The publisher’s of the forthcoming book about walking pictures, Easy On The Eye Books, have released a sixty second commercial for it on their own YouTube channel, with a series of walking pictures and information.
I recreated this walking photo rack recently to try and get a feel for what it must have looked like for someone passing the kiosk back in the Thirties. I’ve got a lot of walkies from the same spot in Mablethorpe (discussed on the site) and figured they would look great in this old wooden postcard rack which I rescued a few years ago from the Snaps building in Bridlington. Firms also has large glass fronted display cabinets on the promenade or in other prominent places to attract tourists, though I doubt any of these have survived. I did think at first that the rack might have been made locally for the shop but it is quite an intricate construction so perhaps they were produced by specialist shop-fitting firms.
Four walkie pictures turned up recently with the same two women in them. They do look very much like sisters. As the photos were found (and one taken) in Sheffield, I assume one of the ladies was a resident of the city so couldn’t resist a bit of detective work. The photo on the right has the date and ‘Blackpool’ in biro, which gave me a starting clue.
Thanks to Tony Sharkey at the Blackpool Archives, we know two of the photographs were taken on Waterloo Road in Blackpool, which is a main route east west ending at the sea-front. The photo was taken just 250m from Blackpool South railway station (which was originally called Waterloo Road), so the photographer had picked a street which would have been thronged with day trippers anxious to get to the promenade. As we think the women lived in Sheffield, they would probably have journeyed from there to Manchester, then changed for Blackpool.
The photographs, which are 21/2 by 31/2 inches, date from 1951 (Monday October 8th – written in biro on the back) and 1952. Both women have very smart Fifties coats on (compare them to the less fashionable coat being worn by the woman behind them!).
On the other side of the road you can just make out the main Blackpool post-office (which is still there, albeit abandoned by the GPO of course). At first glance you would think the pictures were taken on the same holiday, but there is building work being done on the post office in one, and not the other. So the walkie cameraman must have had his pitch here, close to the Bull Hotel pub, for a couple of seasons at least. The scene today on this spot is not very different.
Tony says he’s seen a lot of walkies taken on this spot, but it’s a first for me. I did find one on the web from the early 1940s (see below) but in the main I suspect they are not easy to identify as there is no company name on the back. So unless someone has captioned them on the back it would be hard to tell where they were taken. Most Blackpool walkies I’ve seen were taken on one of the three piers or on the Promenade by firms like Walkie Snaps (see some examples on the site here).
It is not impossible that the photographer is still around, he would be in his mid-eighties. Be great to have a chat. The women? Well the taller sister got married in 1956, we know as she kept a walkie if herself and her husband on their honeymoon in Scarborough! She became Mrs Milner, but after that we have no more clues.
This walkie caught my eye both as it is a good composition and also because it added yet another walkie firm to my growing list, with around 150 walkie firms now identified. This one is by Edwin F Fox, who were based at 51 Aberdeen Road in Scarborough when this walkie was taken by them. This is one of the main streets running into the centre of the city, and both the Fox walkies I’ve seen were taken in the street rather than down on the seafront, although I’ve not been able to pinpoint where it was taken yet (contact us if you have an idea). The image looks to date from the 1920s. There was an Edwin F Fox based in York, and listed on some web pages as one of the pioneers of photography. It seem likely it is either the same person expanding into the coastal town for extra business, or a son. The main rival walkie firm in the town were North Bay Snaps, covered on the site,
It’s difficult to be sure if the five children are locals, or visitors – both the boys have school outfits on but this was often kept as best wear for trips out. Two of the girls have macintoshes on which suggests parents worrying about the likelihood of rain.
What amazed me is that despite the decline of photography shops in the digital age, there is still a photo shop at Number 51 Aberdeen Road, albeit providing in-store colour printers to out-put your digital camera snaps on.
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.