Back in 2006 the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), directed by Professor Alan Fenwick of the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, received the Prize for its work tackling schistosomiasis in countries across sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 200 million people are at risk of the disease that can impair development and cause liver and kidney damage.
The Rector, at the time, Sir Richard Sykes and Professor Fenwick visited Buckingham Palace on 14 February 2008 to collect the Prize from The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The Rector and Professor Fenwick were accompanied by team members from the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology.
In October 2007 we covered the Freshers’ Fair for the first time. Lots of the usual interviews with new students and an added bonus of a few words from Sir Richard Sykes who was then Rector of the college. This was the first time (maybe because it was the Centenary Year?) that Communications had shown any interest in the event being recorded. Prior to that, the first recorded time Freshers’ Fair had been covered was by STOIC and that was in 1980. In October 2019 I discovered that videotape and posted a blog with the original location report by Grant Richmond. Click the link to go to that blog.
The 1980 recording was of course in black and white, but we went into colour very soon after that. 2007 was in colour and widescreen and shot in digital format. Back in 1980 it was pretty awful low resolution black and white.
So here then is the first Freshers’ Fair covered by, and for, the college administration.
STOIC had covered many Pancake Races in the Beit Quad, but in February 1980 something very different happened as we’ll see soon.
Coverage of the Pancake Race is listed as early as 1976 in the videotape index. That however was because it was being indexed with item maintained on videotape. However in the earlier days programmes were recorded, shown and then re-recorded over the next time around. As seen in previous blogs there is a limited archive of surviving materials on film. Started back in 1970, 8mm movie film was used to capture some events taking place outside of the TV Studio. There is just the one instance of a Pancake Race on film and thanks to the diary of Tim Dye a former STOIC Chairman I’m able to date this to 6 March 1973. I have digitised this and it’s available to see below.
But before we see that film from 1973 we should really see something rather different. The wife of the Rector, Lady Flowers making pancakes for Grant Richmond from STOIC. This all took place in the kitchen of the Rector’s flat at 170 Queens Gate and the only video recorded in there. It was seen on 20 February 1980.
Former Rector (1985-1993) Sir Eric Ash died last year. In 2006 I recorded interviews with all living Rectors. Along with my colleague Anne Barrett from the college archives, we recorded in depth interviews to be used during the following centenary year 2007. Unfortunately, when the centenary year arrived communications used only extremely brief clips from all of the recordings. The interview with Eric Ash was around 50mins in total, but just 3mins 27secs was used. I did provide a different clip that ran 2mins 16secs when Imperial announced his passing, but now we can see the full length 47 min recording.
I have now edited together the full interview, which I recorded incidently in the old videoconferencing suite. You will hear Anne Barrett asking the questions and keeping the recording session flowing along.
In the above photo you can see all of the Rectors that we interviewed. Across the top: Sir Eric Ash, Sir Richard Sykes, Lord Ron Oxburgh and Lord Brian Flowers, along with their wives sitting below.
Back in January I posted a blog with a special Christmas message from the then Rector of Imperial College, Lord Flowers. I said that this was the first time we had not only recorded a Rector in colour, but also the first time that a special message for Christmas had been recorded. I was wrong! I have now discovered a recording that was made the previous December 1979. I had forgotten that I helped STOIC with a colour recording made in his office in the Sherfield Building. At the end of the session he also recorded this special message. I have found this (and what follows next) on STOIC’s Christmas Edition of News-Break, their weekly news programme recorded on 12 December 1979 and shown the following day.
The full interview recorded prior to this message is still currently missing, although I think I might have an extract from it on another tape, but more on that at a later time.
What I really had forgotten about was the (currently!) only known recording with Lady Flowers on her own, this was also recorded in the same month. Again, the first time that she had appeared in colour. This was recorded in the kitchen at the Rector’s house at 170 Queens Gate. STOIC’s Tracy Poole was asking the questions although, as you’ll see, Lady Flowers was a little shy, so Tracy struggled a little.
I have corrected the colour of both of these recordings to the best setting that I can. As mentioned in other blogs, this was our first Sony colour camera and its colour rendering what not always perfect. Even with modern digital editing, correcting these errors is still difficult. And since I discovered this recording of Lady Flowers, another one has been unearthed. And once again it’s in the kitchen at 170 Queens Gate, but this time it’s making pancakes. More on that in February, but a preview image from the video is seen below.
2007 was the Centenary Year for Imperial College. One of the most important events during that year was the launch of the history of the college written by Dr Hannah Gay and published by Imperial College Press. The launch was held at 170 Queens Gate and we covered the event and spoke to various people including Dr Hannah Gay herself and also Sir Richard Sykes who was, at the time, the Rector of the college.
The book is a vast catalogue of Imperial’s past and I refer to it regularly when I am writing these blog posts. That’s not to say that the book contains everything and indeed sometimes, even I, resort to Google to find what I’m looking for.
When we made this video we were still called Media Services (ah, those were the days!) and producing videos for anyone in college, not just Communications who we were soon to come under the umbrella of. It was soon after this that we stopped being a service that was available to anyone else in college. A sad moment to be honest and a huge disadvantage to other members of Imperial who wanted to have a video made professionally.
In this blog we are going to hear the 1969 opening ceremony of the new College Block, later renamed as the Sherfield Building (1975). Until now, only extracts have been heard, but here is the full recording with Lord Sherfield the Chairman of the Governing Body, HM Queen and Lord Penney Rector of the college. The full ceremony only exists as an audio recording, with a few segments filmed on 16mm film, but without synchronised sound. Strangely, we could have very easily set up video cameras and recorded the entire proceedings on videotape, but we were never asked. I guess we are just lucky that an audio recording was made.
The images are frame grabs from the 16mm film because I have never seen photos taken in the Great Hall during the ceremony. There is a front page about the event in the edition of Felix from 4 December 1969. Interestingly, there is a ‘typo’ in the Hannah Gay book on the history of Imperial College. In the index, under Sherfield Building it refers to it as formerly “Centre” Block, this typo only appears once!
Negotiations were begun by the Architectural Association Council in the early 1960’s to incorporate the A.A. into the state education system by discussing the idea of merging with Imperial College. Imperial broke off negotiations in February 1970 citing concerns at the nature and intentions of the AA school community. The decision to call off the negotiations left the Architectural Association stunned and many students at I.C. and the A.A. dissatisfied. The I.C. governors raised various issues in coming to their decision. On the actual fusion of the A.A. within a composite College of Science and Technology, Lord Penney wrote that the A.A. desired the fusion “only on their own terms’.
The AA Principal and the AA Council prepared for closure and the winding up of the school. Students and staff mobilised and a search committee for a new Chairman was established, resulting in the election in 1971 of Alvin Boyarsky. Ultimately he transformed the AA into a major international cultural institution.
As part of all of this, on 10 February 1970 Imperial College Union (along with AA students) organised a Moratorium as a protest at the break-down of the talks. The Union cited this as being the first public demonstration at Imperial College. Of course this didn’t go without STOIC noticing and a film camera crew were there to capture events. By chance, on the 17 February the very first news programme called IC Newsreel was recorded; it was shown the following day in the Junior Common Room. One of the organisers John Goodman came into the TV Studio to discuss what had happened and to introduce the film that STOIC had shot. This and the next IC Newsreel are the only two programmes to survive from those early years. But the actual 8mm film also survives after 50 years. What was different was that the film was in colour and the programme was in black and white. I have therefore taken the videotape sound track and re-synced with the HD version of the 8mm film.
In re-syncing the film and audio I ran into a problem. Whatever I did, I couldn’t get the original sound and new film transfer to match. Eventually I re-watched the video and discovered that two very small sections are now missing from the 8mm film compared to what was used in the TV programme in 1970. Coming to my rescue was Andy Finney STOIC’s first chairman and producer of the programme. He was involved with the filming and told me that after the film was used in the programme it was later shown at a students union meeting. I therefore can only assume that either these sections were removed, or more likely they were damaged when being shown at the meeting and then removed. So I’ve cheated and replaced the missing sections with the 50 year old, but very poor quality, videotape. (See update below)
For the keen eyed you will see some blue hoarding when the group is in Imperial Institute Road (now Imperial College Road) and this was the start of the demolition of the old Chemistry Building. Also some staff are seem in white lab coats on the steps of the old Chemistry Building just before the blue hoarding shot.
Here then is the re-synced film in colour from 50 years ago. Oh, and also spot a miss spelling on banners.
UPDATE AUGUST 2022: In digitising a 1971 student project film (more about that at a later point) I have found the missing footage mentioned earlier. It’s the film (in colour) that you will see inserted from the original videotape, but in black and white.
On 2 December 1980 I assisted STOIC with the recording of an interview with Lord Flowers (1924-2010) who was Rector from 1973 to 1985. This was the first time that we had recorded the Rector in colour and at that time STOIC did not have their own colour equipment, hence I helped out. This was an interview that former STOIC Chairman Mike Prosser carried out and at the end Mike asked if he’d record this separate special message. I’ve only just found this recording, included in the Christmas edition of their News-Break programme. The Rector’s office in the Sherfield Building is long since gone, as it moved into the new Faculty Building once it was opened. So yet another record in the archives of Imperial’s ‘times-past’.
One of the extremely useful things about STOIC’s Review of the Year programmes is that they showcased some of the most important things happening in college. In this edition from 40 years ago in June 1980, David Ghani and Paul Johnson give us a glimpse of events as seen through the lens of STOIC’s camera crew. As you will see, a large amount was still in black and white. In fact, this edition of the Review of the Year is the first to be shot in colour and that was simply because it was recorded within the confines of the College TV Studio. And if you look carefully you might spot that even the studio sequences have been shot and edited together in film style, using our single colour camera.
Look out for Rag Week events, STOIC’s 10th Anniversary and one department potentially about to go broke!