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.

Butlin’s Clacton


Butlin’s camp at Clacton was one of the earliest, and opened in the summer of 1938 only to have to close during the War. It reopened in 1946 to the public and I suspect this souvenir postcard was of some of the first visitors.
The camp had it’s own access to the beach (with a ticket so you could be readmitted!). Butlin’s also had their own photographic department, and took souvenir postcard pictures of holidaymakers which could later be bought at the kiosk. There was a reference number stamped on the back.
The woman in the centre is I’m fairly certain the mother of the two younger girls seen on the 1938 walking picture taken in Bridlington posted a few days ago.

Butlins Clacton stamp

There is a Butlin’s Filey souvenir photo on the site.


Snaps, 1938


A very travelled walkie by the looks of the wear round the edges, found at a flea market last month. It has lasted some eighty years and perhaps there was no surviving family to want it. I think it’s two sisters, one a little older (and dressed in a more grown up style). The younger girl also appears in an an amateur snap taken in the same dress, sat on the beach with her younger brother Jeffrey. So the family clearly had their own camera, but still liked to buy the professional walkie.  There is another early souvenir photo of their mother on holiday at Butlin’s Clacton camp in 1948 which I found in the same bundle, so will post that shortly.
The walking picture here though is by the firm of Snaps, based in Bridlington, and well documented on the site (they took walkies for forty years). It’s good to have it dated as well (this information will have been added during the printing). I think it will have been taken on the North promenade and judging by the shadows quite early in the photographer’s morning shift too. The reference number is only 26, again suggesting near the start of the day. The DD prefix will have been to identify the photographer.

Cartes des Visites

The Cartes de visite portrait craze started in the late 1850s. It’s not hard to see why people should be fascinated by this early form of portrait photography but by all accounts it peaked about ten years later, with people using them like business cards, swopping and collecting them, then settled down, before disappearing around the turn of the century as people turned to more regular studio portraits.  My theory is that it was the first big photo trend, and walking pictures were the next, starting in the early 1920s.


Many families have at least a few in their albums, and I have been making an effort to identify and date those we have.  Remarkably my Great Grandparents on my Mother’s side seem to have arranged sittings for all their children at an early age, and all were done at the same studio in Hull, Turner and Drinkwater, in the 1880s (the firm’s purpose built building still survives).  I’ve posted them all with some more information on the site, but here’s Thomas around 1884, the eldest.  These cards were all very much alike, a thin paper print fixed to a rigid card backing with the firm’s details pre-printed, and usually rounded corners.  The firm named their building The Studio Royal having managed to get one of the royal family in there to pose!

There are always hundreds of these Cartes de visite at fairs and antique centres, most of which have been tipped out of albums so we’ll never know who they are.

Family walkies

Philip Brooke, Filey, 1957, walking picture

I do like finding walkies of people I know, and this first one (WP879) came to light only a few weeks ago when I was visiting relatives and remembered to ask. It shows my late Uncle with his two youngest children (the family lived in Hull), and was taken in the East Yorkshire coastal town of Filey around 1957. They’re clearly just heading onto the beach and I like the casual gear my Uncle is wearing, very wide trousers, jumper and open necked shirt.
I cannot quite work out where on the Filey seafront it was taken as there have been a lot of changes, but will have a look next time I’m over that way. But it does really show how the walkie could capture so well a very ordinary moment that would otherwise have been forgotten.
It is also another tiny piece of the walkie story as it’s the first example taken in Filey I have seen. It is a seaside resort but quite peaceful, and perhaps didn’t generate the trade to attract many walking picture operators. It is unmarked and looks like it might have originally been one of a pair judging by the way it is roughly cut at the bottom edge.

Billy Audas-Gill Holtby

The second walkie is another which turned up in my Aunt’s photo albums. It shows my Great Uncle William striding down Marlborough Terrace, and the young girl is my Aunt, who was then attending Bridlington High School for Girls, so it would be around 1937 (the family were living on Cardigan Road in the town). The walkie is also unmarked and would be one of a strip of three originally. The same firm took lots on this stretch of road, and given it is so busy you can see why. Coaches also used to stop off here to drop day trippers.
I have another walkie of them on almost exactly the same spot taken on a different day. As residents of the town they must have come across walkie cameramen before, but seem to be either ignoring him, too busy chatting (or “here’s another ruddy cameraman, pay no attention,” knowing my Uncle). But they still bought the strip. The woman to their immediate right dressed like a nurse or perhaps a maid is certainly looking straight into the lens.

Both walkies have an everyday feel about them which really crosses the years. I can even connect the two walkies, as the young girl in the Bridlington print married the gentleman in the Filey print in 1964…  There are some more formal family photographs of the pair on the site.

Brigham Portrait

Gill Holtby 1929 Brigham portrait

Gillian Holtby, 1929

Having researched the history of Foster Brigham’s studios in Bridlington (particularly his Snaps walking pictures operation) , it is fascinating to discover photographs taken there of my own relatives.  This remarkable portrait is so well done, and hard to believe it’s a black and white portrait hand coloured by the studio, the work is so good.  It is nicely signed by Brigham in pencil, something most professionals did at the time.

It’s of my Aunt, Gillian Holtby, and was taken in 1929 in Bridlington at Brigham’s studio on The Promenade. As she was born in 1925, it makes her around four years old.  I have also found the original black and white photograph (also signed) from which the hand tinted version was done, so you get an idea of the work involved.

Gillian Holtby pre tinting

Gillian Holtby. Photographic portrait by Foster-Brigham, Bridlington. Gill born 1925, image taken C1928.

On leave

Fred E Audas 1916

Another family photograph, one which had not been possible to see before, as the original sepia print has faded so badly. By scanning this at high resolution then taking out some of the colour spectrum, the image has been brought back.  It’s actually quite a moving photograph, which show Great Uncle Fred Audas home on leave during World War One.  The photo which seems to be taken by an unknown family member has been cut down quite small, so we don’t know who was with them, and is quite damaged too, but we do know it was taken on the seafront at Bridlington.  With Fred resting on the edge of a Bridlington fishing boat are his only son, also called Fred, and his wife Mabel (the only known photograph of her) who he married in 1911.

He doesn’t exactly look a cheery chap. There is a photo of Fred taken at the time of his call up in 1914, and the contrast between that and this very haggard looking guy couldn’t be greater. As he’s in his uniform I assume he was only back for a couple of days. Fred went out with the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 as a Second Lieutenant but ended up a private due to some unknown offence.  He is believed to have been wounded in the Battle of The Somme, and died in Belgium in April 1918.  So we can only imagine what he’d been through when this picture (the last known of him) was taken, and it could well be the last time his family ever saw him.

Donkey ride

Human donkey

I am fascinated by another category of seaside portrait, one in which people were plonked onto the backs of long suffering donkeys to have their photograph taken (there is an example on the site).  As well as real donkeys, some photographers used a stuffed donkey, and sometimes a toy one made of felt.  But this donkey seems to be something very different.  I picked it up for £2 without looking too closely, thinking it fitted the usual ‘boy on holiday at Blackpool’ image, but now having had chance to look more closely, it seems to be something different altogether.  I may be wrong, but having taken second and third opinions, it looks as if that’s a bloke in a donkey costume. Not the usual two people in a pantomime costume, but just the one. He’s bent over, and his hands seem to work the front legs.  The back legs are much thicker and seem to accommodate his shoes. The little lad is also dressed in quite an elaborate embroidered jacket, and pearly buttons on his shorts which match those of the gentleman on the left.

The only thing I can suggest is that it’s perhaps a three person music hall or fairground act of some sort, who have decided to have their photograph taken. There is no clue as to where or indeed when it was taken. The painted backdrop is quite theatrical, most seaside backdrops are idyllic countryside scenes.  Quite what the act consisted of we can only imagine!  If anyone has any more information, please get in touch.