Vintage Mobile Cinema launches Screen Heritage UK programme in Brighton

By Nick Owen | 23 August 2011
Original poster for the Ministry of Technology's mobile cinema
© Courtesy of the Vintage Mobile Cinema
Exhibition: Discover Brighton on Film, various venues, Brighton, September 7 2011

Roll up, roll up - the Vintage Mobile Cinema tour is making its way to Brighton to launch the Screen Heritage UK programme.

For many, 1967 was the year of Sgt Pepper’s, flower power and the endless Summer of Love.

For others, however, it will be remembered as the year when the "white heat" of Harold Wilson’s scientific revolution was at its brightest.

To demonstrate the brilliance of British production methods at the time, the then-Minister for Technology, Tony Benn, commissioned seven mobile cinemas to tour British factories.

A still from archived film
© Courtesy of Screen Archives South East
Now, after the last survivor of the fleet was found rusting in a field in Essex, the customised Bedford is back to its original condition and is due to begin its second UK tour.

On its arrival in Jubilee Square continuous programmes will run on the 22-seater cinema, with special screenings hosted by Dr Frank Gray of Screen Archive South East.

“Archive film is a very important part of our national heritage”, said Dr Gray.

“It serves as our time machine. It takes us to the past and we see and feel memories connecting with history”.

Once on board the transport heritage treasure, visitors will be presented with newly preserved and digitised films of Brighton in days gone by.

All of the films on show have benefited from the Screen Heritage UK programme, which has spent years working to preserve and digitise Britain’s screen heritage.

As a result, Screen Heritage UK has worked alongside national and regional film archives to create an online search engine called Search Your Film Archives.

Hundreds of hours of film have now been digitised and thousands of records catalogued for the public to see online.

To celebrate the launch of the website, the BBC’s Reel History of Britain Series will run throughout September, inviting us to connect with our past through film.

Through films taken from archives across the country, the series will see Melvyn Bragg explore Britain’s handheld history, from the 1900s to the late 1970s.

  • Continuous programmes run from 12pm to 6pm on the mobile cinema, with special screenings hosted by Dr Frank Gray at 3pm and 5pm.

  • To Find out more about the Search Your Film Archives, visit the BFI website at

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