Les Waters contacted us about a walking picture he was trying to identify recently. Les runs an excellent web site (http://www.fadingimages.uk/ ) dedicated to the history of photography in Cambridgshire. A walkie had turned up, with a Cambridge (and Ely) firm’s details stamped on the back – Starr and Rignall – and he wondered if we had any further information. Starr and Rignall are quite well known for their regular portrait work in and around Cambridge, but so far this is the only walkie Les has seen with their name on.
The short answer was no; while we have listed a number of photography firms who took walkies in non-coastal towns – Bath, Bradford, London, Sheffield, etc. – Cambridge was new to us. The walkie shows a mother, young daughter and perhaps Grandfather. They look far too happy and jolly to be doing chores around Cambridge, and daughter is clutching her tin bucket and small spade.
So if it was a coastal town, where? Cambridge is not far from a number of seaside towns, so perhaps the photographers decamped to the coast for a few weeks each summer to take walkies (we have identified a few other firms which did this). The likely search area was from Great Yarmouth to Southend, all seaside towns within reach of Cambridge.
In the background is a large church with a quite distinctive circular rose window. I have seen this in another unidentified walkie taken by the firm of Sunfilms, but never been able to locate the church.
I passed the walkie over to Paul Godfrey as he lives not so far away, to see if he recognised it. He also had another walkie with the same church in the background (shown above, note the great Lyons Tea delivery lorry), but it too was unmarked. He set to work with Google street view and a few days later came back having located the church (Trinity Methodist) on Pier Avenue in Clacton (you really do not want to see what they’ve done on the site of the trees and buildings to the left!). Pier Avenue is quite lengthy and runs in a straight line down to the seafront, and Pier Gap.
This was a nice piece of detective work, although it still leaves us with the unanswered question of the Cambridge address. Perhaps, as Paul suggested, it could just be that the family had a Clacton walkie, and wanted it copying when they got back home to Cambridge? There again all three examples were taken late morning, and the journey of around 35 miles is not so far that Starr and Rignall could have processed the prints in Cambridge later in the day and taken them back to a kiosk the following morning (or perhaps even later that day).
Needless to say if anyone has any more walkies with the Cambridge firm’s name on, do let me know. There is more information about Sunfilms on our site.