Category: College History

Morphy Day: c 1972

A recently discovered 8mm colour film of Morphy Day from around 1972. It was shot for inclusion in the STOIC news programme TOPIC. The original videotape has long since been erased, but this film survived. Although we didn’t have colour TV equipment at the time, the only method of recording events was to shoot them on film and in this case it was in colour. Morphy Day was in fact the actual boat race, seen very briefly at the start of the film, afterwards the traditional ‘battle’ also took place on the Putney tow path. Here then is Morphy Day seen for the first time in colour since the film was shot.

Colin Grimshaw August 2016

Croquet at Imperial: 1972

Topic 1971I recently discovered this 8mm colour film shot for inclusion in the student news programme TOPIC. No programmes from that period remain and the one photo we have, on the right, shows me during a recording of that programme in 1971. This is, as far as I know, the only record of Croquet being played at Imperial. I’m not sure in which month of 1972 this was shot, but it’s either early summer or autumn. What I do know is that it’s the late Professor Bernard Neal (former head of dept civil engineering) playing. According to the Imperial obituary “…He was also an accomplished sportsman captaining Cambridge at tennis and excelling at croquet, playing for Great Britain and winning the All England Club’s men’s singles title 38 times.”

In June 2011 the BBC had a web page all about his croquet abilities saying “…He has won more Wimbledon singles titles than Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe combined, and yet you have probably never heard of him. That is because 89-year-old Professor Bernard Neal from Cheltenham is not a tennis player but a croquet player…”

Colin Grimshaw July 2016

From the Arithmometer to Electronic Arithmetic – 1998

On the 29th January 1998 a series of presentations and talks were given during the Chapman/Whitehead memorial meeting. One of these presentations was given by Anne Barrett from the Imperial College Archives. Her presentation was “From the Arithmometer to Electronic Artihmetic – The History until 1955.

Alfred North Whitehead was Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College 1914-1924 and Sydney Chapman was Professor of Mathematics 1924-1946.

Anne also mentions the construction, by college members in the 1950’s, of the Imperial College Computing Engine the ICCE 1.

Colin Grimshaw – May 2016

HM Queen opens College Block: 1969

A sad reminder of how we are slowly losing access to audio visual materials is the 1969 royal opening of what was originally called College Block, but is now known as Sherfield Building. Queen 1969 The event was covered on silent 16mm film. Once it was edited, we added a sound track to the film along with a commentary. Sadly the sound is on an unusual magnetic track format along the edge of the film and I’ve not succeeded in finding a facility to make a transfer into digital form (and at a cost we might agree on).

The one clip I have is from an early transfer I made myself onto videotape, but has since itself now disappeared. This clip was incorporated in a compilation video I made for the college archives, so only exists because of that tape. So, here is all we currently have of the full 16mm film, unless YOU know a way that we can get it transferred, preferably at no cost! The photo was taken many years ago from part of the actual 16mm film.

Colin Grimshaw March 2016

Leslie Croker: 1978

Leslie Croker came to work in the Chemistry Department of Imperial College in 1926 as a lab boy. In 1949 he was made a Laboratory Superintendent for the Physical and Inorganic chemical laboratories and later in 1956 for the entire Department of Chemistry.

He was greatly involved in the training of technicians at Imperial College (and in London in general) and talks about this in the video.

Colin Grimshaw February 2016

Star Wars comes to Imperial: 1977

Mark Hamill 3 38 years ago on 15 December 1977 Mark Hamill visited Imperial College to promote the forthcoming release of a new film. That film was Star Wars. We were lucky to get him to visit the TV Studio (then in Electrical Engineering Building) as part of the publicity rounds to promote the film. I suspect we’d never get a look-in these days, but back then no one had heard of the film and they needed every drop of publicity. Coming to the studio for the STOIC interview was closely timed because we’d been informed that he was next going to the BBC TV Centre for a live appearance on Blue Peter (the Children’s TV Show). The photo on the left was taken in the studio at the time of the recording. He was talking to James Sinclair who also happened to be the STOIC chairman at the time.

The day before the Mark Hamill recording we had also managed to get Gary Kurtz who was the producer for the first film and whose name seems to have almost disappeared when the film is mentioned these days.Gary Kurtz 1 Sadly this interview is one of those programmes now frozen in time on the old Ampex A format one inch videotape which sadly we cannot now play without a machine and those are now rare. We were still a few years away from moving into colour so the Mark Hamill interview is in black and white. For copyright the film clips are removed.

Because of the “Imperial Storm Troopers” and the fact that Mark Hamill was coming to Imperial College we bought him a T-Shirt. He proudly and immediately put on the Imperial College T-shirt and said he would wear it on Blue Peter, which he did a few hours later. He signed my autograph book “Galactically Yours, Mark Hamill”. Here then is the Imperial College connection to Star Wars from December 1977.

 

We made use of  the initial studio recording right away, but it was not ‘edited’ to neatly included the films clips until a later date. When you hear the reference by James to ‘earlier this year’ he’s referring to the academic year, which starts in October.

Colin Grimshaw December 2015

ILEA Channel 7 Network: 1968-1979

ILEA LogoIn the late 1960’s and running through until 1979, the ILEA (Inner London Education Authority) ran and operated it’s own unique analogue cable television network. By the time of its closure it had linked together all of its 1,400 schools & colleges within the London area and also universities, including Imperial. It was Europe’s largest closed circuit television network. The system was installed and operated by the GPO Television Service, but by the time of privatisation and renaming as BT, the network was doomed, with closure looming. We had connection to the cable network in the early 1970’s when the University of London created and operated its own Audio Visual Centre. ILEA Channel 7 Caption Programmes made by the ULAVC were recorded in their own TV studio, based at 11 Bedford Square in central London. Transmissions were all made from videotape by the ILEA TV Studio staff at the Battersea main hub. In the case of programmes made by the ULAVC a separate Channel 7 was operated for their exclusive use. ILEA’s own programmes for schools were on channels 2, 3 and 4.  The ILEA studios and recordings were all to broadcast standard using 2 inch Quadraplex videotape whilst the ULAVC ran on IVC 1 inch videotape. As can be appreciated, all of the programming across the channels was therefore carried out from pre-recorded videotape. But, the network could be run live from any of the three studios at the Battersea main hub. Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Around 1976 I had the brainwave idea to suggest to the ULAVC that we make and provide some programmes from the Imperial studio. The only materials that might be of interest to other universities were perhaps some of the STOIC output which was gaining popularity with the introduction of celebrity interviews with those like film director/actor Mel Brookes and housewife-superstar Dame Edna Everage, otherwise known as actor Barry Humphries, seen in the photo on the left with Mark Caldwell in the Imperial TV studio. Several videotaped programmes were made with the specific idea of being shown on Channel 7 (Terry-Thomas was one), but I then went a step further and suggested we do something live! After I’d consulted with the ULAVC ILEA Battersea Studio 1977 and then the ILEA Battersea operations staff we got a transmission slot and studio access. On 17 February 1977 a pilot programme called London Luncbreak went live on the air from the ILEA Battersea TV studios. The photo on the right shows main presenter James Sinclair during the live transmission. Because of a connection I had with the then BBC “film night” TV series, I managed to get Barry Norman to the studio to take part in the live transmission. Three further programmes were produced in the ‘London Lunchbreak’ series, but our enthusiasm was dashed when we heard that the network was to close in early 1979. ILEA Battersea Control Room 1977 There was little point in continuing when the end was close. We had left it too late to get involved with the network, perhaps a couple of years earlier would have been better and given us a few more transmissions? Over on the left, in the gloom,  you can see me directing one of the live programmes at the ILEA Battersea studios. The videos below are a recording of the pilot London Lunchbreak which includes a sound fault during a film clip! Remember that this programme was totally live from  the ILEA studios. Also, the very last programme made and transmitted over the network by the ILEA, containing a rather large number of old programme titles (jump to the end when you get to that part). The ULAVC never made a farewell programme but continued its videotape operation, but with no cable output. ILEA continued in a similar way until, like the ULAVC, it was totally closed. Both the ULAVC and ILEA had converted into colour production by 1980, however, the now old GPO VHF cable network was only just capable of transmitting high quality colour (it was originally designed for analogue black and white in 1967). So perhaps it would have been difficult to continue with a poor technical service? However, I managed to capture a rare c1978 test transmission from ILEA in colour. It was made on Channel 2 and I was told that the ULAVC loaned ILEA a colour camera to make the live test, which seemed to work as far as I can see, that’s the last video.

Oh, and then there was Westminster Cable TV and another opportunity for live TV, but this time from Imperial College’s own TV Studio; but that’s yet another story, so far untold…

Colin Grimshaw November 2015

Commemoration Day: 1973

Back in October 2010 I brought to you an extract from a unique 16mm colour film that was residing in the college archives since 1973.

robert w sarnoffRobert W Sarnoff was President & Chief Executive of RCA (Radio Corporation of America). He was the eldest son of broadcasting mogul Brig. Gen. David Sarnoff, he followed in his father’s professional footsteps throughout his career at NBC and RCA. On October 25th 1973 he received the Fellowship of Imperial College at Commemoration Day. The citation for Sarnoff indicates that he was the benefactor of the Imperial College Haldane Music Library. News of this Commemoration Day Fellowship was reported in the Milwaukee Journal in November 1973 and the Nashua Telegraph in December of the same year, so this must have been important. Also here’s a report in Felix the student newspaper.

Sarnoff paid for large parts of the 1973 ceremony to be filmed in colour and or course with sound. Lord Flowers (1924-2010) was Rector at the time and speaking at the ceremony was David Sinclair – Student Orator; Professor Gerald Whitrow (1912-2000) – Staff Orator and the Chairman of the Governing Body – Lord Sherfield (1904-1996). Eric Brown is seen conducting the Choir. This is the earliest moving picture record the college has of one of its ceremonies and it’s thanks to Robert Sarnoff that this happened. One of the greatest achievements by RCA and Sarnoff in particular was the development and introduction of colour TV in the USA. At the dedication ceremony of NBC’s new Washington, D.C. facility on May 22, 1958, Sarnoff introduced President Eisenhower who became the first President to then appear on Colour TV. For those interested, you can see an amazing videotape that has been rediscovered of this event. The tape represents the earliest known colour television recording discovered to date.

Here then is the full 16mm colour film of Commemoration Day, being shown for the first time after its transfer into digital form.

Colin Grimshaw October 2015

50 Glorious Imperial Years! 1965-2015

Colin in StudioOn Monday October 4th 1965 my 50 year association with Imperial College of Science and Technology (no Medicine then) began. It was my first day of working at the most amazing place I’d seen. And, all these years later and even though I’ve retired, my association continues with this Video Archive Blog.

If you’ve read or watched some of the videos in the blog then you will have seen various people talking about what the college was like ‘back then’. One quote that Rogers Knight made when we interviewed him in 2006 was that it was ‘a different place back then…’. Although he was referring to pre-war days I can concur with those feelings myself from when I joined Imperial in the 1960’s. Boy, how the place has changed since then. Just look at some of the videos in the blog and you’ll see what I mean. I recall the final fragment of the old Imperial Institute being demolished and Sherfield Building (then called College Block) being built. Before then, the walkway simply stopped at Electrical Engineering.

August 1967I don’t have any photos from 1965. But one photo which was taken, simply for fun, was in August 1967 with three colleagues, including Eddie Bristow on the far left. These were the very early days of using video at Imperial and in this case was exclusively in Electrical Engineering which used it for teaching, training and demonstrations. Looking through this blog will give you a better idea of how it’s been used in the years since then. But at the start it was not as easy as it is today. Videotape was the only recording method and even that was, at times, very difficult.

Philips EL3400In the black and white photo you’ll see our pride and joy, a Philips EL3400 one inch videotape machine which was FULL of valves and got extremely hot. Could you imagine anything running with valves these days? The image you can just see on the screen really is off of the videotape, the quality of which was none too bad. When you consider that videotape was only in service in the USA around ten years prior to when this photo was taken, great developments had taken place to achieve what was possible with this Philips recorder. Soon after, we replaced the recorder with an Ampex (one inch Ampex tape seen on the right),26082010060 made by the company that produced the first videotape recorder in the USA about ten or so years earlier. We stayed with this format until 1979 when we eventually switched into colour, using the Sony U-matic cassette format. If you read my two blogs on the MANY problems trying to now access these archive videotapes you’ll appreciate the saying “I wished we’d realised back then…”.

And finally, as this is a somewhat self-indulgent blog, here’s something almost 50 years old, but in fact it’s only 45 years ago. In early June 1970 I made a demonstration video for an Electrical Engineering student who had made a very basic video effects unit for the TV Studio. It was a crude demonstration because of the way the studio cameras were then able to run, but it made the point I think. This is just about the oldest video I have and I was just 19 years old, how times change! A former Imperial colleague of mine, Steve Bell, points out that there are not many people who can say they have a video of themselves that’s 45 years old.

Colin Grimshaw October 2015