Brighton again

I posted a strip of walkies taken on Brighton’s Palace Pier some months ago, and said I’d never seen any taken there before. This pair turned up not long after! Only two of the original three frames have survived, but it was taken in almost exactly the same spot, with the ornate cast iron framework helping to confirm the location. It looks like two married couples out for a stroll along the pier and back, and the presence of the camera has certainly made them smile.  It probably dates from the second half of the 1930s.

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On the beach

It’s interesting the way people react to a friend taking a photo, often the need is to act up for the camera. Perhaps not taking it too seriously was a way of overcoming any insecurity about being photographed, or the end result (although they liked this enough to keep the print for many years).  These two women are larking about for the camera on the beach at the water’s edge in the late Fifties, doing the sort of starlet pose they must have seen many times in film magazines of that decade.  It may be a breezy day at Blackpool as I found this amongst some other commercial walking photos of Miss Bradbury (on the right) and friends taken there. A few are posted on the site.

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Kodak wallet

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While the photographs are the main focus of this site, I can’t help pick up some of the photo wallets which are often to be found in amongst them.  Designed to hold negatives and prints, they were very ephemeral items, yet some have survived over 100 years or more now. I suppose most people just shoved them in a biscuit tin along with the family photos and there they lurk.  In general people seem to have been happy just to keep the print, and once mounted in an album the negatives were often later thrown away, but sometimes you do find these carefully tucked away “just in case”.

This is very typical of such wallets, produced by Kodak and given to chemists and film processors to hand over to customers.  It features their classic red on yellow logo. Sometimes wallets would be over-printed with shop details, occasionally shops would get their own printed up.  Here Kodak have supplied some overprinted stickers for the shop to personalise the wallet. From the type I would think a date of the early 1930s.

There are some galleries of photo wallets old and new on my design site. And if you have any you don’t want, you know where to send them! And yes, the shop on Preston Old Road is still there, but is now a physiotherapy clinic.



Uncle Bill?

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While Uncle Bill took “Reflex Snaps” at Skegness, one has now turned up from Mablethorpe 14 miles up the east coast, even though his Skegness details are on the back.  Which makes me wonder if he also took this one, an unmarked walkie also taken on The Pullover at Mablethorpe in the early 1920s that matches Uncle Bill’s walkie print.

Mum has made the trek from their accommodation in the heat of the mid-day sun, bucket and spade at the ready, and is more or less ignoring the camera which suggests she has seen it a few times before, although she bought the print anyway. I assume it then passed to her lad when he grew up, and has now ended up on the second hand market. The framing is a little unconventional but the cameraman only had a few seconds to get the image. Because it’s taken in horizontal format (which just about all the walkies taken here were) the photo takes in plenty of the surrounding scene as well as throwing the people in the background well out of focus.  Notice too the hasty out of true paper cropping and the very uneven edges of the print area courtesy the negative holder.

I assume for a time Uncle Bill had a kiosk just over The Pullover nearer the beach where most of the traders were based on the concreted seafront area. People were funnelled that way as there was no other access to the beach from the town and it became a small shanty town of sheds most years.

You can read a little more about Reflex Snaps at Skegness on the site, and see more images from Mablethorpe’s Pullover on the site as well.  There are more examples in the Go Home On A Postcard book as well.

Dog house

St Bernard dog Margate Sunbeam

That’s the dog’s house on the right.  The dog itself, a St. Bernard I think, is posing for a cameraman from Sunbeam Photos in Margate, with a woman sat on top.  It is not an example of the sort of bygone animal exploitation which we would frown upon today, as the dog is actually stuffed.  Onto a strong iron frame.  Although I guess the idea of stuffing dogs is also a little strange to most of us these days (if not then there are firms in America who will do this for you, or even freeze dry your pooch).  The idea here was that if Sunbeam had already photographed you walking along the prom, they might then entice you into posing with the animal for another portrait.  And Sunbeam didn’t just stop at large dogs; over the years they stuffed lions, tigers and camels, and even had a go at an elephant in the 1920s (although that looked more like something put together from black rubberised tarpaulin).  Needless to say I find this sideline to their walking picture business fascinating so have decided to try and catalogue their menagerie on the site.  As well as proper animals, Sunbeam also went with cuddlier versions which were perhaps less likely to send kids screaming in the opposite direction, so we get fluffy Felix the Cats, donkeys, Donald Ducks and more. They were doing this well into the 1950s.  So take a look at the selection so far and of course if you have anything along these lines do get in touch!  Sunbeam weren’t the only seaside photo firm to go in for this, but were by far the most prolific.

The Sunbeam Animal Menagerie

Scarborough crowds

At first glance this looks to be a regular 1920s promenade walking picture, but closer inspection shows there is more going on. This was taken on the south end of Scarborough’s south bay, and it looks as if there must be a ticket only event on at the open-air swimming pool as the path is blocked by tables and a small cash drawer. There seems to be a gent dressed in a sailor’s outfit taking money. As a result it starts to look more like a news photo than a walkie.

Sun Ray, 7 Valley Parade, Scarborough. Walking picture. Crowds on south bay.

The photographer has cannily placed himself just by the entrance to snap people as they walk through. It’s possible he would have had to obtain a permit to stand here, but if the people had change for a ticket, they would be more likely to be able to afford a photograph. But as we can see the resort looks pretty much packed right across this part of the bay. It was taken by the firm of Sun-Ray, who had an office not far away on Valley Parade, and mostly operated at this end of the resort.

Sadly the art deco pool building were allowed to fall into ruin (they had all sorts of trouble with damage during high seas) and the pool was left in a very poor state, to be filled in quite recently. This part of the bay is very quiet these days. Scarborough’s Grand Hall (which does survive) is the ornate building in the centre background.

Reg and Edith

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“…and the boys”, according to a caption on the back in biro.  It doesn’t say who the tall feller on the left is, maybe Edith’s brother?  It’s an unmarked walking picture postcard but was likely taken by the firm of Wrates  on the front in Skegness.  The pier entrance can just be seen on the left and the Wrates print shop was there for many years.  I think it dates from the late 1940s or early 1950s looking at the everyday clothes they’re wearing. Not a massively well to do family perhaps, Dad in his cricketing jumper, Mum looking a little careworn, but they seem to be enjoying having their photograph taken and have obviously parted with the 1/- (5p) these postcards cost at that time. I like the informality of the end result. How it has ended up on the second hand market I don’t know, I would expect the three children to still be around. I was pushed around in a pushchair like that myself a few years later, what a contrast to the off road style buggies popular these days!
I cannot be certain but that might be one of the Wrates assistants idling away on the left in the pale jacket. Wrates had moved to 35mm cameras by this time and the quality of their walkie prints did vary as a result; this one was printed very darkly but thanks to digital software I have been able to improve the contrast. The print has some sort of auto reference numbering system bottom right to help keep track of the order.

Paignton pair

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This pair of walkies came to me unidentified, but were taken in Paignton.  The Remington’s photo kiosk can be seen in the left hand photograph, and the couple on the right are walking down Princess Pier close by.  These two ladies both have beach towels, but there is no beach access so I’m not sure why! As the two walkies came together, there might be some family tie, but sadly if so it has been lost now.  The kiosk was opened just after WW2 so that helps date the photo on the left but I don’t know who took the earlier pre-War walkie. Remington‘s very eventful history can be read on the site.


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A form of transport which has long since disappeared, and probably just as well given the lack of safety features, the charabanc trip was another ritual of many seaside holidays – either for a trip out or even getting to the resort.  They were very popular in the 1920s and into the 1930s.  And they were also another target for our street cameramen, who would take a souvenir photo of everyone on board prior to the day-trip, and I assume have prints available for them on return or at least on show somewhere near the dropping off point.  With a dozen or more passengers it could be quite lucrative, and that so many postcards like this survive shows how popular they were.

The example here is very typical, though it is hard to know where it was taken. The Star charabanc has been hired from Binghams, on Southchurch Avenue in Southend, but that doesn’t really narrow it down much! So unless an expert in old churches in the area spots it, we’re stuck.  I would imagine early 1920s for the date, and I’m not sure what the 1/16/7 reference number is about. I do like the louche looking driver with the ciggie dangling from his lip too, some things don’t date.