Lytham St Annes


This family turned up in a handful of walkies I found together, mostly taken in the Lancashire resort of Lytham St. Annes in the 1950s. None of them are named but they have added to dates to the backs, so I know this was taken there in 1956. Daughter’s beret, camel hair coat and smart sandals fit the era exactly, and they all seem to be braced for cold weather. The view is looking back up St. Annes Road, the main shopping street, from the Promenade. In front of them is St. Annes pier, so that’s probably where they are headed. It’s quite hard to get the same perspective today, but a contemporary postcard (below) shows that to be Woolworth’s store behind them on the left. I assume the photographer operated at the pier entrance and sold the prints from a small kiosk there. The small town is just below Blackpool and the pier and buildings have managed to resist nasty modernisation. I do not know the photographer; Spotlight did take walkies in the town in the Thirties but were no longer in business at this time. It is a good print though, quite clear and sharp.

Lancashire, St Annes on Sea, The Square


Palm Bay


The walking picture photographers in the Margate area were some of the busiest in the country, but also took some of the best portraits. This happy looking young couple are walking, albeit very slowly, seemingly transfixed by the camera. What really makes the image for me however is the woman to the right, not intended to be part of the portrait but captured looking back as she carries on, checking to see what has caught the eye of the photographer.

The card is not identified but a quite look through Margate cards in the archive showed a match for the round headed windows in the building behind them. This was on Palm Bay, in the Cliftonville area of Margate, one of the most popular with tourists in the pre-war years. Remarkably the building survives and is now a cafe. The old postcard shows it in relation to the rest of the area at the time.

Palm Bay Cliftonville

Again looking at other examples, a date of around 1930 can be pinned on the card. Note the reference number scratched into the negative bottom left. There is no firm identified on the card back but it is likely to be one of the Sunbeam affiliates.

Palm Bay cafe Cliftonville

Out shopping

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The Easy On The Eye walking picture archive has approximately a quarter of the images still not located.  A crowded street scene like this, with so many canvas awnings obscuring the shop front, offers very few clues; I had hoped the square white building in the background might appear on other walkies, but so far no luck. But it is a very atmospheric photograph, thanks in part to the soft lens, the bleeding of light onto the edge of the negative and the casual look of the two women, who appear not to be aware of the camera just yet. It was with some other snaps when I found it, so I know one of them is a Miss Salman, but beyond that the history is missing. They have clearly been shopping, that brown paper wrapping seems very shoe box size! I would imagine mid-Twenties from all the fashion clues. The surviving print is about 3″ by 2″ but would seem to have been clipped from a strip of two or three images.

Rainy day at Skegness

Cloth caps and bonnets on! This is a frame originally one of three in sequence, taken on a converted movie camera on a tripod. The Mum and her son seem amused to realise they were being snapped, and even though the end print is very unsharp and there are negative scratches, they have purchased it later that day (and later cut it up into 2″ by 3″ frames). Everyone seems well wrapped up and it has been raining, but that doesn’t seem to have put off the crowds walking down the Tower Esplanade in Skegness (you can just about make out the tower in the background) so lots of potential customers for the photographer. The print is also helpful as it has been dated in pen on the negative at the side, 4.X.32. This may mean Oct 4th. 1932, if so quite late for a break. There are a few from the same family’s collection surviving in those I found, most seem to be Skegness.


There are more Skegness images on the site if you use the search button (the post below is a set taken there). I don’t know who took this one, but the biggest firm in the town were Wrates, you can read about them on the site as well.

Skegness again dear?

Many families used to take their holidays in the same seaside town year after year, often dictated by transport links or the nearness of a particular resort. This happy looking couple are no exception, and seem to have stuck to Skegness for all their breaks; as far as I can work out all these walkies were taken in the town in the years after WW2, from the late Forties into the late Fifties.  This dating is reinforced by the serviceman at the right hand side in one of the views.

The two postcard sized photos were taken by Skegness’ main walkie firms, Wrates and Walfreds (both firms are detailed on the site), the smaller ones are not identified. All were taken in the usual spots on Lumley Road and the Grand Parade. I only really wanted a couple of these for the archive, but it seemed a shame to break them up.  Taken together they do demonstrate that while walkies might have been a novelty to begin with, people must have become to expect them being taken on subsequent holidays. And in two of the photos the gent is carrying what looks to be a box camera, so while they could take their own photos they still enjoyed having the walkies.

Fashion wise while the lady has either the same jacket top or (hand knitted?) cardigan in most of the shots, the floral dresses are different in every photo.  But only in the most recent walkie, which is dated 1953 on the back, has hubbie relaxed enough to actually be seen in the street without his tie!

Happy Snaps


Another of those small photo booth portraits, but mounted on a little pre-printed backing card by the photographers, Horsfield’s Happy Snaps of Redcar. With his shirt collar undone, I would imagine the gent was on holiday and wanted a souvenir. A photo booth would have been the cheapest option, certainly cheaper than a walkie. It would also be the quickest. I cannot find any reference to the shop on the web, but the name does suggest they may also have done beach and street photography, although I have not yet seen a walkie from this seaside town.

And while Redcar as a resort is not one that springs readily to mind these days (though I have been for a look), with a superb beach it did serve the populations of some big North East cities from Victorian times onwards, particularly Middlesborough. One lady on the web recalled her day as a child at Redcar: “On the morning as we left our apartments we went to the beach. I had a donkey ride, then on to the ventriloquist whose show began at 10am, then the Punch and Judy Show (a little further along the beach) started at 10.30am. The Pierrots started at 11am (The Optimists of ’38, The Seafarers, and The Wavelets are all names she recalled). Sometimes before going back to the digs for lunch, we went along to Sunshine Corner. After lunch we either went to the boating lake end, Lock Park or the Stray end to the paddling pool.”

Makes you exhausted just reading it! I’m trying to date the picture but would suspect late Forties.

Pier look

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I do like this pier walkie, but so far the location has eluded me. The gentleman is looking a bit suspiciously at the camera, but must have bought the print, which I think is a frame cut off a strip. Date wise it looks to be early 1930s, and there is a poster propped up advertising Clapham and Dwyer, a vaguely amusing comedy duo I’d not heard of before who were popular in the late twenties and into the thirties, perhaps appearing at the end of the pier show.
There’s a group of people by the turnstile buying tickets to get on the pier, many had a small admission charge before the war to keep a little exclusivity to the site (sadly Wentworth Gardens have had to impose a £1.50p fee recently due to some people damaging the site, nothing changes). There are some nice bits of street furniture about too, the wheeled container and Pratts Oil dispenser would fetch a small fortune today at a salvage yard.
Let me know if the location rings a bell.


British Made


This walking picture is full of life, and looks to be a father having bought his two excited children presents – hard not to imagine it’s a football for the lad under all that brown paper and string. They seem to be walking past a large railway station (there is a big Way In sign in the background) and the feel is of London, but I cannot identify it. The poster hoardings are just too blurred to make anything exact out beyond an advert for Empire Tea. Clearly reasonably well off, his Homburg hat contrasts with the Bowler hat seen in the background, and together with daughter’s smart headwear suggests late 1920s for the date.
It is a postcard sized print (“British Made”!) with a pencil note for the ticket reference on the back, but the frame is printed with quite a large border on all four sides. If anyone can ID the station do get in touch. That might be the letter L of LMS top left, but if so I cannot match this to either Euston or St. Pancras, their London main stations.

Head in a hole

The vintage head in a hole comic seaside cards are always great fun, but the trend seems to be one which is becoming more popular, albeit with new twists. Cinemas are using quite elaborate cardboard scenery for the new Hans Solo film and you can sit inside the “cabin” and have your picture taken. But this image was taken in Montreux in 2016 and shows a painted view outside the famous Casino there. So you can pretend you’re rolling up in a limo!

Head in hole Casino.jpg