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.
In previous posts I have mentioned the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures given by Professor Eric Laithwaite in December 1974.
I was involved with one of those lectures ‘Jam Tomorrow and Jam Yesterday’ which was lecture 3 in the series. During the late summer of that year Eric Laithwaite had approached me to discuss various ideas to do with things going backwards. He particularly wanted to play around with the idea of speaking backwards. These days you can very easily do such things on your computer let alone on a phone. I managed to find within our Electrical Engineering Department an audio/instrumentation recorder that was able to run backwards.
I asked Eric Laithwaite to call into the TV Studio so that I could demonstrate this to him. I recall us both playing around with speaking, or trying to speak, ‘backwards’ and then playing the actual tape backwards to see if it came out ‘forwards’. At one point he almost slid of the chair in hysterics at what sounds were coming out of the loudspeaker, some of which sounded very rude! He was sold on these ideas and I said that I would play around some more and make extra investigations. What I then decided to do was to create a tape with a sentence rather than just single words. It took ages to do and I had to cheat by editing a string of words together to create something special for the lecture. Over on the right is the original tape that was used in the lecture and now looking slightly aged.
When Eric Laithwaite heard my sentence he roared with laughter and said ‘right, I want YOU to present that in the lecture’. And so I was therefore seen presenting my achievement and also helping him during various sound recording experiments with members of the RI audience. I recall the first recording with the young boy who immediately turned his back on the cameras to face the tape recorder. The BBC floormanager then started to make furious gestures to me to get him to turn slightly so that the cameras could see him.
Five years later in his 1980 book, to go with the series, he gave me a most wonderful credit. “…Colin appeared ‘officially’ in the third lecture taking over part of the lecture in effect…”
And so, 43 years later, here I am speaking backwards at the Royal Institution.
Peter Mee graduated in economics from University College London. In 1959 he moved to Imperial as assistant planning officer, a position he held for eight years and in 1967 was appointed registrar, a post he held until 1996, then becoming College secretary and clerk to the governors until his retirement. In collaboration with John Smith, the then secretary to the College, he formed the Harlington Trust.
Consistent throughout Peter Mee’s time at Imperial had been his support of sporting activities. He had been president of the IC Union Football Club and chairman of the Harlington Athletic Ground Committee. And the boat named after him by the IC Boat Club has crossed the winning line twice at Henley.
This discussion between Peter Mee and Anne Barrett, the college archivist, was recorded in the college TV Studio in May 2006. It was used, in part, during Imperial’s centenary celebrations in 2007. This is the first time that the full interview has been made available.
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.
On 2nd May 1979 Imperial College ran a PR exercise for the local residents around the South Kensington campus. The event was called Meet Imperial College. The objective was to inform, update and educate the residents on what the college was doing at that time. The following video is the only record of the event and was shot by the student TV service STOIC. Having said that, I actually shot the video using our newly arrived colour equipment as I wanted us to have a record of the event and to have it shot properly! I’m glad I did that, some 38 years ago, because now we have a chance to see it again. Grant Richmond was the STOIC reporter at the event itself.
FELIX the student newspaper reported the event as: ” The aim of this public relations exercise was to enhance goodwill among College’s nearest neighbours for IC by showing them something of what the College was doing. Residents from all walks of life received invitations including members of the Knightsbridge Residents Association, some of whom had been vocal in their opposition to the proposed Linstead Hall extension.”
You’ll catch a brief glimpse of Eric Laithwaite and his linear motor among the many things on display. Lord Flowers the Rector, put on a brave face and spoke about the number of people who attended! The picture quality is poor. Our colour camera (as mentioned in previous entries) needed loads of light to give good images, however the location in the Sherfield Building lower refectory was dimly lit. The studio shots prior to Grant’s location report were with the same camera, but under good studio lighting.
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…
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.)
There were three organisations collaborating in this European SPRINT project, Imperial College in the UK, AIN in Spain, and
DTI in Denmark. SPRINT was the European commission’s Strategic PRogramme for INnovation and Technology.
This July 1994 video was an introduction to surface treatment of metal tools by the use of Ion Implantation. This technique modifies the tool
surface, improving the wear, corrosion resistance, and frictional properties. The project disseminated knowledge and
applications of Ion Implantation as an effective surface treatment and was targeted mainly at European Small-to-Medium
Enterprises, to improve their productivity and competitiveness in the world market.
It was made in three language versions which were produced for the three SPRINT partners by the Imperial College TV Studio and a fourth version in French, made for I.B.S. As well as the UK, we went to Denmark and Spain to record the relevant sections of the video. The photo above was taken at DTI in Denmark, you can see me operating camera along with my Imperial academic colleague Tom Tate sitting on the chair on the far right hand side. The video’s voice-over was by Michael Rodd.
In July 2006, John Smith former College Secretary (1979-1989) spoke to the College Archivist Anne Barrett in the college TV Studio.
His recording formed part of the Imperial College centenary celebrations held during 2007 and this is the first time that recording has been seen in full. It’s a great insight into some of the working of the college during his time in office. There are also plenty of stories and memories of things he was involved with. The photo shows him with former Rector the late Lord Flowers.