walking picture


unknown walkie ebay scan.jpg

I could not resist this small walkie.  Mother is doing her level best to ignore the guy with the cine-camera on a tripod, but young daughter is fascinated, peeping up from her toy pram.  Mother must have relented!  I cannot tell where it was taken, the lens is too soft to read the detail in the print, but it might be Blackpool (one fo the streets running down to the promenade), as it matches other small walkies from there in size and layout. Let me know if you recognise it. I guessed at a date of the early 1930s from the fashions, etc. but Richard Jones (of http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/) says the saloon whizzing by is a Ford Model CX which was introduced here in 1936, and looks quite new, so sometime just after that seems likely.

Ford Model CX 1936.jpg



Cleethorpes family on beach

J. W. Hardy took walkies in Cleethorpes in the 1930s, and there are more details about the firm on our growing A to Z on this site. But as with so many of the photographers involved in the trade, Hardy’s seem to have been going much earlier and carried on into the 1950s. This lovely static beach portrait turned up on the web while I was researching the firm, and must have been taken before WW1. The group are on the beach at Cleethorpes, resting against the seawall near the station terminus. So if they have arrived by train, then they have not ventured far! But they all look to be really enjoying themselves, if not really dressed for the beach at all. Hardy’s moved on from static souvenir photos to walkies later as the trade developed.

Bournemouth, 1951

WP1094 Wilkinson Bournemouth

Wilkinson Maurice, Sheffield. Part of collection of found family photographs. Walking picture, taken Bournemouth, summer 1951. Maurice in strange beach robe on left. 

Just a regular post-WW2 walkie, this one dated 1951. Not as good technically as pre-War work, and probably machine developed and printed. It’s anonymous, but the owner scribbled on the back in fountain pen “Self, Tommy, Peter, Dalia” and the location, “Bournemouth, Summer 1951” For once however we can discover a bit more about “self”, the gentleman on the left in the strange coat, as this was rescued from a skip earlier in the year along with more material, including quite a few walkies dating back to the 1920s. Read the story and see more images on the site.

Three generations?

unknown walkie rubber ring.jpg

It’s the quiet nonchalance in this walkie which I like, a slow stroll down the promenade, with one lad just bouncing his rubberised swimming float about as the walkie was taken, inadvertently framing his head. It might be three generations of the family; two sons (one very dressed down in his beret and open top, the other seemingly in his school clothes, pen in top pocket, and a cap), father (with his box Brownie) and grandfather. The card is not identified; the shingle beach suggested southern England and there seems to be a photo kiosk on the left. The background closely matched a walkie I just found, which is by the firm of Mr. Snaps in Felixstowe and sure enough the location checked out, somewhere along Undercliffe Road. I’ve never been to Felixstowe, which to me was always a port, but it is also a large seaside resort and the smart promenade looks to be one of the longest in the country. I don’t know which firm took it, and it doesn’t match the format of those taken by Mr. Snaps (which are usually marked in any case). At some time somebody in the family has written a list of twenty breeds of dog in pencil on the back, perhaps as part of a quiz. I would think it’s from the Twenties.

WP824 Felixstowe 1923.jpg

Identifying this has since helped me locate a few more from my unknown walkies file, including this one above, which is clearly the same concrete slabbed promenade walk (still there and good as new). Again the firm is not given, but the couple are “Tommy and self…”, and it was taken on August 24th 1932 according to the lady who wrote on the back. It’s a very good photograph too, with the smartly dressed pair enjoying a brisk late morning walk. There are pin marks in the corner suggesting this was printed up and posted on a display board, where the couple went along later that day and bought it.
This later image below from the Frith collection shows the same promenade near the pier (which went in the Fifties, a new one has been opened recently). Mr. Snaps are included in our A to Z of walking picture firms.


Manchester or Blackpool?

Cooper and sons Blackpool carte de visite.jpg

This carte de visite portrait is typical of hundreds of thousands produced at the turn of the Nineteenth Century. It makes a real contrast to the informal street photographs which feature on this site and became popular two decades or so later. The three lads, who could be brothers, they look very alike, are fairly formally dressed but the straw hats give the game away; they’re on holiday in Blackpool. At least I assume so, but as it was taken in the studios of Cooper and Sons, who had addresses in Manchester (at Upper Jackson Street in fact, close to where I spent my student days) and Blackpool, it’s just possible the set up was made to mimic the seaside. The painted canvas backdrop depicts a seaside bay (which was my interest in the image), and while the cheap chairs and tatty flooring suggest perhaps not the swankiest of operations, the portrait is very good quality. The card itself is so decorative, with embossed gold details on the front and an elaborate engraved scene on the reverse, with sort of vaguely greek fashion overtones mixed in with the Victorian imagery and the strange butterfly winged naked boy photographer.
We do not know who the lads are, and probably never will. Thousands of these cards circulate today, torn out of large photo albums by dealers who should know better, and so losing any context they might have had.

Cooper and sons Blackpool back.jpg

There are more examples on the site, including those below:




Palace Pier

Brighton Palace Pier couple 1930.jpg

Although this strip of three walking pictures is not identified, the seller was based near Hove and suggested to me that it might be Brighton.  As the town had three piers at one time this was not quite so easy to pin down but I started with the surviving Palace Pier and some digging brought close-ups of the pier decoration which matched exactly.  The elaborate metalwork structures on the left is an arch base, although all but one of these has now been removed.


Although I have a few walkies from the town they are less common than I would expect and these strips are also scarce, and I’ve certainly seen none from Brighton pier before. It is unusual in that the print is around 4″ by 9″.  From the fashions and the style I would date it to the 1930s. Behind the couple is a kiosk selling Cadbury’s ‘Cup’ Chocolate at 3d; this product was certainly on sale in the late 1920s and very popular into the 1950s.

Cadburys Cup Chocolate ad 1930.jpg

The firm who took the walkie is unknown. It seems likely that the print was usually supplied as a smaller size but a larger version like this could be ordered for a little extra.

Happily much of Palace Pier remains as it was, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times and lets hope they look after it properly.

Southend On Sea

Southend on Sea.jpg

Despite being a busy resort for Londoners for many years, walking pictures from Southend are quite thin on the ground, and those that I have found have no markings to tell you where they were taken (and have been identified only because they were posted off and carry a postmark). These two well worn walkies actually do have the name of the resort printed on the front, so are quite unusual. They are also dated 1939. I’m not too sure where they were taken, but it may be the old pier head somewhere, all of which has now gone. I assume both were taken on the same holiday but as Mum has a different dress, must be on different days.  They are probably movie camera strips originally but have now become separated.

There is a walkie from Westcliffe on the site,


walking onewalking two

Two surviving frames from a movie camera walking picture strip, with Mum, Dad and what may be identical twin daughters, but where it was taken eludes me, although the distinctive Georgian houses behind them may be familiar to someone.  As was often the case, the daughters are wearing their school blazers as “best”, and all four have taken off heavy coats suggesting the weather is taking  turn for the better.  It probably dates from around 1932.

“Snaps” 1950


If only more firms had thought to add the town and date on their walkies…  Snaps were Bridlington’s longest operating walking picture firm, and moved to smaller half size prints in the 1940s when supplies were still short and the cameramen had moved on to 35mm cameras. I have seen prints like this from 1950 to 1952, probably machine printed, and this is a very typical example.  It is possible Snaps photographers were numbering the prints consecutively through the year. This one is 93,602 but others from 1950 go back to 6,234. If so, this suggests they took nearly 100,000 prints in 1950.  It is an enormous figure but roughly equals about 2,000 rolls of self loaded 35mm film, or 40 rolls a week. Some cameramen shot 10 rolls in a morning on a good day, so this could easily be done during the holiday season.  The photograph was taken at the corner of Regent Terrace which is where the amusements now dominate, a favourite spot for Snaps to operate (see today’s view below). The woman, who is certainly giving the camera a look, would have paid 2/6d for the print. Snaps sold them in sets of three by this time, and this one has survived almost 70 years until ending up in a house clearance.

There is more on the history of Snaps on the site, and further examples in the Go Home On A Postcard book.

Bridlington sea front shops.jpg

This shows the same spot today, many of those older buildings survive but are clad in nasty boxy facades.  How nice would it be for the council to encourage a rethink here?