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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lastly Miss Bradbury is back in Blackpool for walkie three, this time the North 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.
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.
With three piers and millions of visitors, Blackpool was a hive of Walking Picture activity for a long time, but fewer turn up compared to places like Cleethorpes or Margate. I suspect this is because many were taken by a company called Walkie Snaps, who sold small half postcard size prints. But the two walkies here are of a higher quality. Neither were identified but the seller thought one was Blackpool, and although the building behind them has some changes in decor, it is clearly the same one in both photographs. The Hotel in the far background is recognisable as the Metropole, and the monument is Blackpool’s Cenotaph, both of which are still standing. Which identifies this as the North Pier, specifically the east end nearest the town.
It looks to me as if the group of five well dressed women is the older of the two, maybe early 1930s against late 30s for the other? It’s a really nice image though, they seem to have just left the restaurant and spotted the photographer just as he takes the shot – with the last of the group making some comment to the couple by the door and the well-dressed woman looking directly at the lens exuding an air of forbearance. Both at the photographer and the weather perhaps.
The two couples in the other image have been caught rounding the end of the building, which is probably why it was a popular lurking spot for the photographer (despite the evidence of a good breeze blowing in both instances). There is a clear reduction in quality between the two photographs as well.
The building itself has very little resemblance to the spot today, but the iron seating and pier remain, now listed. Both photographs are printed on postcard paper, but neither have been posted – although someone has put an address in Doncaster on the second card in pencil, but perhaps changed their mind – and used the rest to tot up a bill of some sort instead.
Four walkie pictures turned up recently with the same two women in them. They do look very much like sisters. As the photos were found (and one taken) in Sheffield, I assume one of the ladies was a resident of the city so couldn’t resist a bit of detective work. The photo on the right has the date and ‘Blackpool’ in biro, which gave me a starting clue.
Thanks to Tony Sharkey at the Blackpool Archives, we know two of the photographs were taken on Waterloo Road in Blackpool, which is a main route east west ending at the sea-front. The photo was taken just 250m from Blackpool South railway station (which was originally called Waterloo Road), so the photographer had picked a street which would have been thronged with day trippers anxious to get to the promenade. As we think the women lived in Sheffield, they would probably have journeyed from there to Manchester, then changed for Blackpool.
The photographs, which are 21/2 by 31/2 inches, date from 1951 (Monday October 8th – written in biro on the back) and 1952. Both women have very smart Fifties coats on (compare them to the less fashionable coat being worn by the woman behind them!).
On the other side of the road you can just make out the main Blackpool post-office (which is still there, albeit abandoned by the GPO of course). At first glance you would think the pictures were taken on the same holiday, but there is building work being done on the post office in one, and not the other. So the walkie cameraman must have had his pitch here, close to the Bull Hotel pub, for a couple of seasons at least. The scene today on this spot is not very different.
Tony says he’s seen a lot of walkies taken on this spot, but it’s a first for me. I did find one on the web from the early 1940s (see below) but in the main I suspect they are not easy to identify as there is no company name on the back. So unless someone has captioned them on the back it would be hard to tell where they were taken. Most Blackpool walkies I’ve seen were taken on one of the three piers or on the Promenade by firms like Walkie Snaps (see some examples on the site here).
It is not impossible that the photographer is still around, he would be in his mid-eighties. Be great to have a chat. The women? Well the taller sister got married in 1956, we know as she kept a walkie if herself and her husband on their honeymoon in Scarborough! She became Mrs Milner, but after that we have no more clues.
Blackpool’s North Pier must have been captured on tens of thousand’s of walking pictures. This group of funsters out for a stroll down the pier one afternoon in the early 1930s represent just four of them. It’s clearly a sunny day as we can tell from the shadows cast (and the guy behind them in his sports jacket), but they’re rugged up to the nines – vest, shirt, cardigan, tweed jacket AND an overcoat in the case of the gent on the right. Hands in pockets? Well we are on holiday! That’s the back of the large restaurant at the entrance to the pier behind them. There are more walkies from this spot on the site here.