Blackpool’s North Pier must have been captured on tens of thousand’s of walking pictures. This group of funsters out for a stroll down the pier one afternoon in the early 1930s represent just four of them. It’s clearly a sunny day as we can tell from the shadows cast (and the guy behind them in his sports jacket), but they’re rugged up to the nines – vest, shirt, cardigan, tweed jacket AND an overcoat in the case of the gent on the right. Hands in pockets? Well we are on holiday! That’s the back of the large restaurant at the entrance to the pier behind them. There are more walkies from this spot on the site here.
With his Gladstone bag in his hand, and a battered hat, this Vicar seems to have stepped right out of the pages of a Trollope novel. Maybe he was discussing his sermon with a friend from church? Yet it must have been taken during the 1930s as the firm, Spotlight, were only in business for a few years. The photographer has exposed for the shadows, so the sunlit street is very hazy indeed. Although Spotlight took walkies in a number of towns, the locations are not identified and this shopping street still remains a mystery. There is more information on Spotlight on the site.
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.
There 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.
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.
Let 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.
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.