Category: People

Radiation Safety Videos: 1986-1990

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

Lady Flowers makes Pancakes:1980

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

Prof. Abdus Salam: 1980

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

ICU Sabbaticals 1981

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

Sir Eric Ash: 1928-2021

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

Felix at 30: 1979

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

Lord & Lady Flowers Christmas: 1979

Back in January I posted a blog with a special Christmas message from the then Rector of Imperial College, Lord Flowers. I said that this was the first time we had not only recorded a Rector in colour, but also the first time that a special message for Christmas had been recorded. I was wrong! I have now discovered a recording that was made the previous December 1979. I had forgotten that I helped STOIC with a colour recording made in his office in the Sherfield Building. At the end of the session he also recorded this special message. I have found this (and what follows next) on STOIC’s Christmas Edition of News-Break, their weekly news programme recorded on 12 December 1979 and shown the following day.

The full interview recorded prior to this message is still currently missing, although I think I might have an extract from it on another tape, but more on that at a later time.

What I really had forgotten about was the (currently!) only known recording with Lady Flowers on her own, this was also recorded in the same month. Again, the first time that she had appeared in colour. This was recorded in the kitchen at the Rector’s house at 170 Queens Gate. STOIC’s Tracy Poole was asking the questions although, as you’ll see, Lady Flowers was a little shy, so Tracy struggled a little.

I have corrected the colour of both of these recordings to the best setting that I can. As mentioned in other blogs, this was our first Sony colour camera and its colour rendering what not always perfect. Even with modern digital editing, correcting these errors is still difficult. And since I discovered this recording of Lady Flowers, another one has been unearthed. And once again it’s in the kitchen at 170 Queens Gate, but this time it’s making pancakes. More on that in February, but a preview image from the video is seen below.

Colin Grimshaw December 2021

Centenary Book Launch: May 2007

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

Opening of College Block: 1969

In this blog we are going to hear the 1969 opening ceremony of the new College Block, later renamed as the Sherfield Building (1975). Until now, only extracts have been heard, but here is the full recording with Lord Sherfield the Chairman of the Governing Body, HM Queen and Lord Penney Rector of the college. The full ceremony only exists as an audio recording, with a few segments filmed on 16mm film, but without synchronised sound. Strangely, we could have very easily set up video cameras and recorded the entire proceedings on videotape, but we were never asked. I guess we are just lucky that an audio recording was made.

The images are frame grabs from the 16mm film because I have never seen photos taken in the Great Hall during the ceremony. There is a front page about the event in the edition of Felix from 4 December 1969. Interestingly, there is a ‘typo’ in the Hannah Gay book on the history of Imperial College. In the index, under Sherfield Building it refers to it as formerly “Centre” Block, this typo only appears once!

Colin Grimshaw August 2021

The Queen Mother visits St Mary’s: 1954

This post is a rare exception because the moving images, (in this case on 35mm film) are not held by Imperial College. The clips are from a British Pathé News item that would have been seen only in cinemas.

The Queen Mother visited St Mary’s Medical School for the 1954 Centenary Celebrations and I assume, is seen putting items into the second foundation stone (time capsule?) for the new buildings. Both of the reels do look as if they were never actually used and appear more like original rushes. An end result for Pathé would have had a commentary etc, on it. So don’t be concerned that the segments seem to stop and start a lot.

Colin Grimshaw July 2021