It had been consigned to the scrapheap and left to rot in an Essex field when along came Two film buffs who together transformed it back to its former glory.
The last-ever mobile cinema is back on the roads touring the UK after film buffs Ollie Halls and Emma Giffards rescued it from rotting in an Essex field eight years ago
The 22-seater theatre shows films on its state-of-the-art HD digital projection unit as well as archive footage
It was one of seven built by the Ministry of Technology in 1967 to tour around the country’s factories showcasing modern production techniques.
After spending £1,200 for the bus in 2005, Mr Halls and Miss Giffard invested £35,000 over the next five years.
With painstaking care and attention the couple renovated the historic vintage cinema, restoring its hidden charms.
And while the other six drab-looking grey cinema vehicles were lost to history, the last existing one is now back touring the UK showing a variety of films and archive footage.
The bus was used by the Ministry of Technology in the 1960s to showcase British production techniques to staff at factories across the country in a bid to promote the country’s industry
These two images reveal the transformation inside the vintage bus. Mr Halls and Miss Giffard have added 22 1930s-style seats, tiered to ensure the entire audience can enjoy the screenings
The unique theatre has 22 1930s-style cinema seats which are tiered to ensure everyone in the audience gets the best view possible.
But the 1960s vintage bus has been propelled into the 21st Century with a brand new HD digital projection unit, complete with Dolby 7:1 surround sound, to beam the films before the audience.
Vintage vehicle enthusiast Ollie said the couple’s labour of love would not even move when they bought it eight years ago.
He said: ‘I used to live in a similar bus and was trying to do cinema from that but I could never really take it to a public space.
‘I did most of the work with a really good friend. It was the same mechanics as the bus I used to live on.
‘As we went along I tried not to think about the fact I was spending so much money on it.
‘People appreciate it because it’s a piece of cinema history but other people see it as a piece of automative industrial history.’
His partner-of-seven-years Miss Giffard, added: ‘It was a beast really – the inside was gutted and it was just a complete mess.
‘Ollie was a visual arts student specialising in cinema and he’s also a vintage vehicle enthusiast.
‘So when someone told him about the bus, it married together his two loves.
‘It has taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to reach this point, plus help from volunteers.
Mr Halls and Miss Giffard’s bus is the only surviving mobile cinema after seven were manufactured in 1967. The remaining six were resigned to the scrapheap
The seven buses were operated by PERA, the Production Engineering Research Association. In 1974 the Government sold off the buses
The couple – who have a 17-month-old daughter Iona May – now run The Vintage Mobile Cinema from their home in the Mendip Hills near Bristol as a full-time business.
When the extensive renovations were complete in 2010, the couple secured National Lottery funding to use films stored by the South West Film and Television Archive.
They then hit the road, touring towns and villages in Devon showing eight 20-minute films featuring clips about the region that had laid buried in archives, away from public view, for 50 years or more.
The pair now take the historic bus across the country for company’s to hire out for events.
While the bus has the capability to show any DVD or film, Mr Halls said the short 20-minute independent films and archive footage are the most popular.
The Vintage Mobile Cinema is now run as a full-time business by the couple, who take the bus across the UK for company’s to hire out for events
He added: ‘We do the occasional feature film but because of the small audience we tend to do short films more.
‘Often people have films they want to show that’s poignant to their event but we have got a collection that has been donated to our library.
‘It is quiet in the winter but between March and November it’s generally out a couple of times a month.
‘Last summer we did a tour of four weeks on the run where it was used most days.
‘And we have toured it through France in the past.’
Their mobile cinema featured on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4 on December 5.
The popular Geordie host described the unique vehicle as looking like a ‘collision between a bus and a greenhouse’.
Well-know film critic Mark Kermode also praised Mr Halls and Miss Giffard for: ‘Reminding us what a real cinema looks like.’