Just another easy on the eye site


1950 / 1951

Snaps photographers, Bridlington, 1950

Taken by Snaps photographers, Bridlington, 1950, 1951.

You are often given cause to wonder the fate of old snapshots; this small cache of walking pictures is a case in point. Five photographs, all taken on holiday back in 1950 and 1951. Which means that the children at least should still be around, probably in their early sixties today. Yet here they are, up for sale with no way to tell who they are or were.
The young lad is wearing the exact same outfit in all five pictures, what looks to be his school uniform, often a default ‘smart’ outfit for children back then given how much they cost (I know my mother bought my younger brother a school blazer to keep him looking presentable when out and about. It was bright blue with blue and red piping and an intertwined logo on the pocket, and it did the job. Nobody knew he never went near the school, it was a bargain jumble sale buy!).
The obligatory beach spade is also in every one of these shots while  his sister has graduated from a low pram in 1950 to the push-chair a year later (and looks very hyped up to be on the promenade in the middle frame).
These walking pictures, around half postcard size, were all taken by the firm of Snaps in Bridlington, in this case near the Spa and the south bay promenade.  You can see more example from them and a history on the site here.

Movie Snaps

Movie Snaps walking picture dunoon 1937There are clearly hundred’s of thousands of walking pictures out there, so what makes any individual photograph worth adding to the archive?  This image is a good example.  While the walkie itself is fairly run of the mill, one of the two ladies has written the location in pen in the corner.  As I previously had not heard of a walkie photographer working in Dunoon, it was another tiny piece of the jigsaw.  On the back the firm was identified by name only, Movie Snaps, so it shows they operated in this coastal town in Scotland. Checking other Scottish walkies, Movie Snaps also worked in Rothesay and Gourock in the Firth of Clyde, all three towns being popular with residents of nearby Glasgow.  They also covered Aberdeen. The chances of there being four different firms of the same name are slim, and the backs are all similar, which means Movie Snaps operated across a number of locations in the same area and as far away as Aberdeen.  Finally, one of the ladies here has also penned the date 1937 on the back of this walkie, which ties in with information on the other examples and shows the firm working during that decade. The back of this walkie advertises “3 extra strips” for 2/-” which tells us that they were selling customers a strip of images, although as yet we do not know if these would be all the same.
Plenty of detail then from a humble snapshot.  Sadly neither of the ladies has added their names to the back, so we will probably never know who they were.

Crowd source

crowd on promenade, Bournemouth, 1921

Although walkies were large part of seaside photographer’s income, they would turn their hand to other types of informal outdoor portraits.  Crowd scene seem to have been very popular, both with the photographer (who could count on a number of sales from the same image) and clearly by the looks of it the people in the photo.
I have yet to get a proper handle on these crowd views. It’s tempting to suggest they were large groups of people from one town all together on a day trip, but nothing here confirms this.  Perhaps photographers stood on a stepladder, set up their gear and then had an assistant round people up for the photo?  Either way they are really interesting images, and seem to date mostly from the early 1920s, in this case October 1st 1921. It seems unlikely tickets would be handed out, so the crowd were perhaps directed to a kiosk later in the day. If anybody has any further information please get in touch
This card was taken by Bailey, a seaside photography business based in Bournemouth at the quaintly named Glenn Fern Studio, and at 228A Old Christchurch Road. From what I have seen they also photographed passengers on boat trips and people sat on the beach in deckchairs. The company story is featured on the site here.

Hello, hello , hello

policeman walking the beat 1920sLet us hope the walkie cameraman who took this had his street trader license all in order!  Maybe it was just automatic reflex to take the shot and worry about it afterwards.  But whatever the case, the young Bobby shown here must have later gone and purchased the strip of photos, of which one lone survivor was added to our archive recently. I don’t think there is enough detail in the print for me to discover what force he was in (although I will rescan it as hi-res to see), and it is not marked in any way to identify the town.  Still, it’s a walkie first as far as I am concerned.

coach and pair

Great Yarmouth-horse-and-cart-with child 1932

Paul Godfrey has alerted me to yet another variation on the seaside souvenir photograph; not a “walkie” but the “ridie”!
A small home built child sized open carriage, set on what look like old pram tyres, attached to two skilfully made smaller scale model horses, all laid onto planking covered with sand.  The particular coach was on the front at Great Yarmouth during the late twenties and into the thirties. This postcard was taken in 1932 and on the side the photographer has written a little ditty:  “We are having all the fun and spree, at Great Yarmouth by the silvery sea.”
The carriage reappeared after the war, but a different one decorated with the Coronation Year 1953 motif has been seen. The horses in this case are clearly old rocking horses.   It may be that the idea was confined to Great Yarmouth, but let me know if you have any examples or remember seeing it.

Derby Trolleybus

Walking picture Derby St Peters Street 1948

Derby appears to have had quite a long tradition of walking picture photographers (Spotlight Photos were certainly active here in the 1930s), and this latest find pushes that run through into 1948 – the date scrawled in pencil on the back. Sadly the owner gives no more information, and the photographer was not named on the back, so I was about to add it to the ‘unknown’ file when I noticed the public transport vehicle in the background.

Now bus enthusiasts are second only to train enthusiasts in seeking to nail the history of their chosen hobby, so I did a blow-up of the bus.  To my surprise it looked to be a trolley-bus, a now largely forgotten form of bus which combined the flexibility of the ordinary bus with the eco-credentials of the electric tram.

I hunted down the British Trolleybus Society on the net and sent off my rather blurry image.  Within 24 hours, Dave Hall, their archivist, was back in touch to tell me the bus was undoubtedly one of the Derby transport fleet, and looked to be on route 66 which came into the city across the river and ran south out to the suburb of Allenton.


This chimed with the likelihood that the walkie photographer would pick a busy central street to operate, so I checked the maps.  Derby centre appears to have been massively pedestrianised so no street views were available, but I did a search for old pictures of St. Peter’s Street which was on the trolleybus route.  Sure enough a nice view of the street, with a trolleybus in view, confirmed the hunch.

City centre walkies have a very different atmosphere to their holiday based cousins, and these two gents appear to be walking down the street together, the one in front saying something back over his shoulder to his companion, but it’s hard to be certain.

Ken Hawley

Ken Hawley Sheffield walking picture Coventry Street London

This could so easily be another anonymous walking picture, a squaddie on leave from his National Service. It’s under-developed, badly framed, out of focus and poorly printed.  But the squaddie in question is Ken Hawley, who bought the walkie, sent one half back to his parents in Sheffield and kept the other, loaning it to me along with a handful of other walkies from his album not long ago (there is another on the page about Sheffield walkies.).  It was taken in Coventry Street, London, March 15. 1947.

Ken’s name might not be familiar to many, but his death last week made the national papers as a result of a lifetime’s devotion to rescuing Sheffield’s industrial history (rewarded not long ago with an MBE).  I actually first met Ken as a kid, when my father used to pay one of his numerous visits to Hawley Tools, an amazing shop packed with every sort of tool known to man. I still have the Stanley hammer he bought there in the 60s. When it was my turn to get into DIY I kept up the tradition until his shop eventually closed, a victim to the stupidity of people who would rather have a bargain screwdriver “made” in China that failed after half a dozen uses.

By then though Ken was on his mission, scouring old factories and chatting up retired workers to add to his collection.  Sharing a similar fascination for the city’s disappearing industrial base, me and my brother would pass on any unusual artifacts we stumbled across. Only a year ago, well into his eighties, Ken was on the floor of our garage chuckling over another box of strange hammer heads and taking away a few to add to his collection.  I can’t think of anyone in the city I’ll miss more.


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