The Last Cinema Bus

By

26th Feb, 2013

1967 Bedford SB3 vintage mobile cinema

Image via Jane Sanders

Up in that impressive glass dome is where the projectionist would have originally sat in the late 1960s, when a fleet of seven of these custom mobile cinema units toured Britain, promoting modern production techniques to the industry.

Britain’s then Minister of Technology, Tony Ben commissioned the customised Bedford SB buses to tour factories and screen films for the workforce about how to boost productivity with new technology. The ambitious idea was part of the government’s economic strategy to kick-start Britain into full recovery from the post-war economic gloom.

But the novelty of the wore off and in 1974, the government sold off the seven cinema buses and they just about disappeared into automobile history, all except for one…

its a mobile cinema, Vintage Festival, Goodwood 2010

image via Martyn Day

Several decades later, in 2005, Oliver Halls was drinking in the pub when his friend told him he should buy a cinema bus that was up for sale. The next day, Oliver purchased the last surviving cinema bus from a couple who had rescued it from a field. It had been stripped of its engine, 4 speed Turner gear box and gear stick. Olly paid £1,200 and would spend the next several years and up to £10,000 restoring it with his partner Emma Gifford, to its former glory.

Flatpack 2011 - Vintage Mobile Cinema

Meshed Media

Today, the 7 tonne vintage mobile cinema screens archive films at festivals and is available to hire for private events. In the coming months it will be screening at London’s Trafalgar Square for St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th and will travelling to Normandy in France in the Spring. You can find out more about the mobile cinema’s events here.

Archival images thanks to Vintage Mobile Cinema

And check this video about the making of the Vintage Mobile Cinema:

YouTube Preview Image

Other unique cinemas…

The Mobile Sol Cinema

This is the world’s smallest solar-powered cinema and hosts screenings for 8 people as it tours up and and down the UK. Website here.

Mnahattan’s DRV-IN

DRV-IN is Manhattan’s only drive-in movie theatre. Guests can enjoy classic films in a one-of-a-kind 1965 Ford Falcon convertible, while surrounded by starry skies and the foliage of a “live” oak tree. With seating for six, surround sound, a pre-movie lounge and a full concession stand, this unique theater setting is one of New York’s most intimate and enjoyable experiences.

 

The Rooftop cinema & Bar in Melbourne, Australia

On top of a building originally built in 1925 and seats 180-200 guests, during summer, they screen classic movies, cult favorites, foreign films and mainstream hits. Website here

 

Sala Montjuïc in Barcelona

An open-air cinema in a 17th century castle. Pic-nics are welcome. Website here

Images via MovieMorlocks

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