Smartly dressed

WP1082 walking picture.jpg

Just not perhaps what you would expect to wear for a walk on the promenade! Even for the 1920s it’s a little more formal than we usually see in a seaside walking picture, especially the bowler hat, brolly and fur stole. It’s possible they were on their way to attend a function or high-class entertainment (not the Punch and Judy that’s for sure), but we’ll never know for certain.  Still, they seem quite amused by the camera experience.

Nor can I tell where it was taken as there are no clues in the background, indeed there is nothing there at all except for some three rather Lowry like figures in the distance.  In style and quality, it might be an early Margate walkie by Sunbeam, it remains to be seen if it can be matched to any examples by them.


Sunny Snaps in London


Here’s another really atmospheric walking picture taken by the firm of Sunny Snaps in our capital city. The firm continues to throw questions up about how it operated, particularly in London. It was scanned for us by Gary Wade, who was especially interested to see if we knew where it was taken. The answer was no, however like him we spotted the familiar London Underground logo (designed in 1913 by Edward Johnston) in the background, on a fairly distinctive post-WW2 building. So I sent it over to District Dave’s London Transport forum, and sure enough Richard there quickly identified it as Leicester Square tube station, at the end of Charing Cross Road.


The Sunny Snaps photographer was stood on the now pedestrianised part of Cranbourne Street outside the Hippodrome (then a music hall and variety theatre, now a casino complex), you can just see the awning above their doorway in the top left. Although it’s an overcast day, what little shadow there is gives it as around mid-day, so the gentleman may have been on a trip to the newspaper stand in his lunch-hour (he doesn’t look like a tourist or visitor), and is striding towards Leicester Square itself. I suspect by the wry look on his face he has noticed the camera, but is looking away, which suggests they were not an uncommon sight. Having said that he took his ticket and ordered a print. The date is very hard to read, but looks to be 1939.

Cranbourne Street copy.jpg
I have been doing a bit of digging around and have now identified a few more Sunny Snaps locations in London; one of their cameramen worked on Park Parade in Harlesden between 1934 and 1937. A Sunny Snaps postcard taken near Shepherd’s Bush tube station is documented and Ladbroke Grove has been identified as another site where they worked in 1935. They also snapped away on Lewisham High Street just after WW2. Hopefully more will come to light or be identified. As always I’d welcome any information on the company itself.
It’s hard to get the exact view on street map, but the screen shot below is not too far off, the building on the right is a replacement.
More updated details on Sunny Snaps history can be found on the site.

Coney Island

photos while you wait.jpg

This interesting photograph shows a vintage ‘while u wait’ photo studio in America, at the New York beach resort of Coney Island. “Photo Laff” suggests they had some of those comedy painted boards to put your head through as well.  And as a sideline they did cold beer!
The photo was taken by Marvin Newman in 1953, and comes from a recent book of his images published by Taschen.  The studio is closed as it was taken out of season but the people in the photograph had picked it as a spot to get a bit of boost from the winter sunshine. A remarkable image in catching what must have been a very ordinary scene at the time but which seems quite strange to us now.


unknown walkie ebay scan.jpg

I could not resist this small walkie.  Mother is doing her level best to ignore the guy with the cine-camera on a tripod, but young daughter is fascinated, peeping up from her toy pram.  Mother must have relented!  I cannot tell where it was taken, the lens is too soft to read the detail in the print, but it might be Blackpool (one fo the streets running down to the promenade), as it matches other small walkies from there in size and layout. Let me know if you recognise it. I guessed at a date of the early 1930s from the fashions, etc. but Richard Jones (of says the saloon whizzing by is a Ford Model CX which was introduced here in 1936, and looks quite new, so sometime just after that seems likely.

Ford Model CX 1936.jpg

family on board

Family Cleethorpes studio Hardy.jpg

Or are they?  In fact not, they are in the studio of J. W. Hardy in Cleethorpes. And despite being at the coast, the background image of a boat is all on a painted canvas backdrop. The family are stood or sat in front of this, and the backdrop is cleverly painted so the decking blends in to the wooden floor.  This type of ‘on board’ backdrop was very popular, I have quite a few in the collection, and it’s interesting to see the variations used by different studios. I suspect such backdrops were supplied by specialist firms but haven’t found out much about it yet.

The family here look reasonably well to do, and managed to stay still for the long exposure, all except the little lad!  Hardy’s later began to take walking pictures, and there are more details on the site.

Studio portrait update

A couple more dated photo portraits added to the site recently, a young couple (newly engaged?) from the North East at Thirlwells in July 1915, and Gales in Manchester on Wednesday July 1st 1925 (as the gentleman has carefully written on the back!). Not forgetting this cheerful looking lady snapped in 1934 by Swifts of Plymouth.


Tinted by hand • 7

woman in coat hand coloured.jpg

This is another seaside souvenir portrait, taken on an unknown promenade in the 1930s. The customer has bought a print and then ordered an extra copy to be hand-coloured. At first it looks like a more formal situation such as a wedding reception, it’s only when you start to notice a small boat in the sea and iron railings that we realise it’s a far more relaxed occasion. Most seaside photographers offered this colouring as an extra service, the work usually being done back the studio or office by hired staff. To see more search ‘Tinted By Hand’ on the site.

Roller skating man

roller skating man.jpg

Whoops! Another fun cut-out seaside souvenir postcard. I don’t know where this was taken, or when (circa 1910?) but the somewhat mad painting is on a large board, and there is a cut out at the top where the flat capped gentleman is resting his neck. This would have been taken either on the beach or prom outdoors by the look of it, much cheaper than renting a studio.  There are some more cut-out comic photos on the site.


Cleethorpes family on beach

J. W. Hardy took walkies in Cleethorpes in the 1930s, and there are more details about the firm on our growing A to Z on this site. But as with so many of the photographers involved in the trade, Hardy’s seem to have been going much earlier and carried on into the 1950s. This lovely static beach portrait turned up on the web while I was researching the firm, and must have been taken before WW1. The group are on the beach at Cleethorpes, resting against the seawall near the station terminus. So if they have arrived by train, then they have not ventured far! But they all look to be really enjoying themselves, if not really dressed for the beach at all. Hardy’s moved on from static souvenir photos to walkies later as the trade developed.