38 years ago in May 1979, Michael Arthur held the post of Students’ Union Welfare Advisor. He later became College Assistant Secretary within Central College Administration.
Here he is talking to Paul Johnson about how to go about finding accommodation during the next academic year. Once again, this is an edition of STOIC’s Summer Lunch Break with an interview recorded in black and white, but with a colour introduction.
In October 1979 Imperial College Students’ Union staged a series of protests against government education cuts. Occupation of the Senior Dining Room was one part of these protests. Another took place on Commemoration Day itself. Those who took part in the occupation, together with many others carrying placards and wearing black armbands, joined in a “Funeral March” following a black coffin, held aloft by six students, through the Beit building and on a journey around the Royal Albert Hall. Students were already leafleting the parents and other visitors to the ceremony in the Albert Hall.
STOIC were there to record the event and reporter Bob Powell spoke to a future ICU President John Passmore. Note that the incorrect name was used by Mike Prosser in the studio introduction to the news report.
Way back in the days of black and white, the Student TV Service STOIC captured some of the excitement of the 1979 Students’ Union Rag Fete, that was held in Princes Gardens. This is also a good record of what the gardens looked like before they were altered at the time of the rebuilding of Southside Halls and Linstead Halls (see 1990’s photo on right). Guest celebrity was actor Christopher Biggins. The report is introduced from the TV Studio in colour, by Sarah Clifford.
In 1976 the student television service STOIC covered the student union election results live from the Great Hall. The videotape that we still have, these 41 years later, is the earliest one that still exists. One or two programmes were made in years prior to 1976 but as these were live broadcasts, videotapes were not made. It’s a fluke that this 1976 recording is still around. It was made as an ROT (Record Off Transmission) for no other reason than for us to be able to review what was done. I actually recorded it myself on a now redundant Sony open-spool half inch tape format machine (on the right is an example of such a tape). However, for some reason it was then copied onto the U-matic format which is still (just) in working order. We moved to U-matic in mid 1979. The recording is unstable in places and has many tape drop-outs (white flashes across the screen where tape oxide is missing).
This programme was amazing in a way. Up until then all videos were recorded, or broadcast live from the studio. This was different because I had made use of some new cabling that had been installed from the Great Hall to the TV Studio. I considered that it should be possible to use this to send video and audio both from the hall to the studio and back again. I also used one of the audio cables to feed ‘ear phone cue’ to any of the presenters. Amazingly it all worked and we did that for several years. This programme was introduced in the studio by former FELIX editor Mike Williams and from the Great Hall by Mark Caldwell also with them was soon to be STOIC Chairman James Sinclair. In the photo, Mike is top left with Mark lower left and James lower right.
In January 1979 a mass boycott was organised against the college increasing the price of food on campus. From the 26th January edition of Felix it was reported that:
“The Union is to organise a 24 hour boycott of Southside Refectory in protest against poor quality food and high prices.
The decision by Tuesday’s Union Meeting reverses the recommendation of IC Union Executive to postpone the boycott. Union President Mary Attenborough appealed for mass support for the boycott.”
Mary Attenborough was the 73rd Union President (1978-1979) and here, from May of 1979, she’s talking to Mark Foley about this and the possibility of the union setting up their own ‘snackbar’.
(This edition of Summer Lunch Break was one of the first to contain material originated from the college TV studio in colour, but as we only had the one colour camera multi-camera interviews continued to be recorded in black and white.)
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….
Last time, we looked at the very start of STOIC with clips from things like: an early promotional video to join the club and Morphy Day on the tow path at Putney. Staying with that line of thought, this time we’re going to see an early example of coverage of a rag event, Election Results ‘live’ from the Great Hall and the days when students had a “Mooney” for lunch rather than an sandwich.
Firstly though, the idea for IC Radio started in 1974. In the days prior to the internet, to be able to hear radio, you needed a radio. For a radio to hear your broadcast you needed a transmitter (a legal one too). So, for IC Radio to operate it would need to be able to transmit.
By the time that IC Radio was about to open, there were ways to achieve this ‘within’ a building (as opposed to an actual transmitting aerial as such). As you will hear in the interview, a ‘leaky feeder’ cable was the method used to enable broadcasts on the medium wave. Mark Caldwell (a former STOIC Chairman) and main presenter at the time, interviewed John Allen who became IC Radio Station Manager. This video is from 4 March 1976 and has a few glitches in its playback, but it’s not bad for 35 years of age. John Allen has his own archive website with loads of old photos and sound clips, so you may wish to hop over and read more about it, click here.
Coverage of rag events was a regular and popular item within STOIC’s programme schedule. Whether it was: a simple collection; tiddlywinks down Oxford Street or, as we’re about to see, “Guilds Silly Sports” outside Harrods in Knightsbridge. This was always a good location for all involved, as it’s about 10 minutes from the South Ken campus. So, no one had to travel too far and this was important for STOIC when a rag took place on a Wednesday afternoon – the time in the week when STOIC’s news programme was recorded and edited. So, returning with the videotape to start editing was always the main thought for those waiting back in the studio. This is one of the earliest rags recorded back in 1979. Colin Palmer interviews those taking part and more importantly, those giving money…
Hustings, elections and the UGM, (where the results were announced) were also high on the STOIC list of events to be covered each year. When, in the early 70’s, parts of the college were linked by both video and audio cables an idea came to mind. Why not try and link from the great hall and report the UGM live via STOIC? When the idea was first suggested the technology was not quite in place to allow video as well as sound to be relayed back to the TV studio.
ICU Election Results 1980
So, in year one, Mark Caldwell presented live segments in sound only, with a photo of him showing in vision! Year two was a lot better and technology allowed a full linking in vision and sound. So, five years on from the first attempt, here’s a clip from the UGM of 1980 with Paul Johnson presenting (click red icon above).
But…this is just a bit different again. Why? Well, because by now STOIC was running its own live programme AND also linking into IC Radio at the same time. You’ll see what I mean in this clip and you’ll hear me on the earphone cue system which was clearly too loud that day! The slight pause before Dave Fuller starts speaking is because they were waiting for a cue from IC Radio to confirm the link-up between the two networks, all rather complicated for those early days.
Finally, if you were a student in the 1960’s to 1980’s you may well remember going for a “Mooney” at lunchtime. What was this? Well the answer is simple. Victor Mooney (Died on December 27th 2012 aged 89) was college Catering Manager from 1953 to his retirement in 1985. He became part of college tradition and so did his food, hence the reference “Mooney”. It’s a bit like saying you’re using a Hoover I guess. Over the years he came in for some serious complaining by the students, but, as he always said, if he was given a serious budget he could provide a serious meal. Here he is from 1979 talking to STOIC regular Dave Ghani.