Highlands & Islands

Memories of touring Highlands and Islands cinema sought

Cinema in Shapinsay in late 1940s/early 1950s. Image courtesy of Dr Ian Goode
Image caption A screening in Shapinsay, Orkney, in the late 1940s or early 1950s

Memories of a travelling cinema that toured the Highlands and Islands from the 1930s to 1950s are being sought by a university lecturer.

Dr Ian Goode, of the University of Glasgow, said the screenings held in village halls and schools had a different feel to "picture palaces".

Cinema-goers often had to keep coats on because of the cold.

Dr Goode said an Inverness-based film guild toured the Highlands and Northern Isles with a projector.

The lecturer in film and television studies was inspired to research the subject by a project led by Oscar winner Tilda Swinton.

The actress and film fans pulled the UK's only modern day mobile cinema over roads in the Highlands on parts of a journey last year.

The Screen Machine was hauled by muscle power for stages of the trip from Bridge of Orchy, in the west, to Nairn in the east.

Called A Pilgrimage, the venture included film screenings in villages along the way.

Dr Goode said the travelling cinema of the past was popular.

He said: "It was by no means a poor substitute for going to the cinema.

"But at the same time the physical condition inside the village halls and school halls where the films were shown by no means replicated the comforts of the picture palaces.

"It was often very cold and that meant keeping your coat on."

Dr Goode said those in the audiences usually knew one another.

He said: "It was very much a community experience and from what I can gather an experience where young people were aware of their elders.

"They were not just going there with their parents. You might expect to see senior figures from the community at the film as well like the local head master and minister.

"So children had to be on their best behaviour."

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