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Morecambe mystery

These walking pictures have been bugging me for a while. They were clearly taken at a British resort, but where? The only real clue was a sign in the background on the right in one reading The Kiddies Studio. Done in raised plaster letters on the side of the pale building, it can also be just made out in a second walking picture. They are both quite early examples of the genre, I think late 1920s, and I like the bustle of the busy promenade.

Kiddies Studio gave no results on a web search, so I then went to a postcard auction site. Postcard dealers often add any extra info they can when selling topographical cards. Hey presto, a great shot of a stormy sea at Morecambe with the Kiddies Studio sign in the distance. The location was confirmed by doing a walk down Morecambe sea front on Google street view. The postcard shows the large Alhambra building which is still standing, albeit sadly quite altered. The two conical spires in the old postcards are also still visible today.

The Kiddies Studio itself has gone to make a car parking space for the Clarendon Hotel next to it. I assume it was a photo studio specialising in children’s portraits; whether they had anything to do with the walking picture trade I don’t know, though firms did often multi-task.

Chiswick High Road

Three women on their lunchbreak, a walking picture which would have been impossible to identify except someone has written “Chiswick High Street, 1937” on the back. A slow potter along Chiswick High Road in London (there is no ‘street’) on street view and eventually a match for the building behind them turns up. It’s still a bank, the NatWest on the corner of Chiswick High Road and Clifton Gardens. This is the first walking picture I have been able to identify from here, though the firm is not identified. We know Sunny Snaps were quite active in London before WW2 (here is an example from Shepherds Bush), so it is possible this was taken by one of their photographers working on his own. Technically it is a little below par, the shutter speed is too slow, but nevertheless the ladies purchased a print. One of the trio in the photo is Winnie Monckton, the other two ladies are identified as her workmates. I wonder where they actually worked? The slightly impersonal nature of the caption on the back (and the mistake over the name of the road) suggests to me that a member of the family has written it for Winnie in later years; if it had been penned in 1937 I think the other ladies might also have been named.

The view has not changed that much, if we montage the ladies onto the scene today. Though how long the bank will remain open is anyone’s guess.

Skegness couple

This young couple turned up on several walkies over recent months, I assume an album has been split up by a dealer and sold off. I’ve picked up a few, and added this to the collection not so long ago (it always seems a shame when they get parted). All the previous walkies are from Skegness and although not identified as such this one is the same. The steps on the right are at the pier entrance, and the number on the card shows it to be from the busy local firm of Wrate’s. I do like the woman’s very practical 1940s style scarf-in-hair set-up which suggests it was taken not long after the War. In later walkies they have a young child, which suggests they are newly weds here. I think it was taken on paper negative, which accounts for the punched hole top left.

Skegness Wrates copy

The firm of Wrate’s is documented on this site and there are more examples by them if you use the search facility.

Swanage

This small walking picture, originally from a strip of three, is slightly out of focus and unremarkable. However it is marked Swanage on the back, which makes it the first walkie I have found from this resort town below Bournemouth. I assume there was more money to be made in Bournemouth and it’s other big neighbour to the west, Weymouth, but nevertheless at least one cameraman set up his tripod here in the 1930s for a time. The print is otherwise unmarked so would have been difficult to identify.
The young girl does look a little undernourished for her age and using a stick, although walking sticks were a seaside trend for a time so I might be reading too much into that. She has a water ring and clearly off for a dip. The photo was taken on Shore Road close to the town centre, but it is impossible to replicate the view today thanks to a difficult to understand Arts Centre they built in the way during the Sixties!

Cover star

One of our vintage Sunbeam walking picture cameras made it to the front cover of Photographica World in August.  This made for a striking image and the article which they asked me to write about it ran to 8 pages inside which was very generous of them. You can read more about this on the site under Sunbeam Cameras.

Photographica World cover

émigrés

Riga walking picture 1931B.jpg

Damaged by water but surviving remarkably well despite being ninety years old and having travelled ten thousand miles, this walking picture of a lady out shopping in Riga ended up in America. The family may have fled Latvia to escape the Russian army at the end of World War Two.  One of half a dozen similar walkies I picked up recently and now identified thanks to staff at the museum in Latvia. See the rest of these atmospheric walkies and read more on the site.