June 22nd, 2015
It’s 50 years since the official opening of the University of London Reactor Centre housed at Imperial’s Silwood Park campus. Silwood Park is located about 25 miles West of Central London, near the village of Sunninghill, Ascot, Berkshire. On 22nd June 1965 the official opening took place with the Principal of the University of London, along with the Imperial College’s Rector Sir Patrick Linstead, Pro Rector Sir Owen Saunders and Chairman Lord Sherfield. In 2011 the process application to decommission the ‘GEC 100kW Consort’ reactor was started and is being continued today. Sadly, although the archive has BBC Footage shot at the 1965 opening ceremony, it’s minus the sound track, so the on-screen presentation and interviews mean very little. That’s rather a disappointment as it captures a key part in the college’s history. The photo on the right is during construction. What I do have is a segment from the 1982 documentary that I made about Silwood Park and fortunately we shot a section about the reactor and its operation. Tracy Poole spoke with Dr McMahan a lecturer in Physics about the operation of the reactor centre. We shot inside the main reactor hall, control room and experiments lab. I’m so glad we did this because it will be the only archive material shot about the reactor before it eventually disappears for good. Because it’s a ‘pool type’ water cooled and water moderated reactor it’s possible to open the reactor up and seen inside the core (yes it’s true). Then you will see a bright blue glow caused by the Cherenkov radiation. The image on the left show this glow which I witnessed myself when I took the shots for the video whilst standing on top of the reactor. When we made this video the reactor centre was still relatively new and only 17 years old, now it’s celebrating 50 years! As indeed I do myself, later this year, with 50 years of working at (and since early retirement, occasionally with) Imperial College!
Below is the documentary extract about the reactor centre and also some lovely aerial helicopter footage we had shot, which shows the beautiful Silwood Park campus.
Colin Grimshaw June 2015
June 1st, 2015
In 1996 we were asked to produce a promotional video for Compulog Net, Europe’s Network of Excellence in Computational Logic. Imperial College was one of eighty or more ‘nodes’ of this network and also acted in a managerial role. Making “The Benefits of Logic Programming” was to take us to locations in the UK, France and Germany over several months. One of the biggest problems to overcome was the packing-up and transportation of the camera equipment from Imperial to locations in Europe. Extra baggage weight on aircraft and customs are things I prefer to not get involved with. The number of forms that needed to be completed, to prove to customs that we actually owned the equipment and were not trying to export/import it, was ridiculous. However, it was all overcome and we shot the required footage as planned. There were only a few occasions when we went overseas and it’s such a pity that more departments with projects linking into Europe didn’t make professional videos like this one, especially with the potential of YouTube these days. My colleague Martin Sayers had only been with me a day or so before we went off to France to shoot some video, a nice way to start a new job! A favourite person to record our voice-overs was Michael Rodd, formally of BBC’s Tomorrows World and as usual he did an excellent job for the Compulog Net video. Michael now runs his own company Lipfriend Rodd. I shot the photos, above, whilst we were in Germany at the DFKI in Saarbrücken.
Colin Grimshaw June 2015
May 1st, 2015
The May 2003 Postgraduate Awards Graduation Ceremony was the first time that we had taken cameras into the Royal Albert Hall for this particular event. The previous October 2002, we had relayed the scenes from the stage onto a large projection screen. This was for the special Commemoration Day visit by Lee Kuan Yew. However, I asked the company providing the cameras if they would record the event anyway, even though we didn’t have a use for it at that time (other than archival). Those videotapes are still in our archive and I will, at some point, run them off into digital form for the benefit of those who graduated that day. The following May 2003 we were asked to once more make arrangements to provide cameras and a large screen for the Postgraduate Awards Ceremony. Again, I asked that we record the whole event to ascertain the feasibility of recording and then distributing the event coverage on DVD, we also did the same in October for Commemoration Day. What you will see below is that 2003 recording, which has been digitised for the first time, from the only recording made, which was on a DVD-RW disc.
In 2004 we recorded the PG Awards ceremony once more, but with the specific intention of creating and making available DVD’s. The disc produced and its art work was created totally in-house, other than the actual disc pressing which was not possible for us to do. That first disc created can be seen on the left hand side. This process carried on for many years (along with Commemoration Day each October) until the ceremony coverage was eventually made available only on the Imperial YouTube channel, rather than on DVD’s.
Colin Grimshaw May 2015
April 23rd, 2015
In this blog entry I’m bringing you the oldest moving images that we have of an Imperial event. We are very fortunate to have a 1928 16mm film that an unknown person shot of both Morphy Day rowing at Putney and also of Sports Day, which is thought to have been held at the Chelsea Football Club grounds at Stamford Bridge. In 1920, Arthur Morphy had presented a cup for an eights race between the original three constituent colleges. Competition for the Morphy Cup became an important annual event in college life. From looking at the film, we can only assume that this was shot before the rivalry became common at Morphy Day between the colleges, that saw flour and eggs being thrown around on the tow path. None of that appears on this film. Interestingly, we can also assume that the film was shot by somebody who was not a student at the college, because when you look at the film the word Morphy is spelt incorrectly. Arthur Morphy’s Son attended City and Guilds (1917-1920) and went on to co-found the company Morphy Richards. Ted Coulson, seen in the second sequence of Tug-of-War and in the picture on the right, was the City and Guilds team coach. If you have any further information to fill in the gaps about this film then please do get in touch. We’d love to know who shot the film and why.
Colin Grimshaw April 2015
April 1st, 2015
If you saw the May 2013 blog entry you will have been taken back to 1982 with a video made in the Chemistry Department’s laboratory teaching video series.
These were designed to show students a definitive version of a laboratory experiment or technique. In this example we recorded a video to show how to correctly seal an Ampoule. Apparently too many mistakes were being made by students when trying to understand how to complete this task and therefore a lot of glassware (and chemicals) were being thrown away. With the video at hand, students could play it as many times as they needed and thereby get the hang of the techniques involved with the process.
So here then is Dr Derek Wollins back in 1984 showing you how to Seal an Ampoule.
Were you a student in Chemistry and did you watch this and other videos during your lab sessions? Do let us know if this was the case.
Colin Grimshaw April 2015
March 24th, 2015
Mr Lee served as Singapore’s Prime Minister for 31 years from 1959 to 1990, later becoming Senior Minister and Minister Mentor. During this period, Imperial and Singapore forged a wide range of education and research ties and in 2002 the College recognised Mr Lee’s extraordinary achievements with the award of the Fellowship of Imperial College at a graduation ceremony on its annual Commemoration Day.
On the eve of the ceremony, Mr Lee took the chance to reminisce about his first visit to London as a student in 1946, sharing some of his characteristically forthright views on Britain and the world at a special dinner for over 600 Imperial alumni, staff, students and friends held in the Natural History Museum’s Dinosaur Hall.
In 1965, when Singapore achieved independence, 19 Singaporean students attended Imperial. Today the College educates 400 Singaporean students, has a 2,000-strong alumni community, and Imperial researchers publish hundreds of joint papers with partners in Singapore.
The College’s ever growing ties with Singapore culminated in the establishment of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), a joint medical school between Imperial and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which welcomed its first students in 2013.
In October 2014, Singapore’s President Dr Tony Tan visited Imperial as part of his first UK State Visit, going on to lay the foundation stones for new buildings at LKCMedicine in January 2015.
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
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.
The 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.
Colin Grimshaw February 2015
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
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. Patrick 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