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Please Cross where?

Walkie unknown

Somebody must know where this was taken…  

I have two walking pictures taken on this same spot but, try as I might, cannot work out the location.  I looks like a coastal resort but the buildings do not match anything else in my archive. The big hotel in the background might be The Alpine and it must date from the 1930s but beyond that I’m stuck. As for the walkie itself, this shows Father, Mother and son, dressed in his school uniform for smartness. The print is also a bit of an unusual size, not quite postcard but bigger than half frame. I’ve only seen others like this from Brighton and Blackpool but I cannot match it to either of those two towns. So just in case anyone stumbles on this and remembers going for something to it across the road, do get in touch!

Dear Grannie

WP1199 back

WP1199 Worthing Mum and pram

This is a tiny walking picture, and two by three inches, just a frame cut out of a strip of three. I don’t know who the lady is, but she certainly has her hands full with two toddlers and I assume a baby in the very retro (to our eyes) looking pram.  The walking picture is not dated except that Mum has written on the back “June 18” and given it to her own mother Doris as a keep-sake.  It must be mid-1920s from the style of the print and also her clothes.  I wasn’t sure at first where it was taken but the word ‘Pier’ can be seen on the canvas awning and the cobble stones reminded me of a lot of walking pictures taken on this same spot by the Sunny Snaps firm in the 1930s, and sure enough it wasn’t hard to confirm this as Worthing promenade.

Here’s one of those Sunny Snaps taken on the exact same spot!

Children

children mablethorpe 1939.jpg

There’s no doubt that most of the walking pictures which survive are of grown-ups. Children do figure, usually accompanying their parents, and these three which came my way recently made me smile. The first is a postcard size walking picture, and the two cute young brothers have clearly been a hit with the onlookers in this scene. Both have been given an apple to keep them going, which the older lad is keen to show off to the camera.  Somebody has written Aug 1938 on the front too which helps, and I recognise the location as Mablethorpe High Street, a popular spot with the walkie cameramen. You wouldn’t last long walking there these days!

children walkies 3.jpg

The horizontal walkie above I was sure would be from Skegness, but when I got to study it close up I’m not convinced. There seem to be sort of holiday camp chalet buildings in the background, and the photo is a half postcard size not usually seen from Skegness walkie firms.  The interest for me was the very spontaneous nature of the moment captured by the cameraman, as Mum and older brother (?) struggle to keep the newly mobile toddler upright for his or her first walking picture experience, while Gran keeps an eye on things. It is not dated but looks to be pre-War, 1930s to me.

children walking picture 1.jpg

Last up is another very spontaneous walking picture, probably dating from the late 1940s.  This one I recognise as being taken in Blackpool on the seafront, and it seems as if the young father has arranged for junior (in a seaside hat) to be snapped and is shouting instructions, while the photographer is doing his best to get the shot (and the sale).  This cannot have been easy given he is almost shooting into the sun but they’ve pulled it off between them. The kid seems be enjoying it all!

Sunny Snaps 1937

Sunny Snaps 1937 London

Sunny Snaps, 1937, Canning Town, London.

A group of eight lads out on the town in 1937 in this well worn Sunny Snaps walking picture, but what is the occasion? Six of them are wearing pale berets and five appear to have elaborate rosettes pinned to their their lapels. Geoff Jones sent me the scan, the postcard is from his family collection. It shows – second from the right – Geoff’s Uncle Fred, his Mother’s twin brother.
We have covered a number of Sunny Snaps postcards here before. There is no location given but it does match the ambience seen in many of the firm’s London walking pictures. I had a look through material I’ve gleaned from the web and found another Sunny Snaps walkie from what seems to be the exact same spot (the trees and tram posts match closely), also taken in 1937 (kindly sent by Graham Walton). There is a bit about the firm Sunny Snaps on the site, and more examples posted if you search for the firm’s name.

Sunny Snaps London
The lads in Geoff’s example all lived in East London around Canning Town, but the photo is a little ‘soft’ so we could not make out enough detail to try and match it to any street today.  However Geoff has just found another Sunny Snaps card taken on the exact same spot two years later in 1939, and this he has located to Barking Road, Canning Town E13.  The church just visible on the new find is Trinity Church. So mystery solved. The church was pulled down in the 1950s for a block of flats.
My suggestion is that they were probably on their way to a football match; I have seen photographs of footie fans wearing berets in the immediate pre-War era (see below). As to which team, again we don’t know, though Geoff feels it was probably West Ham. I had a look at maps and there were several important clubs within a couple of miles walk of Canning Town – and needless to say it would be wrong to err on such an important matter! If any football history fans out there can shed any light on it, please get in touch.

arsenal fans in berets 1930s

As for the lads themselves, the story becomes quite poignant. WW2 was declared two years after it was taken and Geoff’s Mum – who kept hold of the picture – says his Uncle Fred was killed during the Anzio battle in Italy in January to June 1944. All the other lads joined up as well, but not one of them survived the war. I am kind of used to this sort of story about WW1 but somehow you tend to forget that similar losses did occur during WW2 as well.
My thanks to Geoff for sharing it.

80 years ago today

WP1084 Blackpool 1940s girls.jpg

In May 1940 allied armies were trapped at Dunkirk. But even at such a crucial moment, ordinary life had to carry on at home. These three women, one I think was a teacher, took a break in Blackpool and were caught by a walking picture cameraman. This is one of two surviving walking pictures of the three from a group of snaps I picked up, so while they were taking photos of each other, they still bought the walking pictures.

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Ouside Digs 1940.jpg

Digs today.jpg

What made the little collection interesting is that the owners had dated all the snaps. From this we know they had two stays there in 1940, in May and August.  On 19th May they were staying at 22 Boothroyden, then a guest house (now a private house, lacking the curly railings probably cut down for war salvage), when the friend on the left in the walkie at the top took the snap above. Who the gent lurking in the doorway is I don’t know. The RAF had their training camp at nearby Padgate, and some of the shots show groups of RAF men on the beach, a popular spot for leave taking.

40s girls on prom.jpg

They were snapped on the promenade as well, in round plastic white rimmed sunglasses which were very fashionable at the time but look a little spooky in these images. But it’s good to know that they seem to have enjoyed themselves given the situation at the time. The other walkie of them appears in the book Go Home On A Postcard.

Kodak No. 3A

family in street mono.jpg

This remarkable (at least to me) street scene was probably captured by an amateur photographer in the years just before the first world war. It’s a postcard print and the blurring of the negative frame at the edges, as well as the slight movement in the photo, both make me think it was a amateur photographer responsible, perhaps even printed in a home darkroom. But what a great composition, almost like a wide angle image, with the older daughter on the left forming the immediate point of interest before your eye starts to move across and begin to take in all the little details. Younger son, in sandals, is balanced on the railing fence (which for some reason has nails protruding from it), while Mother keeps an eye on him; it all has a slight air of The Railway Children about it.
The original card is quite faded and lacks contrast but after scanning it, working on the levels and contrast, the image has started to come back to life. The scene must be the edges of a town, as there are tram rails and posts running down the street. There are no cars, but two horse and carts are visible in the distance, one loaded with hay being guided by a labourer on foot. There are houses and a church further in the background but nothing which would help (me) identify the location, and the card has no details on the back, probably having come out of a family album at some stage. The back is pre-printed with the rate of half a penny, and as this was increased in 1918 we know it must pre-date that.
I assume father took the photograph having hopped over into the field, and must have been well pleased with the results from his camera. Looking online, camera collectors suggest it could have been taken with something like a Kodak No 3A (on sale in 1912) which took film and gave negatives about the size of a postcard. This camera had no viewfinder, you judged the composition by accepting that it was about the same size as the camera and working out the approximate focus using a scale. Luckily it seems to be quite a sunny day so this has helped keep things fairly sharp. Given the technology we have today you really have to admire these early home photographers.