Tower Esplanade

Skegness – the coastal resort of choice for most of Nottinghamshire – was always a step too far for our family seaside trips from Sheffield (plus I had a Gran in Bridlington – how good was that?) So apart from a quick late afternoon peek at Gibraltar Point nature reserve a few years back, it’s taken me until a couple of weeks ago to actually get a proper look round the place and research some of the walking pictures from the town.

Skegness Tower Esplanade Cafe Danson 1940s

This particular walkie shows a young toddler called Garth Newton, determined to test his spade in the beach – just a hundred yards further on at the end of the Tower Esplanade in Skegness, though it probably seemed a lot longer! It was taken around 1946, and Garth’s Dad is holding the bucket. The firm who took it is unknown, though it would have been one of a strip of three originally.
I contacted Garth about a walking photo which he had on his family tree on the web. He couldn’t find it right away, but kindly went through the rest of his family photos and unearthed around fifty walking pictures. Nearly every one was taken in Skegness, many were still in their wallets, and he let me borrow them to scan for the Go Home On A Postcard Archive (as I am rather grandly calling the collection these days.)
His Mum and Dad must have really liked getting these pictures, often there are three or four from the same holiday.  The small walkie above is one of the earliest, and they continued to buy them for the next twenty five years.

Skegness Foreshore Centre 1950s

The second walkie shows Garth with his Mum and Dad in almost exactly the same spot about ten years later, having just got a modest sized ice-cream cornet (compare to the mega-sized offerings kids get today). This postcard walkie is by the best-known of the Skegness firms, Wrates, who worked in the trade for fifty years.  Their tell-tale automatic numbering window is visible bottom right, although on this occasion it seems not to have worked!  You can see the famous clock tower in the distance, and the now-demolished Osbert Hotel on the right.
Tower Esplanade still runs down from the Skegness clock tower to the seafront, and being so busy was a favourite spot for walking picture cameramen from Wrates and others.
The building on the left in both photos dates from 1911 and originally housed The Café Danson.  It was later known as the Foreshore Centre which offered first-aid, information, left luggage office and a lost children’s shelter. It appeared in thousands of walkies until it was demolished in 1971 (incredibly the site has been empty ever since.)

Skegness Tower Esplanade 1950s

Skegness Tower Esplanade 1930s

The black and white view of the street I’ve marked where Garth and his parents would have been when the pictures were taken, while the commercial postcard shows the building from the town looking out to the sea-front.

Wrates seaside photographer Skegness Tower Esplanade 1960s

Lastly a rather unique image; the loneliness of the long-distance walkie cameraman.  This photo was taken from the top of the Foreshore Centre and shows one of the Wrates cameramen on duty in his striped blazer in the early Sixties. It looks like it was taken early-morning with the first trippers heading for the beach.  It’s possible he may have photographed Garth and his parents on one of their visits.
This is one of a number of archive images which Wrates (who are still going strong, albeit no longer taking walkies) have loaned me and which I will use to help update the firm’s story on the site.


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