Category: Events

Unveiling the bust of Patrick Blackett 1997

On the 26th November 1997 a bust of P.M.S. Blackett, sculpted by Sir Jacob Epstein, was unveiled in the Blackett Laboratory to mark the centenary of Blackett’s birth. Blackett 2Patrick Blackett was head of the Department of Physics from 1953 to 1963 and was responsible for the design of the Physics building (since renamed the Blackett Laboratory). He was awarded a Nobel prize for research carried out while he was at the Cavendish Laboratory. He later became president of the Royal Society and a life peer. Talks about Blackett were given at the ceremony by Sir Bernard Lovell and Norman Barford. The bust, which is located in the main entrance hall of the Physics building, was unveiled by the president of the Royal Society, Sir Aaron Klug.

We have no moving images or sound recordings of Blackett in the Imperial Archives. I have found what must be one of a few moving images of him on the British Pathe web site and you can see that short clip below, but even then he’s mostly in the background.

During the unveiling ceremony there were speeches by Sir Bernard Lovell, Norman Barford and Sir Aaron Klug who then proceeded to officially unveil the bust which was mounted in the main entrance of the building.

Colin Grimshaw January 2015

Opening of the new college entrance: 2004

Ten years ago this week, Her Majesty The Queen crossed the threshold of Imperial College’s newly-built main entrance and Tanaka Business School* on a blustery, bright 24 June 2004 and made history. HRH - 01Surrounded by cheering wellwishers, she passed through the doors of the gleaming landmark building and paused opposite the imposing image of a multi-coloured scan of a brain, representing the brainpower of the institution. As a Malcolm Arnold fanfare struck up, provided by the College’s chamber orchestra, The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of York, joined rector, Sir Richard Sykes to meet and speak to Lord Foster, whose company, Foster and Partners, designed the building. A visit to a lecture theatre, led by Tanaka Business School principal, Professor David Begg, HRH - 18included a few words with students to discuss the mortgage industry, as well as a closer examination of research projects and spin-out ventures. The Queen, Visitor of Imperial College, who last came to the College in 1998 to open the Sir Alexander Fleming Building, signed the visitors’ book before receiving a bouquet from eight year old Alexander Tanaka.

* The building has subsequently been brought into line with the overall Imperial College branding and is now known as the Imperial College Business School.

There is no commentary on this video

Colin Grimshaw June 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

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

Eric Laithwaite RI Christmas Lectures 1974

Eric Laithwaite at the 1966 lectures
The 1966 lecture series

Eric Laithwaite was the first person to present the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on television in 1966 on BBC2 (in black and white). The New Scientist photo below is the front cover from December 1966 previewing the forthcoming lecture series. That lecture series was called The Engineer in Wonderland. In my previous blog on Eric Laithwaite you will find references to both that lecture series and also the second series he was asked to give in 1974. I was present at some of the lectures in both of those years. Now, the Royal Institution has made available, via their web site, all (except lecture 6 “gyros” it seems) of the 1974 Christmas Lecture series The Engineer Through the Looking Glass. For those interested, it’s a treat to see him at his best, in front of a live audience! You will see below a list of the six lectures in that series.

new-scientist-1966You may recall that there was some controversy over the content of lecture six where Eric Laithwaite demonstrated his theories of gyroscopes and how he thought he may have found that gyroscopes violated the law of conservation of energy. It appears that Laithwaite was waiting for the sixth and final lecture with something new and controversial, possibly breaking these laws of science. I have recently found the BBC archive pages of past editions of Radio Times. In them, I found the references and listing for the 1966 RI Christmas Lectures (The Engineer in Wonderland), the first to be televised and also given by Eric Laithwaite. The listing for the sixth and final lecture is interesting. Although I was actually present at that lecture I don’t remember the content, but the listing reference is very, very interesting it reads “Professor Laithwaite tries a completely new experiment which he hopes will break one of the laws of science. All the text books say it cannot be done. Will the experiment succeed?“.  So, here we are again in 1974 with the sixth and final lecture (It’s my own invention) and once again Eric Laithwaite is trying something new, controversial and possibly breaking the laws of science in the process, is this a repeat of his idea from 1966? I must admit I hadn’t realised this until now! Maybe only he remembered the wording from that 1966 lecture? We’ll never know….

 

Lecture 1
LOOKING GLASS HOUSE

Lecture 2
TWEEDLEDUM AND TWEEDLEDEE

Lecture 3
JAM YESTERDAY, JAM TOMORROW

Lecture 4
THE JABBERWOCK

Lecture 5
THE TIME HAS COME THE WALRUS SAID

Lecture 6
ITS MY OWN INVENTION

Colin Grimshaw January 2014 (revised December 2022)

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

Bob Spence, still going strong at 80

I have rediscovered a fascinating interview with Professor Bob (Robert) Spence, Professor Emeritus of Information Engineering & Senior Research Investigator in EEED. Today, Bob turns 80 and what better way to help him celebrate than bringing to your attention this interview from 1994. At the time, the TV Studio was still in operation and I was making a monthly video for a computer company called Lantec. A former TV Studio colleague of mine, Steve Bell, who worked for Lantec, asked me if we would make these videos for distribution to their company clients. The result was a programme we called Video Interface. This video is from Edition 13, from December 1994 and Steve is talking to Bob about his research work. I take no credit for the remaining text below, as it comes from Bob’s own personal web page at Imperial. I have added however a few links to videos I made with Bob on some of the subjects mentioned.

Bob’s research has ranged from engineering design to human-computer interaction and often with the manner in which the latter can enhance the former. Notable contributions, usually in collaboration with colleagues, include the powerful generalized form of Tellegen’s Theorem; algorithms for improving the manufacturing yield of mass-produced circuits; and, in the field of Human-computer Interaction, the invention of the first focus+context technique, the Bifocal Display (aka Fisheye lens). The novel Attribute and Influence Explorers provide examples of novel information visualization tools that have wide application, including engineering design. Interactive computer graphics allows the electronic circuit designer to sketch the familiar circuit diagram on a computer display. This potential was pioneered by Bob and his colleagues in the late 1960s and eventually, in 1985, led to the commercially available MINNIE system developed and marketed by a company of which Bob was chairman and a founding director. More recently, Bob’s research has focused on the topic of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation in which a collection of images is presented sequentially and rapidly to a user who may be searching for a particular image. This activity is similar to the riffling of a book’s pages.

 

spence 51 yearsAnd yet more news about Bob in April 2014 is that he has now achieved 51 years of service at Imperial College. See this article and scroll down to read about it. In the article Bob says “I’ve always said that if something is fun, it’s worth doing – and I’ve certainly had a lot of fun over the past 51 years.  Imperial has always had a fantastic community, and it boasts some exceptional students. They are the reason I continued to teach after my retirement – I never tire of working with them….”

Colin Grimshaw April 2014

Honda Wind Tunnel Opening July 1985

28 years ago today on July 8th 1985 a project between Imperial College and the Honda Automobile Company was celebrated with the official opening of the new Honda Wind Tunnel in the Department of Aeronautics.

The Aeronautics Wind Tunnel today

Earlier in that decade the Honda company had approached the college and offered to pay the costs of the construction of a large wind tunnel. It transpires that Honda were trailing behind competitors in their car design and needed help. They offered to pay the construction costs in return for the testing of car models and the training of staff in wind tunnel technology. Professor Peter Bearman from Imperial College oversaw the design and construction, he can be seen towards the end of the video. Former Rector the late Lord Brian Flowers makes the initial presentation, followed by the then head of the department, Dr Glyn Davies. The design and construction created, at the time, one of the world’s largest wind tunnels. The contract with Imperial College was also one of the biggest between a Japanese automobile company and an academic institution.

The tunnel was opened by Mr Fujio Ishikawa, Senior Managing Director of the Honda Motor Company. You can read a full page article about the wind tunnel in the Imperial College student newspaper Felix dated 17 May 1985, scroll down to page 6 on the PDF.

 

Colin Grimshaw July 2013

 

Post Graduate Ceremony 2009 – Presentation of the Mace

As we celebrate yet another Post Graduate Ceremony (May 2013) I thought we would look back only a few years ago to 2009. This was the year that the Imperial College gained its own Mace and it was officially presented to the college during the ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall in May of that year. The mace is the generous gift the Goldsmiths’ Company, who have had a long association with the College. It was given to mark the designation of the College as a university in its own right and the award of a new charter by the Queen. The Goldsmiths’ Company commissioned Padgham and Putland of Kent to design and construct the mace. The mace weighs 7.1kg and is of silver and gilt. Its intricate workings incorporate the College crest and motto. The video is part of that May 2009 ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Lord Kerr was still Chairman of the Governing Body at that time and he accepted the gift on behalf of Imperial College London.

Colin Grimshaw May 2013

Margaret Thatcher at Imperial College: 1985

In a previous entry you would have seen the video I made to celebrate the City and Guilds College Centenary in February 1985. As part of the week of events an exhibition was run entitled “Technology 2000”. It was opened by Margaret Thatcher -who was then Prime Minister- on 27 February 1985.

Professor Bruce Sayers was then Dean of City and Guilds and made the introduction. This version of the speech is the full version. The one already seen in the C&G centenary video is edited down to fit into a specific duration. Here then is the full, unedited version, from the original 1985 master tape.

Here is the link to the City and Guilds Celebration video on YouTube. Included in that video is the tour Mrs Thatcher took of the exhibition Technology 2000 and shows some of the people she met.

Colin Grimshaw April 2013