vintage seaside portrait photographs

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Let it snow

Thirlwells Photographer, Stockton

Beatrice and Lily, Christmas, 1911

As it is the run-up to Christmas, I thought I would post a few end of year postcards. And if I see a more Christmas-like photograph this year I will be very surprised. It is of Beatrice and Lily, surnames unknown, and the postcard print was sent out by the two woman as a Christmas greetings card back in 1911. They probably had several done.
They posed for it in Thirlwell’s photo studio, probably in Stockton (the firm had several studios in the North-East of England by 1920 and were still going in the 1980s as a camera retailer.)
The ‘snow’ appears on the original print. I am not exactly sure how this was achieved, but it seems likely a sheet of glass was sprayed with black ink to give the snow effect (with the face areas masked off so they were not obscured) then placed on top of the photographic paper before exposing it to the original negative.
I have seen a few postcards along similar lines, so perhaps it was popular in early Edwardian times for a few years.

Beatrice and Lily 1911

Sunny Snaps again

One consequence of the Walking Pictures project has been people sending in scans, wanting to know where they were taken.  And while I have 101 other things I ought to be doing, I can’t resist a challenge.  It’s as well Google don’t charge for their street view by the hour (but then given the tax they dodge, free is the least they can do!).

sunny-snaps-peter-aylett-and-friend

This walkie by the firm of Sunny Snaps arrived recently, sent by Peter Aylett in California. It is very typical of their output, well composed and very naturalistic.  It shows his father Jim on the right, looking very dapper in his pale suit, with an unknown friend (taken around mid-day in April.) Sunny Snaps have dated this one, 1939, but not given the location, and Peter was hoping we might be able to help.
My initial thought was that this was unlikely to be a coastal Sunny Snaps walkie, but more likely to be back in London, their other main area of operation. The railway bridge was a clue, and the buildings very distinctive, but London has an awful lot of these.

shepherds-bush-section

uxbridge-road-today

From what little I know of Sunny Snaps in the city, Fulham High Street seemed a good starting point, but while a rail bridge and church there matched quite well, the buildings were not quite right.  Having trawled around on street view, I gave up and went in search of an Underground rail enthusiast site and discovered District Dave’s London Underground forum (http://districtdave.proboards.com/). Their moderator Rich kindly posted the scan and within a few hours John Tuthill had recognised the scene as Shepherd’s Bush Market station on Uxbridge Road in London.
Many of the buildings have gone but he spotted the end of the Passmore Edwards library (now closed and replaced by a modern library, but hopefully opening as a theatre before long) just to the left of the fly postered telegraph pole.  The bridge matches, but I could not see the church in the present day scene. John explained that the spire had been removed a few years later. The bus in the background is a new trolleybus, which had replaced the trams on this road only two years earlier.

From Astrop Terrace to Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush, London

Peter has tracked the path Jim would have taken that day in 1939 from the family home on Astrop Terrace to the point where the Sunny Snaps was taken.

This is a useful addition to the story of Sunny Snaps, who we are beginning to think had a number of photographers out and about in London in the late Thirties as well as the South Coast towns. Quite often photographers worked near their base, and incredibly the yellow fronted shop in the modern view is currently a branch of … Snappy Snaps!

grandma-smith

Our second example was taken the same year, and shows Johnny Smith’s Grandmother, again photographed in London, and looking smartly dressed for a shopping trip. She lived on Battersea Rise near Clapham Junction in 1939 and this may have been taken on that road (or St. Johns Wood High Street which crosses it), which was (and still is) a busy shopping area, although I have not been able to make a match with the surviving streetscape yet. If anyone spots something they recognise, please let us know. That might be some sort of street market going on in the background.

You can read more about Sunny Snaps on the site, and there is another London walkie there.  If anyone has further examples please get in touch. You can also join a newsletter service about the forthcoming book, which will keep you updated on progress and details of any pre-publication offers. This service is provided by the book’s publishers.  Your details will be kept confidential and you can unsubscribe at any time.  Click the button below for details:

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Waverley Road?

Just an update on one of the unidentified walkies I posted a few weeks back.  When I looked more carefully there was a very faded pencil mark on the back of one, which looked like “Southsea, 1938”.  I did some hunting on the web and think the two women were walking down Waverley Road towards the seafront and pier. Southsea is below Portsmouth.

waverley road southsea

The tops of two very distinctive buildings are visible in the 1938 view. It is almost impossible to get the same angle today but this is the only view which fits the architecture. Almost the whole street on the right has been redeveloped; originally a local branch line came down to a station here (Southsea East).  This was shut in 1914 but much of it survived into the Fifties used by local businesses, and has only been replaced relatively recently.

waverley road southsea

The houses at the end of the street, where the ladies are, seem to have been pulled down to make room for a roundabout, and the shops on the left behind them have mostly been badly converted to low-rent accommodation.  Back then there were a number of hotels further down the street (one now converted to a school) and this is perhaps what drew the walkie cameraman to a location which was clearly a lot busier then than it is now.

On Broadway

Edmonton-Broadway,-London-WP793.jpg

This small, creased but atmospheric walkie view was collected by  Enfield local studies group after local people were asked if they had any examples.  The small photo is one originally from a strip and the owner had written the details across in red biro (not recommended!), including “1930s N9 Broadway”.  I had expected to find the usual array of seaside towns, not one from the local area.
The photo is by Cine Snaps, Lowestoft, but the location has been confirmed – with difficulty – as looking north along Edmonton Broadway, about seven miles from the centre of London.  So although Cine Snaps were based in Lowestoft for many years, it looks like they had some sort of franchise system, as walkies by them from Sheffield, Colwyn Bay, Bath and Carlisle have now been seen.
It was very hard to pinpoint the walkie both as very few images of the area have made it online, and a massive swathe of the district was ripped down in the Sixties for a grim shopping centre, new transport hubs, raised rail lines and goodness knows what else.  So nothing from this view now remains.

Edmonton-Green,-London.jpg

It was only identified thanks to pub historians who tell me the building just to the right of the bus is the Railway Tavern, erected around 1910 (and visible in this pre-War photo, circled in red. Just between the trees on the far right in the walkie is a building which was the Cross Keys public house.
We don’t know anything about the people although we think they were locals; Alfred and Harriet Sheppard, and Edie Alexander who may be their grand-daughter.

My thanks to Joe Robinson for sending me the scan, and Graham Johnson who helped confirm the location.

Cine Snaps history on the site

Movember 1908

Couple-1908.jpg

I’m not sure where this ‘Movember’ craze all began but scanning this photograph the other day I felt it more than fitted the theme.
This Edwardian portrait was taken in Folkestone in August 1908, probably at a cheap indoor seaside photograph studio. The lady has moved slightly during the exposure (there don’t appear to be any clamps for holding heads straight in the studio) and is a little out of focus as a result, but the resulting image has a nice relaxed feel to it.  The gentleman in particular, with his waxed moustache, loose (and very short, but still clipped in place) tie, and cap seems very at ease. You can imagine him setting off for a cycle ride dressed like this.
The couple also had a sense of humour, one of them has written “Types of English beauty!” on the back before sending it to friends or family.
The print has been processed quite quickly, you can see the fingerprints of the darkroom assistant in some places where he or she hasn’t washed all the chemical off their hands. I do like the slightly impressionistic flower backdrop being used too.

24 frames a second (2)

bournemouth 1933 walking picture

I’ve not been able to resist having a go at animating one of the strip walkies myself.  I decided to use a rare strip of four, as this gives a little more movement, to start with. The occasion was a holiday in Bournemouth in September 1933, and the couple in the walkie strip are Charles Hallam Payne (1870-1960) and his wife Sarah Emma née Parker (1870-1946).  The scans were sent to me by Brett Payne in New Zealand from the collection of Barbara Ellison; Charles was his Great Great Uncle. Charles inherited some property and was able to retire early, and from their Derbyshire home the couple took regular holidays, favouring Bournemouth and Great Yarmouth, and assembled a collection of walkie postcards and some strips.
I made an effort to match the frames by layering them together and adjusting as far as possible, but there is still a little distortion caused I assume by movement of the camera (even though it was on a tripod) while it was being cranked. Nevertheless it does give a real feel for the walkie experience.
Brett is another one fascinated by vintage photographs and writes a regular feature on the at  http://photo-sleuth.blogspot.com

The first walkie animation is below

Blackpool but where?

Blackpool 1950 honeymoon

This walkie was sent by Christine Edwards who is trying to find the exact location. It shows her parents Don and Kath on their honeymoon in Blackpool in August 1950 (one of them has written the information on the back), dressed in the outfits they were married in. The couple look very happy, and were together for over sixty years.
I sent the image to the Blackpool local studies people who have been able to help in the past, but they drew a blank on this one. I have had a look on street view and cannot spot it either although it does have the look of one of the streets which run down to the promenade.  Of course it is possible the block in the background has been redeveloped since the Fifties. Some nice vintage adverts on the end of the wall too.
The walkie firm is unidentified and the photo is a little out of focus, suggesting perhaps a less experienced photographer having a try at the business (the paper is ex-War surplus.)
I will pass any information on to Christine.

Going places

two girls walking twenties whitley bay

This trio of walkies all turned up recently, and all capture two female friends or relatives out shopping by the looks of it.  None are identified as yet but the first one has a horse drawn laundry van with ‘Provincial Laundry Whitley Bay’ on the side which suggests the town itself or one nearby. The two younger women are just stepping into the camera range, but the rest of the three frames are lost.

two girls walking twenties

Similarly walking as if they mean it, the next two women may be mother and daughter, she seems very amused to be photographed. I like the idler resting against the lamp post in his Oxford Bags, watching what’s going on. It’s possible he sneaked into a whole set of that morning’s walkies!

two women walking down street twenties

Lastly another mother and daughter by the looks of it, both fairly laden from a shopping trip down what looks like a busy street.  The woman on the right has just blinked as the shutter clicked! I always associate those wooden garden fencing panels with the concave centres with the seaside, having often dragged sticks or spades along them to make a racket as a child in Bridlington.
As always if anybody recognises the views do get in touch.

Westcliffe walkie

westcliffe on sea, Southend

This walkie would have been hard to identify but for the fact that someone had scribbled ‘Westcliffe’ in the corner, which helped me identify it.  Westcliffe is a coastal suburb of Southend On Sea, a town which we know had walking picture firms operating. I have identified a couple more, but neither have the firms named, nor does this new card.  Given walkie photographers usually frequented the most popular spots, I tried the main shopping street and it turns out to be Hamlet Court Road, which leads up from the station.  The brick tower with white stone banding in the distance is very hard to miss.
It seems to have been posted along with a couple more walkies inside an envelope to Alice’s friend Ada, and Alice writes in neat script on the back that “These were Sunfilms, taken walking along. Did not know they were being done.”  Alice goes on the explain that her husband’s umbrella is not split, but is just a fault in the photo! She is right, it is a dust speck on the negative, and it does look like a tear, but I’m not sure why she would be so worried about it.

westcliffe on sea, Southend

There is no date on the card but we know it must be pre-1935 as the locally famous China and Glassware shop Havens (established in 1901) built their new store in the block on the right, and it opened in 1935.  Fans of Thirties shop fronts and independent traders will love the fact that it survives and thrives (see photo below) and means I must try and have a look some time. The rest of the street remarkably remains much as it was.
If the walkie is by Sunfilms, then it adds another location for this largely undocumented walking picture firm, which I have featured on this site before.

Havens store westcliffe on sea, Southend