Wrates Skegness

Smartly dressed

Lumley Road Skegness old photo

You cannot argue with that, as this couple stroll down Lumley Road in Skegness towards the esplanade and beach one August lunchtime. He has the popular white leisure shoes, regulation ciggie in one hand, and rolled up paper, and she has bathing gear wrapped in a towel. What makes this informal walking picture find useful is that has been dated in pen August 1933 on the back, with Wrate’s Harrington Gardens address printed on as well, which helps us pin down their move to open a new studio there and other similar cards by the firm.  The history of Wrates is covered on this site and more examples of their excellent walkies appear in the book Go Home On A Postcard.  It is very difficult to replicate the shot today as so many of the old houses have long since been coveted into shops and amusements.



Grand Parade


The walking picture firm of Wrates are covered on the site, but this seems to be quite an early hand numbered example of their work as the back print does not mention their Harrington Road studio or the Pier kiosk. It turned up recently, I would think it dates from the 1920s and shows two elderly but imposing ladies pottering past the entrance to the Tower Gardens on The Grand Parade in Skegness one morning. They are wearing fashions from an earlier to the photographer era, which perhaps make it look even older than it is. Despite their seeming indifference they must have taken a ticket a few seconds later and gone back to the kiosk in the afternoon to buy the print!


Tower Esplanade

Skegness – the coastal resort of choice for most of Nottinghamshire – was always a step too far for our family seaside trips from Sheffield (plus I had a Gran in Bridlington – how good was that?) So apart from a quick late afternoon peek at Gibraltar Point nature reserve a few years back, it’s taken me until a couple of weeks ago to actually get a proper look round the place and research some of the walking pictures from the town.

Skegness Tower Esplanade Cafe Danson 1940s

This particular walkie shows a young toddler called Garth Newton, determined to test his spade in the beach – just a hundred yards further on at the end of the Tower Esplanade in Skegness, though it probably seemed a lot longer! It was taken around 1946, and Garth’s Dad is holding the bucket. The firm who took it is unknown, though it would have been one of a strip of three originally.
I contacted Garth about a walking photo which he had on his family tree on the web. He couldn’t find it right away, but kindly went through the rest of his family photos and unearthed around fifty walking pictures. Nearly every one was taken in Skegness, many were still in their wallets, and he let me borrow them to scan for the Go Home On A Postcard Archive (as I am rather grandly calling the collection these days.)
His Mum and Dad must have really liked getting these pictures, often there are three or four from the same holiday.  The small walkie above is one of the earliest, and they continued to buy them for the next twenty five years.

Skegness Foreshore Centre 1950s

The second walkie shows Garth with his Mum and Dad in almost exactly the same spot about ten years later, having just got a modest sized ice-cream cornet (compare to the mega-sized offerings kids get today). This postcard walkie is by the best-known of the Skegness firms, Wrates, who worked in the trade for fifty years.  Their tell-tale automatic numbering window is visible bottom right, although on this occasion it seems not to have worked!  You can see the famous clock tower in the distance, and the now-demolished Osbert Hotel on the right.
Tower Esplanade still runs down from the Skegness clock tower to the seafront, and being so busy was a favourite spot for walking picture cameramen from Wrates and others.
The building on the left in both photos dates from 1911 and originally housed The Café Danson.  It was later known as the Foreshore Centre which offered first-aid, information, left luggage office and a lost children’s shelter. It appeared in thousands of walkies until it was demolished in 1971 (incredibly the site has been empty ever since.)

Skegness Tower Esplanade 1950s

Skegness Tower Esplanade 1930s

The black and white view of the street I’ve marked where Garth and his parents would have been when the pictures were taken, while the commercial postcard shows the building from the town looking out to the sea-front.

Wrates seaside photographer Skegness Tower Esplanade 1960s

Lastly a rather unique image; the loneliness of the long-distance walkie cameraman.  This photo was taken from the top of the Foreshore Centre and shows one of the Wrates cameramen on duty in his striped blazer in the early Sixties. It looks like it was taken early-morning with the first trippers heading for the beach.  It’s possible he may have photographed Garth and his parents on one of their visits.
This is one of a number of archive images which Wrates (who are still going strong, albeit no longer taking walkies) have loaned me and which I will use to help update the firm’s story on the site.

The family at Skeggy

Wrates walking picture. Brian Froggatt and family on Holiday, Skegness, 1948.

This good ensemble walkie is clearly from Skegness (the town name was printed into the postcard at the developing stage) and was loaned to me by Brian Froggatt who is the young lad on the left. It includes lots of his family from left to right; Joyce Green (his Aunt), Lily (his mother), Alice and Mary Green. The little girl is Vivienne Frogatt . They were all on the Grand Parade in 1948 on holiday from Sheffield. It’s a very typical Wrates walkie and they would start adding their name to the front of the card not long after this.

The history of the firm is on the site here and there are more Wrates images on the site if you use the search button down on the right hand column.

Wrates walkies

wrates squareOne of the longest running walking picture companies, Wrates operated out of Skegness for 50 years. This page looks at their walkies and the story of the company.

On the pier

Skegness Pier walking picture postcardOn the pier at Skegness; early walkies taken on this now largely vanished seaside pier.

Coronation 1953

wrates skegness street photograph walking picture 1953 coronation year

What with all the events surrounding the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s accession to the throne, here’s a walking picture to mark the occasion as closely as we can.
The Walking Picture firm of Wrates, based in Skegness, decided to mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. When you purchased a Wrates walkie (the cards cost 1/- at the time), it was sold in a card wallet which acted as “your cash receipt”. The walkies they took in 1953 were sold in special pink and blue Coronation wallets (with the famous Jolly Skegness Fisherman holding up the pennant) and helped remind people of their holiday during one of the biggest post-War events up to that time. London was the centre of the celebrations, but most towns and cities held their own special events to mark the occasion. Skegness for example decided to stage their own illuminations for the Coronation, and have continued the tradition ever since.
wrates skegness street photograph walking picture 1953 coronation year

The walkie here has remained inside the Coronation wallet for nearly sixty years, though it was found at a market stall so I don’t know who the two couples in the photograph are. The Wrate’s ‘beat’ covered several busy spots in the town but their head office was on Lumley Road,  which lead down from the railway station to the famous Skegness clock tower, beyond which were the seaside attractions. This walkie was taken – like thousands of others by the firm – on the corner of Lumley Road and Rutland Road. The long established shoe shop of G. Blackbourn – which sold beach shoes to tourists amongst other things – can be seen in the background (it closed only recently and is now a branch of Subway, just what the world needs). The two blokes are very sun-tanned indeed, but still managing to wear the full suit, shirt and tie ensemble despite the sunshine!  Note too the mechanical camera reference number in the bottom right. The back of the wallet carries details of how to order more copies.