Category: People

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

 

Prof Jim Ring – Hunt report 1982

In 1982 the then Home Secretary announced that an independent inquiry under the chairmanship of Lord Hunt was to consider the broadcasting aspects of the possible expansion of cable television in the UK.

It was announced that they had managed to secure the help of Lord Hunt of Tanworth, Sir Maurice Hodgson and Professor James (Jim) Ring to conduct this inquiry. They had a lot to do in a short time, but they had already started work and a copy of the consultative document which they issued on 7 April 1982 had been placed in the Library of the House of Commons. Jim Ring was Professor of Infra-Red astronomy in the Department of Physics and appeared regularly on TV programmes such as the Sky at Night.

I knew Jim Ring well, and had previously recorded an archive interview with him in 1980. On the 21 October 1982 he came into the TV Studio to chat to STOIC’s Lawrence Windley about the committees work and their report.

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

College Orchestra Rehearsal: 1982

Back in June 2016 that month’s blog had a December 1982 performance by the Imperial College orchestra. I have discovered another recording but this time in March 1982, it’s of the orchestra rehearsing in the Great Hall. I should point out that the colour quality of this video is not that brilliant I’m afraid. This is the raw footage that was shot, that means unedited of course.

Once again the conductor is Richard Dickins, who recently retired from his role as Director of Music at Imperial College.

Colin Grimshaw December 2019

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

Freshers’ Fair: 1980

October is the time of the year when clubs and societies have stalls and events to entice new students to join them. All around the country universities are seeing the same thing happen during freshers week and Imperial is no different.

Luckily, we have a brief record of some of what was happening, because STOIC reported on the fair for the their news programme NEWSBREAK. It looked like a fine sunny day, which for October is a blessing. Grant Richmond, ace reporter, ventured to both the Union Quad and Queens Tower Lawn to speak to some of the freshers. Mike Prosser is heard on the introduction, which shows things like abseiling down the union building! Incidentally, Grant now lives in far north Queensland, Australia. And, were YOU one of those interviewed in this video?

This video is from the digitisation of the STOIC videotape archives, which I’m currently undertaking.

An update, that you will also see below in the comments, is from Bill Durodie. He tells me that the person being interviewed, at the one minute mark, is Phil Greenstreet who was in RCS, he now lives in the USA. I hope he might be able to see this video from when he was a student at Imperial! Thanks Bill.

Colin Grimshaw October 2018

40 years ago STOIC into Colour: 1979

40 years ago, during the summer of 1979, the TV Studio slipped into colour with the purchase of a single colour camera, portable recorder and edit suite. Before that time everything we made was obviously in black and white and that included the output of the student television service STOIC. They had, at times, been ahead of the college TV studio with some technology. They were first to get a Sony portable videorecorder and associated camera. This allowed them to record items outside of the confines of the studio. When we wanted to do the same we had to move a large videorecorder and take a camera with us on a trolley.

Clearly we had to make a move to upgrade to colour and in the process replace the Ampex One Inch videotape format we’d been using for many years. We needed both colour and also the ability to electronically edit. The U-matic system from Sony was what we selected and the equipment arrived before summer 1979. During the college vacation period we made our first colour production for the Life Science Library. By the start of the autumn term in 1979 we had re-equipped the studio to work only on the U-matic system, but because we still had only the one colour camera, the main studio stayed in black and white (for some while).

A short while after we had received the colour camera, STOIC was clearly interested in also moving away from black and white. But until we moved the entire studio into colour STOIC’s type of programmes were not possible on a single colour camera. However, it was possible to include the occasional ‘single camera’ colour item within a programme. So, just before term ended for the summer of 1979 I consented to the inclusion of a colour item within one of their news programmes. James Miller, a regular on STOIC, had expressed a keen interest to be the first to be seen in colour and I agreed. We thought to do this with a fanfare. So, James linked from an item he’d pre-recorded in black and white on their own portable videorecorder, to him sitting in the studio, also in black and white. At an agreed moment I turn the system switch on the recorder to colour and James’s wish came true. I re-discovered this 40 year old item during the current digitising of STOIC tapes.

Colin Grimshaw August 2019

Constructionarium: 2006

In June 2006 The Duke of Edinburgh put on a hard hat and boots to watch students building their own versions of engineering landmarks.

The engineering students from Civil Engineering were taking part in Constructionarium, an annual event in which groups had just five days to tackle a challenging project, such as creating a seven metre high version of the world’s tallest vehicular bridge, the Millau viaduct in Southern France.

The event was designed to give students hands-on experience of engineering in a realistic environment. The projects took place on a two hectare section of a Norfolk site which is used for training specialist construction trade workers such as scaffolders and steeplejacks. The site, in Bircham Newton, was owned by the National Construction College.

Prince Philip visited on the students’ last day and saw the projects in their final stages. He was given a tour of the different projects underway, and watched as students pulled a replica oil rig to the middle of a lake and stabilised it. The TV Studio (by then called Media Services) was on hand to capture the event.

Colin Grimshaw April 2019