On a beautiful summers day in Milton Keynes we had the pleasure to bump into Audrey the beautiful vintage mobile cinema resting on the hill full of excited nomads like us worshipping her new interior. It was the first vintage mobile cinema we had ever seen and every inch of her had been lovingly restored to perfection.
We wandered inside to the smell of fresh popcorn and cinema lighting as the screen came down to the delight of all the kids, AKA the urban nomads. We saw a short about the history of this gorgeous girl and the local history of the area she was now parked in.
To fill you in, in the early 1960’s the Government researched the idea of a mobile cinema that could travel around to engineering firms and giving training sessions on how they could improve industrial productivity. A prototype Mobile Cinema was created and by 1964 this was visiting engineering firms and giving training sessions. Any problems and issues were ironed out during this phase before the Government invested a further £1,000,000 in moving the scheme forward and creating the final units.
In 1967, The Ministry of Technology built seven of these custom mobile cinema units to tour the country, promoting modern production techniques to British industry.The seven Bedfords were operated by PERA (Production Engineering Research Association). Films would be played within the cinema, with supporting displays shown in the trailer that accompanied the towing unit as they toured the nation’s factories.
In 1974 the Government sold off the mobile cinemas, and this one is the sole survivor as far as is known.
Despite best intentions the unit then didn’t see the road again until October 2003 when it was rescued from a field by Rob Howell and Nancy-Rose Mills, it was then sold to Oliver Halls, of Devon who lovingly restored the vehicle but not without several years passing and some lengthy delays. Ollie ran the cinema to festivals and events from 2010 until 2015 however with the appearance of young children and family commitments he reduced the number of bookings that he accepted.
In 2015, there was a potential sighting of one of the original Cinema trailers – it had been many decades since our trailer had last been seen. On visiting a farm in Sussex, it turned out to be the exact same trailer as our Mobile Cinema with the same registration (KJU267E). The farmer was using the trailer as a workshop for doing carpentry. He very kindly sold the trailer back and the mobile cinema and trailer were re-connected again for the first time in 40 years.
Since 2015, the mobile cinema is now owned by Ben Moorhouse and lives at Bicester Heritage.
The Vintage Mobile Cinema has had a lot of profile over the last few years including a number of TV appearances. The most noteable was the George Clarke Amazing Spaces Show. The 5 minute appearance in the 2nd series includes a feature in the book connected with the series.
On Saturday 1st July, they are launching an 8-week crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds to restore the trailer. The target is to raise £80,000.
If like us you are van obsessed then please pledge to help out Audrey and her trailer here! It would be amazing to get you all behind this beautiful restoration.
Take a look at Audrey’s site here for some great pictures, history and how you can be a part of her history today!
Take the road less traveled!
The Urban Nomads.