We’ve covered the story of the Skegness walking picture firm Wrates on the site, but this great image of the pier entrance turned up on the web recently. It clearly show the Wrates pier shop on the right hand side of the entrance, with several dozen people milling around waiting to buy their postcard at 1/- a time. Given the late afternoon shadows, it looks like it must be after 4 o’clock, which is the advertised time for when prints would generally be available, the walkie photographers usually having clocked off around noon. It’s probably taken in the late 1940s, as the print prices began to go up after that. There are more photographs of (and by) Wrates and their cameramen and women in the book Go Home On A Postcard. Unforgivably the pier buildings were torn down in the 1970s despite being a listed structure by then.
Here’s another of the attractive Sunny Snaps walking picture cards, sent in by Gill Tucker from the Worthing Local History Society. Although not identified, locals have recognised the columns of St Paul’s Church on Chapel Road in the distance (just above the hat of the gentlemen on the right in fact!) It was found in the West Sussex County Council archives. Dated 1938, the contrast between the very formal dress of the two gentlemen and the casual wear of the three young lads immediately behind them could hardly be greater. It would be the last peace time summer for any of them for several years. Sunny Snaps appear to have largely ceased work once WW2 began except in London, where they carried on for a time and also began taking walkies again after the war for a few years. The story of the firm can be found on the site.
Other walkie cameramen seem to have operated in Worthing before Sunny Snaps, as this example above shows. Taken on a movie camera in the late 1920s, the small print has no identifying text but the Worthing Arcade building can be seen in the background, along with the Harrison’s Corner shop next door, which became Somers Tobacconist a few years later and can be seen in many 1930s Sunny Snaps cards like the one below (from 1936.)
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.
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.
It’s those Trafalgar Square pigeons again, this time entertaining a lady from the RAF (judging from the cap badge) sometime in the Fifties. I’m picking these images up when I find them as they look great en masse. That could well be one of the square’s photographers on the right, he looks as if he is working rather than just being a tourist with a camera.
There’s another shot from the same location on the blog.
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.
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.
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.