go off and record what we wanted to, without someone paying for it. However, STOIC could and indeed did just that. Therefore, in their archive we have interviews with not just students but with people like Rectors, Admin Staff, College Secretaries, Professors and so on. These, in some cases, are unique and now invaluable to us.

At present I am digitising a U-matic videotape that has a 40 year old recording of the then Student Union President Chris Fox (seen on the screen above). On the 15 March 1979 live on STOIC, from the college TV Studio, he chatted to Paul Johnson. I’ll be showing that in the next blog. Getting these videotapes to play back is not always that easy. Tapes are showing their age and tend to shed oxide and clog the video heads. This then requires the lid to be taken off the machine and the heads and guides, cleaned (photo on right).

Once the tape will play back from start to finish it’s then time to adjust the video levels before capturing onto hard drive and finally onto DVD. When these tapes were made, the cameras were within a category called ‘industrial’ and sometimes ‘educational’. They had pick-up tubes, not chips, as in these days. Lighting was basic and sometimes crude. Our ability to adjust these cameras individually was limited to say the least. Therefore, when replaying these tapes here in 2019 I have to almost ‘ride’ the video signal and adjust it, as the cameras switch around on the recording.

The final DVD then resides in the tape box and the side marked accordingly. That will mean (hopefully) that even if the tape can’t be played back in the future the DVD will be. It’s worth pointing out that the quality of a DVD is higher than the original videotapes would have ever been. Therefore we have not lost any quality in using this method. And, when the time comes, we can further transcode from the DVD into MP4 for web use. Not only is there a problem with the actual tapes playing back, but even more vital are the machines to play them on. Maintaining these machines is now vital and using them to transfer tapes onto new media is a big task for everyone with a videotape library. For example, the BBC, over many years have done this same process to digitise the whole of its archive, both videotape and film.

Colin Grimshaw June 2019

South Kensington Campus: 1998

June 2nd, 2019

Back in 2016 I posted some stock footage of the South Kensington Campus that I had shot in 1992. Here’s an updated version of that with footage shot 21 years ago in 1998. The quality will be better because it was originated on broadcast quality Betacam tape. You will see some nice views of Princes Gardens with both of the original Southside and Linstead Halls. Maybe you might even see yourself in the JCR or on the original Exhibition Road entrance and walkway? I’ve added some captions to remind you of the names of certain places along with any new names that might have come about since 1998, an example being Dalby Court.

I hope this might bring back some memories for those who were at Imperial during this time period.

Colin Grimshaw June 2019