Here’s another really atmospheric walking picture taken by the firm of Sunny Snaps in our capital city. The firm continues to throw questions up about how it operated, particularly in London. It was scanned for us by Gary Wade, who was especially interested to see if we knew where it was taken. The answer was no, however like him we spotted the familiar London Underground logo (designed in 1913 by Edward Johnston) in the background, on a fairly distinctive post-WW2 building. So I sent it over to District Dave’s London Transport forum, and sure enough Richard there quickly identified it as Leicester Square tube station, at the end of Charing Cross Road.
The Sunny Snaps photographer was stood on the now pedestrianised part of Cranbourne Street outside the Hippodrome (then a music hall and variety theatre, now a casino complex), you can just see the awning above their doorway in the top left. Although it’s an overcast day, what little shadow there is gives it as around mid-day, so the gentleman may have been on a trip to the newspaper stand in his lunch-hour (he doesn’t look like a tourist or visitor), and is striding towards Leicester Square itself. I suspect by the wry look on his face he has noticed the camera, but is looking away, which suggests they were not an uncommon sight. Having said that he took his ticket and ordered a print. The date is very hard to read, but looks to be 1939.
I have been doing a bit of digging around and have now identified a few more Sunny Snaps locations in London; one of their cameramen worked on Park Parade in Harlesden between 1934 and 1937. A Sunny Snaps postcard taken near Shepherd’s Bush tube station is documented and Ladbroke Grove has been identified as another site where they worked in 1935. They also snapped away on Lewisham High Street just after WW2. Hopefully more will come to light or be identified. As always I’d welcome any information on the company itself.
It’s hard to get the exact view on street map, but the screen shot below is not too far off, the building on the right is a replacement.
More updated details on Sunny Snaps history can be found on the site.
It’s always good to see Sunny Snaps walkies as the firm’s history remains a bit of a mystery, so each identified example helps build up the story (and also dates the fashions nicely!). This pair were sent to me by John Thompson, who was trying to identify the locations. The 1937 walkie was taken on Worthing sea-front promenade, and was a popular spot with cameramen for some years before World War 2. The array of buses shows why! I also have a walking picture taken at exactly the same location as the 1938 Sunny Snap, which we know was South Street.
John knows the people are his family and is now trying to find out exactly who they are.
There is more on the site if you search for Sunny Snaps and more from Worthing in particular with a link to the firm’s story, and more in the book Go Home On A Postcard.
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.
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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The fabulous art deco pier at Worthing has escaped the neglect (or worse) suffered by many similar structures around our coast. The buildings have all been restored and the partition which runs down the pier has been adapted to make a great outdoor display area. The local arts group Creative Waves works hard to use this and the entire seafront area to put a new project together each summer. It looks like a model of how to make use of a great resource and help bring people back for a visit.
For 2016 one of the focus points was the seaside postcard, and they asked Go Home On A Postcard to co-operate by sending some of the walking pictures taken in Worthing to use as part of this, which we were happy to do. Worthing was an outpost of the multi-franchised Sunny Snaps walking picture empire, and there were a number to choose from. One of my favourites is shown above, you can read more about the image on our site.
There are all sorts of displays and related art works going on around the pier, including some new takes on those head in a hole boards for people to pose with (they are great to do, but it’s hard to decide exactly what to feature in these more PC times -paintings of knock-kneed Scotsmen or bosomy women in ill-fitting bathing costumes are not likely to get past the local authority these days!).
From this distance (238.2 miles!) it’s a little confusing to work out exactly what’s going on from the Creative Waves website, and they have not sent me any photographs of how the images have been used (so the image above is from an older display), but if I leave it any longer to mention it may all be over! And if you’re in the area it’s a day at the seaside, so what’s not to like?
My thanks to Andrew Gordon for sending this unusual Sunny Snaps card in. I know it’s not a walkie, but the overall result with the colouring is so attractive I had to post it here. Colour photography had been developed but not for the mass market, so many seaside photography firms offered a colouring service at an extra charge. I’ve seen so few examples that I assume not many people went for the option. After all, the whole idea of such prints was that they were purchased (often on the same day they were taken) as souvenirs. Having to spend more and wait longer went against this concept. Most professionally hand coloured photos you see are more formal portraits, often weddings, and larger prints, where the extra expense was felt more justifiable.
There was of course an alternative, DIY. Firms offered sets of coloured paints which were formulated to work on photographic surfaces. These were oil based (normal water-colours wouldn’t dry properly) and applied using ordinary fine brushes. The results depended on the skill of the user! Here it appears one of the children in the photo was allowed to have a go, and they’ve not done too badly. As there is some evidence of paint drying in patches, they might not have had access to a proper set of hand tinting paint, but the overall result is very evocative. The usual Sunny Snaps type panel gives the date 1937, and Andrew says it was taken at at Elmer Sands in West Sussex (which is close to Bognor Regis.) It shows Mrs. Margaret Gordon, Mrs. Galder and Mrs. Nelson-Wright with their children. You can read more about Sunny Snaps on the site.