Category: Student life

Commemoration Day: 1973

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 sarnoffRobert 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.

Colin Grimshaw October 2015

Sir Brian Flowers interview: 1976

I was recently ploughing my way through yet more archive videotapes and discovered another piece of Imperial College history. On the 11th November 1976 we recorded an interview with the then Rector of Imperial, Sir Brian Flowers. Later he was to become Lord Flowers of Queen’s Gate.

During the interview James Sinclair, who was then the STOIC Chairman, discussed many topics, including the current building extension application for Linstead Hall, one of the accommodation buildings around Prince’s Gardens (east side) which was rejected by Westminster City Council. The extension finally happened in 1980, both the original and extension buildings have subsequently been demolished and replaced by Eastside. Brian Flowers was the most cooperative of our rectors when it came to being interviewed, either in the studio or elsewhere. I think he felt that such collaboration with the studio and other ‘media’ on the campus would pay itself back when discussions took place on student matters or affairs. He was certainly one of the most popular rectors.

TV Studio 2006When the interview was recorded we were still operating in black and white, colour was three years away. However, the ‘new’ studio had only opened during the summer of 1976 and was once again to be modified when colour arrived in 1979. I reckon this was the first rector interview in the new studio, which for those that remember, was on level 2 of the main walkway. The photo on the right was taken in 2006.

Colin Grimshaw September 2015

Not just another university: 1987

In 1987, the University of London (of which Imperial was then part of) made a film called ‘Not just another university’ to promote and showcase itself to a wider audience. The ULAVC (University of London Audio-Visual Centre) was based at 11 Bedford Square and served the needs of any of the schools or colleges that made up the university. As the centre had the skills and facilities to make professional 16mm films it was the natural facility to make this promotional programme. Imperial College is featured in it too, initially with some aerial shots and mind boggling statistics prior to Sir Eric Ash, then Rector, who is seen in the original Rector’s Sherfield Building office. ALICE the Imperial College built computer is seen running. Felix issue 758, 1987 The Chemical Engineering Pilot Plant is featured with Prof Kerschenbaum talking about its uses and operation. Felix, the student newspaper (photo on right during filming) is shown being produced, along with Dave Jones, Editor talking about the weekly publication process. Having spent 12 years as Rector of Imperial College, Lord Brian Flowers then moved on to become Vice-Chancellor of the University of London and he is seen sitting casually on the edge of his desk in his Senate House office. Towards the end of the programme Wye College, as was, is seen during its heyday bustling with students, this must be the only time it was featured on film a unique record.

The film also got a one-off airing in December 1987 on Channel Four, one of the UK’s main broadcast TV stations.

Colin Grimshaw July 2015

Postgraduate Awards Ceremony: 2003

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. Graduation RAH 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.

PG Awards 2004 DVDIn 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.

 

Colin Grimshaw May 2015

Morphy Day & Sports Day: 1928

In this blog entry I’m bringing you the oldest moving images that we have of an Imperial event. Film CanWe are very fortunate to have a 1928 16mm film that an unknown person shot of both Morphy Day rowing at Putney and also of Sports Day, which is thought to have been held at the Chelsea Football Club grounds at Stamford Bridge. In 1920, Arthur Morphy had presented a cup for an eights race between the original three constituent colleges. Competition for the Morphy Cup became an important annual event in college life. FilmFrom looking at the film, we can only assume that this was shot before the rivalry became common at Morphy Day between the colleges, that saw flour and eggs being thrown around on the tow path. None of that appears on this film. Interestingly, we can also assume that the film was shot by somebody who was not a student at the college, because when you look at the film the word Morphy is spelt incorrectly. Arthur Morphy’s Son attended City and Guilds (1917-1920) and went on to co-found the company Morphy Richards. Ted CoulsonTed Coulson (see below), seen in the second sequence of Tug-of-War and in the picture on the right, was the City and Guilds team coach. If you have any further information to fill in the gaps about this film then please do get in touch. We’d love to know who shot the film and why.

2019 update and correction. It is now identified as Jimmy Peacock in the Tug-of-War film sequence and not Ted Coulson (seen in this photo) as previously assumed.

 

Colin Grimshaw April 2015

IC Newsreel Number 1: 1970

Recently digitised from the video archive collection is the very first news-magazine programme made by the student TV service, STOIC. 50 years ago on the 17th February 1970 an experimental programme was made to ascertain the feasibility of producing such a news programme on a weekly (or at least a regular) basis. At this time, STOIC used the TV studio facilities of the Electrical Engineering Department, as seen over in the right hand photo and with me operating a camera.

John Brown 1970The original plan was to produce a light hearted and simple programme, reflecting what was currently happening in and around college. However, at 10am on the morning of the recording on Tuesday 17th February, the Pro-Rector Lord Jackson (1904-1970), who was also Professor of Electrical Engineering, died. Plans were immediately changed and his colleague, the Head of the Electrical Engineering Department Prof John Brown (seen on the left in the video) appeared to pay tribute. This itself is a unique recording, having been made within hours of Jackson’s death.

Although this was only a trial programme, some effort had been put into trying to make it look as professional as possible. A filmed report (on 8mm film) was shot at a Touchstone weekend being held at Silwood Park. Piers Corbyn, the controversial students union president (1969-1970), appeared in an interview. Another filmed report was on the first major event to be held in the then newly opened College Block (now renamed Sherfield Building). The programme was presented and linked together by Vivienne Taylor who went on to present a local TV programme on London’s Thames Television.

The programme was shown the following day (18th February) in the then new Junior Common Room in College Block. A copy of the original flyer can be seen below. It’s amazing the recording has survived all these years. The original one-inch Ampex videotape still exists, but only because I had given STOIC the videotape to record on, with the very intention of it being kept for posterity and 45 years later, I’m glad I did! If I hadn’t, then like many BBC videotapes, it would have been erased and used again for another programme.

Experimental Newsreel

Colin Grimshaw February 2021

Lord Flowers Interview: Dec 1980

I have recently rediscovered the first interview shot with a Rector in colour. It was recorded in December 1980 in the Sherfield Building office of Lord Flowers (1924-2010) who was Rector from 1973 to 1985.

Lady and Lord Flowers Dec 2000
Lady and Lord Flowers in 2000

The student TV (STOIC)  had expressed an interest in interviewing him and I agreed to collaborate in the recording to enable it to be shot in colour. I thought at the time, that this would be good from an archive point-of-view. And 34 years later, my idea has just paid off! There are several other blog entries on Lord and Lady Flowers, but this one had escaped me until now. The interviewer is Mike Prosser, with an introduction made in the college’s former TV Studio. The interview was made as a ‘special’, within the normal weekly programme called News-Break. That programme was transmitted to all of the college halls across campus, as well as the union building. As in previous early colour videos  featured within this blog, it will not be up to even the standards of a modern domestic camcorder, but at least we do have it.  The previous colour interview with Lord Flowers was featured in my 2010 entry. That previous video was from 1984 and I had only just rediscovered it, so this 1980 video is adding to our collection. The last time I saw Lord Flowers was during a short visit to his house and we were sitting around his kitchen table having lunch with Lady Flowers.

Colin Grimshaw November 2014

Industry and City & Guilds 1986

Way back in 1986, Bruce Sayers, then Dean of City and Guilds College, asked me to make a video which would give a view and a voice as to how C&G was connecting with Industry. Ten final year C&G students were interviewed and their opinions sort on both industry and their future careers. The then president of the Imperial College Union, Christine Taig fronts the video. Peter Moore was then the Careers Advisor for Mechanical Engineering and had studied some of the reasons why graduates did not want to actually work in industry after leaving college. It ends by making the point that then, in 1986, 20-30% of C&G graduates ended up in non-techincal jobs.

As usual there are some nice 1980’s stock footage shots of the college. The sequences with Christine Taig were of course shot years before the many changes across campus that built the Faculty Building and lost the grass and trees area, then called Dalby Court. You’ll see the view across that area and with Mechanical Engineering clearly in total view and this is how it would have seen, when the area was first built and designed.

Colin Grimshaw August 2014

Hilarious Students of Imperial College: 1925

In 1925 this would have been considered hilarious I can only assume? But at least we do have this amazing British Pathe News film of some of our students from a time long ago and this now predates our own 1928 Sports Day film. The main titles are saying that the students had their ‘own’ Lord Mayor Show, so this would have been in November of that year. But why did they do this and why did Pathe News feel it was worthy enough to actually film it? This I suspect we may never know, although it’s possible someone somewhere might be able to tell us or work it out (there’s a possible clue later). The car, in one shot, has C&G painted on the front, although this is not that clear to see. It appears that this is the first version of Bo (Boanerges) which was a 1908 Rover purchased in 1920. It was replaced by the current car in 1933 (I have noticed that there are some variations on these various dates, depending on what you read). According to Hannah Gay’s book, in the previous year to this film (1924), C&G students had parked this car outside Number 10 Downing Street with an effigy of the then Prime Minister in it. So could THIS be why Pathe shot the film, because of the previous year’s prank and in the hope they might do something silly again to be captured on film?

Beit Prince Consort RoadHaving looked, many times, at both films, I have managed to work out where it was shot. The sequences in the car seem to be just outside of Holy Trinity Church in Prince Consort Road. The modern photo gives a clue to the location in front of the door at the extreme right hand end of the church building (in this photo that’s on the left where it joins Beit please note). One shot shows the students pulling the car with a rope along Prince Consort Road, with faintly in the background the Royal College of Music and RSM behind that too. To the extreme right is where Aeronautics is now located and to the left would be Beit and then the Albert Hall.

There are two films in the Pathe News archive. The first is the edited and also titled version, while the other is listed as out-takes (unused material).

Colin Grimshaw May 2014

Dr Harold R Allen 1983

Allen2Dr Harold R Allen came to Imperial College as a lecturer in October 1947 after completing a PhD at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory. He made major contributions to the Physics Department but more importantly to the musical activities within the college.

In this interview, recorded in 1983 and not long before his retirement, he talks about the 1960 transfer from the old buildings occupied by Physics, to the brand new building on the corner of Prince Consort Road and Queens Gate. Physics was the first department within Imperial College to move into an entirely new building. As well as this, he discusses his colleagues that were in the department during his years as a member of staff. There’s an interesting anecdote too about the initial design of the Physics lecture theatre and columns that were originally planned, but which would have reduced vision across the entire space.

Physics BuildingSir Roderic Hill who was Rector the time (1948-1954), is discussed as being the person to have started what was then called General Studies. Lady Hill had discovered during a conversation with Dr Allen that he had an interest in music and asked him what was the strength of musical activities going on within the college. All of this lead to the formation of a choir to sing at the then newly created Commemoration Day, the purchase of a piano followed along with the creation of a ‘space for musical activities’. He became leader, organiser and treasurer of the college orchestra.

This interview was recorded in the Imperial College TV Studio on 18th July 1983, especially for the college archives. It was intended to capture the people and history of the college for others to enjoy in the future; we are doing that now, over 30 years later!

 

A piece of sad news from Linda Jones in the Blackett Lab is that Harold Allen died on September 5th of this year, 2014.

Colin Grimshaw April 2014