vintage seaside portrait photographs


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

Head in a hole

These ‘head in a hole’ photo boards keep cropping up all over. I saw three when we were over in Montreux recently, here is the blingiest version spotted outside the Casino, which people can use for free with their mobile phones.  This couple will end up with a strange solo shot (I would have offered to take one for them but I was too busy trying to take the photo of them taking a photo!).

head through a hold photo board

There are some vintage ones on this site.

24 frames a second

clacton walking picture 1930s

Returning to the subject of the 3 frame walking picture strips; these are some of my favourite walking pictures, and as explained before on the site (under the Barkers history), they were taken with old adapted movie cameras.  The operator got his subject/s in view, turned the crank, and three exposures were taken in succession.  The end user prints were either on a postcard, or sometimes wider and longer strips. Most were cut up and given to friends, but some survive complete.
But it has taken an email from Andrew Osborne to wake me up to the fact that these strips are in effect 3 frames from a film; he looked at one from his family album and thought “surely you could animate that?”.  As films reply on 24 frames per second, obviously the animation can only give a fraction of a second of apparent motion, but even so the example he sent still comes to life in a quite remarkable way. It’s such an obvious idea I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to try it myself, but now Andrew has led the way, I will certainly be having a go.
Technical tricks aside, as with many walkies, this one has a story, albeit a somewhat poignant one. It shows Andrew’s Grandfather and his wife around 1936 walking along Clacton High Street on holiday, with their new born baby (Andrew’s Uncle). It was their last holiday together. Grandfather worked in the Blue Asbestos factory in Tottenham and contracted Hodgkinson’s disease as a result of his work, and died the following year. As Andrew says, it was very moving for him to see the his Grandparents come to the screen like this.
The strip may have been taken by either Empire or Sunfilms. My thanks to Andrew for letting us show this on the site.


Worthing Pier

The fabulous art deco pier at Worthing has escaped the neglect (or worse) suffered by many similar structures around our coast. The buildings have all been restored and the partition which runs down the pier has been adapted to make a great outdoor display area.  The local arts group Creative Waves works hard to use this and the entire seafront area to put a new project together each summer.  It looks like a model of how to make use of a great resource and help bring people back for a visit.

sunny snaps worthing 1936 mr and mrs marks ashford kent

For 2016 one of the focus points was the seaside postcard, and they asked Go Home On A Postcard to co-operate by sending some of the walking pictures taken in Worthing to use as part of this, which we were happy to do. Worthing was an outpost of the multi-franchised Sunny Snaps walking picture empire, and there were a number to choose from. One of my favourites is shown above, you can read more about the image on our site.
There are all sorts of displays and related art works going on around the pier, including some new takes on those head in a hole boards for people to pose with (they are great to do, but it’s hard to decide exactly what to feature in these more PC times -paintings of knock-kneed Scotsmen or bosomy women in ill-fitting bathing costumes are not likely to get past the local authority these days!).

worthing art on the pier
From this distance (238.2 miles!) it’s a little confusing to work out exactly what’s going on from the Creative Waves website, and they have not sent me any photographs of how the images have been used (so the image above is from an older display), but if I leave it any longer to mention it may all be over! And if you’re in the area it’s a day at the seaside, so what’s not to like?


Walking picture, Sandside, Scarborough

This walkie, and several others taken on the same spot, emerged while I was sorting images recently. Overlooked before, I found eight of them in my ‘unknown’ file, and remembered I had one more on which someone had just written ‘Scarborough 1946’ in pencil on the back. I was a little unsure as it didn’t really look like any view of Scarborough I could recall.
Once all of them were side by side, it was time to look at Google Street. If it was Scarborough I assumed it must be somewhere down near the harbour and quickly found the background building still happily extant. Not only that, but a building of the 1700s listed Grade 2; numbers 32 and 33 Sandside, part of the shipbuilding area of the original town overlooked by the castle.
This area of the town is still very bustling, albeit fairly downmarket with Poundbuster and Factory Outlet type retailers today. The view had escaped me as the walkies were taken looking back into town from the harbourside. The couple may have been off to walk round the headland on Marine Drive, though buses stop here to form a link between the North and South Bays.
All the walkies from this location are off strips of Walking Picture photographic paper, but are otherwise unmarked. They date from 1935 to 1946 and it is not hard to imagine a walking picture firm operating from one of the smaller buildings in this area just before and after the wat, carving out a niche from the two bigger Scarborough walkie operators, North Bay Snaps and the Sun-Ray Photo Co. After the war other smaller firms also started up in Scarborough; we know of Castle Snaps, Holi-Photos and Benson’s (who also had a shop in Bridlington).
As with other strips like this, taken with converted movie cameras which gave smaller negatives, the image quality is less sharp than their bigger rivals but the best of them made nice souvenirs. The youngish couple in this example clearly thought so. Here’s as close as I could get to the view today. There is more about North Bay Snaps, the town’s biggest walkie firm, on the site.

Walking picture, Sandside, Scarborough

Thanks to Ron Cosens