Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Live-Net & Westminster Cable TV: 1987

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

Previously, I’ve mentioned the University of London’s Live-Net fibre optic cable system that once connected London’s Universities, from a central BT switching system at Senate House. Recently I’ve discovered the Thames Television news item that covered the official opening on 28 May 1987 and this can be seen below. During the opening event three sites were initially seen on screens in Senate House: Royal Holloway; Imperial and Queen Mary.

Strangely enough I don’t recall us taking any photos during this event and therefore this is the only record of the day. And if you look closely at the central screen with Imperial on it you’ll see me over on the right hand side. My academic colleague Prof Ernie Freeman was sitting in the middle and played host for our site. The image on the right is an off-screen grab of that central screen’s video feed.

Closely linked to the Live-Net technology was Westminster Cable TV. This was also a BT technology and Live-Net borrowed and improved upon that domestic system. In fact it’s closely related to our current Broadband FTTC where optical fibre brings the internet to a local street cabinet and from there it arrives at your home via copper phone lines. In Live-Net’s case it arrived directly with us as a fibre feed termination.

So what is my connection with Westminster Cable TV? Well, because of the on-going BT involvement with both Live-Net and Westminster Cable TV I got to know everyone on both projects. I was approached to sound out how an experiment might be operated to utilise a unique option that existed for the cable TV customers. That was the ‘theoretical’ ability to run video FROM the customer backwards to the Westminster Cable TV hub. Indeed the local equipment in the TV Studio had those sockets on the box, but BT had never pursued the idea. It did work when we tried it, but the image quality at the other end was apparently dreadful and unusable. In September 1990 we’d already agreed to run an experimental computer training ‘at home’ series, that was sponsored by the Training Agency. Everyone was on board, but the ‘reverse line video feed’ technology had, by then, failed us. My BT research labs colleague stepped in and had the ability to order a direct point-to-point microwave link from the top of the Electrical Engineering Building and by using this, our studio feed hopped across Hyde Park to Westminster Cable TV in Paddington.

We took live incoming phone questions too via the earpiece that was worn by Kevin Hamilton. I ran the pre-recorded opening sequence that included the Westminster Cable TV animation logo. The engineers at the other end had to switch a regular channel (A7) to accept my studio feed. Thus you’ll see my instructions on the countdown clock to remind them what to do and when. And yes, this might remind you of the 1977 STOIC News series that I also did live, using the ILEA cable TV system that fed all of the London Schools and Colleges.

Soon, I’ll go on to talk about the Olympus Satellite project, the Live-Net uplink ground station at Silwood Park and yes, you guessed it, more live TV from the TV Studio, but this time to Europe! So, yet more educational ‘firsts’ that have, so far, gone unmentioned (until now).

Colin Grimshaw September 2018

Centenary Round-Up 2007

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Thursday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Sunday, 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

City and Guilds Handover: 1979

Wednesday, 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

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

Students’ Union Rag Fete: 1979

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Way back in the days of black and white, the Student TV Service STOIC captured some of the excitement of the 1979 Students’ Union Rag Fete, that was held in Princes Gardens. This is also a good record of what the gardens looked like before they were altered at the time of the rebuilding of Southside Halls and Linstead Halls (see 1990’s photo on right). Guest celebrity was actor Christopher Biggins. The report is introduced from the TV Studio in colour, by Sarah Clifford.

Colin Grimshaw September 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