Sunny Shoreham


Here’s another distinctive Sunny Snaps walkie.  We grumble today about chuggers on the high street, but it would have been practically impossible to get out of the way of the cameraman on this bridge!
It was sent in by Tim O’Neill and as you can see there is no location given, but Tim told me it was taken on the footbridge which runs from from Shoreham-by-Sea over the River Adur estuary to Bungalow Town. In the background of the walkie you can see the truncated spire of St Mary de Haura in the town centre.
As I have walked the bridge myself in the past, I was fascinated to learn that walkie cameraman had staked it out before the war.  It’s one of those slightly bohemian but now gentrifying spots, bungalows built around old railway carriages, and a row of run-down house boats tied to the edge of the river banks.
The clothes rather puzzled me until Tim explained that the lad was dressed in his school uniform (Brighton College), hence the straw boater:  “It is my father, Seán O’Neill, born November 1920 so he is age15½ here. He is returning from college to Norfolk Lodge, Bungalow Town, Shoreham beach, in the summer of 1936.  His parents (my grandparents) lived in Bungalow Town from 1904 to 1939/40 when they were evacuated because of fears that the Germans would use Shoreham as one of their invasion beaches.”
Given the shadows cast, the photo must have been taken mid-morning. I went to check it out on the web and discovered that this early concrete footbridge (shown in the photo below) has recently been demolished and replaced by a shiny new thing.
So yet another south coast Sunny Snaps location; perhaps the print was sold from one of the high street shops on the Shoreham end of the bridge?  There is more about Sunny Snaps on the site and more photo by them in the book Go Home On A Postcard.


Brighton belles

Five women and a felt donkey, 1948

This great seaside postcard shows five cheerful looking women posing with a stuffed felt donkey. I assumed it was taken by Sunbeam, they used a very similar donkey as a photo prop in Margate.  But looking more closely, it turns out to be the Brighton Holiday Snaps kiosk on the left, and dates from around 1948.  There had been seaside snaps businesses here in the Thirties, including the Krazy Komic studio. So perhaps Sunbeam took this business over after the war? A display with walkies and snaps in can just be seen along with an A-board showing the collection times.
The ice-cream kiosk also looks very tempting on the right; how many portraits like this being taken did the assistant there witness over the summer? It’s a puzzle why someone clipped the left side of the postcard, but there’s nothing missing from the actual image.
The Snaps kiosk featured in a Pathe short film which we covered a while ago on the site.

Blackpool Walkie Snap

Blackpool walkie snaps

Another great walking picture streetscape, this time from one of the Blackpool firm of Walkie Snaps‘ cameramen, with the town’s famous trams running past in the background, probably in the Thirties. I’m not even sure which couple the cameraman was trying to catch; the two women on the right, the well heeled couple with the hats, or the slightly more casually dressed couple to the left, who seem to be the only people in the frame to have paid any attention the cameraman. Either way someone must have purchased the print later in the day, perhaps from the Walkie Snaps’ kiosk at the town end of the pier.
Walkie Snaps went for the intentional film sprocket look for a while, perhaps in response to it being used by some rival firms, but dropped it later. I have not yet been able to find out much about the firm, despite them operating in the busiest seaside resort in the country from the Twenties into the Sixties. What we know so far is on the site. They seem to have always supplied three identical half postcard prints to customers, later cutting back to two to keep prices down.
As always, anyone with any information please get in touch.
The photo is from the forthcoming book Go Home On A Postcard.
You can see more Blackpool walkies taken on the Central pier on the site.


I have added a short history of Blackpool’s busy Walkie Snaps firm to the site, with a few examples and information.  We would love to hear from people with examples of the firm’s output, or who worked for them post-War.

Party masks

Three ladies in christmas party masks

This postcard sized print came from a found photo album I spotted last month at a weekly market.  I was after the walking pictures, but when the dealer offered me the whole album for £2 I couldn’t get my change out fast enough!
Sadly there is little to identify the album’s owner, who I think was the lady on the right. She clearly holidayed a lot in Skegness, and I assume lived somewhere in the Derbyshire area.
Anyway, the three of them seem to be having fun at a Christmas dinner, and I suspect the photograph was done by a professional who covered the event and then let everyone order prints. It’s on that awful lustre textured paper which was popular back in the late Fifties; it is a real pain to try and scan, but a bit of tweaking has helped. I couldn’t resist trying a version with the cracker masks coloured in!

Three ladies in christmas party masks coloured in

Let it snow

Thirlwells Photographer, Stockton

Beatrice and Lily, Christmas, 1911

As it is the run-up to Christmas, I thought I would post a few end of year postcards. And if I see a more Christmas-like photograph this year I will be very surprised. It is of Beatrice and Lily, surnames unknown, and the postcard print was sent out by the two woman as a Christmas greetings card back in 1911. They probably had several done.
They posed for it in Thirlwell’s photo studio, probably in Stockton (the firm had several studios in the North-East of England by 1920 and were still going in the 1980s as a camera retailer.)
The ‘snow’ appears on the original print. I am not exactly sure how this was achieved, but it seems likely a sheet of glass was sprayed with black ink to give the snow effect (with the face areas masked off so they were not obscured) then placed on top of the photographic paper before exposing it to the original negative.
I have seen a few postcards along similar lines, so perhaps it was popular in early Edwardian times for a few years.

Beatrice and Lily 1911

Sunny Snaps again

One consequence of the Walking Pictures project has been people sending in scans, wanting to know where they were taken.  And while I have 101 other things I ought to be doing, I can’t resist a challenge.  It’s as well Google don’t charge for their street view by the hour (but then given the tax they dodge, free is the least they can do!).


This walkie by the firm of Sunny Snaps arrived recently, sent by Peter Aylett in California. It is very typical of their output, well composed and very naturalistic.  It shows his father Jim on the right, looking very dapper in his pale suit, with an unknown friend (taken around mid-day in April.) Sunny Snaps have dated this one, 1939, but not given the location, and Peter was hoping we might be able to help.
My initial thought was that this was unlikely to be a coastal Sunny Snaps walkie, but more likely to be back in London, their other main area of operation. The railway bridge was a clue, and the buildings very distinctive, but London has an awful lot of these.



From what little I know of Sunny Snaps in the city, Fulham High Street seemed a good starting point, but while a rail bridge and church there matched quite well, the buildings were not quite right.  Having trawled around on street view, I gave up and went in search of an Underground rail enthusiast site and discovered District Dave’s London Underground forum (http://districtdave.proboards.com/). Their moderator Rich kindly posted the scan and within a few hours John Tuthill had recognised the scene as Shepherd’s Bush Market station on Uxbridge Road in London.
Many of the buildings have gone but he spotted the end of the Passmore Edwards library (now closed and replaced by a modern library, but hopefully opening as a theatre before long) just to the left of the fly postered telegraph pole.  The bridge matches, but I could not see the church in the present day scene. John explained that the spire had been removed a few years later. The bus in the background is a new trolleybus, which had replaced the trams on this road only two years earlier.

From Astrop Terrace to Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush, London

Peter has tracked the path Jim would have taken that day in 1939 from the family home on Astrop Terrace to the point where the Sunny Snaps was taken.

This is a useful addition to the story of Sunny Snaps, who we are beginning to think had a number of photographers out and about in London in the late Thirties as well as the South Coast towns. Quite often photographers worked near their base, and incredibly the yellow fronted shop in the modern view is currently a branch of … Snappy Snaps!


Our second example was taken the same year, and shows Johnny Smith’s Grandmother, again photographed in London, and looking smartly dressed for a shopping trip. She lived on Battersea Rise near Clapham Junction in 1939 and this may have been taken on that road (or St. Johns Wood High Street which crosses it), which was (and still is) a busy shopping area, although I have not been able to make a match with the surviving streetscape yet. If anyone spots something they recognise, please let us know. That might be some sort of street market going on in the background.

You can read more about Sunny Snaps on the site, and there is another London walkie there.  If anyone has further examples please get in touch. You can also join a newsletter service about the forthcoming book, which will keep you updated on progress and details of any pre-publication offers. This service is provided by the book’s publishers.  Your details will be kept confidential and you can unsubscribe at any time.  Click the button below for details:

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Waverley Road?

Just an update on one of the unidentified walkies I posted a few weeks back.  When I looked more carefully there was a very faded pencil mark on the back of one, which looked like “Southsea, 1938”.  I did some hunting on the web and think the two women were walking down Waverley Road towards the seafront and pier. Southsea is below Portsmouth.

waverley road southsea

The tops of two very distinctive buildings are visible in the 1938 view. It is almost impossible to get the same angle today but this is the only view which fits the architecture. Almost the whole street on the right has been redeveloped; originally a local branch line came down to a station here (Southsea East).  This was shut in 1914 but much of it survived into the Fifties used by local businesses, and has only been replaced relatively recently.

waverley road southsea

The houses at the end of the street, where the ladies are, seem to have been pulled down to make room for a roundabout, and the shops on the left behind them have mostly been badly converted to low-rent accommodation.  Back then there were a number of hotels further down the street (one now converted to a school) and this is perhaps what drew the walkie cameraman to a location which was clearly a lot busier then than it is now.

On Broadway


This small, creased but atmospheric walkie view was collected by  Enfield local studies group after local people were asked if they had any examples.  The small photo is one originally from a strip and the owner had written the details across in red biro (not recommended!), including “1930s N9 Broadway”.  I had expected to find the usual array of seaside towns, not one from the local area.
The photo is by Cine Snaps, Lowestoft, but the location has been confirmed – with difficulty – as looking north along Edmonton Broadway, about seven miles from the centre of London.  So although Cine Snaps were based in Lowestoft for many years, it looks like they had some sort of franchise system, as walkies by them from Sheffield, Colwyn Bay, Bath and Carlisle have now been seen.
It was very hard to pinpoint the walkie both as very few images of the area have made it online, and a massive swathe of the district was ripped down in the Sixties for a grim shopping centre, new transport hubs, raised rail lines and goodness knows what else.  So nothing from this view now remains.


It was only identified thanks to pub historians who tell me the building just to the right of the bus is the Railway Tavern, erected around 1910 (and visible in this pre-War photo, circled in red. Just between the trees on the far right in the walkie is a building which was the Cross Keys public house.
We don’t know anything about the people although we think they were locals; Alfred and Harriet Sheppard, and Edie Alexander who may be their grand-daughter.

My thanks to Joe Robinson for sending me the scan, and Graham Johnson who helped confirm the location.

Cine Snaps history on the site