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
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
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
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
On the 19 February 1980, a programme celebrating just 10 years of STOIC’s history was broadcast. Now, some 42 years later I have re-digitised the master tape and managed to improve the picture slightly. But this version is now a “Director’s Cut” because I discovered a missing segment. There is an extract in this programme from the very first item that STOIC made in colour. But it was very short. During recent digitising I discovered the fullest version of this extract and have now reinstated it into the programme. James Miller a STOIC regular had the privilege of presenting the item and in the control room I also had the pleasure of hitting the switch to take them into colour! And with the words “We’re about to have STOIC in colour for the first time…” history was made.
To coincide with the 10th Anniversary programme, a birthday reception was held in the Senior Common Room in the Sherfield Building on the 15 February 1980. As many past members as possible attended and that included many former chairman. Grant Richmond went around and had a brief word with some of those Chairman. I’m pleased to say that I’m still in touch with all of those that you’ll see speaking on the video.
Colin Grimshaw February 2022
During most academic years STOIC would actively cover the ICU Elections. These became a very important part of their news events and of course included the famous live coverage of hustings and election results from the Great Hall. To assist people with finding out what was involved in these elections many different people came into the studio to talk to STOIC. Way back in January 1981 it was Liz Lindsay’s turn to be in front of the cameras. Liz was then ICU Honorary Secretary and she was chatting to Grant Richmond.
Colin Grimshaw January 2022
Former Rector (1985-1993) Sir Eric Ash died last year. In 2006 I recorded interviews with all living Rectors. Along with my colleague Anne Barrett from the college archives, we recorded in depth interviews to be used during the following centenary year 2007. Unfortunately, when the centenary year arrived communications used only extremely brief clips from all of the recordings. The interview with Eric Ash was around 50mins in total, but just 3mins 27secs was used. I did provide a different clip that ran 2mins 16secs when Imperial announced his passing, but now we can see the full length 47 min recording.
I have now edited together the full interview, which I recorded incidently in the old videoconferencing suite. You will hear Anne Barrett asking the questions and keeping the recording session flowing along.
In the above photo you can see all of the Rectors that we interviewed. Across the top: Sir Eric Ash, Sir Richard Sykes, Lord Ron Oxburgh and Lord Brian Flowers, along with their wives sitting below.
Colin Grimshaw 1 January 2022
On 5 December 1979 the editor of the student newspaper Felix called into the TV Studio to chat to STOIC about the 30th birthday. Colin Palmer was then the editor of Felix having already appeared on STOIC several times. Adrian Jeakings chatted to Colin about the beginnings of the newspaper and we had an actual copy of the very first edition to show just how very basic it was back then in 1949. They even discuss the Felix cat!
Colin Palmer was indeed no stranger to appearing on camera having covered the Pram Race in 1978. I hope you’ll also spot the STOIC sweatshirt that he’s wearing during this interview.
Colin Grimshaw December 2021
Today’s video was previously available back in 2007 via the old Imperial iMedia Server. However, that has now been decommissioned and videos are no longer accessible from it. So let’s go back to the day when Rector Sir Richard Sykes officially launched the start of demolition and ultimately rebuilding of what was called Linstead Hall, but then became Eastside Halls.
Sir Richard Sykes had already ended his term as Rector when, in 2008, Sir Roy Anderson who was then Rector, attended the Topping Out Ceremony.
Just before the end of 2009 we made a series of ‘student tours’ of the various halls of residence at Imperial College. 1st year Biochemistry Student Laura Bunting did the honours by showing us around the newly opened Eastside block.
Colin Grimshaw November 2021
2007 was the Centenary Year for Imperial College. One of the most important events during that year was the launch of the history of the college written by Dr Hannah Gay and published by Imperial College Press. The launch was held at 170 Queens Gate and we covered the event and spoke to various people including Dr Hannah Gay herself and also Sir Richard Sykes who was, at the time, the Rector of the college.
The book is a vast catalogue of Imperial’s past and I refer to it regularly when I am writing these blog posts. That’s not to say that the book contains everything and indeed sometimes, even I, resort to Google to find what I’m looking for.
When we made this video we were still called Media Services (ah, those were the days!) and producing videos for anyone in college, not just Communications who we were soon to come under the umbrella of. It was soon after this that we stopped being a service that was available to anyone else in college. A sad moment to be honest and a huge disadvantage to other members of Imperial who wanted to have a video made professionally.
Colin Grimshaw October 2021