Mobile Screens

In order to separate crowds of protesters and offer some protection to security forces and members of the opposite community, a series of mobile sight screens were introduced; constructed out of hessian and timber and mounted on the side of a 4-ton truck, imaged above. The resulting screens were 16 feet high and each had two wings which opened out to give 40 feet length.

A total of 20 Mark 1 Mobile Sight Screens were constructed for the Protestant march of 1 July 1972. They proved to be very effective in preventing any ‘agro’ as the march passed through the New Lodge area, where 18 of the screens were deployed.

Subsequently a stronger Mark 2 screen was designed by Capt. TJ Ludlam (34 Field Squadron Royal Engineers. Drawing number 34/NI/72/3) and 34 of these constructed for the marched on 12 July 1972. The Mark 2 screens were stored in 325 Engineer Park, Antrim.

Each Mk. 2 sight screen required the following materials:

  • Timber sawn, 7″ x 2″, 14 ft
  • Timber sawn, 3″ x 2″, 42 ft
  • Timber sawn, 2″ x 2″, 570 ft
  • Plywood, ½” x 8′ x 4′, 1 sheet
  • Nails, 4″, 6 lbs
  • Nails, 2″, 70 pcs
  • Woodscrews, 4″, 24 pcs
  • Woodscrews, 2″, 72 pcs
  • T-hinges, 12″, 8 pcs
  • Hessian, 4′ wide, 56 yds
  • Nails clout, 1″, 6 lbs
  • AIP, 6′, 6 pcs
  • Coach bolts, 3″ x ⅜” dia, 5 pcs
  • Bolts, 3 ½” x ⅜” dia, with nuts and washers, 6 pcs
  • Welding electrodes, no. 8, 20 pcs
  • Screw eyelets, 11 pcs
  • Cordage, 1″, 130 yds
General arrangement and plan of framework. Drawing number 34/NI/72/3
The screen was designed to be fitted to a Bedford RL 4-ton truck, such as this one. This truck, registration xx FG xx was registered in 1967/68, the same year as the Bedford in the mobile screen photograph above. Photograph © Martin Dobbs
The screens were mounted to brackets which fitted over the side panels of the Bedford truck.

The information and plans in this article was gathered from the Royal Engineers archive and library at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent in May 2017. I am currently unable to reference the black and white image of the screens deployed. I will update this once I source the originator of the photograph.