Archive for the ‘College History’ Category

Queen’s Tower at 125 years old

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Back in April 2010 I devoted a whole blog to the Queen’s Tower and all of the audio-visual material we had available. Now here on 17 November 2017 it’s time to celebrate the tower’s 125th (quasquicentennial) completion date or more correctly ‘topping out’ (17 November 1892). In fact the true celebration should really be next May 2018 when it will be 125 years since Queen Victoria opened the Imperial Institute that the tower was originally part of on 10 May 1893.  But I guess that’s yet another blog opportunity for me next year.

One item that escaped in that previous 2010 blog was this sound recording that I made of the tower’s bells being run. I placed microphones in the actual the bell chamber to exclude all external noises like cars and so on. Needless to say I was not that silly to stay anywhere near the bells when they were rung. So, in the short video below you’ll hear that recording for the first time.

Watch out next May 2018 for more on the Queen’s Tower when we’ll look at the opening of the main Imperial Institute buildings.

Colin Grimshaw November 2017

Peter Mee: 2006

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

Peter Mee graduated in economics from University College London. In 1959 he moved to Imperial as assistant planning officer, a position he held for eight years and in 1967 was appointed registrar, a post he held until 1996, then becoming College secretary and clerk to the governors until his retirement. In collaboration with John Smith, the then secretary to the College, he formed the Harlington Trust.

Consistent throughout Peter Mee’s time at Imperial had been his support of sporting activities. He had been president of the IC Union Football Club and chairman of the Harlington Athletic Ground Committee. And the boat named after him by the IC Boat Club has crossed the winning line twice at Henley.

This discussion between Peter Mee and Anne Barrett, the college archivist, was recorded in the college TV Studio in May 2006. It was used, in part, during Imperial’s centenary celebrations in 2007. This is the first time that the full interview has been made available.

Colin Grimshaw October 2017

Election Lunch Break: 1976

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

In 1976 the student television service STOIC covered the student union election results live from the Great Hall. The videotape that we still have, these 41 years later,  is the earliest one that still exists. One or two programmes were made in years prior to 1976 but as these were live broadcasts, videotapes were not made. It’s a fluke that this 1976 recording is still around. It was made as an ROT (Record Off Transmission) for no other reason than for us to be able to review what was done. I actually recorded it myself on a now redundant Sony open-spool half inch tape format machine (on the right is an example of such a tape). However, for some reason it was then copied onto the U-matic format which is still (just) in working order. We moved to U-matic in mid 1979. The recording is unstable in places and has many tape drop-outs (white flashes across the screen where tape oxide is missing).

This programme was amazing in a way. Up until then all videos were recorded, or broadcast live from the studio. This was different because I had made use of some new cabling that had been installed from the Great Hall to the TV Studio. I considered that it should be possible to use this to send video and audio both from the hall to the studio and back again. I also used one of the audio cables to feed ‘ear phone cue’ to any of the presenters. Amazingly it all worked and we did that for several years. This programme was introduced in the studio by former FELIX editor Mike Williams and from the Great Hall by Mark Caldwell also with them was soon to be STOIC Chairman James Sinclair. In the photo, Mike is top left with Mark lower left and James lower right.

Colin Grimshaw August 2017

Meet Imperial College: 1979

Monday, July 24th, 2017

On 2nd May 1979 Imperial College ran a PR exercise for the local residents around the South Kensington campus. The event was called Meet Imperial College. The objective was to inform, update and educate the residents on what the college was doing at that time. The following video is the only record of the event and was shot by the student TV service STOIC. Having said that, I actually shot the video using our newly arrived colour equipment as I wanted us to have a record of the event and to have it shot properly! I’m glad I did that, some 38 years ago, because now we have a chance to see it again. Grant Richmond was the STOIC reporter at the event itself.

FELIX the student newspaper reported the event as:
” The aim of this public relations exercise was to enhance goodwill among College’s nearest neighbours for IC by showing them something of what the College was doing. Residents from all walks of life received invitations including members of the Knightsbridge Residents Association, some of whom had been vocal in their opposition to the proposed Linstead Hall extension.”

You’ll catch a brief glimpse of Eric Laithwaite and his linear motor among the many things on display. Lord Flowers the Rector, put on a brave face and spoke about the number of people who attended! The picture quality is poor. Our colour camera (as mentioned in previous entries) needed loads of light to give good images, however the location in the Sherfield Building lower refectory was dimly lit. The studio shots prior to Grant’s location report were with the same camera, but under good studio lighting.

Colin Grimshaw July 2017

Centenary 10 Years On: 2007-2017

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Today marks ten years since the Imperial College Centenary Ceremony. If you click on the link in the previous sentence you can see the special page that was created with many memories contributed by past & present staff & students. See if you can spot my contribution too. But can you really believe it’s ten years since all the fun and games that marked the centenary of Imperial College from 1907-2007? The overall one-year celebration period was entitled “100 years of living science“. What you will see below are videos from that celebration period. However, in a previous blog I included the celebrations for Imperial’s 50th Anniversary Jubilee in 1957.

Things kicked off in the Great Hall on 30th January 2007 with the Rector Sir Richard Sykes giving his centenary launch lecture.

The highlight of the year was on 9th July 2007 when HM Queen attended the centenary ceremony in the college main entrance. We covered the event with three cameras running on wireless links to avoid any cables. This also enabled us to get shots from the pavement when Her Majesty, along with HRH Prince Philip, arrived and departed, in the royal car. You’ll see the latter at the end of the video. The whole ceremony was also relayed via a web-stream around the World, one of the earliest we had done. One of the cameramen got a lovely shot when the Queen was signing the visitors book just before her departure. Like many of these events you can plan well ahead, but at the time it happens you’ve not really had a rehearsal. As I always say about this type of event, you can’t ask the Queen to do a run-through and camera rehearsal for you! So, it’s nice when you can get some great unexpected shots as you’ll see in the video. Please note that unlike BBC broadcasts of such events, there is no added commentary.

A few days after the centenary ceremony a college-wide/campuses-wide staff party was held. On 11th July 2007 a party was held like nothing Imperial had ever seen, or has seen since for that matter. We covered that party during the entire time, as you’ll see in the video below, which was presented by Darren Queralt.

Because many people, including us, were actually working during the staff party, another event was put on at the end of the year in December. It was the Beach Party and here I am with my colleague Martin Sayers and Rector Sir Richard Sykes all trying to look like it was Summer, even though it wasn’t. And hey, I still had a video camera with me it seems! I must look for that tape…

Colin Grimshaw 9 July 2017

Mary Attenborough: 1979

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

In January 1979 a mass boycott was organised against the college increasing the price of food on campus. From the 26th January edition of Felix it was reported that:

“The Union is to organise a 24 hour boycott of Southside Refectory in protest against poor quality food and high prices.
The decision by Tuesday’s Union Meeting reverses the recommendation of IC Union Executive to postpone the boycott. Union President Mary Attenborough appealed for mass support for the boycott.”

Mary Attenborough was the 73rd Union President (1978-1979) and here, from May of 1979, she’s talking to Mark Foley about this and the possibility of the union setting up their own ‘snackbar’.

(This edition of Summer Lunch Break was one of the first to contain material originated from the college TV studio in colour, but as we only had the one colour camera multi-camera interviews continued to be recorded in black and white.)

Colin Grimshaw June 2017

Professor Dame Julia Higgins: 2015

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

This is one video in a series that we recorded called ‘Academic Interviews’ and it featured Professor Dame Julia Higgins.

Julia has been studying the behaviour of complex materials, particularly polymers, at Imperial College London since joining as a lecturer in the Chemical Engineering Department in 1976. Her research group specialises in the use of neutron scattering techniques to investigate polymer behaviour. She was appointed reader in 1985 and professor of polymer sciences in 1989.

She was elected Dean of the City and Guilds College from 1993 to 1997 and was appointed CBE in 1996. In 1995 Julia was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1999. She was named a Dame in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Here, she is talking with Professor Lord Robert Winston.

Colin Grimshaw June 2017

HRH Prince Philip 1985 & 2007

Monday, May 8th, 2017

With the recent announcement from Buckingham Palace that Prince Philip will no longer carry out public engagements from this autumn 2017, I thought I’d look back at two visits by him.

Strictly speaking, the first one is not an actual visit to the campus but rather to the 1985 City and Guilds Centenary dinner held at the Guild Hall in London. He was the special guest and main speaker at the dinner and this was what he said.

During the Imperial College 2007 Centenary Celebrations a ceremony was held in the main entrance. The college conferred on Prince Philip the Degree of Doctor of Science. Lord Kerr was, at the time, Chairman of the Court and Council, the Rector was Sir Richard Sykes.

Colin Grimshaw May 2017

Life at Wye: 2003

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

In 2003 we produced a DVD for the undergraduate course in the Faculty of Life Sciences. The DVD covered course details for Biochemistry & Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences and Agricultural Science in the Department of Agricultural Sciences.

This section looked at “Life at Wye”

Colin Grimshaw May 2017

John Smith: 2006

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In July 2006, John Smith former College Secretary (1979-1989) spoke to the College Archivist Anne Barrett in the college TV Studio.

His recording formed part of the Imperial College centenary celebrations held during 2007 and this is the first time that recording has been seen in full. It’s a great insight into some of the working of the college during his time in office. There are also plenty of stories and memories of things he was involved with. The photo shows him with former Rector the late Lord Flowers.

Colin Grimshaw March 2017