Back on the pier

Original Skegness pier around 1925

This nicely composed walking picture was taken – probably mid-morning – on the original pier at Skegness and was probably taken by Skeg Cards, one of the town’s oldest souvenir photographers who often snapped people here. Their cards are not usually marked but the hiding away of the reference number in a shadow area was common to many of their cards. I would date this to the mid-1920s (taken on an early morning storll) with both Mum and Daughter sporting trendy hairdos, and oversize mesh hair nets to keep them in place (which I’ve struggled to find out much about), with a big bow on junior. Mum and Dad both have papers while daughter is clutching a plain seaside bucket and a spade, although there was no access to the beach once you were on the pier. I always find it a bit hard to orientate myself to these early views as all the indicators are gone; the pier entrance and the big hotel building behind, indeed this area of the current pier is all roofed in with arcades.

Skeg Card’s history is very sketchy but there are two more examples on the site and a bit more information.

Eastbourne quartet

Part of the interest in researching these walking pictures is identifying all the locations. The place in this group of photographs has been bugging me for a while. It clearly looked like a seaside promenade, while the dark structure in the background looked like a bridge or more likely a pier, but I could not match it up. However in a pile of odds and ends recently the photograph with the two couples turned up, on which one of them had written “Eastbourne August 1948”. So this positively identified the other three walkies for me. I would think they all date from around the same time, and it was clearly a busy pitch for the photographer. I would think he (or by this time possibly she) was using a 35mm camera of some sort. The small kisoks seem to be a seafood stall of some kind, and there is a weighing machine there as well, and possibly the walkies outlet itself with the glass door open on one shot.
Eastbourne pier was badly damaged by fire in 2014 and the largest building seen in the old photo below was destroyed, though the pier itself has been restored. I have marked the area covered by the walking pictures.

We are sailing…

Woolwich 1927

This walking picture is another which has been identified by the sender, Roy Cornell. It shows his father Leslie on the right with two of his school  friends. Roy knows that they were in Woolwich, London, which made me wonder why the toy yachts they are all looking very pleased about?  It’s not that far to the River Thames but I assume they were not allowed to be sailing their boat there. We can narrow the date down pretty nicely as the film on show at the cinema they are passing, The Blood Ship, was a silent epic (“Mightiest of All Sea Dramas”!) released in 1927. It is showing from July 4th. 

I could not locate the cinema itself, there was around a dozen or more in this area at one time, but Clive at the Cinema Theatre Association identified it right away as the Woolwich Hippodrome Theatre, built in 1900 as a theatre at 38 Wellington Street and converted over to a cinema full time in 1924.  It was demolished just before the war, replaced by a new cinema in 1955 which was in turn pulled down quite recently for a bland block of flats. The three lads are passing the steps which can be seen in the larger photo Clive sent, which was before they added a covered entrance.

A look at maps of the area shows Mulgrave Pond just a little way up the hill, so my money is on them heading there.  What a nice way to spend an afternoon, perhaps after school.

The walking picture firm is not identified but this must have been taken on a converted cine camera as part of a strip originally. Perhaps Roy’s father took the ticket home and they were given the money to go and buy the print the next day.  They are walking a little too quickly for the exposure, but it is a great little image. It adds to the growing information about walkies in London.

I wonder if they got to see The Blood Ship too?  Remarkably the last reel of this was lost and only rediscovered in 2007.

Mad cow!

Another of the crazy animal props employed by Sunbeam in and around Margate! You can read more about this and some of the other strange menagerie they owned on the site.

Sunbeam, Margate


Sunbeam kiosk, Margate area.

This happy couple were ticketed by Sunbeam in the late 1950s and it’s a great walkie, full of movement. The gentleman is holding what might be a walkie ticket, so perhaps they were handed this just out of shot before the photo was taken. The photo also just catches the corner of a Sunbeam kiosk but I don’t know exactly where it was taken. Sunbeam had so many cameramen, they used a series of codes to identify their pictures back at the darkroom, and this is coded AE. To help identify these images I have begun collecting the information to produce a full list of codes (over fifty are so far logged), which will help family historians ID snaps in future. AC was Brighton, AK was Folkestone, miles away. If anybody has family photos by Sunbeam which they can identify do get in touch!

Another happy snap

A really excellent example of the street photographer’s art which I picked up recently. This walking picture was taken in Skegness and although uncredited is likely to be by Turner’s Snaps, who operated out of the building behind, a fruit and veg shop which also housed a photo kiosk! The firm were there from the early 1920s which is when this image was probably taken. The family have obviously spotted the camera but not really had time to react before the shutter was clicked beyond a half smile. The prints were available to view outside the shop later in the day. I like the matching outfits on the two older children, probably school kit being worn as ‘best’. The famous elastic snake belts are also in evidence. There is also lots going on around the family, and the lady on the right is checking out what’s happening too. This street leads down to the main sea front area which is obviously where they were heading, and is why the photographers patrolled the area. Turner’s quite detailed history (full of injunctions and skullduggery!) is being added to the site.