Walkies taken in towns away from the coast are far less common and often difficult to identify. London appears to have had a number of photographers at work pre and post-War, but many seem to be small operators and have proved hard to research. Out of the 100s of walkies I have collected or been loaned only a dozen were taken on the streets of our capital city.
Sometimes though the image gives a few clues, and this pair of walkies both have London buses in view. Yet while the routes are often well documented, the walkies could be anywhere on those routes.
The unknown lady in the first is being passed by a No. 6 to Kensal Rise Station, and certainly looked late 1040s or early 50s to me. The postcard sized glossy paper is ex-military war surplus too. I sent the scan to London bus expert Ian Armstrong who quickly replied to say that the fleet number RTW444 on the engine cover dates it to post-1951 (when the bus was allowed on this route) and pre-June 1953 when it was taken off. Few unmarked walkies can be dated so closely. Adverts for an unidentified brand of Swiss Roll can be seen on the front of the bus which might be worth looking for in magazines of 1952.
The woman looks like she might be an office worker or secretary, perhaps on her lunch-break, as she only has a short handled handbag ovr her arm. At first she seems to be just rushing by but when you look closer you can see her eyes are looking at the camera and she is beginning to smile. Moments later she must have stopped to collect a ticket off the cameraman.
How London walkie operators managed to get their potential city customers to return later and buy a print I don’t know, beyond clever patter! They did not have kiosks, so probably worked from a local shop. And being based locally it is more likely the customers kept the photographs, rather than walkies taken on holiday which have often travelled or been posted off.
The second London walkie shows a pin-stripe suited gent who appears to have been rather worn down by city life, and perhaps the struggles of the war years. The bus behind him is on the 9 route to Mortlake, which was rather more central. The fleet number could again just be seen on the inside of the bus entrance and Ian Armstrong confirms that it must be taken after December 1944 and before June 1949. It’s a smaller half postcard sized print, but despite the gent’s less than likely looking appearance as a customer he has purchased the walkie.
There are more London walkies on this site, and in the book and if anyone has more do get in touch.