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Movies On The Move

            Reels on Rails in CinemaRecord 49
          told the story of a restored cinema
          coach and its new home at a platform at
          Rewley Road station (U.K.). The story
          did not specify whether this carriage, or
          indeed other cinema coaches, ever
          showed films on long-haul journeys.
          Now an article in The Railway
          Magazine has answered the question.
            A cinema car operated by a French
          company was part of a train on the
          Trans-Siberian Railway as early as
          1913, but does not appear to have
          survived the First World War.
            Following the Russian revolution,
          Lenin realised the potential of a cinema
          train, and ordered one to tour the
          country showing ‘Agitprop’ films. That
          train entertained - or more correctly,
          indoctrinated - audiences at each
          stopping place, so it was not strictly a
          ‘cinema on the move’.
            The London, Northern and Eastern
          Railroad (LNER) installed a Ross  An LNER cinema coach. Note the authentic seats. Image: The Railway Magazine.
          projector in an ex-Great Northern  coal distillation utility at Glenboig.  The first van seated 44 people in
          Railway saloon and ran it on the Anglo-  Although it is not clear why cinema  front of a screen of 20 sq. ft. (1.8 sq.m.)
          Scottish Express between King’s Cross  facilities were provided, an issue of The  and showed films by back-projection,
          and York. On the first outing, 12 March  Railway Magazine at the time reported  that is, from behind the screen.
          1924, the Norma Talmadge film Ashes  that ‘cinema  programmes were held in  The second van, introduced six
          of Vengeance (ten reels) was shown.  the two theatre cars at 2.45, 4.30 and  months after the first, had a capacity of
            The beam played over the heads of  6pm, two different  performances being  52, and lighter bogies to lessen noise.
          an audience of 44 people on to a screen  shown in each theatre’.          There was no sound insulation,
          54 x 39 inch screen (1.4m x 1m.), no  Those early experiments had been  however, and one wonders if the
          doubt interrupted by the shadows of  improvisations. The first purpose-built  soundtrack had-to be turned up almost
          audience members coming and going.  (or strictly-speaking, purpose-  to present-day Dolby levels in order to
          There was a separate compartment for  converted) vehicle was to come after  be heard!
          rewinding the film.               two interesting experiments.          Admission to the one-hour program
            On the return journey that day     In 1929 LNER placed a radio     cost one shilling and the first show on
          passengers were shown Black Oxen  receiver on a train to pick up the result  27 May 1935 featured a documentary
          (eight reels). How long this cinema  of the Derby Day race. The next year  about the Silver Jubilee celebrations,
          carriage provided entertainment is not  they installed 'Fultograph' equipment  followed by Pathe News and Sport.
          known.                            and wired both sound and pictures to  Initially patronage was encouraging, but
            The rival LMS then introduced   the train.                         gradually declined, until the carriages
          cinema vans. On 19 July 1929 a ‘Royal  From those innovations, it was a  were withdrawn in September 1938.
          Scot’ engine made a one-off, non-stop  short step to embrace talking pictures.  These gold and red cars carried no
          run into Euston from Glenboig, six  In 1935 the railway signed a contract to  permanently-applied outward
          miles from Glasgow, hauling a train  allow the Pathe company to show  description of their role, only roof-
          with two cinema vans. This was in  16mm films in two converted passenger  mounted boards with white block
          connection with the opening of a new  brake vans.                    lettering on red announcing

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