Category: College History

STOIC@50: 1970-2020

Three months after I started this Video Archive Blog I featured STOIC, that was in February 2010. Then, it was a mere 40 years since the Student TV Service had started. But now it’s reached the half century. You can of course read the two blogs about STOIC (One and Two) where you’ll find videos and lots of photos. So I won’t repeat all of those things again. What I will do is to include items that were never featured before and in particular videos discovered in the current digitisation of the STOIC archive.

What better way than to begin with those who started STOIC back in 1970 and continued thereafter. In 1980 it was 10 years since the start of their TV service and the video “Happy Birthday to Us” was made to celebrate and you can see that video in my blog STOIC One (links above). At the anniversary reception, held in the Senior Common Room on 15 February 1980, interviews were recorded with past Chairmen of STOIC including Andy Finney who was really the person who got things off the ground. Asking the questions is Grant Richmond who you will read more from later.

In the blog STOIC One there’s a 1971 tour of the Electrical Engineering Department’s (level 3) TV Studio, but now we have the tour made in June 1974. This is also a great record of the studio itself which is not captured anywhere else. Mark Caldwell, seen in the birthday video, makes the introduction. It was shot in one go with no editing except for one or two stops and starts between sections (stopping and then restarting the video recorder). It also features my former colleague Steve Bell (on camera one) who is in the next video too!

In January 1974, six months before the above video was made, STOIC pre-recorded an opening sequence for the then news programme TOPIC. Like the studio tour video it was shot in one go. But, regardless of the production quality it has some great shots of the (Elec Eng) TV Studio along with STOIC’s very own rotating logo, studio control room and STOIC’s RCA 2 inch quad recorder, all now long gone! Steve Bell is heard at the very start announcing the ‘take number and then seen with headphones on. You can also see a brief glimpse of STOIC’s Sony “rover” camera on a tripod in the studio.

The Electrical Engineering TV Studio as it originally looked when STOIC started in 1970, can be seen in some unique colour film. It shows the original PYE black and white vidicon cameras and studio set-up. I’m seen, blurred in long shot, operating the Ampex One Inch recorder. You can also see the crude video monitors (with me operating the film camera) and the PYE vision mixer.

And finally, some 3 years before STOIC ceased to use what, by then, had become the College TV studio, we have a rediscovered recording, shot behind the scenes. It was recorded in the Control Room on 13 June 1983 during the weekly transmission of Newsbreak. Martin Bolding is on sound and also continuity with Tim Davey on vision mixing.

Earlier I mentioned Grant Richmond who now lives in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia. He had a few comments to make when he looked back at his time studying at Imperial and his involvement with STOIC and its 50 years.

“I would say it is really impressive and reminds me of how much extra-curricular activity there was at Imperial, especially considering such a small on-campus population. My point is how remarkable STOIC was to inform (& entertain?) the student community and I would like to think, staff too. I know technology has changed so anyone with a mobile phone can capture events these days and upload to YouTube, but there is no editorial discipline and it’s probably quite hard to get attention. At least with STOIC they had no choice in the JCR at lunchtime! I am most grateful for the opportunity STOIC gave me to participate and to be able to see the record of some of these activities all these years later.”

A lot more will be found from my first two blogs featuring STOIC and in particular the “Happy Birthday to Us” video, which more or less tells the whole story of how they started, and indeed ran, until leaving the College TV studio in summer 1986. To end, I have recreated the STOIC logo that I designed and added an updated version of the jingle that has never been heard before. It was on the master tape at 15ips, which was a tape speed that we couldn’t run. Now, hopefully, the sound quality will come through at last.

And with the time just after 6:24 STOIC is now closing down……

 

Colin Grimshaw 17 February 2020 – Happy Birthday to Them

Interferon Pilot Plant: 1980

In the February 2019 blog, about Imperial Biotechnology Ltd, I included a Thames Television interview with Dr Trevor Langley. Through the current digitisation of the STOIC archives I now have something homegrown about the pilot plant. In May 1980 Tracy Poole (now Dudley) reported on the current work being undertaken and also interviewed Prof Brian Hartley, a former Head of Department in Biochemistry.  He was then overseeing the entire project.

The pilot plant was ultimately closed and dismantled in 1994 and was finally refurbished as the Flowers Building.

Colin Grimshaw February 2020

 

Iranian Embassy Siege memories: 1982

In the September 2019 blog I showed what I thought were the only archived videos from STOIC’s reports on the May 1980 Iranian Embassy Siege. However, in digitising more videos I have discovered an item that would have been missing, had it not been included in a 1982 news programme as an ‘archive’ clip. One of the reporters for STOIC was Tracy Poole (now Tracy Dudley) and she was about to leave Imperial after her 3 years of study. Lawrence Windley managed to speak with her during a chance visit to Imperial’s field station at Silwood Park.

Interestingly, this video includes shots that are not in the previous September blog. They include dramatic views from the top of the Southside Hall of residence when the embassy building had been set on fire. You can also see a fire engine parked outside Weeks Hall which backed onto the embassy. Indeed I’m fairly certain that some shots were taken from the rear of Weeks Hall.Another view was clearly from the Queens Tower.

The original video report was before we moved into full colour.

Colin Grimshaw January 2020

Pram Race with Willie Rushton: 1978

As mentioned in a previous blog about rag events, here is one of only two surviving recordings of a Pram Race. This is from 1978 when comedian Willie Rushton (1937 – 1996) took part. It started at Southside in Princes Gardens and seemed to work its way down Exhibition Road to South Kensington. STOIC’s Lunch Break reporter Colin Palmer (a former Felix editor) followed along and interviewed as the procession progressed.

I have also discovered a video of a Raft Race taking part in Hyde Park. These also seemed to start from Princes Gardens, but more of that soon.

First though, here is that 1978 Pram Race, and did YOU take part?

Colin Grimshaw 1st January 2020

Diana Rigg opens the 1978 Rag Fete

 

In the 1970’s it seemed to be the ‘in thing’ to get celebrities to open the Union Rag Fete each year. In 1978 it was Diana Rigg (1938-2020) (Dame Diana) who was asked to perform the duty of opening the event. As usual it was held in Princess Gardens and the day was Saturday 6 May. Sadly in the FELIX archive there are no editions recorded (assumed lost) for the years 1977 and 1978. This makes it a little difficult to get any further background details about the fete and how much was raised on the day.

Luckily though, STOIC were there to record the event and were able to get an interview with Diana Rigg. Judging by the ‘shuttered concrete’ background, this was clearly shot somewhere in Southside. Once again this video was rescued during the digitisation of the STOIC video archive and was originally shot on the Sony “Rover” recorder and mastered on the old Ampex One Inch videotape format. And, because the editions of FELIX for that period, now appear lost, this is the only record of that day.

UPDATE: Thanks to Martin Watson for the Felix centre page spread scan, seen at the top. Martin has some of the missing copies in his personal ‘bound’ collection of issues. Click the image to make full screen.

Obituary: Dame Diana Rigg

Colin Grimshaw December 2019 (updated May 2021)

Chris Fox – ICU President: 1979

To celebrate the 10th anniversary year of my Video Archive Blog, I am bringing you a recent 40 year old videotape re-discovery.

1979 was interesting for both STOIC and the TV Studio. It was when we started our move into colour and also the move from Ampex open spool tape, to Sony U-Matic cassette. Because of that move, a large number of early Ampex tapes were never copied onto cassette (some actual tapes we still have).  I can still playback these Sony cassettes, use and transfer them into digital. However, it was sheer luck that during recent transfers I found today’s video on what was called a ‘dump’ tape.

Back on 15th March 1979 STOIC were broadcasting their evening version of Lunchbreak, the news programme usually made for showing at 1pm and then repeated at 6pm. This particular programme was not recorded but was live. That’s because it was the day of the UGM (Union General Meeting) where the new sabbatical officers and president for the student union were elected. The evening ‘election special’ programme was therefore a round-up of what happened and who was elected. The newly elected president for 1979-1980 was Chris Fox.

This particular interview was deemed to be important enough, that sometime around 1980 it was copied onto a Sony U-Matic cassette. Important it has now turned out to be, because:  former 3rd year chemistry student, former president of the Royal College of Science Union (RCS) and President of ICU, Chris Fox, is now Baron Fox of Leominster. Chris joined the House of Lords in 2014. He is currently (2019) the Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). You can read about Lord Fox on the UK Parliament web page.

It’s great to have a former student move to such heights and also the fact that we have him recorded while he was still a student at Imperial College. All of this goes to show the importance of videotape archives, the maintaining of them and allowing people to be able to see them. I’ve enjoyed doing all of this for the first ten years…

Happy Birthday 2009-2019.

Colin Grimshaw 8th December 2019 (10th Anniversary Day)

Lord Flowers Imperial’s finances: 1980

Whilst transferring more of the STOIC videotape archive into digital, I found this interview. It’s one that I had forgotten all about and is with Lord Flowers, then Rector, recorded 39 years ago in the TV Studio in October 1980. He had, a few days earlier, given his address at Commemoration Day. In that address, for the very first time, an appeal had been made to alumni for a covenant from each student of £20 a year for a total of five years. He had explained that this would assist the college with approximately a quarter of a million pounds a year. Just before you’ll see this interview there is a brief sequence actually shot during that speech at the Royal Albert Hall. This is actually the very first time a Commemoration Day had been videotaped, so it’s unique for that alone.

Here, he is talking with Mike Prosser both a presenter and a past chairman of STOIC.

Colin Grimshaw October 2019

Iranian Embassy Siege: 1980

For a thankfully brief period, 39 years ago, in May 1980, life in and around Imperial College changed. This was due to the now famous Iranian Embassy siege that took place in Princes Gate. The main concern for Imperial College was the fact that in Northside of Princes Gardens the buildings of: Weeks Hall, Garden Hall, Sports Centre and more, all backed onto the embassy building. I recall students from Weeks Hall telling me that they had to keep all windows closed and covered and to stay away from the windows at all times.

That week’s copy of Felix the student newspaper seemed to be somewhat concerned that the Rag Fete would have to be relocated to the Queens Lawn rather than Princes Gardens as planned. They also included a photo of a police marksman somewhere behind the embassy, probably in the rear gardens of college property and that there was also one of the roof of Weeks Hall. There was also mention of at least one Imperial student being arrested.

Clearly this was news for both Felix and in particular for STOIC. With the aide of their trusty portable camera and recorder they ventured off to report of what was happening. Thanks to the current digitisation of the STOIC videotape archive I found all three location reports and saved them. These reports were such hot news that they had to be fitted in prior to and after, the showing of the weekly news programme NewsBreak at lunch time and in the evening. Mike Prosser was continuity voice-over that day and introduced the clips.

Colin Grimshaw September 2019

Linstead Hall Extension: 1978 & 1980

41 years ago in 1978 the big question of the day was will the Linstead Hall extension in Princes Gardens be built, because finances were not going as planned ? As you will see from the video, this question was being asked in both Felix the student newspaper and on STOIC during its weekly news programme Lunch Break.

We are indeed lucky that during the current digitising of batches of STOIC videos, I’ve found two items related to this topic. The first from 1978 has an on site report from James Miller and then an interview, in the TV Studio, with James Sinclair talking to Hugh Barrett, the then Student Union President. Lastly and amazingly, we have another on site report by Mike Prosser after the project was actually completed and the building finally opened.

Colin Grimshaw July 2019

Vision from the past

We will be having some newly discovered items coming up in future blogs. I’m now slowly working my way through many boxes of videotapes from the extensive archive of STOIC and digitising then. If you recall, I managed to save these from being trashed many years ago when STOIC had to clear out their space for rebuilding. If I hadn’t had the college archives take the lot, then they would, by now, have been recycled!

Why is this collection important to Imperial? Well, in the TV Studio we had a specific remit and that was to record what was required for teaching, promotion and so on. All of these jobs created income for the studio and we could not just go off and record what we wanted to, without someone paying for it. However, STOIC could and indeed did just that. Therefore, in their archive we have interviews with not just students but with people like Rectors, Admin Staff, College Secretaries, Professors and so on. These, in some cases, are unique and now invaluable to us.

At present I am digitising a U-matic videotape that has a 40 year old recording of the then Student Union President Chris Fox (seen on the screen above). On the 15 March 1979 live on STOIC, from the college TV Studio, he chatted to Paul Johnson. I’ll be showing that in the next blog. Getting these videotapes to play back is not always that easy. Tapes are showing their age and tend to shed oxide and clog the video heads. This then requires the lid to be taken off the machine and the heads and guides, cleaned (photo on right).

Once the tape will play back from start to finish it’s then time to adjust the video levels before capturing onto hard drive and finally onto DVD. When these tapes were made, the cameras were within a category called ‘industrial’ and sometimes ‘educational’. They had pick-up tubes, not chips, as in these days. Lighting was basic and sometimes crude. Our ability to adjust these cameras individually was limited to say the least. Therefore, when replaying these tapes here in 2019 I have to almost ‘ride’ the video signal and adjust it, as the cameras switch around on the recording.

The final DVD then resides in the tape box and the side marked accordingly. That will mean (hopefully) that even if the tape can’t be played back in the future the DVD will be. It’s worth pointing out that the quality of a DVD is higher than the original videotapes would have ever been. Therefore we have not lost any quality in using this method. And, when the time comes, we can further transcode from the DVD into MP4 for web use. Not only is there a problem with the actual tapes playing back, but even more vital are the machines to play them on. Maintaining these machines is now vital and using them to transfer tapes onto new media is a big task for everyone with a videotape library. For example, the BBC, over many years have done this same process to digitise the whole of its archive, both videotape and film.

Colin Grimshaw June 2019