This walking picture is full of life, and looks to be a father having bought his two excited children presents – hard not to imagine it’s a football for the lad under all that brown paper and string. They seem to be walking past a large railway station (there is a big Way In sign in the background) and the feel is of London, but I cannot identify it. The poster hoardings are just too blurred to make anything exact out beyond an advert for Empire Tea. Clearly reasonably well off, his Homburg hat contrasts with the Bowler hat seen in the background, and together with daughter’s smart headwear suggests late 1920s for the date.
It is a postcard sized print (“British Made”!) with a pencil note for the ticket reference on the back, but the frame is printed with quite a large border on all four sides. If anyone can ID the station do get in touch. That might be the letter L of LMS top left, but if so I cannot match this to either Euston or St. Pancras, their London main stations.
The Drummond Road sign places this walking picture in Skegness, and we’ve mentioned the Osbert Walking Picture sign here before too (you can read more about the firm using the link below). It was sent in by Ian Crick, and the photo shows his Grandmother Edith, plus his Dad Brian and sister Doris. The cameraman has been working quite quickly here, the focus is a little out and the boy in the cap obscuring some of the view is not one of the family. Brian is wearing reins, not something you see much on children today but very useful in a busy street, and also spats.
Ian dates this to around 1936 (the horse and cart in the background suggests older, but they did trips around the prom for visitors until after the War), and he remembers hearing of the family trips to Skegness from their home town of Corby in Northants. Edith is carrying a nice wicker basket. She would find herself trending as the Times have just featured these on their fashion pages 80 years on!
Another unidentified Walkie, but the roller skating craze of the Fifties is clearly being catered for judging by the hoarding behind. The walkie has a nice contrasty look about it, perhaps caused by excess light getting in when it was printed. It’s a curious size too, like a shortened postcard. There is no firm identified on the back, but further evidence that the photo must be from the late Fifties is the slightly teddy boy affectation of the son, as seen by the hair do and the big shouldered jacket. Still at least he seems to be enjoying the experience of being photographed on holiday, as do his Mum and Dad. And he has forsaken crepe soles for a pair of those old fashioned leather sandals with the cross weave front panel. And socks.
All three of Blackpool’s piers had walkie cameramen in operation. This nice example is from Dave Gardner, and was taken we think on the Central Pier. The low roof and tower at the end of the entrance building are quite distinctive. David says the young lad is his father, out with his parents, so dates this to around 1938. He is clutching the obligatory wooden beach spade and tin bucket. It was taken by the Blackpool firm of Walkie Snaps.
Although this walkie carries no identifying details, it is a half postcard size print with a miniature postcard style back print. One of the few firms to do this were Walkie Snaps of Blackpool, who sold two identical prints this size to customers. There is dirt on the negative and a scratch down the film too, evidence of hasty processing.
The large building in the distance looked familiar and the Olympia sign just visible confirmed it as Blackpool. The Winter Gardens block survives and has a large exhibition venue inside called The Olympia.
The scene is full of everyday incident, people out shipping, stopping for a chat, and various vintage delivery trucks. It has a pre-War feel about it, so probably late 1930s.
The couple are fascinating, with the gent’s open necked vest at odds with the usual dress standards of the day (an open collar buttoned v-neck top perhaps). But then he probably figured they were off to the beach for a sit and a read of the paper, so what the heck. His solid build and direct look at the camera does suggest you wouldn’t want to argue the toss with him!
The part of Adelaide Street they are on has now gone, replaced by yet another bland shopping mall of some sort (the Houndshill Centre – I looked it up), so where you could once walk straight down to the sea-front from the many guest houses, your way is now blocked by this and service car-parks. A bit of sensible town planning could have opened up a generous parade down to the tower and promenade. You can get an idea of the location by comparing it with the modern day street view above.
I have looked at Remington’s walking picture operation in the site in some detail but this walkie is both a great informal image and it shows their pitch near Torquay’s Princess Pier. Remington were based in Paignton by this time, just a mile or so down the coast. Given the shadows this would have been taken mid-morning, and the postcard print available for the family to buy later that day from the kiosk on the right. Son and heir is wearing what looks like a knitted trouser suit from a pattern and was probably on holiday in the late 1930s.
While I have tended to concentrate my efforts on researching in the UK, the walking pictures craze was worldwide. This example is typical, taken in the gardens of a monastery at Valldemosa, famous because the composer Chopin stayed there with George Sand in 1838 / 1839. It catches the Godfrey family on holiday in Spain in 1964, with Paul, his Mother Sheila, and his younger brother Mark. The photograph was taken while they were walking in the gardens, and was processed and ready for sale when they returned to their coach later in the day, with a little sketch of the location over printed. It was stuck into a wallet showing a woman in national costume and a little map.
Paul was a keen amateur photographer at the time, and his carrying his MPP Microcord Camera with him.
So very similar in style and format to many walkie prints sold in Britain, some of which also came in decorated paper wallets. My thanks to Paul (as ever) for letting me show this on the site. Do let me know if you have any similar examples from holidays abroad.
This walking picture strip was a few pence and I do find these consecutive images interesting so picked it up without paying much attention. On closer examination it may actually be from a French holiday resort; the back has the French type of layout and the words ‘carte postale’ which is a bit of a clue, but the curious beach tents also look foreign. Otherwise the scene is very much as many British resorts, and shows us that walking pictures were popular everywhere. Of added interest for me was the glimpse of the walking picture kiosk top right, with a couple of people studying walkies pinned to the display. I’ve had a go at animating it, and you can see other animations on the site on the video page.
I’ve had a bit of fun animating two walking picture strips from my home city of Sheffield (the originals are already on the site). The strip with the railings is outside Sheffield Cathedral, although this has changed a lot as the area was made into a tram stop when the new system was introduced. The irony of there being an original Sheffield tram in the background will not be lost on people who argued against the ripping up of the extensive original system in the early 1960s, only for the chuffs at the council to then look at putting something back 40 years later.
The second set is from around the same time but taken on a different camera as the frames are smaller (again the original can be seen on the site). The spot is only about 400 yards from the other strip, right outside Sheffield Town Hall, and the business gentleman seems to be ignoring the camera although it must have been hard to ignore. You can actually get much the same view today remarkably, although some of the buildings in the background are now facades on more modern constructions. I tried recreating the scene when a local paper did a feature on walkies a few years ago!