Today we have something in colour, and that makes a change from mostly black and white videos. Way back in February 1986, a few months before STOIC broke away from the College TV Studio, they reported on Op Soc. I’ve looked through the videotape card index and there are three cards listing STOIC’s coverage of Op Soc’s productions. If you look at the first card that I scanned, you can get an impression of just how many were covered. Intriguingly, I also spot a February 1979 twenty minute documentary programme (D5). Sadly, if it still exists, it’s on the Ampex 7003 One Inch type A format, which we can no longer play.
Luckily, we do have from 1986 Op Soc with Princess Ida. This is a review with clips, not the entire production. I’m assuming that this was in the union building concert hall.
How was Christmas celebrated around Imperial College in years past? Very little remains in terms of records and archives of what happened or indeed what the campus actually looked like. We do have a glimpse of what people saw through the lens of STOIC and via the videotapes that remain. For the weeks leading up to Christmas of 1981 it was a time to announce that this particular year was the first that STOIC would be in full colour (better late than never). What better way for them to celebrate this, than to ‘make festive’ their very own logo. If anyone remembers the original BBC One moving logo, then this Imperial College version by its students gives a feel from the period. This only exists because it was archived on videotape and has remained unseen for these nearly 40 years. Interestingly, this would not now be possible to make. The shot was taken from the TV Studio window and that’s Mech Eng in the background. The Faculty Building would now block the entire view and besides, the college closed the studio anyway! The trees (now gone) of Dalby Court had genuine snow on them back in December 1981, so this gave a festive feel for a few days at least. The TV monitors in the Junior Common Room, Southside, Union and Weeks Hall all displayed “Christmas in Colour” prior to, and after STOIC’s transmissions on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1pm and 6pm.
STOIC’s Christmas 1981 didn’t end with just this logo. They were prompted to replicate Blue Peters very own Advent Crown. But don’t worry, this was far from being sensible and indeed is typical of “silly” students at their best. Martin Cowan was the main leader of silliness that year and he’s emailed me to say that he has fond memories of his time at Imperial. A lot of effort was put into this sequence including shots outside around the Queens Tower and in (what was) the workshop area of the college TV Studio on the main campus walkway. Even at the end of the programme there were still laughs to be had from the presenters. Oh well it was Christmas I guess and a time when we still had a Rector! The picture of the Christmas studio crew was taken at the end of the 1981 recording. Sadly though, two of that crew pictured here have since died, but their contributions can still be seen today in the saved STOIC videotape and film archive.
And finally, something a little different. Martin Cowan was also involved in a music group called SSIK. The last video we’re going to see was their contribution to the Christmas programme. In a somewhat complicated and psychedelic production that they filmed all around Imperial. Can you spot the obvious Albert Memorial and steps leading to the Albert Hall? Also. eagle-eyed might also spot the sequence from the top of the Union Building along with some interior corridor shots too. The editing was very involved when they were trying to match-up the music track to what had been shot outside. I was asked to help on the editing and to also add the colourising, and we might have gone a little over the top with that perhaps? Anyway, it’s a bit unusual and something to cheer us all up these 40 years later with various UK restrictions in place (Covid-19).
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and let’s hope it will be a better year in 2021.
This video has me very confused! I’m having trouble finding references or information about the IC Big Band in the videotape index other than just this single one. I do know however that this one item was from 21st June 1978 and featured on STOIC’s Lunch Break weekly programme. I can’t even get any clues to the location used. I do however recognise one person in the video as having been involved with STOIC, so I assume that pins it down to the Imperial campus perhaps? On the videotape there is no introduction, just the music session so that doesn’t help me either. More information lost in time and never recorded anywhere.
It appears however that the IC Big Band does still exist today and have their own Website and Facebook page too! Here’s what they say about themselves:
The official big band of Imperial College London, IC Big Band regularly performs top quality jazz in and around the capital. The platinum award-winning band consists of current university students at Imperial College London, and has gained an excellent reputation that grows year on year.
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.
Back on 1st May 1982 there was a Gilbert and Sullivan marathon taking place in the Union Concert Hall. Starting at 12 noon a constant stream of over 50 people battled through 28 hours of singing all 13 Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. In the process they collected over £2000 for the Save the Children Fund. Tracy Poole was there at 4pm to report for STOIC’s Newsbreak programme.
What better way to start 2018 than with some music. 39 years ago, way back in 1979, the student TV service STOIC were recording their weekly college-wide news programme called News-Break. This particular programme from 31 October 1979 featured a college jazz group called SP3 and I have no idea where that name came from, but it must mean something, probably science related I suspect. Music was not new in the studio as we’d tried this type of thing before and again later on in the 1980’s, but then it was in colour.
Introduced by STOIC regular Dave Ghani it was also the end of the programme, so you’ll see a few end credits appearing including my name it seems. This all looks very amateur but it was all done with less than mobile cameras, in one take and with no rehearsal either.
Today marks ten years since the Imperial College Centenary Ceremony. If you click on the link in the previous sentence you can see the special page that was created with many memories contributed by past & present staff & students. See if you can spot my contribution too. But can you really believe it’s ten years since all the fun and games that marked the centenary of Imperial College from 1907-2007? The overall one-year celebration period was entitled “100 years of living science“. What you will see below are videos from that celebration period. However, in a previous blog I included the celebrations for Imperial’s 50th Anniversary Jubilee in 1957.
Things kicked off in the Great Hall on 30th January 2007 with the Rector Sir Richard Sykes giving his centenary launch lecture.
The highlight of the year was on 9th July 2007 when HM Queen attended the centenary ceremony in the college main entrance. We covered the event with three cameras running on wireless links to avoid any cables. This also enabled us to get shots from the pavement when Her Majesty, along with HRH Prince Philip, arrived and departed, in the royal car. You’ll see the latter at the end of the video. The whole ceremony was also relayed via a web-stream around the World, one of the earliest we had done. One of the cameramen got a lovely shot when the Queen was signing the visitors book just before her departure. Like many of these events you can plan well ahead, but at the time it happens you’ve not really had a rehearsal. As I always say about this type of event, you can’t ask the Queen to do a run-through and camera rehearsal for you! So, it’s nice when you can get some great unexpected shots as you’ll see in the video. Please note that unlike BBC broadcasts of such events, there is no added commentary.
A few days after the centenary ceremony a college-wide/campuses-wide staff party was held. On 11th July 2007 a party was held like nothing Imperial had ever seen, or has seen since for that matter. We covered that party during the entire time, as you’ll see in the video below, which was presented by Darren Queralt.
Because many people, including us, were actually working during the staff party, another event was put on at the end of the year in December. It was the Beach Party and here I am with my colleague Martin Sayers and Rector Sir Richard Sykes all trying to look like it was Summer, even though it wasn’t. And hey, I still had a video camera with me it seems! I must look for that tape…
I recently discovered this U-matic videotape of a 1982 performance by the Imperial College orchestra. Notable is the early appearance by Richard Dickins (right), this was before he had been appointed conductor and subsequently director of music at Imperial College.
The quality and especially the colour are rather poor, but once again I’m thankful that we do at least have this recording, brought to you for the first time since being digitised.
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 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.
Dr 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.
Sir 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.