Centenary Round-Up 2007

June 4th, 2018

Eleven years ago it was all over and yet another piece of archive. It’s hard to believe that the Imperial College Centenary was all those years ago, during the whole of 2007. At the end of that year, Sir Richard Sykes then the college Rector (seen on the right when the Queen visited in 2007), gave his summary of how things went.

We shot this video in the Rector’s office in the Faculty Building. Incidentally, Richard was a dab-hand at reading from Autocue and that always made our job so much easier and quicker too. Hannah Gay, who wrote the official college history, also talks about the task of creating the 900 page book.

Colin Grimshaw June 2018

History of the RSM: 1957

May 16th, 2018

In 1957 Imperial College was celebrating its 50 year half century. Many events took place that year, none of them were recorded visually and only some recorded onto audio tape or disc. One item that does survive is a presentation given by Dr S.W. Smith on the History of the Royal School of Mines up to that time. When I digitised the tape a few years ago I heard one or two things that stood out.

There is mention of attending a lecture in 1897 and the astonishing thing that he heard suggested. And on 13th March 1901 he was present at the RSM half-century celebrations, the formal dinner for which, was delayed due to the death of Queen Victoria. Fascinating to hear a college alumni talking about what was happening in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Imperial Institute @ 125: 1893

May 10th, 2018

This is a quick and extra post to celebrate the 125 years of the Imperial Institute. There are many references within the blog to both the Imperial Institute and the Queen’s Tower, some of which I have linked here. However, today in 1893 is when Queen Victoria attended the official opening ceremony. These actual photos show the scene just prior to her arrival with all the flags and bunting displayed around the building’s entrance.

A special piece of music was written for the day by Sir Arthur Sullivan and was entitled Imperial March which is not to be confused with anything relating to Star Wars for which there is music of the same name. Below is a YouTube link to that piece of music, which was first performed 125 years ago this very day. In the photo over on the left you can see Queen Victoria. If you click the image you can see it full size. Look below the canopy and you will see her, still dressed all in black and sitting on a chair.

Of course, all that remains of the buildings is what we now call the Queen’s Tower. The bells of the now free-standing tower are still rung on special occasions. Even while the building was slowly going into disuse it was made famous in a brief sequence in an Ealing Comedy,  The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), where a shot is clearly seen of the steps from the building’s main entrance. The building was not actually featured as the institute but rather as a ‘museum’.

Colin Grimshaw May 2018

A unique Commemoration Day: 2002

May 1st, 2018

Recently, whilst rearranging the shelves of archive videos I came across something I’d forgotten about. In 2002, Imperial had honoured Senior Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew (in recognition of his promotion of international trade and industry, and development of science and engineering study initiatives with the UK) by appointing him a Fellow of the College at the Commemoration Day held at the Royal Albert Hall.

Because this was a significant event, college had hired a company that occasionally provided a large video screen and cameras to help people see events in the Royal Albert Hall. We attended the event to get some background video shots and to also see what effect this new idea had on the ceremony. The previous night we had attended the first ever Commemoration Eve Dinner held at the Natural History Museum, where he gave the keynote address (seen left), we recorded and used that in full. College did not need his Commemoration Day speech recorded because we had the one from the previous day.

However, as this was the first time that cameras had been covering a Commemoration Day, I felt that this was unique enough to ask the company to make video recordings (right) of both morning and afternoon sessions. College had already indicated that they had no use for any of the footage, but, by being a ‘first’ I disagreed. So, both morning and afternoon events were recorded and promptly put into our archive collection and there they have sat for all of these 16 years.

Let’s see the first ever fully recorded Commemoration Day sessions from 23 October 2002 which are now available on line for the first time.

Colin Grimshaw May 2018

IDE Intersection 2005

April 1st, 2018

In 2005 the Industrial Design Engineering course (now called Innovation Design Engineering) held their interim show. Paul Ewing from Imperial’s Mechanical Engineering was then an IDE course tutor and he asked us to capture some of the activities during one of the evening shows. Paul acted as off-camera interviewer during the shoot at the Royal College of Art, right next door to Imperial College.

This course has now been running for over 35 years and here’s a flavour of what was happening 13 years ago…

Colin Grimshaw April 2018

New Discoveries from the past

March 27th, 2018

And yet more STOIC discoveries from 48 years ago. I was at Imperial yesterday and came across something I’d forgotten about and had really meant to do something about years ago. It’s another batch of 8mm films from the STOIC 1970-1972 “TOPIC” and “IC Newsreel” programmes era. A lot of it was shot on colour film stock, even though we only had black and white TV. All manner of things are there too! More of this once I can get them digitised.

And, just for a change, today I’m digitising two Betacam tapes that are now 16 years old. Commemoration Day 2002 was when Lee Kuan Yew was made a Fellow of Imperial College. The tapes I’m digitising are historic, as it was the first time a Commemoration Day had been recorded in its entirety and that was initially because of the special Fellowship being awarded. I have to say that they are all playing without errors – amazing!

More on all of these, soon…

Colin Grimshaw March 2018

City and Guilds Handover: 1979

March 14th, 2018

One of the great benefits of having offered to help save the large videotape archive of STOIC, can now be seen here. In May 1979 the traditional president’s ‘handover’ ceremony for the City and Guilds Union took place on the steps of the Albert Memorial.

Also featured and captured on tape was the guilds ‘Boomalaka’ cry. Making an appearance too are ‘Spanner and Bolt’ the union mascots. I’m very much hoping that when I can fully investigate all of the videotapes that there will be more items like this one, that captures the life and history of Imperial students.

You can read more about this event in the 19th May 1979 edition of Felix – see page 6.

Colin Grimshaw March 2018

IC Radio Northside Studio: 1979

February 1st, 2018

In June 1979 IC Radio were just in the middle of building their new ‘second’ studio in Northside. Harvey Nadin, who was mentioned in a previous blog, was then the forthcoming station manager. Braving the depths of black and white TV, STOIC’s Paul Johnson went along to meet Harvey and to see what was going on. You’ll notice the microphone in Paul’s hand that did not appear to actually be plugged in at the time! Oh well, that’s TV for you.

Colin Grimshaw February 2018

Music in the TV Studio: 1979

January 1st, 2018

What better way to start 2018 than with some music. 39 years ago, way back in 1979, the student TV service STOIC were recording their weekly college-wide news programme called News-Break. This particular programme from 31 October 1979 featured a college jazz group called SP3 and I have no idea where that name came from, but it must mean something, probably science related I suspect. Music was not new in the studio as we’d tried this type of thing before and again later on in the 1980’s, but then it was in colour.

Introduced by STOIC regular Dave Ghani it was also the end of the programme, so you’ll see a few end credits appearing including my name it seems. This all looks very amateur but it was all done with less than mobile cameras, in one take and with no rehearsal either.

Colin Grimshaw January 2018

Speaking Backwards at Christmas: 1974

December 18th, 2017

In previous posts I have mentioned the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures given by Professor Eric Laithwaite in December 1974.

I was involved with one of those lectures ‘Jam Tomorrow and Jam Yesterday’ which was lecture 3 in the series. During the late summer of that year Eric Laithwaite had approached me to discuss various ideas to do with things going backwards. He particularly wanted to play around with the idea of speaking backwards. These days you can very easily do such things on your computer let alone on a phone. I managed to find within our Electrical Engineering Department an audio/instrumentation recorder that was able to run backwards.

I asked Eric Laithwaite to call into the TV Studio so that I could demonstrate this to him. I recall us both playing around with speaking, or trying to speak, ‘backwards’ and then playing the actual tape backwards to see if it came out ‘forwards’. At one point he almost slid of the chair in hysterics at what sounds were coming out of the loudspeaker, some of which sounded very rude! He was sold on these ideas and I said that I would play around some more and make extra investigations. What I then decided to do was to create a tape with a sentence rather than just single words. It took ages to do and I had to cheat by editing a string of words together to create something special for the lecture. Over on the right is the original tape that was used in the lecture and now looking slightly aged.

When Eric Laithwaite heard my sentence he roared with laughter and said ‘right, I want YOU to present that in the lecture’. And so I was therefore seen presenting my achievement and also helping him during various sound recording experiments with members of the RI audience. I recall the first recording with the young boy who immediately turned his back on the cameras to face the tape recorder. The BBC floormanager then started to make furious gestures to me to get him to turn slightly so that the cameras could see him.

Five years later in his 1980 book, to go with the series, he gave me a most wonderful credit. “…Colin appeared ‘officially’ in the third lecture taking over part of the lecture in effect…”

And so, 43 years later, here I am speaking backwards at the Royal Institution.

Colin Grimshaw December 2017