Category: Campus

Hilarious Students of Imperial College: 1925

In 1925 this would have been considered hilarious I can only assume? But at least we do have this amazing British Pathe News film of some of our students from a time long ago and this now predates our own 1928 Sports Day film. The main titles are saying that the students had their ‘own’ Lord Mayor Show, so this would have been in November of that year. But why did they do this and why did Pathe News feel it was worthy enough to actually film it? This I suspect we may never know, although it’s possible someone somewhere might be able to tell us or work it out (there’s a possible clue later). The car, in one shot, has C&G painted on the front, although this is not that clear to see. It appears that this is the first version of Bo (Boanerges) which was a 1908 Rover purchased in 1920. It was replaced by the current car in 1933 (I have noticed that there are some variations on these various dates, depending on what you read). According to Hannah Gay’s book, in the previous year to this film (1924), C&G students had parked this car outside Number 10 Downing Street with an effigy of the then Prime Minister in it. So could THIS be why Pathe shot the film, because of the previous year’s prank and in the hope they might do something silly again to be captured on film?

Beit Prince Consort RoadHaving looked, many times, at both films, I have managed to work out where it was shot. The sequences in the car seem to be just outside of Holy Trinity Church in Prince Consort Road. The modern photo gives a clue to the location in front of the door at the extreme right hand end of the church building (in this photo that’s on the left where it joins Beit please note). One shot shows the students pulling the car with a rope along Prince Consort Road, with faintly in the background the Royal College of Music and RSM behind that too. To the extreme right is where Aeronautics is now located and to the left would be Beit and then the Albert Hall.

There are two films in the Pathe News archive. The first is the edited and also titled version, while the other is listed as out-takes (unused material).

Colin Grimshaw May 2014

Queen Mother opens Biochemistry 1965

This is an update to the original entry earlier this year. Pathe have just released all of its archive onto YouTube, so I am now able to bring you the film clip direct and in higher quality, rather than going via their own website.

In November 1965 the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited Imperial College to officially open the newly completed Department of Biochemistry, headed by Sir Ernst Chain (1906-1979).  What you will see are the original 1965 (silent) film rushes shot by Pathe News for its weekly newsreel, shown in cinemas at that time. These newsreels ended in 1970. It is to be assumed that the final edited film (if that ever happened) would have had a commentary on it, but this is all silent.

icimagesThis film record by Pathe is one of the few that were shot on campus at this time. Sequences include the arrival, at the old college Exhibition Road entrance; Sir Patrick Linstead (Rector), Sir Ernst Chain and Lord Sherfield (Chairman Governing Body) all greeting the Queen Mother upon her arrival. This film would have been shot some 8 months before the sudden death of Linstead. You will also see the very obvious building work taking place across the entire campus, with a complete gap where Sherfield and the library now stand. Finally and most importantly, there are shots of Chain in his laboratory, something that we do not have in our own archives.

Were you in the crowd that day? Maybe you are one of the students lining up to speak with the Queen Mother at the end of the film? If you are, then do let us know.

Colin Grimshaw April 2014

Dr Harold R Allen 1983

Allen2Dr Harold R Allen came to Imperial College as a lecturer in October 1947 after completing a PhD at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory. He made major contributions to the Physics Department but more importantly to the musical activities within the college.

In this interview, recorded in 1983 and not long before his retirement, he talks about the 1960 transfer from the old buildings occupied by Physics, to the brand new building on the corner of Prince Consort Road and Queens Gate. Physics was the first department within Imperial College to move into an entirely new building. As well as this, he discusses his colleagues that were in the department during his years as a member of staff. There’s an interesting anecdote too about the initial design of the Physics lecture theatre and columns that were originally planned, but which would have reduced vision across the entire space.

Physics BuildingSir Roderic Hill who was Rector the time (1948-1954), is discussed as being the person to have started what was then called General Studies. Lady Hill had discovered during a conversation with Dr Allen that he had an interest in music and asked him what was the strength of musical activities going on within the college. All of this lead to the formation of a choir to sing at the then newly created Commemoration Day, the purchase of a piano followed along with the creation of a ‘space for musical activities’. He became leader, organiser and treasurer of the college orchestra.

This interview was recorded in the Imperial College TV Studio on 18th July 1983, especially for the college archives. It was intended to capture the people and history of the college for others to enjoy in the future; we are doing that now, over 30 years later!

 

A piece of sad news from Linda Jones in the Blackett Lab is that Harold Allen died on September 5th of this year, 2014.

Colin Grimshaw April 2014

Halls of Residence: 2002 & 2003

Did you live in any of the college halls of residence during your time at Imperial College? If so, you may enjoy a very brief look back at some of the halls before the big changes took place across the campus.

Linstead Hall 2004
Linstead Hall 2004

Back in 2002 Sharine Brown (1950-2010) then Head of Accommodation Services asked us to make a promotional video for showing at Open Day of that year. This was no quick or easy project. Shooting video at all of the major halls would take a great deal of time and organisation. Our big challenge, as always, was access to rooms, student areas and students themselves in some cases. The majority of shots were best left without people in them. This was because some of them were going to be seen so briefly (as you’ll see) that the inclusion of students would have distracted from what people needed to see.

The biggest change, since the original videos were shot, is the demolition and replacement of both Southside and Linstead buildings. Now called Southside and Eastside they still have their own individual halls within them. If you remember the old Linstead Hall bar (below) then look out for that. There are shots of both Southside and Linstead and across the original Princes Gardens.

Linstead Hall bar 2004
Linstead Hall bar 2004

The scaffold, seen briefly in the first video, was to reflect the rebuilding/refurbishment work then underway on certain halls. This shot was removed in the second video because that work was, by then, completed, hence why you’ll notice that there are two videos, which initially look the same, but there are differences. The first is the original, made in 2002 and the other is a modified version for 2003 that had some sequences replaced, as I have already explained. In fact we had several versions and variations which included one with a scrolling caption across the bottom with various “facts” about the college and the halls. Our big mistake was not realising that the then ‘new’ Plasma screens did not like very fast moving action across the screen and simply blurred it all out! Also, as you are watching this via the web, some of our moving ‘name plates’ are suffering too. It seems almost impossible to make a video which will display perfectly well in all situations and on all platforms. The shots of London landmarks were from a previous video I’d made, so that saved an huge amount of time. The shots of Princes Gardens with the old buildings are now a valuable record of what the college once looked like.

One thing that we did do at the start in 2002 was to produce a give-away DVD of the video for those attending the open day events. You’ll also notice that the end credit shows that the Imperial College TV Studio had transformed into Media Services between the production of the two videos. That facility has transformed again and is now part of Communications. Such is the pace of change within Imperial College.

 

Colin Grimshaw July 2014

100 years: Mechanical and Civil Engineering

It was only recently that I was made aware of the fact that both Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering were created as separate departments 100 years ago. In 1907 the City and Guilds College had a department that combined both civil and mechanical engineering. W. E. (Ernest) Dalby was then Dean of the C&G College and Professor of Engineering. Following recommendations (made by the Wolfe Barry Committee), in 1913 Dalby’s department was split in two, when separate civil and mechanical engineering departments were created. Stephen Dixon was appointed to head the civil engineering department and W.E. Dalby remained Dean of the C&G and also head of mechanical engineering.

So that’s clearly a very good reason to see what we have in the video archives that shows, or relates to, both of these departments. Seen many times before we have the amazing 1960 colour film of the City and Guilds building on Exhibition Road. Shown in the film, during the demolition of the building, is the construction of the new Mechanical Engineering Department, of which we get a ‘tour’. This video is silent please note.

New to our YouTube channel is a video I have only just recently digitised. I made it in 1993 as a promotional video for Civil Engineering under the title of ‘Building your Future’. Many aspects of the department are featured and past students are seen talking about their jobs and careers outside of Imperial. You’ll also see a field trip we made to a central London construction site.

And finally a video (or more correctly film) with links to both departments. It’s the (c)1969 film ‘This week in Britain’. Those who remember Civil Engineering from that period will immediately spot where both the opening and closing sequences were shot on the main staircase. Watch out for the Civil Engineering hydraulics lab and the Mechanical Engineering workshops, plus more.

 

Colin Grimshaw March 2014

Rectors: Sir Patrick Linstead

Sir Patrick Linstead (1902–66) was an organic chemist educated at Imperial College, whose work included the discovery of Phthalocyanine dyes. Linstead’s period as Rector (1954-1966) encompassed a time of great change. Much of the South Kensington campus was completely rebuilt during the 1950s and in the early 1960s the Empire was giving way to the new Commonwealth. This caused him to consider changing Imperial’s name, but he was implored not to by former students. In 1962, he foresaw Imperial’s eventual departure from the University of London in July 2007, writing that Imperial’s ‘importance in the educational scene is not reflected in the practices and procedures of the university’. He died in 1966 while still in office as Rector. What we have, fortunately, are some audio recordings made during his time at Imperial College.

First is his speech from the Mansion House “Jubilee” dinner, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Imperial College in 1957.
Second he is speaking during the opening of the Roderic Hill Building in the presence of The Queen Mother in 1957.
Third we have him speaking on BBC radio in February 1958, just as the Jubilee celebrations were ending. He talks about the expansion of the college which had already started at the time he was speaking. The colour photo above, which is of his official painting, depicts him holding the plans for the expansion of the college.

 

Mansion House 1957

 

Roderick Hill Building Opening 1957

 

BBC Radio 1958
 

Colin Grimshaw February 2013

Snapshots: 1992

Predating the 1993 Undergraduate and Postgraduate Videos, seen in a previous blog, Lady Clare Ash (the wife of former Rector Sir Eric Ash) made a one-off video called Snapshots.

Lady Clare Ash in 2007

It was made to showcase just some of the then current research taking place at Imperial. I seem to recall that Eric Ash was about to go on an overseas trip to several countries, including India and that this was made to accompany his presentations. You’ll notice the emphasis on past Imperial Nobel Prize winners at the start of the video and a rather slow list of Imperial’s Fellows of the Royal Society towards the end.

Several areas of research from around the college were featured. Two Nobel Prize winners included were the late Lord George Porter (1920-2002) and the late Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson (1921-1996), both are seen working in their respective labs. Bob Schroter (featured in a previous blog) talks about his work with Camels; Steve Ley, formerly from Chemistry, discusses pest control, whilst Howard Thomas from St Mary’s talks about Hepatitis Vaccine.

Towards the end, we featured some of the first ‘vox pops’ in one of our videos, where current students talk about their experiences and views of being at Imperial College. You will see the first aerial footage of Imperial used at the start of the video.  This was provided to us by the (then) University of London Audio Visual Centre and was shot by them as part of a 16mm film they made for Channel Four Television. The video concludes with the former Rector himself, Sir Eric Ash, speaking direct to the audience with his views on where Imperial is today and what his vision is for Imperial tomorrow. This was shot in the old Rectors office up in the Sherfield Building.

 

Colin Grimshaw – February 2014

Centre for Robotics and Automation 1984

In 1981 the Centre for Robotics and Automation was formed by Professor Tom Husband and was located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 30 years ago, in 1984 we made a promotional video for the centre to showcase the activities and work being carried out.  I can find little or nothing about the centre (or any photos) from college sources and assume it was closed some while after Tom Husband left Imperial College in 1990. Indeed, in Hannah Gay’s ‘History of Imperial College’ she comments that the move towards robotics didn’t work out as expected since the research attracted computer scientists rather than engineers. The only article I found on the centre is from an edition of the student newspaper Felix dated May 1985 (see pages 8&9). That centre is not to be confused with the current Centre for Robotic Surgery, which is something completely different.

The centre was located in the area of Mechanical Engineering that was on the corner that fronted onto both Exhibition Road and the entrance for cars (Imperial College Road). You can see people walking along the pavement and very close to the windows in the section that shows the Lansing robot working. The running of the robots was in fact a bit of a crowd-stopper at times, especially school kids on their way to and from the museums. It was one of the few showcases that Imperial ever had, maybe we need to bring one back again!

Colin Grimshaw January 2014

Alumni Interview 2006: Bob Schroter

Bob Schroter came to the City and Guilds College, within the Imperial College, as an undergraduate student in 1959.

Bob during a parabolic flight

In this video, recorded in 2006 for the centenary celebrations of 2007, he talks about his time as an undergraduate, then as a postgraduate and finally a member of college staff. During his time as a student, Bob became the president of the students union and since then has become heavily involved in the Old Centralians Trust. His time as president of the union involved meetings and discussions with the then Rector, Sir Patrick Linstead. During the interview Bob talks about the Links Club and the various mascots of the student unions, particularly those of City and Guilds. The Exploration Board is mentioned and the fact that this was started only a matter of years before Bob became a student at Imperial College in the late 1950’s.

Bob ends by talking about the Physiological Flow Studies Unit (PFSU) (of which he became deputy head for many years) and his research, which involved working with Camels and then Horses.

If you would like to see more of this type of Alumni video interview and can make suggestions as to who should take part, then please contact me via the LEAVE A REPLY box below. We would very much appreciate people like Rogers Knight who can tell us stories about Imperial College life in times past, especially those pre-war.

Colin Grimshaw December 2013

Images of Imperial: 2002

Made originally for showing only at the 2002 Open Day, this fast-paced video ended up being used in many different ways and on just as many occasions too. As with all these archive videos there are the usual array of shots of Imperial from the past. The video was made before we went from the old ‘square’ 4:3 video format into widescreen 16:9 so that makes it look even older to me. You will also notice that this was prior to the new Imperial branding, so the caption scrolling across only says Imperial College and not Imperial College London as it would these days. Although it’s all a bit fast to analyse each individual image, you may spot some shots of the original Southside with its bike rack, as well as the old sports gym. Can you also spot the now gone Waterstones bookshop in the Library and also the Squash court? The video was also before the completion of the new Business School and college main entrance. So the architects ‘fly through’ animation was used to give an impression of what was to come. A lot has now changed at Imperial since this video was made only 11 years ago and that includes the college TV studio closure (our logo is seen at the end of the video). I hope that Alumni will find a few memories in looking at this.

Colin Grimshaw November 2013