In 1982 the Imperial College Students’ Union had the opportunity to make a TV programme in conjunction with the BBC’s Community Programme Unit. All services, facilities and camera crew were made available to them and for them to have full editorial control on the final film produced.
The clipping is from the Radio Times from April 1982. It outlines the content as ” In 1979 the Government introduced the idea of ‘ full cost’ fees for students from other countries who want to study in Britain. Now the overseas students are staying away in droves and it’s beginning to have serious effects, firstly on our higher education system, but just as importantly on Britain’s relationships with the rest of the world.” I never heard any feedback on the final programme and whether or not there was any government reaction to it.
In the programme were Lord Flowers then Rector, Prof Roger Perry, Professor James Whitelaw and Dr Adrian Evans along with a host of Post Graduate students. There are some, but only a few, shots of campus and undergrads as well as a sequence shot at Silwood Park. Strangely though, Union President Nick Morton, who was even credited in Radio Times, did not actually appear in the film! There was a front page mention of the film and the date of transmission in Felix dated March 19th 1982 (see above). I think that the announcement of the transmission date was so early, because this was the last-but-one edition of Felix before term ended for Easter. Sadly, I’ve never seen any photos of the production being shot or edited. I’m surprised that Felix didn’t take any whilst the film crew were on campus!
Today we go back to 1975 and a fragment of college history captured in the archive of STOIC. Very few items remain from this time period because of the very high cost of videotape. Programmes were recorded over the following week with a new programme, so we’re lucky that this survives today. On the 26 February 1975 Mark Caldwell was presenting the weekly news programme Lunchbreak in which the candidates for the post of Felix editor came into the TV Studio. Clive Dewey and Paul Ekpenyong were standing and also attending was Mike Williams, the then current editor. From Felix 7 March 1975 the results were 440 for Clive Dewey and 527 for Paul Ekpenyong who was declared the next editor for 1975/1976.
At 7mins 20secs into the video you will also hear something very rare indeed. The college bells on the top of Mechanical Engineering chiming 6pm. We must have had the windows open in the studio which was then located on level 3 of Electrical Engineering facing where the bells were. So not only do we know the date, but also the time of this recording, that’s unique.
Recently I had an email from STOIC’s first full-time videotape archivist (1980-1981) Colin Jenkins. The email reminded me of the huge contribution that the card index has made to college history, through videotape recordings. Sadly this is a fact that college does not appreciate or make use of and hence why this blog is maintained to showcase this valuable resource.
Initially, and only for about ten videotapes, the indexing was started using the facilities of the college computer centre. Details were outputted on computer lined paper as can be seen in this photo. This printout then had to be cut and stuck inside the videotape box and also onto the actual videotape. I never was happy with this idea of sticking the printout onto the actual tapes in case they came off whilst inside the tape machine! The problem was that only the person who had created this computer account (and routine) could access the index. It soon became very clear that this was simply not possible to maintain as students came and went from college and their computer accounts were closed! A simple system was needed that could be accessed within the studio that didn’t require a computer centre account or terminal to be able to log on.
So, what could be more simple than the good old card index. Initially, using a single draw card index file, the new system was started by Colin Jenkins, simply known to us all as CJ. The new way of indexing and archiving was changed at the beginning of recordings being made on the U-matic tape system (Autumn term 1979). This itself is interesting because up until then videotapes were recorded over each week and therefore previous programmes were lost for ever. This was due to of the high cost of videotapes. U-matics were a lot cheaper to buy and an increased budget allowed STOIC to start keeping, and thus archiving, all programmes made. It also meant less potential wear on the tape machines when using the same tapes over and over again each week.
I have now completed a simple backup of the entire card index by scanning every card into a PDF file. It would be desirable to collate these into something like an Excel or Word file, but that isn’t really necessary for this use – keep it simple. Because the indexing was now maintained within the file system draws, a way was still needed to present data within the actual tape box (as in the original computer printout idea). I suggested that the programme running orders, that were used for each programme, be held within each tape box.
The programme running orders are now as valuable as the index in finding what was recorded onto the tape. Even last minute changes were written by hand and most of the basic information then added to either current or new index cards. The card index was never created to hold all of the information that can be found on the running orders. I’m pleased to say that even after CJ had left Imperial, the index continued. STOIC left the college TV studio after the end of term in 1986. From the index I can see that a few entries were made in 1987 but then things stopped. Therefore no record exists of programmes after that time and it will be a task to decipher content when running those tapes that exist from that period.
One final point is that some videotapes were kept prior to 1979. These video recordings were made on the Ampex Type A one-inch format and were also added to the card index. So technically we can go back to February 1970 when STOIC’s first news programme was made and the actual videotape was kept and added to the collection.
The first Tiddlywinks covered by STOIC was back in 1979 and that happened most years. This 41 year old report from October 1982 was different because it took place on the Kings Road, Chelsea and not the usual Oxford Street. Apparently, various warnings from the police had put Oxford Street off limits this particular year. Although the card index doesn’t indicate it, I think that this was also the first time that Tiddlywinks was covered in colour.
Donal Quigley took the camera crew into the depth of Chelsea on what looks like a rather damp and gloomy day. There’s also a half page coverage (P3) of the event in FELIX.
I’ve already released previous posts about the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980, the first post from 2019 is linked here. Those earlier reports were covered by STOIC reporters: Graeme Shaw, Tracy Poole and Paul Johnson.
One aspect that was forgotten was that of security for the college, parts of which overlooked the rear of the embassy building. These were the buildings along the north side of Prince’s Gardens (photo left) especially Weeks Hall of residence, which I gather has since closed as one of the student halls of residence.
In May 1980, in an edition of STOIC’s News-Break, David Ghani spoke with the college’s Chief Security Officer, Arthur Dawson about the cooperation with the police and how it affected staff and students.
How sad though that only two weeks after this interview Arthur Dawson died suddenly. A report in Felix covered that news (seen over on the right clipping), STOIC paid tribute the following week. After all these years I had completely forgotten that this had happened.
I’m not really sure if this event still happens at Imperial. But back on 27 February 2008 it was certainly much heralded by the sports centre staff and hence our coverage of it.
With nine different sports, 23 matches and 46 teams, Varsity 2008 was packed with fierce competition. Harlington Sports Ground hosted hockey, football, lacrosse and rugby matches, also at the sports centre: netball, basketball, badminton, squash and waterpolo matches got underway. The day culminated in the J.P.R. Williams Cup match at Richmond Athletic Association Ground between Imperial College and Imperial Medicals Rugby 1st XV teams attracting over 1,000 spectators.
Back in 2019 I wrote a blog about the weather forecast that STOIC gave during their weekly transmissions. What we now have is the news report that was in the programme that proceeded the forecast that Mike Prosser presented. The news programme was recorded the day before, so the weather was given live during the continuity announcement at the end of their news programme.
Atmospheric Physics was where the whole thing happened and STOIC’s Martin Bolding went over there to report on how it was all done.
During the recent transfer of 8mm films into digital, I came across a film that I had forgotten all about.
In 1971 some 3rd year students in Electrical Engineering came up with the idea of shooting a film as part of their end of term project. I’m pretty sure that these students must have had a connection with Professor Colin Cherry who was then Professor of Telecommunication in their department. I am assuming this connection with the film because both he and his former secretary are credited at the end. After 50 years we will never actually know.
Digitising the film was, as usual, not an easy job. The sound is a magnetic track bonded to the edge of the film and playable only via a suitable 8mm projector. Fortunately, when the TV Studio was closed, I had rescued the Eumig 8mm projector that was actually used to record the soundtrack back in 1971. The magnetic track was added to the film using a very clever device that glued the very thin piece of magnetic tape onto the edge of the film. If you look above the sprocket holes you can see this track. I know that some films had lost their tracks when the glue gave way, but this film was all OK.
I recorded the sound from the projector, cleaned it up and adjusted the speed to be correct. I was able to judge this because I was amazed to discover that I had actually recorded part of the voice-over and that was my clue to getting the speed correct. I then adjusted the duration/speed of the film to then match the soundtrack duration.
Sadly the students that made this are not credited on the film, so we may never know who they were. But, after 50 years here’s the film called “Students” made in 1971.
I have a feeling that this is yet another RAG event that has long disappeared. The Chariot Race down Oxford Street from Speaker’s Corner was last referenced in FELIX way back in 1976 and has not been mentioned since. Well, until today of course because we have some silent 8mm film once again shot by STOIC. This was yet another item featured in their weekly news programme TOPIC. This particular item has suffered from the ‘home processing’ that was carried out on these black and white films. I think that a combination of over exposure and dodgy processing has resulted in rather poor quality. However, it is a wonderful record of what Imperial students used to get up to to raise money during RAG week 50 years ago.
This 8mm film that we have is from 1972 and is not even listed in the STOIC archive index. That is simply because the original videotape in which the film was used no longer exists. In this case I cannot find any corresponding audio, which I assume was added during the recording of TOPIC, so it will appear silent.
The Inter-CCU Raft Race across the Serpentine in 1979 is yet another part of college history that’s very difficult to find anything about. I can certainly find several references to the event in Felix, but nothing about why it started. What I can tell you is that this 1979 race is the first I found mentioned, so it could have been the first race to happen and the reason why STOIC recorded it.
Of the listings in FELIX, there are only mentions of the fact that it’s happening or that it had already happened and which CCU won it (photo on right). Just one tiny extra piece I found was this ‘thanks’ from the Union President who said after the 1979 race: “Thanks to the Underwater Club for giving up their Sunday Lie-In to ensure the safety of the Raft Race“. And there was one photo in Felix announcing that RCS had won the race.
So sit back and enjoy this brief coverage of what may have been the very first Raft Race across the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park. It started in Prince’s Garden and then up the roads to Hyde Park.