Just another easy on the eye site


Yarmouth then and now

Lilian and Albert Robinson, Great Yarmouth, 1930. Cine Snaps

Although frustratingly the walkie cameramen appear never to have persuaded my parents to buy a print (despite me going to Bridlington on holidays for most of my childhood and beyond!), my paternal grandparents were less tight-fisted and purchased two walking picture ‘strips’ while on holiday in Great Yarmouth in 1930, both taken on the same day if two surviving frames, one from each strip, are anything to go by. My grand-dad Albert has what looks to be a paper bag of sweets, my grand-mother is dressed identically in both shots, with an overcoat slung over her arm, and the same clutch bag. She is walking next to her father, my Great grand-father. Lilian and Albert were still courting at this time, but married soon after.

The strips were taken by Barker’s Cine Snaps, and would originally have had three consecutive frames per sheet.  Perhaps they each took a frame? I wasn’t sure whereabouts these were taken but Paul Godfrey nipped up to Great Yarmouth to confirm one of them.

“It was taken from the forecourt of Pownall’s fishing tackle shop in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. John Barker used the shop forecourt to take cine camera walkies in the early 1930s. I think that being private property council walking picture permits were not required. Apparently Pownall’s used the empty containers of 35mm film for lug worm bait!”

Using Paul’s present day photo I have been able to overlay the original walkie taken over 80 years ago, and the match is almost perfect. Sadly the present day shop fronts lack the elegance of those pre-war days but perhaps one day Yarmouth will realise what a resource they have and have some of these shops refronted. Pownells is still trading from the same location as well.  You can read more about Barker’s on the site.


Afghan street photographs

afghan street photographsNot actually walkies, but static street portraits taken on large wooden box cameras similar to those which were used in the UK in the early 1920s have been a feature of life in Afghan towns for decades. A new book is due out which looks at the history of the trade in the country and how it is rapidly dying out due to a change requiring all official photos be in colour, thus depriving the cameramen of a large part of their trade.  The Guardian has done an article based on the book.



Snaps wallet

Snaps Bridlington photo wallet

A little quiet yelp in a collectors shop in Hull recently puzzled my brother who was bemused by my excitement over a seemingly insignificant piece of paper ephemera. He was none the wiser when I explained I’d never seen a photographic wallet from the walking picture firm of Snaps in Bridlington before. For as well as their busy trade in walkies and other types of seaside photography, the firm also did develop and print work for visitors to the resort. These would be returned inside the usual card wallets, negatives in one side, the prints in the other. It looks to date from the early 1920s, judging by the typography and also the way the wallet has been stitched together rather than folded and glued (It would be interesting to know when this technique was abandoned, I have some 78 rpm sleeves which are also stitched rather than glued.)

The story of Snaps walking pictures (and a photo of the building) is on the site here.


Scarborough trio

David Baker, Roy Clarke, Samuel Clarke July 1931. North Bay Snaps Scarborough.Loaned by Brian Sylvester, this walkie shows (l-r) his two cousins David Baker, Roy Clarke, and Samuel Clarke his great uncle. The card was posted back home in July 1931. It was taken by the busy seaside photography firm of North Bay Snaps in Scarborough, who took generally excellent walking picture images from around 1928 to 1941. The firm has been added to our list of potted histories on the site along with another selection of walkies taken by them over the years.

Britannia Pier

It’s always good when people can help identify some of the mystery locations on this site. Paul Godfrey was looking at the “comic” souvenir photos I put up early in the New Year, and spotted that two of them were taken in Great Yarmouth. “The one with the mock up car has no landmarks but the give away is the registration number of the car. The prefix EX was exclusive to Great Yarmouth County Borough Council’s taxation department (EX10 is still on the road and takes part in the Brighton run each year). Your photo of a mock up car with a registration plate of EX5 just has to be taken on Yarmouth sands.”
Paul also identified the pavilion in the other photograph as being on Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier. What’s more the history of this structure was very short lived. It opened in 1902 and was destroyed in a fire in 1909. This dates the photograph to within this seven year period.
And if that wasn’t enough, Paul tells me that the head in a hole seaside attraction is back in place on the current pier as part of the retro trend, and took this picture to prove it!  Today the prop is free and you take your own photographs (and it lacks the humour of the pre-war boards!).
Britannia Pier 2013
Read about Paul’s book on Norfolk seaside photographers on the site.

Cross-dressing vintage style

seaside picsWhile walkies form the most numerous seaside souvenir photos, the ever popular idea of poking your head through a gaily painted image of bathers (male and female) remains popular. I’ve pulled out a handful of these comic seaside images for the site, including this strange image of a happy looking guy in Edwardian style women’s dress!

Welsh walkies

Rousham RobertsRousham Roberts is not a walkie firm I’d heard of, but they were busy in the spa town of Llandrindod Wells for nearly 100 years. You can read more about them on the site.  The example of their cards shown here was kindly supplied by the local museum.


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