Category: Student life

IC for sale – 1969

Only recently I remembered that I had a copy of an old 45rpm disc. It was called IC for sale Vol 2. It was given to me by Richard Woodhead (one of our students) around about 1972 so that’s over 40 years ago now. What I had forgotten was that it contained some unique sounds of Imperial College. It has great recordings of the three college unions C&G, RSM and RCS chants plus the Imperial chant Hey Vivo which I can’t recall the last time I heard it. The 45rpm disc -or any tape recording of it- do not exist in the main Imperial College Archive, so I’ll be putting a CD of it in there soon. I have found a review and reference to the original first pressing of the disc in the searchable newspaper PDF archive of FELIX May 1965. See page two at the top called ‘Gateway to Industry’.

Also, if you know Imperial from far enough back you will remember the City and Guilds building clock and bells (photo on the left). Or if not, you will know that the clock mechanism relocated to the Mechanical Engineering Building foyer (photo at bottom) some time after the original buildings were starting to be pulled down in the late 1950’s.

The bells were moved (photo on the right) way up on top of the building overlooking, what was, the green Dalby Court area. This is now where the Faculty Building is located. The bells would ring the quarters, half and so on and could be heard throughout most of the college area. I gather that regular mechanical & electrical  problems caused the demise of the chimes! But, these can once again be heard on the disc. (more…)

New to the Blog?

If you are new to the blog or perhaps arrived via the Alumni web page, you might have missed some previous gems. If you go back further to earlier entries you will find some memories of Imperial College captured on videotape. One such recording is the only interview we have with Victor Mooney (Died on December 27th 2012 aged 89), college catering manager from 1953 to 1985.

Southside Royal opening taking place in the Upper Refectory,  Southside

He was a major figure in college life, especially with the student’s phrase “Going for a Mooney”, which meant going to the refectory for a meal of some kind. Do you remember the Upper and Lower Refectories in Southside? How about WAITRESS service in part of the Refectory in Sherfield? And also a time when the JCR eatery was still called the “Buttery”!

I have now managed to clean up the quality of the recording which was made in November 1979,  just prior to us going into full colour. Here’s Victor Mooney, in the College TV Studio, talking to STOIC regular presenter Dave Ghani.

If you have any film or photos of the college eating places in use during the years before say 1970, then please get in touch. Please also add comments or memories of eating at Imperial 🙂

Don’t forget OLDER ENTRIES via this button at the bottom of the main pages

Colin Grimshaw November 2012

Promotion: 3 – Chemistry 1981-1985

In “Promotion: 1” (March 2010), I mentioned the Civil Engineering and Chemistry Departments. In June 1981 I was asked to take on the task of making a promotional video for the Chemistry Department.

Chemistry Building March 2002

This was intended to promote all aspects of what the department did and to assist in the recruitment of new students. I also recall it being shown at Open Days which seemed obvious . Two members of the staff were appointed as ‘producers’ so most of the content and the wording of the voiceovers was decided for me. Looking back at the video over 30 years later it has too much in it. The history section seems unnecessary and there’s too much detail in the various elements featured. It runs for nearly 20 mins which is about two thirds too long in todays modern YouTube video world. Leave them wanting more is the theory, not wanting to leave the room as soon as the video has eventually finished! This was one of two videos made for the department, the second being made four years later in July 1985. It’s worth noting that both of these videos were made using our original colour camera. It needed massive amounts of light (as mentioned in the Library video) and suffered ‘smearing’ on highlights, the colour itself was none too brilliant either!

 

Chemistry Department 1981

The second video was also far too long but did, thank goodness, have Professor Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson in it. He appeared because he was then head of department. Being a Nobel Prize winner it was considered important and prestigious to feature him. I said thank goodness because it has given us the only interview recorded with him whilst at Imperial, an archive gem. Like the first video in 1981 I had little control over the content. It seemed that almost everything including the kitchen sink appeared in the video. I truly ‘cringe’ when I watch it, especially the Kensington Gardens sequence! One of the few times I managed to get my way was on the intro sequence. I used so called ‘production music’ rather than music created by a family member as in the first video. The video does use, for the first time, electronic effects. The multi-picture sequence later on and during the opening where the image slides down were all very new at the time. Now, these are common place and all achievable on a computerised edit suite, but we had a dedicated box to do it that cost thousands of pounds.

 

Chemistry Department 1985

The original Dalby Court 1985

On an historical note, the first person you see talking is located in a lovely garden area…that’s where the ‘blue box’ Faculty Building is now standing! You’ll also see Princes Gardens, as it then was, in the summer of 1985. Between 1981 and 1993 I made around 10 teaching videos that were used on various ‘lab days’ to show the students how do undertake the experiments they had to do. It was considered more effective to show one correct version of an experiment, rather than several slightly different versions by several different people based around the labs. I’ll try and get some of these on line soon. Maybe you had to do one of these experiments whilst at Imperial?

Also, if you are featured in any of these videos do let us know. The two still photos were by my former colleague Neville Miles, who like me, helped to capture some of the history of Imperial College in the many photographs he took over the years.

Colin Grimshaw November 2012

Royal Albert Hall and Commemoration Day

Once again we are in October and it’s time for the Graduates to visit the Royal Albert Hall for Imperial College’s Commemoration Day.

Commemoration Day in 2011 Royal Albert Hall London

This brief entry is to remind you of the post I made two years ago this month. That post contains all that we have in terms of archive audio/visual material relating to the ceremony. Most importantly, of course, we do have the sound recording of King George 6th from 1945. And to just repeat myself: The October Commemoration Day graduation ceremonies recall the visit made to the College by King George 6th and Queen Elizabeth in 1945, on the centenary of the foundation of the Royal College of Chemistry, Imperial College’s oldest forerunner.

You will also read in that previous entry about the difficulties associated with the transfer of these original sounds recordings from 78rpm discs and ‘paper’ magnetic tape. Both are now saved into digital form.

Go direct to my October 2010 blog entry.

Colin Grimshaw October 2012

Life Science Library 1979

Life Sciences Library video August 1979
Shooting the video’s  introduction

The first programme we made in colour was a guide to the Life Science Library. That was 33 years ago in August 1979 and colour was so new that we didn’t even have a colour logo caption at the start, in fact it’s our original black and white logo. Interestingly, the video is a great snapshot of what libraries looked like and how they operated at that time. Card indexes were still the norm with microfiche readers being a new addition. There is also mention of having a literature ‘computer search’ carried out at a cost of around £5, a cost which was probably considered high at that time and would have been carried out by a librarian for you. One of the great advantages of us moving into colour was the fact that we were able to edit. Until then it was possible, but difficult and in black and white too. The video required a lot of different shots, like close-ups of index cards, so editing was an essential part of the production, in fact, without editing this programme could not have been made.

Life Sciences Library video August 1979
Lots of lighting was needed inside

Because we were going to cause some disruption in the library, where possible, we shot in the evening, or at least after 5pm. As you can see from the photo on the left, we also needed light..lots of it too. Our early colour camera was happy with external situations, but inside it required rather a lot of light to get good images. The library, at that time, was rather lower in light levels compared to today and there was no way we could cope without adding some extra lighting. Our biggest problem was finding mains sockets anywhere near the rows of book shelves. You tend not to need mains sockets when looking for books! Like most of our videos, we sometimes needed (and still do need) ‘rent a crowd’, so see if you can spot me appearing twice in the video. Also note a major change to the feel of the South Ken campus from when this was shot in 1979. See how empty it is soon after 6pm when the external footage was shot.

The video style is a bit 1970’s, mainly because that’s when it was made. I can’t recall under what circumstances the video was due to be seen, but I think it was designed to be viewed in the room that had been designated for watching videos. This was one of the small rooms called a Carrel around the edge of the library in which a monitor and video recorder had been installed. You’ll hear reference to these Carrels in the video. Listen out too for the mention of photocopies, there were only two in the whole library at that time. Now there are machines on every floor!

Mark Caldwell in Germany
Mark Caldwell

The presenter of the video is Mark Caldwell, an former STOIC chairman from the mid 1970’s. Mark is now based in Germany, working for the world radio division of Deutsche Welle. From time to time you can hear him presenting items like this one on the Planck and Herschel space telescopes.

 

 

Colin Grimshaw 2012

Seen and Gone: Two

So now we come to the second Seen and Gone and this is when we get to see something interesting (and yes I do mean see). In December 1971 STOIC showed their Christmas edition of the then regular news programme Topic. I’ll try to recall the background to this programme if my memory serves me well!

Recording Lord Penney 1971

Although by this time we had two videotape recorders in the studio, the programme was shown live to the JCR (Junior Common room), whilst the recorders were used to replay some inserts into the programme (maybe one did also record I can’t remember). At this time it was still not possible to easily record items outside of the studio so some cunning ideas came into use. To enable STOIC to capture external events an 8mm cine camera was used. The footage was then edited together and a simple background audio track of, for example, street noise, was created to play in the background. These inserts were then run into the live programme whilst one of the presenters did a voiceover. In later years a magnetic sound stripe was added to the film to allow sound to be prerecorded in synch. Things didn’t always go to plan however, the splices in the film sometimes broke during projection or whilst being made ready to be shown. On one occasion a splice broke on the film that was going onto the take-up reel, the easiest thing to do at the time was to ignore it and therefore the film simply spooled directly onto the control room floor in a large pile. This edition of Topic was a good example of where things could and did go wrong. You’ll hear two situations where something happened and the presenter is called on the phone from the control and asked to ‘pad’ until it’s resolved. I thought it was fun if I left those in what you’ll be hearing.

Lord Penney interview in 1971
Lord Penney interview 1971

Now, I have called this Seen and Gone, but that’s not strictly true in this case. When I found the audio recording I remembered several spools of 8mm film. These are the original films used to insert into the programmes until portable video became available. They have sat there for 40 years waiting to be seen again. However the videos which they appeared in have long gone. But, in this case I had the soundtrack! So, what you are about to see is the recreation of a lost programme from 40 years ago. I remembered too that I had some photos of STOIC setting up and using the studio at Christmas…..bingo, it was THE same programme I had on audio. So, I’ve been able to use them and the 8mm films to insert at the appropriate places. There does appear to be one film missing and you’ll only hear the commentary and background sound effects. I discovered photos of Lord Penney being interviewed and those too are from the same programme.

So, you’ll be hearing and/or seeing: Guilds Motor club A-Z rally; NUS day of action; Silly Football in Hyde Park; Morphy Day rowing, the London to Brighton vintage car rally and the Lord Mayor’s Show. An interview with Lord Penney (then Rector) was prerecorded and I used the three photos taken at the time of that. Former Union President Piers Corbyn is included and I found a photo taken of that as well.  And there’s an added bonus too. Many of the 8mm films were shot with normal Kodak 8mm film stock, so for the first time ever these will be seen in colour. Other items were shot using black and white film. So here is my recreated Christmas Topic from December 1971 with mistakes and technical breakdowns left in.

Colin Grimshaw 2010

Seen and Gone: One

The one big disadvantage with videotape is that it can be erased. All too often a recording is considered of no further use and the tape is either thrown away or erased and re-used. But back in the early 1960’s and 1970’s it was cost that was the concerning factor. I recall that the first open reels of Ampex one-inch tape that we used cost around £30 each at that time, something more like £300 in today’s money. So, there was a desire to save money and therefore reuse old tapes again. Recently, I remembered that I had some audio tapes that I’d made from the sound tracks of various programmes and that these programmes had long since been erased. tape spoolsSo, I collected them all together and took out one of my faithful old reel-to-reel tape recorders sitting at home. What did I have and was there anything of interest? Well yes, very much so, it turns out. I had a few sound tracks of videos made with the student TV service STOIC for example. Always a good source of college history I listened to what the content was and to whether there might be a gem or two. On a live Christmas 1971 edition of their first news magazine programme TOPIC, I found interviews with Lord Penney (then Rector) about the recent 1971 NUS “Day of action”. This now takes the number of recordings we have of him from 4 to 5 and will be placed into the college archives. We’ll be seeing that programme, in ‘recreated’ form, in the next Seen and Gone number 2.

Sinclair Goodlad in 1967
Sinclair Goodlad in 1967

I also found a soundtrack to a series of programmes I made with Sinclair Goodlad. One of these programmes, which is a May 1972 interview with the very first student counsellor, still exists on the original one-inch videotape, although it has never been transferred to any modern format so at present we’re unable see it. The photo of Sinclair is from 1967 and was taken during one of his “20 minute talk” sessions he ran on Wednesday afternoons in Electrical Engineering. Behind him can be seen our very first videotape recorder, an enormous machine made by Philips and full of very hot valves.

 

Beer and Bangers at 170 in 1976

A nice piece of timing in my discoveries was an interview with Lord and Lady Flowers. This was recorded after one of their famous Beer and Bangers parties held in their flat at 170 Queen’s Gate. On the 20th October 1976 James Sinclair from STOIC went along with the portable videorecorder kit to ask a few questions about why the event takes place. It’s a pity that no photos were taken at the time.

 

Interview with Felix editor Clive Dewey 1976

Felix is the student union newspaper with its first edition dating from December 1949. The editor at the time of this next interview was Clive Dewey. There is mention of a colour edition and I think he was the first editor to achieve this. I recall Clive doing some things with STOIC as did another former Felix editor Mike Williams. Again James Sinclair is the interviewer in this 7th October 1976 recording.

Next time you’ll get to hear, (or is that see?) the 1971 Christmas edition of Topic, with some special surprises after 40 years of being lost….

Colin Grimshaw July 2010

Rectors: Lord Brian Flowers

Mary and Brian Flowers
Mary and Brian Flowers

Brian Flowers (1924-2010) became Rector in succession to Lord Penney in 1973. Then Sir Brian, he quickly became popular and approachable with staff and students alike. The now famous ‘beer and bangers’ parties held by him and Lady Mary Flowers (1921-2016) were hosted in their flat at the Norman Shaw designed building at 170 Queens Gate. This gave many people the opportunity to meet both of them and in particular to gain access to one of the most wonderful buildings owned by Imperial College. Five years after he became Rector, I shot a video with the student TV service STOIC, this was the first time a video had been shot in 170 and in particular up in the Rector’s flat (a photo taken during this event is at the bottom of this entry with me in silhouette on the extreme left hand side). Please click on MORE to continue reading this post. (more…)

Tywarnhale Mine, Cornwall, April 1980

RSM sign at the Tywarnhale mine site
RSM sign at the Tywarnhale mine site

It’s funny how things happen by chance. This months entry is a bit like that. I thought it was about time I made use of some of the footage that we have of the college’s Tywarnhale mine in Cornwall, when I looked at the label on the tapes I noticed that it was 30 years ago this month, April 1980 that I went down to Cormwall. The mine and surrounding land (purchased in 1909/11 with extra land purchased in 1912) was sold by Imperial in about 2005. Here’s a BBC Cornwall web page about the sale dated 15th October 2005. As we couldn’t find any real photos of it in the college’s archives, the picture of the RSM sign is from one of the videotapes I shot. Here’s a brief history of the mine from the “Cornwall Calling” website. Please click on MORE to continue… (more…)

Promotion: 1 – Imperial College

In one way or another, ever since we’ve had the use of video as a medium we have used it to promote things. You will have already seen in other posts the promotion of specific research projects or research groups and so on. But we’re going to start another series that shows how we’ve tried to promote the college as a whole. I’ll also mention that we’ll see how individual departments have tried this too, examples being: Chemistry, Civil Engineering and the Management School (now Business School), so watch out for those blog entries coming sometime soon.

To coincide with the 1985 centenary of the City and Guilds College an impressive exhibition was put on in the Junior Common Room in the Sherfield Building. Although this was primarily research work, schools were invited and special lectures and tours were held, Therefore, very large numbers of school children were going to visit the college  and there was, of course, huge possibilities for student recruitment. So, two promotional videos were (initially) commissioned to promote the college to school children and to potential postgraduates. This was also the first time that moving aerial footage was taken of both the South Kensington and Silwood campuses. The only unfortunate thing was that the footage was shot in January and we’d just had a downfall of snow, so the campuses don’t look too inviting!

The undergraduate promotion video was called “Studying for the Future” and shows all of the usual things to excite potential undergrads. Once again, the nice thing about this and the other videos, is the wonderful record of college life. Also, the campus as it then was, is recorded with the current students and staff going about their daily lives. I wonder how many alumni might actually spot themselves in some of the shots?

A second video was made at the same time. This was to show the research work and activies going on at Imperial and was entitled “Discovering the Future”. I hope you’ve spotted the trend with these titles of the videos all following a certain style with the “….the Future”? A large proportion of this second video was also seen in the video made for undergraduates. The theme used was of a ‘research file’ concept and when you see the video you’ll understand what I mean. And, can those former Blue Peter TV programme viewers spot Valerie Singleton doing the voiceover in this second video?

Next time I’ll show you a third video for those considering taking a masters degree. Can you guess what the title might be?

Colin Grimshaw March 2010