Tag: Students

Alumni Interview 2006: Bob Schroter

Bob Schroter came to the City and Guilds College, within the Imperial College, as an undergraduate student in 1959.

Bob during a parabolic flight

In this video, recorded in 2006 for the centenary celebrations of 2007, he talks about his time as an undergraduate, then as a postgraduate and finally a member of college staff. During his time as a student, Bob became the president of the students union and since then has become heavily involved in the Old Centralians Trust. His time as president of the union involved meetings and discussions with the then Rector, Sir Patrick Linstead. During the interview Bob talks about the Links Club and the various mascots of the student unions, particularly those of City and Guilds. The Exploration Board is mentioned and the fact that this was started only a matter of years before Bob became a student at Imperial College in the late 1950’s.

Bob ends by talking about the Physiological Flow Studies Unit (PFSU) (of which he became deputy head for many years) and his research, which involved working with Camels and then Horses.

If you would like to see more of this type of Alumni video interview and can make suggestions as to who should take part, then please contact me via the LEAVE A REPLY box below. We would very much appreciate people like Rogers Knight who can tell us stories about Imperial College life in times past, especially those pre-war.

Colin Grimshaw December 2013

Images of Imperial: 2002

Made originally for showing only at the 2002 Open Day, this fast-paced video ended up being used in many different ways and on just as many occasions too. As with all these archive videos there are the usual array of shots of Imperial from the past. The video was made before we went from the old ‘square’ 4:3 video format into widescreen 16:9 so that makes it look even older to me. You will also notice that this was prior to the new Imperial branding, so the caption scrolling across only says Imperial College and not Imperial College London as it would these days. Although it’s all a bit fast to analyse each individual image, you may spot some shots of the original Southside with its bike rack, as well as the old sports gym. Can you also spot the now gone Waterstones bookshop in the Library and also the Squash court? The video was also before the completion of the new Business School and college main entrance. So the architects ‘fly through’ animation was used to give an impression of what was to come. A lot has now changed at Imperial since this video was made only 11 years ago and that includes the college TV studio closure (our logo is seen at the end of the video). I hope that Alumni will find a few memories in looking at this.

Colin Grimshaw November 2013

Alumni Interview 2006: Rogers Knight

In the year preceding the 2007 Imperial College Centenary, a project I had suggested was started between Media Services and the Imperial College Archives. It interviewed all living past Rectors and the then current Rector Sir Richard Sykes. Since that time former Rector Lord Brian Flowers has died, so these interviews, in my view, have proved a worthwhile exercise. Also included were prominent members of the college community. We also interviewed an Alumni; Rogers Knight (6th December 1915 – 29th March 2015) who was a student of the City and Guilds College from 1934-1938. He also became heavily involved in student life and then years later with the Old Centralians Trust.

He tells us that, at the time he was a student, the whole student body was something like 1200. In the Royal School of Mines about 100 and the Royal College of Science and City and Guilds were about the same size at around 500 or so each. Rogers remembers the College Porter, dressed in his formal red morning coat, standing on the College steps every morning, greeting every student by name. I can’t see that happening any more! He says that, in his opinion, the buildings we had then, the Royal College of Science, the original City and Guild’s Building (above) and the Royal School of Mines were built with care and attention. He was interviewed by College Archivist Anne Barrett on 22 August 2006 in the College TV Studio

If you would like to see more of this type of Alumni video interview and can make suggestions as to who should take part, then please contact me via the LEAVE A REPLY box below. We would very much appreciate people like Rogers Knight who can tell us stories about Imperial College life in times past, especially those pre-war.

I was sad to hear that Rogers had died in March 2015 at the amazing age of 99! This interview is therefore even more important in recording the history of Imperial College from times past.

Colin Grimshaw August 2015 (updated)

Imperial College Video Prospectuses 1993

30 years ago, in 1993, an attempt was made at the production of an (ideally) ongoing video prospectus, one for undergraduates and one for postgraduates.

Unusually for a student recruitment piece, these were conceived by the then Rector’s wife, Clare Ash and produced by her daughter Jenny (who was working in TV production) – effectively making two videos in parallel using a great number of the same shoots in both.  Without more involvement from the departments and central services, the videos perhaps didn’t capture the imagination of academics or administrators.

Probably ahead of its time, the project didn’t have the required support from the offices handling recruitment and PR and it didn’t continue – but they do capture the spirit and feel of the College some thirty years ago.

 

Undergraduate Video:
If you look at this, see the graphics and say “What?”, then you’ll know my thoughts, both then, and even now, some thirty years on! There are great shots of the old language lab and Richard Dickins with the college orchestra, both of these showing the non science side of Imperial. Once more we have some (now) important archive shots of Prince’s Gardens and the old halls, especially Linstead Hall showing the famous evening meal (photo on right). This was the only time this was recorded and is special for that reason. We also featured IC Radio, STOIC and Felix in production for that weeks edition. And finally we have the first ever video shots of a Commemoration Day at the Royal Albert Hall.

Postgraduate Video:
In general this will look more or less the same as the undergraduate version, but includes some now unique shots of Lord George Porter working in his lab in the basement of the Beit Building (photo on left). We also ventured out to Silwood Park to show some research work going on there. At this time the Science Communication course had started and we almost featured ourselves by showing two of the students working at our editing suite (even though this was of course staged). Finally a great and short-lived hall is featured. Does anyone remember the Postgraduate only Montpelier Hall in Montpelier Street, almost within sight of Harrods? Well, that’s in here too towards the end of the video.

Its such a shame that neither of these videos were appreciated within the college because a massive amount of time and effort went into making them both. We used about 12 or more one-hour video cassettes for the ‘rushes’ and because they contain some very unique material such as George Porter I still have them today in our video archive. See what you think and let me know if you are seen appearing in either of them. Some years after we had made them, several boxes of unused and unrequired VHS tape copies of both of the videos were returned to me from Registry, they were all thrown in the bin!

Colin Grimshaw October 2023

Promotion: 4 – Mastering the Future 1985

Back in 2010 I brought you the two videos that were made to coincide with the City and Guilds centenary in 1985, they were Studying for the Future and Discovering the Future. I had promised to bring you a third video made later in that year called Mastering the Future. Obviously, this video was intended to showcase and promote the idea of taking a masters degree at Imperial College.

Key figures from Industry were featured to give a sense of what was required from University students taking such masters degrees. One person appearing was Sir George Porter, later Lord Porter who was then President of the Royal Institution. Later he moved to Imperial College to continue his research work. By the time the video was made Eric Ash had become Rector, superseding Brian Flowers. One of the few recordings that we have of Professor Bruce Sayers, then head of computing and also dean of City and Guilds is part of this video. Once more there are some great views of ‘Imperial past’ featured such as: the original front entrance on Exhibition Road; Sports Centre and Gym; Libraries and the 1960’s Walkway with Bookshop.

Colin Grimshaw September 2013

Chemistry Teaching Videos: 1981-1993

If you were studying Chemistry at Imperial College in the early 1980’s you would almost certainly have come across the series of teaching videos that we made. These were designed to provide a single definitive version of classic experiments carried out in the labs.  The way that it worked was that during a lab period students would have a number of ‘demonstrators’ who positioned themselves around the lab. They would then proceed to show the undergrads the way to achieve what was needed of them during the session. This was deemed to have flaws when it was discovered that very slightly different versions were actually being demonstrated. So, colleagues in the Chemistry Department asked for some of the experiments and also the techniques required, to be captured on video. These videos would then be made available to the students in the college library, prior to the lab session day and also at the start of the actual lab session via video players located around the lab. Starting 32 years ago, from 1981 to 1993,  11 of these classic experiment videos were made. Two of these: ‘Recrystallisation’ and ‘Using an Oil Vacuum Pump’ are seen on this page, and are for archive interest only.

Making them was not always so easy. To capture the experiments we needed to be able to record, as much as possible, in ‘real time’. That is, record the action without stopping or having to then edit later. We needed to be able to try and capture what would have been demonstrated live in the lab. Also, when an experiment had started, it couldn’t always be stopped on a whim from me because I couldn’t get a good camera view! So, we had to be able to record with several cameras and this meant shooting in the College TV Studio** where we had three cameras available. Shooting this way meant we could, as much as possible, run in real time; if we had rehearsed what was going to happen. So, using three cameras we were able to plan ‘blocks’ of the experiments that could be recorded before we had to stop and reset cameras etc

 

 

Chemistry in a TV Studio has its problems though. And one of THE biggest problems was with white lab coats. Our early colour cameras had a single stripe vidicon tube in them and the bright white labs coats were susceptible to almost glowing in the end result shot . The light required for good pictures was a little higher than for black & white and highlights would very easily burn out, a good example being the glassware. The three cameras also had manual adjustment for colour, so getting all three to give well balanced images, all the looking same, was a nightmare at times! Another problem was ensuring that I could see on the monitors what was required, without a hand or shoulder blocking the view. We tended to position a monitor so that the person demonstrating could see whether or not this was happening. It was easier for them to move than for the cameras to do so.

 

After 32 years some of the videos are starting to show their age and playback is becoming difficult. It took a few hours before I could get a stable playback I was happy with, in order to transfer them onto DVD.
If you studied Chemistry and came across these teaching videos during your course then please do let us know via the comment option below.

** Even though we are now in a “YouTube video age”, sadly in February 2007 Imperial closed the TV Studio, along with its Control Room, Editing Suite and also the Video Conferencing Service. However, the videotape archive remains; but is now held in the main college archive facilities, which I still have access to when required.

Colin Grimshaw May 2013

IC for Sale: 1969

IC for sale 45rpm discOnly recently I remembered that I had a copy of an old 45rpm disc. It was called IC for sale Vol 2. It was given to me by Richard Woodhead (one of our students, who died in 2021) around about 1972 so that’s over 40 years ago now. What I had forgotten was that it contained some unique sounds of Imperial College. It has great recordings of the three college unions C&G, RSM and RCS chants plus the Imperial chant Hey Vivo which I can’t recall the last time I heard it. The 45rpm disc -or any tape recording of it- do not exist in the main Imperial College Archive, so I’ll be putting a CD of it in there soon. I have found a review and reference to the original first pressing of the disc in the searchable newspaper PDF archive of FELIX May 1965. See page two at the top called ‘Gateway to Industry’.

Also, if you know Imperial from far enough back you will remember the City and Guilds building clock and bells (photo on the left). Or if not, you will know that the clock mechanism relocated to the Mechanical Engineering Building foyer (photo at bottom) some time after the original buildings were starting to be pulled down in the late 1950’s.

The bells were moved (photo on the right) way up on top of the building overlooking, what was, the green Dalby Court area. This is now where the Faculty Building is located. The bells would ring the quarters, half and so on and could be heard throughout most of the college area. I gather that regular mechanical & electrical  problems caused the demise of the chimes! But, these can once again be heard on the disc.

Sinclair GoodladAt the end of the disc on side two is Sinclair Goodlad well known at Imperial College for his ‘Speaking Technically’ courses. I think it’s best for me to quote directly from the disc itself to explain what you will hear. “Finally, a depthly epitaph to I.C. by Sinclair Goodlad of the Wireless Dept, aided by two W.C. echo chambers and the Mech Eng bell-ringers. Recorded ‘in situ’ at a late hour in Mooney’s, one can even hear the celebrated ‘Mooney Meatball’ beating time…” But the important thing are the bells, not heard for such a long time, they are at least captured here in all their glory! I hope you enjoy these flashbacks to Imperial past and what an archive joy it is that this record was made in the first place.

The clock mechanism in the Mech Eng Foyer

 

I hope you enjoyed listening to this recording, which I appreciate was a slight diversion from ‘video’, but worth making available here. It’s interesting the number of references there are to Victor Mooney, the then college catering manager who was featured in a previous post. If you have anything like this record in your collection at home, especially if it captures the sounds of Imperial past, then please do get in touch. If you appeared on the disc we’d also love to hear from you.

Colin Grimshaw December 2012

Tywarnhale Mine, Cornwall, April 1980

RSM sign at the Tywarnhale mine site
RSM sign at the Tywarnhale mine site

It’s funny how things happen by chance. This months entry is a bit like that. I thought it was about time I made use of some of the footage that we have of the college’s Tywarnhale mine in Cornwall, when I looked at the label on the tapes I noticed that it was 30 years ago this month, April 1980 that I went down to Cormwall. The mine and surrounding land (purchased in 1909/11 with extra land purchased in 1912) was sold by Imperial in about 2005. Here’s a BBC Cornwall web page about the sale dated 15th October 2005. As we couldn’t find any real photos of it in the college’s archives, the picture of the RSM sign is from one of the videotapes I shot. Here’s a brief history of the mine from the “Cornwall Calling” website. Please click on MORE to continue..

Camerawork at the old tin mine at Tywarnhale in Cornwall
Colin on camera at the college’s mine at Tywarnhale, Cornwall in April 1980

The videos you’ll see were all shot about 9 months after we received our new colour portable recording equipment. This all sounds amazing, but the early equipment was not a camcorder like the ones used now. It was a camera connected to a stand-alone videorecorder, and that was a heavy piece of kit and so was the camera. The entire unit ran from what are called sealed lead acid batteries and were the main cause of it all being so heavy (a bit like a car battery but smaller). To make matters worse, these batteries were in both the camera and recorder. If you look at the photo you’ll see a small black box at the back of the camera containing one of these batteries.

Colin with a car full of recording equipment. Note the camera connected to the recorder.
Colin with a car full of recording equipment. Note the camera connected to the recorder by a long extension cable.

Shooting video underground was a new experience for me and former colleague Stephen Bell who come back to help me out for the few days we were down in Cornwall. We needed to hire battery lighting and create a way to protect the equipment (which of course was brand new) from the various elements we faced: water dripping down, heat and of main concern, humidity. A way was found to wrap equipment in polythene, but allow a way to operate it without unwrapping it! We found dry areas to park the recorder and run out an extension camera cable to where I was located. In most cases the cable ran in deep water from point a to point b and this photo gives an idea of what we took with us and how it connected together.

Steve Bell takes turn to operate the camera
Steve Bell takes turn to operate camera high up on the misty mine  hillside

When speaking with Steve about this blog he mentioned that this was the first time he’d ever seen the ‘humidity’ light illuminate on a videorecorder. Indeed this happened several times when underground and, because of moisture, we had to remove videotape that was stuck to the video head drum. Needless to say, these tapes were then useless, so we lost a good few recordings. It’s also rather difficult trying to take the lid off of a video recorder when you’re underground and trying to see what you’re doing with a miner’s lamp on your helmet being the only source of light! Jumping forward to this year, 2010, it’s been a struggle with some of the U-matic tapes making them playback correctly. Time has not been too kind to them and all the problems underground didn’t help (moisture). But, they’re all now backed-up onto DVD from where these clips have now come.

This first video sequence is taken from the car being driven by Steve. I’m hanging out of the car window with a very large and heavy camera. You’ll also notice that this, and all other shots, will look a bit ‘soft’ and almost ghostly. This is because our very early colour camera had what is called a Vidicon tube inside it. These camera tubes required large amounts of light to get good pictures. As you’ll see, the weather was not brilliant and was very misty. None of this helped the situation. Thus the shots are rubbish compared to material shot these days. This video shows the original college buildings along the entire site.

This next video shows: students walking along the road along side the mine; Dr Thomas explaining how to use various instruments; a student entering the mine via ladder down the vertical shaft and two sequences showing students working underground. Now, it’s worth remembering that Steve and I had to enter via this same entrance carrying all of our equipment. We did have help, but camera, recorder, tripod, lights and spare batteries & tapes are difficult to carry when going down a vertical ladder! And, of course we were kitted out with the same outfits with: boot; helmet and safety lights etc. We all came out at the end, more than a bit dirty and very wet indeed.

Tywarnhale Mine area map (early 1900's)
Tywarnhale Mine area map (c1920?)

The original 1911 purchase document says that the purchase was to “…enable the Professors and Students of the college , including the Royal School of Mines, to use the levels, above adit level, of the South Towan Mine in the manor of Tywarnhaile…”  There are two interesting things I’ve spotted in searching for this information, one is the spelling of Tywarnhale. I’ve found three versions: Tywarnhale, Tywarnhaile and Tywarnhayle. But I’ve gone with the version as seen in the photo of the sign that was outside the main building. Also, in the original document it’s referred to as South Towan Mine not Tywarnhale. If you know any more on this matter we’d love to know so we can get the history correct.

Tywarnhale Mine c1950's
Tywarnhale Mine c1950’s/60”s

There are very few photos of the mine in the college archive, so, if you have any that you would like to donate or would allow to be copied, then Anne Barrett, of the College Archives, would love to hear from you. And, as always it’s thanks to her for sourcing the material that we do have available. It’s very lucky that the video footage was shot and that we have at least some record of our former students working in it. If YOU are one of those shown in the videos then please do comment, we’d love to hear from you. It’s been interesting to run through all these tapes again after these 30 years and remembering all the major technical issues we had to overcome. But not too pleasant remembering how wet it was underground and how the weather was typically UK that week. These recordings are a perfect example of what archiving is all about, remembering our past and our history. The fact that this ‘outpost’ was part of Imperial College from 1911 until about 2005 is something that most people are simply unaware of.

Oh and one last thought….I thought it was an old Tin mine, but all other references seem to say that it was Copper…..30 years have certainly confused me!

Colin Grimshaw April 2010 (updated 2016)

In 2016 Michael Hulmes added this useful comment to the blog post:

The guy swinging on the rope, in white overalls and blue undershirt in the underground video is Geoff Perry. I suspect his colleague with his back to the camera is Paul Dayton-Lewis. The red haired guy in the video being instructed by Dr Thomas is Philip Sharman. All were in the Mining Engineering class which spent six weeks at Tywarnhale through easter 1980

Promotion: 1 – Imperial College

In one way or another, ever since we’ve had the use of video as a medium we have used it to promote things. You will have already seen in other posts the promotion of specific research projects or research groups and so on. But we’re going to start another series that shows how we’ve tried to promote the college as a whole. I’ll also mention that we’ll see how individual departments have tried this too, examples being: Chemistry, Civil Engineering and the Management School (now Business School), so watch out for those blog entries coming sometime soon.

To coincide with the 1985 centenary of the City and Guilds College an impressive exhibition was put on in the Junior Common Room in the Sherfield Building. Although this was primarily research work, schools were invited and special lectures and tours were held, Therefore, very large numbers of school children were going to visit the college  and there was, of course, huge possibilities for student recruitment. So, two promotional videos were (initially) commissioned to promote the college to school children and to potential postgraduates. This was also the first time that moving aerial footage was taken of both the South Kensington and Silwood campuses. The only unfortunate thing was that the footage was shot in January and we’d just had a downfall of snow, so the campuses don’t look too inviting!

The undergraduate promotion video was called “Studying for the Future” and shows all of the usual things to excite potential undergrads. Once again, the nice thing about this and the other videos, is the wonderful record of college life. Also, the campus as it then was, is recorded with the current students and staff going about their daily lives. I wonder how many alumni might actually spot themselves in some of the shots?

A second video was made at the same time. This was to show the research work and activies going on at Imperial and was entitled “Discovering the Future”. I hope you’ve spotted the trend with these titles of the videos all following a certain style with the “….the Future”? A large proportion of this second video was also seen in the video made for undergraduates. The theme used was of a ‘research file’ concept and when you see the video you’ll understand what I mean. And, can those former Blue Peter TV programme viewers spot Valerie Singleton doing the voiceover in this second video?

Next time I’ll show you a third video for those considering taking a masters degree. Can you guess what the title might be?

Colin Grimshaw March 2010

Places: Eastside

This is a special entry to coincide with the Restoration of Prince’s Gardens event on 15 January 2010. I should explain from the outset why we are now making references to Eastside rather than Linstead. This is because the new building is larger than before and is now made up of three halls: Linstead, Gabor and Wilkinson. In my first entry about Southside, I did make reference to things associated with Linstead Hall and in particular the hall dinner.  We will see a clip of one of those dinners in the video which is located later on this page. In 1993 we made a video for prospective undergraduates and some of that video was shot in Southside and Linstead halls, that’s the footage we’ll be seeing.

Linstead Hall 2004
Linstead Hall in 2004

The  evening dinner was special in college, because it happened in no other hall. History tells us that ‘Construction was funded by an anonymous benefactor in 1963 who stipulated that dining facilities must be available for male residents’. There was an extension to Linstead in 1980, however it was of a completely different design, as can be seen in the 2004 photo (newer on the left older on the right).

Linstead Hall foundations 1966
Linstead Hall foundations 1966

Construction of the hall dates from 1966, as can  be seen in this photo taken of the foundation work in August of that year. You will also spot Weeks Hall in the background of the second photo by Sydney Newbery, showing the building covered in scaffolding. This photo dates from March 1967. At the time of the opening, in 1968, the rebuilding work was considered to be complete, until the extension was added in 1980!

Linstead Hall in Scaffolding 1967
Linstead Hall in Scaffolding 1967

While looking through photos of Linstead Hall I found several of the interior that date from 2004. One of these shows the bar and interestingly I received an email the very same day from a former student Max Clark, who tells me he was in Linstead for two years. He said “…I was in Linstead for two years and on the hall committee both years including being Bar Chairman in’75 (I still have the tankard somewhere)…”

Linstead Hall bar 2004
Linstead Hall Bar 2004

I hope then, that this photo, from April 2004, will bring back some memories for him and others alike.  Before we move on to more recent events it’s worth also mentioning the gardens within the square. These have been restored to recapture the spirit of the original gardens but paths have been relocated. The railings to the North and South have also been restored.

Prince's Gardens in the 1990's
Prince’s Gardens in the 1990’s

Restored too is the urn, a centre piece of the gardens for many years. Here is a photo taken of the gardens in the 1990’s with the famous urn filled with Daffodils, this was obviously taken in the spring. And so now on to the video footage that we have available. I have mentioned the hall dinner and this first video (link below), is a compilation made for the event on 15 January 2010, gives a glimpse of what an evening dinner was like. Who knows, you might spot yourself sitting there back in 1993. Also within this compilation are highlights from the 2007 demolition ceremony, the 2008 topping out ceremony, the time-lapse of the new building and an interview with Steve Howe about the waste materials associated with the building work.

During the first term for the new Eastside Halls (Autumn 2009) we made a video (link below) to show what it was like to live there. In the video you will get an idea of modern hall life, see some the new facilities and get a feeling of the bright and modern interior. Some of you will also recall the old Southside Shop, this has come back to life in a new form within Eastside and you will see a shot of it in this video.

As always my thanks go to Anne Barrett of the college archives for locating the black and white photos of the original building work of Linstead Hall. The colour photos were by Neville Miles. And a final request. Anyone wishing to add to our collection of photos, videos or films of past college life can do so by simply adding a comment to this blog page and I will find the right person to contact you. Indeed you may simply wish to add your memories of hall life and you can do so below.

Colin Grimshaw  January 2010