Whilst my main interest is in the images, walking picture research on this site is providing information for family tree researchers, and we do get quite a few requests for help in identifying unknown walkies which we can sometimes solve. This walking picture is a case in point, sent to me by Annie Goldsen. She knew it showed her mother Mary, the young girl in the centre (aged 7), as well as Mary’s parents (her Mum in the sun visor hat) and her Grandmother, but was keen to know where they were holidaying. It was taken around 1935, and they were clearly off to the beach for a spot of cricket.
I like a challenge; at first I thought it might be Skegness as the white block building was quite like some buildings there, but I drew a blank. In the end it needed a potter through my archives from A – Z, and a match finally turned up in Worthing.
The postcard view below shows the exact spot the family were when the photographer pressed the shutter. The building in the background is amazingly still there, a sort of shelter, changing room and shop combined. Even the buses in the view match.
The walkie would have been one of a strip of three, the reference number is hand-written sideways down the frame edge.
It’s a lovely image, they all seem really happy and having seen him in advance smile for the photographer.
There are quite a few more Worthing walkies on the site if you use the search button.
The ladies from our earlier post (below) carried on buying their walkie portraits after the War; here are three more from the same small collection. Because of the tree lined street (and the fact they usually holidayed in the town) I assumed they were taken in Skegness, but looking more closely I found it hard to work out exactly where and decided they must be somewhere else. The only clues were what looked like the word “Dolphin” above the window on the building in the background, and a fuzzy cafe name on the gable end of the buildings on the far left in the photo below. This looked like “The Clee Cafe”; as The Clee is the name of the old fishing area of what became the town of Cleethorpes, that showed me where to look.
A hunt located the Dolphin Hotel and showed the ladies were walking down Sea Road, which links the centre of Cleethorpes to the promenade and the station. A photo from the time online shows exactly where the cameraman was working.
The hotel is still there (see the recent photo), now a loud nightclub, and it’s hard to imagine Laurel and Hardy staying there in 1954 (when they were playing near-by Grimsby.)
Sea Road has been completely changed by road improvements and pedestrianisation. There must have been some sort of recreation area on the right, as people seem to be enthralled by something going on there in the third photo below.
I would think these three walkies span the late fifties to early sixties period, but the firm is not identified and I have no others from this spot. Evidence of the haste of the darkroom work can be seen in the missed development at the bottom of the middle print, and the over exposure on the first print which almost obscures their faces, despite which the print was still purchased.
Although North Bay Snaps (whose known history we covered on the site a while ago) were probably Scarborough’s premier Walking Picture firm for a time before WW2 it’s hard to know what else the firm supplied. I assume there was a kiosk to collect and pay for walkies, but also probably a main shop and studio.
Peter Wollinski in Australia has sent me this North Bay Snaps postcard print which poses a few questions. The image is very low quality and looks like it was taken in an Autobooth. Peter says the younger woman on the right is his late Mother, the other lady is not known: “I have no idea when the photo was actually taken, but from the information on your site must have been before 1941 and probably before the war began. My mother was Austrian and worked in London from 1936 to 1943 before being interned on the Isle of Man and then repatriated back to Austria in 1944.”
Most autobooth photographs are quite small, passport size, but the machines often did (and still do) have an option for larger sizes. But they would do prints on special paper rolls, not postcards and as this is on a North Bay printed postcard back (and clearly cut by hand), it rather suggests they printed it in the normal way. Maybe the two women had a small photo and just wanted a copy doing, which would account for the out of focus look, yet the frame edge being perfectly sharp.
If anyone does know any more, let us know.
John Lawson sent me this example of a Benson’s walkie recently, which we suggest dates from around 1962. The walkie shows John’s Great Grandparents William and Jane Wandless and was taken on Sandside next to the harbour in Scarborough, Benson’s usual beat. There are more details of Benson’s Scarborough walking pictures business on the site and the firm also operated in Bridlington. Looking again at the examples I have, it is possible that Benson numbered their cards continuously over the years, as they are numbered from 7000 or so up to 50000+. It would be a great way to help date them if so and also shows us that the firm took over 50,000 photographs during their tenure.
Many people will remember the specialist school photographers, who would visit once a year usually and photograph pupils. I seem to remember it was individual and form photos at junior school (b/w in my day), then the whole year posing outside for a group picture at senior school. Kids would be sent home with a leaflet for parents to choose (and pay for) a print.
I picked this item up as I’m interested in the use of hand colouring on prints prior to the widespread introduction of affordable colour photography. For a time pre-War these ever so slightly hand coloured postcards were one of the options for parents, and I’ve found a number of them from the late Thirties. Here the postcard is additionally set in a paper frame with a calendar attached. As this starts in January, I assume the photos were taken in the winter term to enable parents to get some organised as Christmas gifts for relatives.
As someone pointed out, 1939 turned out to be something of a momentous year and this example must have been stuck in a drawer and never used. The boy in the photo looks like he’d be young enough to not have to join up, one can’t be so sure about his Dad.
These two cheerful looking ladies clearly went on holiday together quite frequently judging from a small pile of walkies I found at a market stall recently, probably from a house clearance. Although they are seen with a small child in some (and perhaps grandchildren in others) and husbands, mostly they were photographed together by the walkie cameraman. The majority of the walkies were taken in Skegness after the War, and one in Margate in the Fifties (when the lady on the left seems to be on her own more) but these two sets here I cannot identify, although I do have others taken on the same spot, so it would be good if anyone does know where it is.
Theses walkies were of the type taken on a converted movie camera and sold as a strip of three, but they were cut into individual frames later by the owners and one is missing from each. I think they were probably taken on the same holiday (judging by the tree in the background which hasn’t changed!), and the lady on the right has a very sharp imitation snake skin pattern handbag in both sets. The rough frame edge of the enlarger is also identical on the final frame in both cases.
Date wise one of the Skegness photos is identified as August 1932, but the women look a little younger in these walkies, so possibly 1929, 1930? The then fashionable beret which suddenly appears in one set might have been a holiday buy…
It seems a popular spot, with people perhaps coming up a slight hidden incline in the background to the seafront from town, and you can see half a dozen people in the background in the scene below waiting their turn to walk toward the camera.
Research into Sunny Snaps walkies indicate they worked all along the South Coast in the decades before the War, but then returned to their London base in 1940 working in selected suburbs and returned to this trade when the War ended. This scan sent by Elaine McColl seems to have been one of those later images taken in the capital.
A very everyday walkie, it catches Isabella Norwell, then in her Sixties, seemingly out shopping, except that she wrote on the back of the walkie “this was taken last Sunday”, so perhaps she was off to church. She didn’t date it, but sent it off to her sister Mae in Canada a few days later as a birthday greeting. Elaine says Mae’s birthday was October 10th, which dates the photo to October 3rd.
Isabella lived in Clifford Gardens, Kensal Rise, and given that she is using a walking stick, it seems likely that the photographer was working in the local area, but I have not been able to match it to anywhere on the main street. The sun is quite low, indicating early morning, and it’s not the sharpest of photographs, which hinders detective work!
The scan does not show the card date too clearly but it looks like 1949, if so it’s a very late example. My thanks to Elaine for sharing this and if anyone chances on this and recognises the area, do get in touch.
More London Sunny Snaps on the site.
New walking picture firms keep coming to light, and I have put together some details about Boyd’s, who operated in Hastings and Eastbourne, taking walkies, beach photos and other street portraits. This couple were snapped on the pier earlier in the day, then in a hired deckchair later on. It is a much travelled print too, and we do like the gent’s somewhat eccentric beach outfit. See them and read more about Boyd’s on the site.
We have looked at Benson’s on the site before. They operated in Bridlington and Scarborough post-WW2. This walkie is from the Scarborough office which was based on Sandside next to the harbour. It was sent to us by Joy Rawlings and shows her Grandmother Lillian Fox on the right (in the spotty dress) with two friends (Mrs. Duddle centre and Mrs. Jones, a neighbour, on the left) and her Grandfather John Fox in the background. I would think mid-1950s from the look of it. They have just passed the little fish market stalls (a newer version of them survives) and the previous lifeboat house on the end of Foreshore Road, which was only demolished in 2015. Amazingly Google Maps still has a glimpse of this view, see below, but on the rest of the map it has disappeared. You can read more about Bensons on the site. Thanks to Joy for the scan.