Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister, died on 23 March 2015. He was one of the most illustrious recipients of the Fellowship of Imperial College.
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.
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