Initially conceived as a touring initiative that would screen training material for engineering firms, mobile cinemas first came about in 1964 when the British government invested £1 million in a fleet of (what was considered in the 1960s to be) state-of-the-art screening rooms in the back of Bedford vans.
The vans originally came with trailers attached to the back, which housed additional space for displays and presentations. Remember, these films were intended for engineering companies, with the films primarily focused on improving productivity, so the vehicles were tailored for the types of people one might expect at modern-day conferences.
The perspex roofing you can see in the original vehicles housed the projectors, and the chassis (the internal structure of the van) was significantly modified from the off-the-shelf models you could buy from dealerships.
The initial outlay was vast, and there was a big push to make the most of the cinemas.
However, in 1974, almost the entire fleet was sold off. There is only one remaining example of the original vans, and it is currently being used by the Vintage Mobile Cinema company. It took several decades, and numerous owners, to get the van back on the road, but Oliver Halls of Devon was able to get the cinema rolling again in 2010.
Current owner Ben Moorhouse, who now has one of the original trailers attached to the vehicle as well, continues to tour with the cinema and take regular bookings. The latest of these will be the Unrestricted View Film Festival, where Little Wing, a company that aims to provide sustainable opportunities for young creatives, will be showcasing the work of talented new filmmakers.
When: April 26-29, 2018, various times
Where: The Vintage Mobile Cinema, parked at The Alwyne Castle (London)
Showing: A selection of favourite shorts from the Little Wing Film Festival 2017.
Tickets are available here.