Buildings and Centres: One

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Buildings come (down) and buildings go (up), but, as you will have guessed from these blogs, archives live on. And in doing so, we are able to reach back in time to see and hear what happened at an event or ceremony, which marked the opening or closing of an Imperial College building. I’m going to split the buildings and centres blog content into several parts, with this being the first.

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The first video however is not really an opening of a building as such, but rather a ‘renaming’ of one. The Physics Department was renamed the Blackett Laboratory in the honour of Lord Blackett (1897-1974) on 3 December 1975. The Prime Minister at the time, Harold Wilson, delivered the Blackett memorial lecture. This is the first recording of a Prime Minister in the archives; Edward (Ted) Heath, Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown were to follow. The recording is poor and was made by the department hosting the event. Originally recorded on half-inch open spool videotape, I have since transferred it to DVD for safe keeping.

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In 1991 new premises were opened for the Centre for Biological and Medical Systems (now renamed Dept of Bioengineering), which had formed earlier in 1989. The new premises were made possible by a donation from the Leon Bagrit Foundation and the centre was named after him, the Sir Leon Bagrit Centre. The evening before the Royal opening by the Princess Royal (Princess Anne as Chancellor of the University of London) a formal dinner was held, with speeches from amongst others, Sir Eric Ash, then Rector. You will have to forgive the picture quality during the dinner speeches as we were limited to shooting under candlelight only .

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Work on the new Imperial College School of Medicine building started in 1997.  The Queen opened the completed building, which was to be named the Sir Alexander Fleming Building, on 21 October 1998 and, at the same ceremony, presented the college with its new royal charter. The ceremony took place on the balcony overlooking the atrium, which is in the centre of the building.  To make it easier for people to see what was happening, a large video projection screen was placed below the balcony where the speeches were given. Those gathered around the atrium had an amazing view of both the ceremony and the building.  As you will see from the video itself, once the official speeches were over the Queen  then toured parts of the building speaking to both staff and students. After the visit, Her Majesty then proceeded to the Albert Memorial to unveil the newly restored monument.

As I said at the start, there will be more on the subject buildings and centres soon. Keeping checking back for: the Royal opening of the new college entrance; opening of the Honda Wind Tunnel; opening of the Fujitsu Parallel Computing Centre and more.


Colin Grimshaw 2010

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