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:


Cleveleys quintet


I have not seen any walking pictures from Cleveleys before, so these two are a useful find. There are no company details printed on the back; indeed I would not know where they were taken except the lady on her own has written the town on the back, and the date June 1951.  A search on street view brought up Victoria Road as the location, and although quite a few buildings have changed or been replaced, enough remains to confirm the detail. Cleveleys is a few miles North of Blackpool and a more sedate area, popular with holiday-makers wanting a more relaxed break.  Walkie Snaps, who took walkies in Blackpool for many years (see their story on this site), did operate in Cleveleys for a time but these do not look their normal prints.

Victoria Road Cleveleys

The lady on her own is also on the right in the group picture, but quite how the chap came to be escorting four middle aged women back from the seafront we can only speculate, though he seems happy enough!  The five of them were snapped again on another day in the same place.

Nice to see the branch of Burgons on the left, this chain of Northern grocers is still remembered, and some branches lasted into the early 1970s.


V2 in Blackpool

WP1047-Blackpool Central pier-1945

I have printed a few walkies taken on Blackpool Central Pier before.  This is another, taken on a regular walking picture spot. It was so popular people often formed a small queue at bust times.

It has been dated 1945 on the back by one of the two ladies, we seem to be enjoying themselves, but otherwise we do not know who they area.  The photo was found and scanned by Brian Partridge. We do know the pier had a V2 Rocket on display for a couple of years after World War 2, and the awning for this attraction can be seen in the background.  You can see some similar images on the site.  A Blackpool walking picture from 1944 has also recently turned up which suggests the trade continued during the war although this is quite unusual. Walking pictures from 1944 in Hungary and 1943 in Belgium have also been seen, and I will try and get these on the site at some stage.

Blackpool Central

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.

Gardner family c1938


WP895 Blackpool walkie

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!

Adelaide Street Blackpool.jpg

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.

What we know about Walkie Snaps’ history is on the site and there are more examples of their work in the Go Home On A Postcard book.

Olympia buildings.jpg

Waterloo walkie

This walkie [WP868] would be a hard one to locate but for two reasons; first I recognise it as Waterloo Road in Blackpool, having helped identify some walkies taken there in the past. And the lady in the centre has written “Blackpool June 1950” on the back in biro!

Walking picture, Waterloo Road, Blackpool June 1950. Mother, daughter on tricycle
It pre-dates the other Waterloo Road walkies (which you can see on the site here) by only a year or two, but were taken on a different camera.
Which just leaves us with one last puzzle, who is in the family group? I assume the lady on the far left is just caught up in the picture but perhaps the lad on the right (with his beach spade) is related.
They may be locals, it’s hard to imagine they would have travelled far with the tricycle which the little girl is understandably distracted by.

Blackpool girls


From one of the three Blackpool piers (my money is on the South Pier), another walkie from Blackpool company Walkie Snaps. This is a pre-War example, identified by the film sprockets showing on the right hand side, their layout at the time. The print is 3″ by 4″ approx and would have been a strip of three. The two girls are enjoying an early afternoon stroll judging from the shadows, other holiday-makers are taking a post-lunch rest in the shelter on the left!
There is some history about Walkie Snaps on the site (although for such a prolific walkie firm not much is yet known) and more examples of their photos in the book Go Home On A Postcard.

Miss Bradbury walks

Miss Bradbury, Scarborough Sandside, walking picture 1930s

Back to Miss Bradbury!  We posted a cut-out walkie with her on here recently. Going through her snapshots a number of walkies emerged, and seem to cover both her and her husband’s holidays over a twenty year period or more. Here are three more. I might have assumed the first to be just a family snapshot except it has the ‘Walking Picture’ backprint. It looks to be late Thirties to me, the dress pattern on what I assume to be proud Mum is very vivid, and it probably qualifies more as a just learned to walkie! The location didn’t have many clues but I thought the arched gable on the right looked like it might be by Scarborough harbour and so it proved (see the then and now below!). This location at Sandside was popular with walkie photographers and Miss Bradbury was snapped here as a teenager in the walkie below.

Miss Bradbury, Blackpool Central pier, 1950 walking picture

Walkie two was taken on Blackpool Central Pier in the late Forties. The V1 display which featured on the pier just after the war (which can be seen on the site) has gone but the Bicycle ride is still there. This is a busy walkie scene; Miss Bradbury and her father are walking toward the cameraman, but you can see a queue of people behind them waiting their turn.

Miss Bradbury, Blackpool Central pier, 1950s, walking picture

Lastly Miss Bradbury is back in Blackpool for walkie three, this time the South Pier, but with her boyfriend (or perhaps by now her husband) on her right (Uncle on her left?) rather than her parents. She also has a box camera of some sort with her and the patterned frock suggests early Fifties. Thanks also to Graham Walton.

Scarborough harbour

Sandside then and now

Blackpool but where?

Blackpool 1950 honeymoon

This walkie was sent by Christine Edwards who is trying to find the exact location. It shows her parents Don and Kath on their honeymoon in Blackpool in August 1950 (one of them has written the information on the back), dressed in the outfits they were married in. The couple look very happy, and were together for over sixty years.
I sent the image to the Blackpool local studies people who have been able to help in the past, but they drew a blank on this one. I have had a look on street view and cannot spot it either although it does have the look of one of the streets which run down to the promenade.  Of course it is possible the block in the background has been redeveloped since the Fifties. Some nice vintage adverts on the end of the wall too.
The walkie firm is unidentified and the photo is a little out of focus, suggesting perhaps a less experienced photographer having a try at the business (the paper is ex-War surplus.)
I will pass any information on to Christine.


As the local library drew a blank I spent some more time on this using street view, and finally tracked the view down to the seaward end of Station Street. So Christine’s parents had been for a morning walk on South Pier and were heading back up into town along Station Road probably for a bite to eat as it’s mid-day. Here is the building today:

Station Road

The shot from the air below shows where the couple were and the direction the photograph was taken. Thanks to Graham Walton for sending this.

There is a walkie of another lady taken on South Pier on the site. These seem less common than the other two piers for some reason.

Station road Blackpool 1940s.jpg