South Marine Drive

SP048 Snaps Bridlington Spa.jpg

Although it is the walking pictures taken by seaside photographers which fascinate me, many of the staff were very good at taking still portraits in the street. I assume that they normally took the walking picture (rather than give people the chance to turn them down!) but if the people concerned requested it, would accommodate them with a still portrait. This is a good example of one; what parent would not be pleased to take home a postcard like this for just a couple of shillings? On this occasion the small boy is behaving perfectly, there is plenty of light from a really sunny day, while both the focus and exposure on the glass negative (the sales reference number can be seen scratched into the plate) are pretty well perfect. The kid is fully prepared for a morning on the south bay at Bridlington, which is a large sandy beach stretching for miles. He seems to have sort of rubberised beach footwear, and two metal sandcastle buckets. The actual trouser suit is hand knitted by the look of it, and fastened on the straps at the top. The grand building behind on South Marine Drive is now the Royal Court apartments, still recognisable albeit later altered with balconies and bay windows added. The postcard was taken by a cameraman from Snaps, the longest running street photo firm in the town of Bridlington, and this was a very popular spot as people would be strolling along the sea front here and coming down via the access path behind. The story of Snaps is told on this site and there are lots more examples of their work too if you search for Snaps.

Deep in conversation

St Annes on Sea walking picture.jpg

These two ladies are deep in conversation as they stroll along the main street at St. Annes On Sea. If they’d noticed the camera at all I’d be surprised! These three frame cards are some of my favourite, done up to look like a chunk of movie film. There is no town given on the card but if you look you can see a delivery bike on the right, and this is for the shoe shop Stead & Simpson, St. Annes branch. Hipsters today like to think bike delivery is a new thing but of course it was going for decades before the last war. I would put the date at early 1930s. Given the St. Annes On Sea clue I was able to match it with other cards taken in the town.  It’s a postcard size print and was taken by the firm of Spotlight, who operated in a number of British towns. So far not much is known about them, but what I have gleaned is on the site if you follow the link above. I’d welcome any more examples.


Llandudno 1950 walkie.jpg

The location of this walking picture (which I spotted on the web) would have been difficult to identify, except that one of the trio has helpfully written “Llandudno, June 1st 1950” on the back in pen.  I’m guessing it’s Mum, Dad and Daughter on holiday, and because they have kept a note of where it was taken it helps identify other found photographs. It’s a smallish paper print and was taken on one of the main streets which run down to the seafront, and Dad at least seems quite taken to be snapped. The firm who took it is not identified, but I like the almost workaday nature of the image. Llandudno was home to quite a few photographers, though it is proving difficult to research them. There are a few more on the site from the seaside resort, including this one.


WP1167 bowler hatted gent in street.jpg

What an atmospheric photograph. The frame is only around 2″ by 1.5″ in size and lacks sharpness, but as a simple moment in time it takes some beating. The walking picture camera man was using a converted movie camera to take the image which would have one of of three in sequence originally, printed out on a postcard. The gentleman in the bowler (with a cigarette in his mouth) is tidily dressed, shiny shoes, neat collar and warm overcoat, probably on his way to an office. He cannot have failed to see the camera mounted on a tripod by this point but it hasn’t thrown him. Everyone else in the frame is also getting on with life, the van driver in his heavy leather boots checking the sheeting on his lorry and the young woman in the cloche hat probably not even aware of the camera yet. Within a couple of minutes all this would have disappeared leaving the cameramen ready to record the next tableau and keep his fingers crossed for enough sales to make his morning shift pay.

Our gent must have later gone the the firm’s outlet and purchased the set of images, then cut off the better two, which would have shown him closer to the camera, to give to others. This last frame has then kicked about in family photo albums for around 90 years before ending up on the second hand market.

The print throws up a few technical questions too. The sprocket marks are not real but have been added at the printing stage to mimic the look of a cinema reel. You can just see one of the actual 35mm film holes underneath on the left hand side. There is also the machine numbering which is quite early for this sort of use on a walking picture, it was probably applied at the darkroom stage, maybe even stamped onto the edge of the piece of film with a numbering device.  Then there are the very dirty frame edges round the actual photo, adding to the vintage look.

Where was it taken? I cannot tell. It looks like a very urban street scene. I have seen one other walking picture with this sort of sprocket design which was taken by Filmographs, but that too is not yet identified. There was a firm using this name in St. Annes on Sea, but this frame certainly doesn’t look like it was taken there. Let me know if you have any more like this.


Great Yarmouth souvenirs.jpg

This tiny little photo album – the photo here is about life size – turned up at the local flea market recently, sold in local Great Yarmouth seaside shops in the 1950s to keep your holiday snaps safe.  Textured card cover, foil-blocked title and rough grey card pages with corner slots pre-punched. The family who bought this one instead put all their walking pictures from their trip into it, including those of their pet poodle carrying a rubber ring.  It made an interesting narrative of them strolling round the resort. Knowing the town, it wasn’t hard to identify the walkie firm as that of Barkers, who operated here for three decades or more.  But these were quite late examples, and all nicely dated by their former owner.  I have scanned the images and put them on the site as part of our history of Barkers.

Willow trees

WP1166 couple walking 1920s.jpg

Sometimes a walking picture defeats me when trying to figure out where it was taken. This one is a recent find on the local flea market but I’m baffled as to the location. Most walking pictures were taken at coastal resorts but the heavy balustrade, the urn and willow trees suggest this could be a large park somewhere. So I’ll post it here in the hope that a casual browser might happen across it and know right away where it was taken!

It was done on a converted movie camera then printed on a postcard, and appears to be one frame from two, taken in the 1930s. The jolly couple seem to be enjoying a brisk stroll. I also like the interest of the two young women behind them who are watching what is going on and seem to be nervously anticipating their own encounter with the photographer a few seconds hence.

The only clue is the word Filmographs printed on the back. This has been spotted on a few walkies, but the only one so far identified was taken in St. Annes On Sea. I have checked the lakes there using street view but none seem to match. So drop me a note if you have any ideas. What little I know about Filmographs is documented on this site.

Mablethorpe pullover

No, not some strange East Coast knitting pattern, but the location – a ‘pullover’ which led from the High Street over the dunes to the seafront walks and stalls.  As it was the only such access, walking picture photographers had a steady stream of customers, including this young couple, Vera and George. Writing on the postcard to Mam and Dad, Vera explains that “this was taken walking in the street, it isn’t too bad.”


And indeed it isn’t, although the cameraman might have filled the frame better if he’d allowed them to get a bit closer. But because he didn’t, it’s allows us to take in all the incidental detail in the background. I have lots of walkies taken on this spot so can date it to the mid-1930s. although there is no firm printed on this one.  There are more views taken here on another Mablethorpe page, and put together a time lapse style video for our You Tube channel. For more cards from this spot just search Mablethorpe on the site.

Shirt and tie, and sandals

jersey Sunny Pictures back print.jpg

This couple seem in a hurry, and he looks particularly puzzled to see the camera. Despite the formal shirt and tie (something of a contrast to his wife’s more relaxed ensemble), his sandals (and the location) suggest they are on holiday. It was taken by Jersey Sunny Pictures, based in St. Helier in the 1950s, a firm which we have looked at on this site before. It’s not easy to unravel the different walking picture businesses who operated on Jersey, but if the numbering on the back is sequential then this was photo number 35,664! It was clearly taken by a 35mm camera of some sort.

jersey off web.jpg


Rusticated stonework

mystery walkie.jpg

The photographer here has managed to make the lady look just a little bit shifty on this walking picture; she’s probably just trying to avoid making eye contact.  But after all that she bought the print.  I am resigned to never finding out where this was taken, the elaborate stonework suggests a building of some size and importance, and it does seem to be an urban setting.  So if it rings a bell with anyone get in touch.  My guess would be a railway terminus, always a busy place.  Probably just post-WW2?