I’ve rediscovered this video compilation that I made for the Imperial College Archives in 1981. I had forgotten that the reason it was made was to show-case the college archives during the Meet Imperial College event that was held in the Sherfield Building. You can see another blog about the 1979 Meet Imperial College event that includes actual video taken on the day by STOIC.
This compilation is useful because it actually now helps to correctly identify one college member in the 1928 sports film. Jimmy Peacock is seen driving on the tug-of-war team and not Ted Coulson as previously assumed. Also, there is a short clip from the 1969 opening of what was then called College Block (later Sherfield Building) by the Queen. This clip is extremely important because it does include some of the sound track that we are now missing, because of technical issues extracting the film’s magnetic audio track. Included too is the audio of the Queen Mother in 1957 opening the Roderick Hill Building and the extension to the Students Union. And, from 1949 a sound recording on 78rpm disc of the college choir.
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.
Recently, whilst rearranging the shelves of archive videos I came across something I’d forgotten about. In 2002, Imperial had honoured Senior Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew (in recognition of his promotion of international trade and industry, and development of science and engineering study initiatives with the UK) by appointing him a Fellow of the College at the Commemoration Day held at the Royal Albert Hall.
Because this was a significant event, college had hired a company that occasionally provided a large video screen and cameras to help people see events in the Royal Albert Hall. We attended the event to get some background video shots and to also see what effect this new idea had on the ceremony. The previous night we had attended the first ever Commemoration Eve Dinner held at the Natural History Museum, where he gave the keynote address (seen left), we recorded and used that in full. College did not need his Commemoration Day speech recorded because we had the one from the previous day.
However, as this was the first time that cameras had been covering a Commemoration Day, I felt that this was unique enough to ask the company to make video recordings (right) of both morning and afternoon sessions. College had already indicated that they had no use for any of the footage, but, by being a ‘first’ I disagreed. So, both morning and afternoon events were recorded and promptly put into our archive collection and there they have sat for all of these 16 years.
Let’s see the first ever fully recorded Commemoration Day sessions from 23 October 2002 which are now available on line for the first time.
In October 1979 Imperial College Students’ Union staged a series of protests against government education cuts. Occupation of the Senior Dining Room was one part of these protests. Another took place on Commemoration Day itself. Those who took part in the occupation, together with many others carrying placards and wearing black armbands, joined in a “Funeral March” following a black coffin, held aloft by six students, through the Beit building and on a journey around the Royal Albert Hall. Students were already leafleting the parents and other visitors to the ceremony in the Albert Hall.
STOIC were there to record the event and reporter Bob Powell spoke to a future ICU President John Passmore. Note that the incorrect name was used by Mike Prosser in the studio introduction to the news report.
For those former students who were at the 31 May 2006 Postgraduate Awards Ceremony 10 years ago, here for the first time is the video of that event. Until now this was only on a purchased DVD, but the entire ceremony is now available to view in full on our YouTube archive channel.
The picture shows me and Martin Sayers behind the scenes producing the video of the ceremony. Not only is it recorded, but it’s also relayed onto the big screen up above the Royal Albert Hall stage. Although I’ve retired, I was once again back at the Albert Hall last October to help Martin behind the scenes to record Commemoration Day 2016.
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 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.
The May 2003 Postgraduate Awards Graduation Ceremony was the first time that we had taken cameras into the Royal Albert Hall for this particular event. The previous October 2002, we had relayed the scenes from the stage onto a large projection screen. This was for the special Commemoration Day visit by Lee Kuan Yew. However, I asked the company providing the cameras if they would record the event anyway, even though we didn’t have a use for it at that time (other than archival). Those videotapes are still in our archive and I will, at some point, run them off into digital form for the benefit of those who graduated that day. The following May 2003 we were asked to once more make arrangements to provide cameras and a large screen for the Postgraduate Awards Ceremony. Again, I asked that we record the whole event to ascertain the feasibility of recording and then distributing the event coverage on DVD, we also did the same in October for Commemoration Day. What you will see below is that 2003 recording, which has been digitised for the first time, from the only recording made, which was on a DVD-RW disc.
In 2004 we recorded the PG Awards ceremony once more, but with the specific intention of creating and making available DVD’s. The disc produced and its art work was created totally in-house, other than the actual disc pressing which was not possible for us to do. That first disc created can be seen on the left hand side. This process carried on for many years (along with Commemoration Day each October) until the ceremony coverage was eventually made available only on the Imperial YouTube channel, rather than on DVD’s.
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.
In December 2010 former student Sir Brian May revisited Imperial College London as part of a BBC documentary programme retracing the early life of members of the group Queen. The documentary was called ‘Queen – Days of Our Lives‘ and was aired on BBC2 in May 2011. Brian May was Knighted in the New Years Honours list for 2023.
There does not appear to be much in the college about his time as a student, but I did find an interesting early reference to his involvement with Queen in the Felix archive. See the top of page 6 for a review of their album “Queen II” and note the reference: “…it is very unlikely that they’ll ever need to have connections with their previous vocations again.”
In the same article it referred to Queen’s Imperial concert in the previous term and I have found the advert for that event. I think 30p was reasonable admission to see what would become a World famous group!!!
But, in 2007 he became Dr Brian May after completing his PhD which had been left on hold since leaving Imperial to join Queen full time. Very appropriately in May 2008 he walked across the stage of the Royal Albert Hall as part of the college’s Postgraduate Awards Ceremony. A bow to the audience earned him a huge cheer.
During a short break in the BBC schedule he spoke about his time as a student at Imperial College in the early 1970’s. He’s seen here in Beit Quad, outside the Student Union Building on Prince Consort Road, two years ago today on 9 December 2010. And it was cold there at the time, but great to have met him.
Colin Grimshaw December 2012 (revised December 2022)