Well, who remembers the Great Tartan Race? Other references that I’ve found also called it the Great Tartan Barrel Race, either way it seemed to involve beer! This news item from STOIC’s 8 June 1973 TOPIC programme is missed from the card index because it was shot well before the index was started. The original videotape is long gone, so this item would have been forgotten. But, once again I found this gem in the collection of 8mm films that I’m currently digitising. If you remember, film was the only way for the programme to provide coverage of events outside of the college TV studio. Sadly this film is all that now remains of the programme so I’ve had to revert to a news clipping from FELIX dated 3 May 1973. (And yes you will have noticed a month’s difference between when it was shot and actually used in the programme)
“A team consisting of two members each from City and Guilds’ Union and Royal School of Mines Union were outright winners in their class in the Great Tartan Race, run annually by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries. The race involves transporting an (empty) keg of Tartan beer from Edinburgh to London, and the various classes of entry are for the most novel way of doing this, the team collecting most money for their nominated charity and for the team completing the distance in the shortest time. The IC team made the trip in a tartan-liveried Morris Minor accompanied by tartan-clad dolly birds, and collected for Action for the Crippled Child. The Tartan Race was entered by teams from universities and colleges throughout Britain.”
Coverage of the race was not only from STOIC it would seem, but also from British Movietone News. I didn’t realise that news for the cinema was still running in 1973, but at least STOIC’s was shot in colour (although seen in black and white). You’ll also spot that I found not only the used footage from the programme, but also the off cuts. These I’ve also included to show all that is still available in the archive collection. And when you look at the British Movietone News coverage does anyone recognise the voice doing the commentary? It’s the first presenter of BBC Television in 1936, Leslie Mitchell.
On STOIC’s weekly news programme “News-Break”, all sorts of things were featured. From interviews with Rectors about college funding cuts; the siege at the Iranian embassy; potential integrations of another college into Imperial, through to….making badges!
Yes, the making of badges was indeed a feature on the 13 January 1982 edition of News-Break. Regular presenter Mike Hackett talked to the chairman of Badge Soc, Chris Taylor from Mechanical Engineering. In fact when you see the badge making device it does look like it should have been in the Mechanical Engineering Workshop. Below, from FELIX, is Badge Soc’s Small Ad.
So, in the same programme that featured the potential QEC ‘merger’ with Imperial we have Badge Soc. Chris Taylor is doing his impression of Imperial’s own (Dr) Brian May with that haircut it seems. Here then is STOIC’s very best ‘Blue Peter’ item for the first programme of the year (1982) 38 years ago.
In December 1981 and January 1982 STOIC’s news programme had reports on the proposed integration of Queen Elizabeth College in Kensington, INTO Imperial College. The main theme of the proposal was that Q.E.C would have been incorporated into IC as a fourth constituent college.
So, in December 1981 the college statement said; the bioscience part of Q.E.C is proposed to be physically moved to the IC site, which would require a new building (probably on the site next to new Chemistry). The physical sciences at Q.E.C would be “accommodated elsewhere within the university”. Joint planning and consultative committees would be set up to achieve a closer working relationship prior to the eventual integration. The timescale of the proposal is approximately five years, but major developments might be expected before that time. The proposal is in response to the problems of finance and student numbers facing London University (that Imperial was then part of). It is not clear however just what financial savings would be made, and no mention is made of this in the statement. Student numbers would presumably fall, although the new ‘super IC’ would be larger than it is now.
Of course this all came to nothing, here though are STOIC reports from 2 & 9 December 1981.
And on the first edition of News-Break for 1982, Nick Morton the ICU President came into the TV Studio. He spoke with Lawrence Windley and gave his view and opinion on the situation. He also corrected various misunderstandings on these proposals that were currently going around the college and also printed in Felix (the student newspaper). Students kept talking of this as a ‘merger’, but this was never the proposal, but rather an ‘integration’ of Q.E.C into Imperial College. Once again, the saved videotape archive of STOIC has rescued the news and voices of Imperial College, which would have otherwise been lost for ever.
Who would have thought that this first appearance on TV at Imperial College would lead to a career on the BBC? Yes, it’s Pallab Ghosh now Science Correspondent for BBC News. Pallab studied Physics at Imperial which was probably a good all-rounder for what came next.
But before his BBC career he was the editor of the student newspaper Felix. I do have the videotape of his Felix Editor Hustings Speech from 3 March 1983 (we’ll see that soon). Prior to that though, he was the chairman of the Imperial College HG Wells Society. Back in 1981, he was speaking to STOIC’s Martin Cowen about the revival of the society and what was planned in the coming months, including a potential Loch Ness Monster expedition!
The photo above shows Pallab during a visit to Imperial College in 2014.
John Passmore was the ICU President from 1980-81 and elected into that post in March 1980. The front page of Felix announced the election results on its front page of 14 March 1980. STOIC interviewed him in the TV Studio just after the new term had started. From the 8 October 1980, here he is talking to Graeme Shaw.
Not that long after the term had started he was in the news again. He was the victim of a ‘kidnapping’ rag stunt by City University. Once more STOIC was on the case and here’s their report from 13 November 1980, Mike Hackett was the location reporter.
In this blog we have the oldest interviews with an Imperial College Student Union President. Nick Brayshaw had just been elected into the post in March 1976 for the period 1976-1977. STOIC’s news programme was then called Lunch Break and was largely broadcast live from the college TV studio. These particular programmes were only recorded so that we could see what they looked like after the broadcasts. Luckily, for what ever reason, these interviews were copied onto the U-matic format and survive to this day.
Firstly, live coverage from the Great Hall with Nick Brayshaw’s acceptance speech and interview by Mark Caldwell.
Chatting to Nick Brayshaw later that week was Mike Williams. Mike was a former editor of the Imperial College student newspaper FELIX (1974-1975). He did many interviews for STOIC including another one also broadcast live, but this time over the ILEA cable network covering the whole of London. On that occasion in 1977 he interviewed the then film reviewer for the BBC Barry Norman. I was in touch with him recently and he now resides in the USA and is working at the University of San Francisco.
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. So, 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.
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.
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.
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….