Author Archive

Roller skating man

roller skating man.jpg

Whoops! Another fun cut-out seaside souvenir postcard. I don’t know where this was taken, or when (circa 1910?) but the somewhat mad painting is on a large board, and there is a cut out at the top where the flat capped gentleman is resting his neck. This would have been taken either on the beach or prom outdoors by the look of it, much cheaper than renting a studio.  There are some more cut-out comic photos on the site.



Cleethorpes family on beach

J. W. Hardy took walkies in Cleethorpes in the 1930s, and there are more details about the firm on our growing A to Z on this site. But as with so many of the photographers involved in the trade, Hardy’s seem to have been going much earlier and carried on into the 1950s. This lovely static beach portrait turned up on the web while I was researching the firm, and must have been taken before WW1. The group are on the beach at Cleethorpes, resting against the seawall near the station terminus. So if they have arrived by train, then they have not ventured far! But they all look to be really enjoying themselves, if not really dressed for the beach at all. Hardy’s moved on from static souvenir photos to walkies later as the trade developed.

Bournemouth, 1951

WP1094 Wilkinson Bournemouth

Wilkinson Maurice, Sheffield. Part of collection of found family photographs. Walking picture, taken Bournemouth, summer 1951. Maurice in strange beach robe on left. 

Just a regular post-WW2 walkie, this one dated 1951. Not as good technically as pre-War work, and probably machine developed and printed. It’s anonymous, but the owner scribbled on the back in fountain pen “Self, Tommy, Peter, Dalia” and the location, “Bournemouth, Summer 1951” For once however we can discover a bit more about “self”, the gentleman on the left in the strange coat, as this was rescued from a skip earlier in the year along with more material, including quite a few walkies dating back to the 1920s. Read the story and see more images on the site.

Three generations?

unknown walkie rubber ring.jpg

It’s the quiet nonchalance in this walkie which I like, a slow stroll down the promenade, with one lad just bouncing his rubberised swimming float about as the walkie was taken, inadvertently framing his head. It might be three generations of the family; two sons (one very dressed down in his beret and open top, the other seemingly in his school clothes, pen in top pocket, and a cap), father (with his box Brownie) and grandfather. The card is not identified; the shingle beach suggested southern England and there seems to be a photo kiosk on the left. The background closely matched a walkie I just found, which is by the firm of Mr. Snaps in Felixstowe and sure enough the location checked out, somewhere along Undercliffe Road. I’ve never been to Felixstowe, which to me was always a port, but it is also a large seaside resort and the smart promenade looks to be one of the longest in the country. I don’t know which firm took it, and it doesn’t match the format of those taken by Mr. Snaps (which are usually marked in any case). At some time somebody in the family has written a list of twenty breeds of dog in pencil on the back, perhaps as part of a quiz. I would think it’s from the Twenties.

WP824 Felixstowe 1923.jpg

Identifying this has since helped me locate a few more from my unknown walkies file, including this one above, which is clearly the same concrete slabbed promenade walk (still there and good as new). Again the firm is not given, but the couple are “Tommy and self…”, and it was taken on August 24th 1932 according to the lady who wrote on the back. It’s a very good photograph too, with the smartly dressed pair enjoying a brisk late morning walk. There are pin marks in the corner suggesting this was printed up and posted on a display board, where the couple went along later that day and bought it.
This later image below from the Frith collection shows the same promenade near the pier (which went in the Fifties, a new one has been opened recently). Mr. Snaps are included in our A to Z of walking picture firms.


family on the beach


This wonderful holiday portrait postcard looks to be from a commercial beach photographer, probably in the Twenties judging from the swimming costumes. The family, having collected the print from a kiosk later in the day, must have liked the result and asked the firm for one or more hand-tinted versions of the postcard. These usually cost a little extra which is why you don’t see so many around. Frustratingly the card gives no clues as to where it was taken (though the background rocky landscape might be familiar to someone!) or who the family are. The two young girls in the centre could be twins, and the family look fairly well to do and enjoying themselves. The tinting is very subtle with muted colours and works well, giving a real lift to the postcard, one of the nicest of this type I’ve seen.

There are more hand tinted cards on the site.

Tinted by hand • 6

Tinted 009 Cattani Redcar.jpg

This pair of hand tinted postcards I found recently are credited to a Redcar photographer, A. Cattani. It’s hard to believe they were taken by a professional studio. Albert Cattani does register on a web search. He was born in 1862 in Genoa, Italy (one census says Hungary but may be an error), before his family emigrated to Sweden. Albert moved to London and then for a time to Leeds, working in the Music Halls with a gymnastic act alongside his brother up to 1901. His daughter Kathleen was the first of his eight children to be born in Redcar in 1902, so we assume they moved there not long before.  We know by 1907 he was working in the town as a photographer as a couple of postcards carrying his credit showing a funeral service in 1907 survive (while one of these tinted cards has been posted by ‘Lewis’ to his mother and father in Dewsbury in 1907).
In 1911 Cattani was listed as a photographer living and working at 27 Station Road, Redcar, one of the main shopping streets in the town. Albert Cattani died in 1913 and we don’t know what happened to his family.
Both the tinted photos feature the same crudely decorated wooden frame, behind which the people were posed outdoors (probably in the shop’s back yard) against painted studio backdrops. I assume the photographer had a few of these painted scenes so people could choose their preferred backdrop. Both postcard prints have then been very badly hand-tinted (I assume by one of the kids!), the colours having eaten into the surface emulsion in some places.  The little boy in the Dick Whittington outfit is the same child in the other card.

Search for Tinted by hand on this site to see other examples

Manchester or Blackpool?

Cooper and sons Blackpool carte de visite.jpg

This carte de visite portrait is typical of hundreds of thousands produced at the turn of the Nineteenth Century. It makes a real contrast to the informal street photographs which feature on this site and became popular two decades or so later. The three lads, who could be brothers, they look very alike, are fairly formally dressed but the straw hats give the game away; they’re on holiday in Blackpool. At least I assume so, but as it was taken in the studios of Cooper and Sons, who had addresses in Manchester (at Upper Jackson Street in fact, close to where I spent my student days) and Blackpool, it’s just possible the set up was made to mimic the seaside. The painted canvas backdrop depicts a seaside bay (which was my interest in the image), and while the cheap chairs and tatty flooring suggest perhaps not the swankiest of operations, the portrait is very good quality. The card itself is so decorative, with embossed gold details on the front and an elaborate engraved scene on the reverse, with sort of vaguely greek fashion overtones mixed in with the Victorian imagery and the strange butterfly winged naked boy photographer.
We do not know who the lads are, and probably never will. Thousands of these cards circulate today, torn out of large photo albums by dealers who should know better, and so losing any context they might have had.

Cooper and sons Blackpool back.jpg

There are more examples on the site, including those below:

Palace Pier

Brighton Palace Pier couple 1930.jpg

Although this strip of three walking pictures is not identified, the seller was based near Hove and suggested to me that it might be Brighton.  As the town had three piers at one time this was not quite so easy to pin down but I started with the surviving Palace Pier and some digging brought close-ups of the pier decoration which matched exactly.  The elaborate metalwork structures on the left is an arch base, although all but one of these has now been removed.


Although I have a few walkies from the town they are less common than I would expect and these strips are also scarce, and I’ve certainly seen none from Brighton pier before. It is unusual in that the print is around 4″ by 9″.  From the fashions and the style I would date it to the 1930s. Behind the couple is a kiosk selling Cadbury’s ‘Cup’ Chocolate at 3d; this product was certainly on sale in the late 1920s and very popular into the 1950s.

Cadburys Cup Chocolate ad 1930.jpg

The firm who took the walkie is unknown. It seems likely that the print was usually supplied as a smaller size but a larger version like this could be ordered for a little extra.

Happily much of Palace Pier remains as it was, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times and lets hope they look after it properly.

Southend On Sea

Southend on Sea.jpg

Despite being a busy resort for Londoners for many years, walking pictures from Southend are quite thin on the ground, and those that I have found have no markings to tell you where they were taken (and have been identified only because they were posted off and carry a postmark). These two well worn walkies actually do have the name of the resort printed on the front, so are quite unusual. They are also dated 1939. I’m not too sure where they were taken, but it may be the old pier head somewhere, all of which has now gone. I assume both were taken on the same holiday but as Mum has a different dress, must be on different days.  They are probably movie camera strips originally but have now become separated.

There is a walkie from Westcliffe on the site,