London Buses

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.

London 1

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.

London 2

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.


Cleveleys quintet


I have not seen any walking pictures from Cleveleys before, so these two are a useful find. There are no company details printed on the back; indeed I would not know where they were taken except the lady on her own has written the town on the back, and the date June 1951.  A search on street view brought up Victoria Road as the location, and although quite a few buildings have changed or been replaced, enough remains to confirm the detail. Cleveleys is a few miles North of Blackpool and a more sedate area, popular with holiday-makers wanting a more relaxed break.  Walkie Snaps, who took walkies in Blackpool for many years (see their story on this site), did operate in Cleveleys for a time but these do not look their normal prints.

Victoria Road Cleveleys

The lady on her own is also on the right in the group picture, but quite how the chap came to be escorting four middle aged women back from the seafront we can only speculate, though he seems happy enough!  The five of them were snapped again on another day in the same place.

Nice to see the branch of Burgons on the left, this chain of Northern grocers is still remembered, and some branches lasted into the early 1970s.


Tinted by hand 5


Photo booth portraits are always fascinating, and this one has been lovingly hand tinted at some time. It is also larger than the passport size, measuring around 2″ by 4″. You can still specify one large print rather than four small ones in booths today. The photo came from America, which suggests it was taken there, and dates from the 1940s. It’s impossible to know if the operator did the colouring or the owner, but it is very well done and quite subtle for the most part.

Search for Tinted by hand to see previous examples.

Smartly dressed

Lumley Road Skegness old photo

You cannot argue with that, as this couple stroll down Lumley Road in Skegness towards the esplanade and beach one August lunchtime. He has the popular white leisure shoes, regulation ciggie in one hand, and rolled up paper, and she has bathing gear wrapped in a towel. What makes this informal walking picture find useful is that has been dated in pen August 1933 on the back, with Wrate’s Harrington Gardens address printed on as well, which helps us pin down their move to open a new studio there and other similar cards by the firm.  The history of Wrates is covered on this site and more examples of their excellent walkies appear in the book Go Home On A Postcard.  It is very difficult to replicate the shot today as so many of the old houses have long since been coveted into shops and amusements.


Constitution Hill


Another nice vintage walking photograph which was scanned for me from Brian Partridge’s collection. Again unidentified but it had a feel of Aberystwyth sea front , especially the hill looming in the background. This proved to be correct, it is known as Constitution Hill.  The two girls are walking back along Victoria Terrace towards town. They may be on holiday be equally they could be students from the university. It is a small photo, and would seem to be cut from a strip.  The date is probably mid-1920s. Notice how the darkroom have scrawled the reference number in the edge of the negative.

Victoria Terrace aberystwyth

It’s quite hard to replicate the angle today due to the different lenses, but the dark grey building in the street view matches the one seen over the gentleman’s left shoulder.  The footpath can also be seen in this older photo.


There is another Aberystwyth walking picture on the site.

V2 in Blackpool

WP1047-Blackpool Central pier-1945

I have printed a few walkies taken on Blackpool Central Pier before.  This is another, taken on a regular walking picture spot. It was so popular people often formed a small queue at bust times.

It has been dated 1945 on the back by one of the two ladies, we seem to be enjoying themselves, but otherwise we do not know who they area.  The photo was found and scanned by Brian Partridge. We do know the pier had a V2 Rocket on display for a couple of years after World War 2, and the awning for this attraction can be seen in the background.  You can see some similar images on the site.  A Blackpool walking picture from 1944 has also recently turned up which suggests the trade continued during the war although this is quite unusual. Walking pictures from 1944 in Hungary and 1943 in Belgium have also been seen, and I will try and get these on the site at some stage.

Hornsea Station

Hornsea Railway Station

Brian Partridge kindly scanned me a couple of dozen walking pictures a while back and I have finally got round to properly adding these to the archive (a couple will be in the book as well).  Many are very typical of the genre but some new information can be gleaned from a few.  One in particular nagged at me.  My Great Uncle lived in Hornsea for many years – his old house is now the town museum* – and I have visited there a lot.  The buildings in this walkie reminded me very much of the old Hornsea Station.  A quick web search confirmed this, and so it is the first walkie I have seen from the town.

As Hornsea was at the end of a line from the city of Hull, I suspect this might have been a reason he moved there, as a lot of his relatives were born or worked in Hull, so it was easy to get there by train.  His brother lived in Bridlington, so that too was in reach by rail.

Until 1964 of course when BR closed the station. It was empty and derelict for over twenty years but has since been repaired and converted into housing. The photo below is from the website and was taken in 1985 by Mark Dyson.

So these four young blokes were either from Hull or one of the small towns in-between, arriving for a day out (they have no luggage) at the coast. It is not dated but I would imagine mid to late 1950s from the small details in the image, you can just about make out a steam engine, but there is nothing on the back to tell us who took it.

* Apparently he very much wanted me to have it when he died, but his wife outlived him and decided otherwise!

hornsea station

London Road, Bognor


Sunfilms walkies continue to generate as many questions as answers, and we have yet to fully understand their operations. So each new Sunfilms find which is dated or has the town written on by the owner helps to unravel the story.  This frame from Lindsay is one such, as she identified the location for us as Bognor.  I did a street view search and it turned out to be London Road, the main shopping area (now pedestrianised at this point). But it has changed so much it is quite hard to match on street view, even the church has been pulled down (in 1972). So I did a search for old photos and turned up a nice view of the road from the late 1950s which did correspond exactly. I’ve shown the photo below and added the family in to the version at the bottom of the page.

Bognor Regis

Sunfilms provided three frames on a strip using old movie cameras in the Thirties, and Lindsay dates this walkie to 1933 which ties in nicely.  The photo shows her grandparents on the right while her father is the older lad helping with the push-chair; well one hand on the push-chair, the other holding a cornet!

Lindsay scanned me three complete strips which are not easy to find – most people just cut them up – and they will feature in the walking pictures book.

This then gives us a new location for the firm to add to the others we know about, but I suspect there will be more to find. What we do know about Sunfilms is on the site, and do get in touch if you have any of these strips.


Scarborough walkie


This woman and her bloke are keeping up a brisk pace but have been snapped centre frame by a walking picture photographer on Sandside, down near Scarborough harbour. It would be a difficult image to locate except we have seen very similar walkies taken on this exact spot before.  They all appear to have been taken late 1930s to the mid-1940s. We do not know who the couple are, but someone has written a strange coded message on the back : X222X111X112121.  I suspect this is some sort of romantic note from one to the other, but have no idea what it means! Smashing two tone shoes she has on as well.

There is more about Sandside walkies on the site.