Corner shop

greengrocer shop 1910.jpg

“I’m just nipping to the corner shop” was an often heard phrase in our house. Mid-way between us and the main shops, themselves only five minutes away, the corner shop was a ramshackle place but handy for all types of groceries and  more. They kept going into the early Seventies before being converted back into a domestic property.

Images of old retail environments often bring the past to life (I find myself watching the unremarkable Still Open All Hours sometimes to see what vintage goodies the prop people have used to decorate the set!). Usually you just see the shop staff posed in the doorway but this photograph takes us inside and gives a glimpse of the goods on the shelves of a small grocery shop circa 1910. Interestingly all the foods here are already pre-packed except for the eggs, and there are packets of tea and coffee, quite a few tinned goods – apricots, peaches, pears, salmon – and also jars with meat paste, what looks to be Camp coffee essence, and quite a lot of home made bottled jam. There are also a few boxes of Chivers’ Table Jellys which would have been a bit of a luxury item. The wooden shelves themselves are also very typical of the time, with the turned support alternating with a plain one.
Then tucked away in the corner is the shop assistant, smartly dressed underneath his shop overalls. And with a cigarette on the go as well.
Nothing tells us where this was, though as it was found locally it’s tempting to think it may be from the Sheffield / Chesterfield area. Back then there were small corner shops every few streets.
The print has rounded corners which look like someone has done this themselves. As the person with the camera was clearly proud enough of their shop to take the photo, I could see them making this bit of extra effort.


Blackpool Central

All three of Blackpool’s piers had walkie cameramen in operation.  This nice example is from Dave Gardner, and was taken we think on the Central Pier.  The low roof and tower at the end of the entrance building are quite distinctive. David says the young lad is his father, out with his parents, so dates this to around 1938. He is clutching the obligatory wooden beach spade and tin bucket. It was taken by the Blackpool firm of Walkie Snaps.

Gardner family c1938


WP895 Blackpool walkie

Although this walkie carries no identifying details, it is a half postcard size print with a miniature postcard style back print. One of the few firms to do this were Walkie Snaps of Blackpool, who sold two identical prints this size to customers. There is dirt on the negative and a scratch down the film too, evidence of hasty processing.
The large building in the distance looked familiar and the Olympia sign just visible confirmed it as Blackpool. The Winter Gardens block survives and has a large exhibition venue inside called The Olympia.
The scene is full of everyday incident, people out shipping, stopping for a chat, and various vintage delivery trucks. It has a pre-War feel about it, so probably late 1930s.
The couple are fascinating, with the gent’s open necked vest at odds with the usual dress standards of the day (an open collar buttoned v-neck top perhaps). But then he probably figured they were off to the beach for a sit and a read of the paper, so what the heck. His solid build and direct look at the camera does suggest you wouldn’t want to argue the toss with him!

Adelaide Street Blackpool.jpg

The part of Adelaide Street they are on has now gone, replaced by yet another bland shopping mall of some sort (the Houndshill Centre – I looked it up), so where you could once walk straight down to the sea-front from the many guest houses, your way is now blocked by this and service car-parks. A bit of sensible town planning could have opened up a generous parade down to the tower and promenade. You can get an idea of the location by comparing it with the modern day street view above.

What we know about Walkie Snaps’ history is on the site and there are more examples of their work in the Go Home On A Postcard book.

Olympia buildings.jpg

Torquay toddler

I have looked at Remington’s walking picture operation in the site in some detail but this walkie is both a great informal image and it shows their pitch near Torquay’s Princess Pier. Remington were based in Paignton by this time, just a mile or so down the coast. Given the shadows this would have been taken mid-morning, and the postcard print available for the family to buy later that day from the kiosk on the right. Son and heir is wearing what looks like a knitted trouser suit from a pattern and was probably on holiday in the late 1930s.

WP894 Remington Paignton walkie.jpg

Remington’s History

tinted by hand 4

My last post on hand tinting showed postcard sized examples, but here are two larger examples, both approx 10″ by 8″.


Weddings photographs were something people would spend a little more on, and this formal image looks to have been done in a proper photo studio as the lighting is very good and there is a backdrop behind the group. Usually you would get a set of photographs in card folders, and then one or two for framing, in this case tinted.

The colouring is quite subtle, much of the original black and white photo is left alone, with just some pink added to the dresses and faces, and red on the bride’s shoes. A little touch of orange has been added to her shoulder decoration. Husband seems to be in a dress uniform jacket with one stripe indicates lance corporal, so it may be a war time wedding. That must be husband’s brother on the left.

There are just little hints of economising on the day itself; while the two ladies left and right seem dressed alike, clearly gloves were expensive and they don’t match – nor do the shoes.

The photographer has signed it in the corner (and missed something in the shoot leading to a white corner triangle, while he might have shoved the stool out of view as well!) but impossible to read and we don’t know who the people are or where it was taken.

Yellow shorts-Tinted-005

The little lad on the foot stool looks like a Jerome studio photo, but there is nothing on the back to confirm. Here the studio have gone for a yellow theme, and just added a little pink to the mouth and face. As before this subtle approach works quite well. Today you can get your digital images printed out on many different surfaces, and the parents here had theirs supplied in a mirror frame to hang on the wall. I would think late 1940s.

Tinted by hand 2

Tinted by hand 1

tinted by hand 3

Hand tinting was very popular in the pre-and immediate post-War years, and often adds an unexpected dimension to monochrome photographs as these two examples show. Photographic processors (and even walking picture firms) often offered a colouring service but you could buy small sets to do this at home.


The two women seated on a country style were out for a walk in the countryside around Lower Bourne, near Farnham in Sussex, and then Marjorie posted the card to Dorothy Walder to wish her a happy birthday on July 24th 1934.

It was processed and printed by the Jerome studio, who had branches across the country, although probably not in such a small town, and they may have tinted the card to order.


The couple posing in their garden (he has his house slippers on!) are unknown, but it looks to be from the late Thirties. It just says “Dad and Dolly” on the back in red biro, and someone has added “Alan’s” underneath the word Dad. You would expect it to say Dad and Mum if they were man and wife, so maybe the woman is another relation. Very hard to know if the tinting was done by the processors or not, as the print is a bit worn, but it is a neat job. A bit like the privet hedge!

Tinted by hand 2

Tinted by hand 1

Espana walkie

Walking picture from Spain, 1964, MajorcaMajorca-wallet

While I have tended to concentrate my efforts on researching in the UK, the walking pictures craze was worldwide. This example is typical, taken in the gardens of a monastery at Valldemosa, famous because the composer Chopin stayed there with George Sand in 1838 / 1839. It catches the Godfrey family on holiday in Spain in 1964, with Paul, his Mother Sheila, and his younger brother Mark. The photograph was taken while they were walking in the gardens, and was processed and ready for sale when they returned to their coach later in the day, with a little sketch of the location over printed. It was stuck into a wallet showing a woman in national costume and a little map.
Paul was a keen amateur photographer at the time, and his carrying his MPP Microcord Camera with him.
So very similar in style and format to many walkie prints sold in Britain, some of which also came in decorated paper wallets. My thanks to Paul (as ever) for letting me show this on the site. Do let me know if you have any similar examples from holidays abroad.

24 frames a second (4)


This walking picture strip was a few pence and I do find these consecutive images interesting so picked it up without paying much attention. On closer examination it may actually be from a French holiday resort; the back has the French type of layout and the words ‘carte postale’ which is a bit of a clue, but the curious beach tents also look foreign. Otherwise the scene is very much as many British resorts, and shows us that walking pictures were popular everywhere. Of added interest for me was the glimpse of the walking picture kiosk top right, with a couple of people studying walkies pinned to the display. I’ve had a go at animating it, and you can see other animations on the site on the video page.


24 frames a second (3)

I’ve had a bit of fun animating two walking picture strips from my home city of Sheffield (the originals are already on the site). The strip with the railings is outside Sheffield Cathedral, although this has changed a lot as the area was made into a tram stop when the new system was introduced. The irony of there being an original Sheffield tram in the background will not be lost on people who argued against the ripping up of the extensive original system in the early 1960s, only for the chuffs at the council to then look at putting something back 40 years later.


The second set is from around the same time but taken on a different camera as the frames are smaller (again the original can be seen on the site). The spot is only about 400 yards from the other strip, right outside Sheffield Town Hall, and the business gentleman seems to be ignoring the camera although it must have been hard to ignore. You can actually get much the same view today remarkably, although some of the buildings in the background are now facades on more modern constructions. I tried recreating the scene when a local paper did a feature on walkies a few years ago!


You can see earlier animations on the site at Clacton and Bournemouth . There is also one from an as yet unknown location on the site.