I have a feeling that this is yet another RAG event that has long disappeared. The Chariot Race down Oxford Street from Speaker’s Corner was last referenced in FELIX way back in 1976 and has not been mentioned since. Well, until today of course because we have some silent 8mm film once again shot by STOIC. This was yet another item featured in their weekly news programme TOPIC. This particular item has suffered from the ‘home processing’ that was carried out on these black and white films. I think that a combination of over exposure and dodgy processing has resulted in rather poor quality. However, it is a wonderful record of what Imperial students used to get up to to raise money during RAG week 50 years ago.
This 8mm film that we have is from 1972 and is not even listed in the STOIC archive index. That is simply because the original videotape in which the film was used no longer exists. In this case I cannot find any corresponding audio, which I assume was added during the recording of TOPIC, so it will appear silent.
Colin Grimshaw October 2022
The Inter-CCU Raft Race across the Serpentine in 1979 is yet another part of college history that’s very difficult to find anything about. I can certainly find several references to the event in Felix, but nothing about why it started. What I can tell you is that this 1979 race is the first I found mentioned, so it could have been the first race to happen and the reason why STOIC recorded it.
Of the listings in FELIX, there are only mentions of the fact that it’s happening or that it had already happened and which CCU won it (photo on right). Just one tiny extra piece I found was this ‘thanks’ from the Union President who said after the 1979 race: “Thanks to the Underwater Club for giving up their Sunday Lie-In to ensure the safety of the Raft Race“. And there was one photo in Felix announcing that RCS had won the race.
So sit back and enjoy this brief coverage of what may have been the very first Raft Race across the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park. It started in Prince’s Garden and then up the roads to Hyde Park.
Colin Grimshaw September 2022
In October 2007 we covered the Freshers’ Fair for the first time. Lots of the usual interviews with new students and an added bonus of a few words from Sir Richard Sykes who was then Rector of the college. This was the first time (maybe because it was the Centenary Year?) that Communications had shown any interest in the event being recorded. Prior to that, the first recorded time Freshers’ Fair had been covered was by STOIC and that was in 1980. In October 2019 I discovered that videotape and posted a blog with the original location report by Grant Richmond. Click the link to go to that blog.
The 1980 recording was of course in black and white, but we went into colour very soon after that. 2007 was in colour and widescreen and shot in digital format. Back in 1980 it was pretty awful low resolution black and white.
So here then is the first Freshers’ Fair covered by, and for, the college administration.
Colin Grimshaw August 2022
In 1999 the BBC had a TV series called Local Heroes. It was presented by Adam Hart-Davis and featured various people who had made significant contributions to science etc. One programme featured Prof Eric Laithwaite. Filming took place in Eric Laithwaite’s original lab in Electrical Engineering. They needed various extras, so not surprisingly they contacted me. I provided the portrait photo (taken by my colleague Neville Miles); as well as giving them access to some film clips, and also pointing them towards other BBC materials that I knew about. One clip that I mentioned to them was the Noel Edmonds ‘Multi-Coloured Swap Shop’ clip. Having been involved with the 1974 RI Christmas Lectures I also made sure that they knew about those too. Not a bad piece, except they got his title incorrect. It should have been Professor of Heavy ELECTRICAL Engineering, they left electrical out!
The opening sequence is before the college main entrance changed completely, so that’s a flashback for those who remember it the way it once was.
Colin Grimshaw July 2022
I can’t find a great deal of information about the Pedal Car Club, other than there are several references in Felix to the ‘Guilds’ Pedal Car Club. One of the Felix mentions from August 1983 had this photo on the front page. In the video you’ll spot Bo, so does this confirm the Guilds link? The first mention in Felix was in 1967 and the last in 1983, so I’m assuming it no longer exists? Anyway, once again we can enjoy this 1972 8mm film shot by STOIC for inclusion in TOPIC and with the added bonus of the original commentary as recorded by Graham Foster. There are also some nice views of the original layout of the gardens along with brief shots of the old Southside and Weeks Halls.
Colin Grimshaw June 2022
Starting in 1986 I made a series of videos for the college’s radiation protection advisor (RPA). The series came about because of the radiation training programme that Imperial then ran, down at Silwood Park. I was contacted by Margaret Minski (1937-2019) then the college’s RPA. She was interested in making a video to be used at one of the training courses being run at Silwood. The first of seven videos made from 1986 to 1990 was ‘Radioactive Waste Disposal on a Non-Industrial Scale’. Initially this was used only during the training course. However, after several courses were run, Margaret was getting enquiries as to whether copies of the video could be purchased. People who had been on the courses felt that having a copy of the video would allow them to have a better continued knowledge of what they had been taught.
So we started to produce small numbers of this first video and suddenly discovered that this could actually provide a small income, but who for? Margaret agreed with me that this would not be an area that she would want to get involved with. Trying to send out invoices and then split and distribute money was not worth wasting her time on. So, I proposed that we sell the videos and any income would go to the TV Studio and subsequent video production would be at no cost to Margaret; so long as income continued. And that was the basis for the production of all seven videos in the series.
The majority of the sequences were shot at the then Reactor Centre Laboratories at the Silwood Park Campus. The entire reactor site and labs have now been demolished, so some of the sequences are the only record of parts of the labs. The video below is made up from clips from three videos we shot. I selected these for two reasons. Firstly, we see the entrance to the labs and methods then used to both enter and leave the area. Secondly, we see Margaret in one clip explaining the process. The voice that you’ll hear in other sections is that of Dr Ruth Osborn, then the X-Ray Safety Advisor for Imperial, who acted as producer on all of the videos.
Colin Grimshaw May 2022
Today we have yet another amazing discovery. Like the previous post showing the Rag Procession, this is the 1972 “24th Hyde Park Relay Race”, as captured by the 8mm film camera of STOIC. But I have also found the 50 year old recorded commentary that would have been used when the film was inserted into the news programme TOPIC. I can also tell you that Graham Foster, a STOIC member and regular reporter is heard on that commentary. STOIC used the TV Studio’s Uher sound recorder to capture the genuine background sounds during the race. This is also one of those black and white films that they processed themselves ‘in house’. I have included the section from the 1980 interviews with STOIC Chairman, where Tim Dye talks about that 8mm film processing. The commentary does not quite fit the full duration of the film that I have included here. Graham also mentions that the race was organised by IC Cross Country Club. The most recent mention of the club is in Felix issue 1744 dated 21 February 2020 and mentions the race the previous Saturday 8th.
There is a race report on page 7 of FELIX issue 310 (9 March 1972) the headline is down below along with the 1972 video.
Colin Grimshaw April 2022
STOIC had covered many Pancake Races in the Beit Quad, but in February 1980 something very different happened as we’ll see soon.
Coverage of the Pancake Race is listed as early as 1976 in the videotape index. That however was because it was being indexed with item maintained on videotape. However in the earlier days programmes were recorded, shown and then re-recorded over the next time around. As seen in previous blogs there is a limited archive of surviving materials on film. Started back in 1970, 8mm movie film was used to capture some events taking place outside of the TV Studio. There is just the one instance of a Pancake Race on film and thanks to the diary of Tim Dye a former STOIC Chairman I’m able to date this to 6 March 1973. I have digitised this and it’s available to see below.
But before we see that film from 1973 we should really see something rather different. The wife of the Rector, Lady Flowers making pancakes for Grant Richmond from STOIC. This all took place in the kitchen of the Rector’s flat at 170 Queens Gate and the only video recorded in there. It was seen on 20 February 1980.
Colin Grimshaw March 2022
Let’s go back 50 years this month to see the RAG Procession taking place around the High Street Kensington area. This is yet another ‘find’ in the archives. I had just digitised a whole collection of 8mm films and spliced together on one reel were three films with white leader in-between. All of the films were used in the now lost series of STOIC news programmes called TOPIC.
Because the only method to cover events was on 8mm film, a collection of these were kept; even though the programme videotapes were erased 50 years ago. I also recalled that I’d discovered a reel of audio tape marked STOIC Sound Archives along with a written list of what was on the tape. I went back to the list and RAG Procession was listed there. I digitised the segment and discovered that it was a pre-recorded voice-over and background sound that would have run in sync with the film when used in the programme. I also recognised the voice of STOIC member Robin Davies recording the commentary. Getting the sound off of the tape was not very easy because it was spliced into the reel of tape the wrong way around and was also over-recorded onto a tape that had an original 1/2 track recording on it and this was breaking through. Never the less, I got the tracks off and attempted to sync them up with the original film. It then appeared that the commentary and background sound did not cover the entire length of the film, but rather started at a later point. Therefore the section at the start is mute before the sound track commentary starts. I guess a decision was made to not use the first 30 seconds of the now edited film. When I was digitising the tape I could hear clearly a film projector running in the background and assume that’s how the commentary was synced with the film when it was recorded by Robin. Former STOIC Chairman Tim Dye recently passed a diary listing onto me of things that were happening between 1972-1973. I can now tell that Tim was the person who actually filmed this event on Saturday 12 February 1972 and would also certainly have edited it.
So for the first time in 50 years here again is that RAG Procession film, seen as it was originally shot in colour, but only ever seen once in black and white. And of course with that slightly delayed start to the commentary.
Colin Grimshaw February 2022
During my time of writing this blog I have either discovered or rediscovered many items that are now considered unique. Most of the items are maintained on videotape, some on film and a few (very few) on audio tape. The archive that I created when the College TV Studio started is limited in its range. This is because of the nature of how we worked and how jobs were created and importantly who commissioned them. We were not able to simply go off and record what we thought might be nice and therefore create a stockpile of unwanted items. We had to wait for someone in college to request a job and ultimately book and pay for it.
STOIC, the Student TV Service did not have this problem. Everything, and almost anything, was fair game for them to record and to then be used in their weekly news-magazine programmes, either TOPIC, Lunchbreak or News-Break. As discussed in other blogs, in 2009 I was able to save the entire STOIC videotape archive from being put into a skip during major rebuilding work in the basement of the Students Union building.
When I was digitising a tape from their News-Break series I spotted something in the programme running order that jumped out at me. Item 7 “Prof Salam – Physics Lecture”. I realised immediately that this was Abdus Salam our 1979 Nobel Prize winner from our Physics Department. I recalled that I had looked before to see if either I had recorded anything of him or whether there was anything in the college archives – there was nothing. This then had to be important and potentially THE only recording that Imperial had and indeed it turned out (so far) to be the case.
Sadly this segment of Abdus Salam is brief, some 44 seconds remain. It was his lecture that took place in the college’s Great Hall in the Sherfield Building on 18 February 1980. Not only did STOIC cover the event but so did Felix and splashed it over their 22 February 1980 front cover with the headline of “Can I unify Gravity?”. The clip you’ll see includes the original studio introduction to the news item by David Ghani one of STOIC’s regular presenters on News-Break.
Colin Grimshaw February 2022