Although North Bay Snaps (whose known history we covered on the site a while ago) were probably Scarborough’s premier Walking Picture firm for a time before WW2 it’s hard to know what else the firm supplied. I assume there was a kiosk to collect and pay for walkies, but also probably a main shop and studio.
Peter Wollinski in Australia has sent me this North Bay Snaps postcard print which poses a few questions. The image is very low quality and looks like it was taken in an Autobooth. Peter says the younger woman on the right is his late Mother, the other lady is not known: “I have no idea when the photo was actually taken, but from the information on your site must have been before 1941 and probably before the war began. My mother was Austrian and worked in London from 1936 to 1943 before being interned on the Isle of Man and then repatriated back to Austria in 1944.”
Most autobooth photographs are quite small, passport size, but the machines often did (and still do) have an option for larger sizes. But they would do prints on special paper rolls, not postcards and as this is on a North Bay printed postcard back (and clearly cut by hand), it rather suggests they printed it in the normal way. Maybe the two women had a small photo and just wanted a copy doing, which would account for the out of focus look, yet the frame edge being perfectly sharp.
If anyone does know any more, let us know.
John Lawson sent me this example of a Benson’s walkie recently, which we suggest dates from around 1962. The walkie shows John’s Great Grandparents William and Jane Wandless and was taken on Sandside next to the harbour in Scarborough, Benson’s usual beat. There are more details of Benson’s Scarborough walking pictures business on the site and the firm also operated in Bridlington. Looking again at the examples I have, it is possible that Benson numbered their cards continuously over the years, as they are numbered from 7000 or so up to 50000+. It would be a great way to help date them if so and also shows us that the firm took over 50,000 photographs during their tenure.
We have looked at Benson’s on the site before. They operated in Bridlington and Scarborough post-WW2. This walkie is from the Scarborough office which was based on Sandside next to the harbour. It was sent to us by Joy Rawlings and shows her Grandmother Lillian Fox on the right (in the spotty dress) with two friends (Mrs. Duddle centre and Mrs. Jones, a neighbour, on the left) and her Grandfather John Fox in the background. I would think mid-1950s from the look of it. They have just passed the little fish market stalls (a newer version of them survives) and the previous lifeboat house on the end of Foreshore Road, which was only demolished in 2015. Amazingly Google Maps still has a glimpse of this view, see below, but on the rest of the map it has disappeared. You can read more about Bensons on the site. Thanks to Joy for the scan.
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 unusual walkie came amongst a clutch of snapshots I purchased at the local flea market last week. There was an entire box full of photographs from a house clearance, all from the same family, but very little to identify them. My guess is the teenager in the middle is a Miss Bradbury, flanked by her parents. It looks like she cut their heads out to mount into some sort of oval frame, but kept the rest of the print. The Bradbury’s lived in the Huddersfield area – all the snapshot wallets were from the town – and holidayed across the UK. On this occasion it was Scarborough, where they were snapped by a walkie photographer down by the harbour at a place known as Sandside (which has featured here before) probably in the early Fifties.
This walkie, and several others taken on the same spot, emerged while I was sorting images recently. Overlooked before, I found eight of them in my ‘unknown’ file, and remembered I had one more on which someone had just written ‘Scarborough 1946’ in pencil on the back. I was a little unsure as it didn’t really look like any view of Scarborough I could recall.
Once all of them were side by side, it was time to look at Google Street. If it was Scarborough I assumed it must be somewhere down near the harbour and quickly found the background building still happily extant. Not only that, but a building of the 1700s listed Grade 2; numbers 32 and 33 Sandside, part of the shipbuilding area of the original town overlooked by the castle.
This area of the town is still very bustling, albeit fairly downmarket with Poundbuster and Factory Outlet type retailers today. The view had escaped me as the walkies were taken looking back into town from the harbourside. The couple may have been off to walk round the headland on Marine Drive, though buses stop here to form a link between the North and South Bays.
All the walkies from this location are off strips of Walking Picture photographic paper, but are otherwise unmarked. They date from 1935 to 1946 and it is not hard to imagine a walking picture firm operating from one of the smaller buildings in this area just before and after the wat, carving out a niche from the two bigger Scarborough walkie operators, North Bay Snaps and the Sun-Ray Photo Co. After the war other smaller firms also started up in Scarborough; we know of Castle Snaps, Holi-Photos and Benson’s (who also had a shop in Bridlington).
As with other strips like this, taken with converted movie cameras which gave smaller negatives, the image quality is less sharp than their bigger rivals but the best of them made nice souvenirs. The youngish couple in this example clearly thought so. Here’s as close as I could get to the view today. There is more about North Bay Snaps, the town’s biggest walkie firm, on the site.
Thanks to Ron Cosens
This walkie caught my eye both as it is a good composition and also because it added yet another walkie firm to my growing list, with around 150 walkie firms now identified. This one is by Edwin F Fox, who were based at 51 Aberdeen Road in Scarborough when this walkie was taken by them. This is one of the main streets running into the centre of the city, and both the Fox walkies I’ve seen were taken in the street rather than down on the seafront, although I’ve not been able to pinpoint where it was taken yet (contact us if you have an idea). The image looks to date from the 1920s. There was an Edwin F Fox based in York, and listed on some web pages as one of the pioneers of photography. It seem likely it is either the same person expanding into the coastal town for extra business, or a son. The main rival walkie firm in the town were North Bay Snaps, covered on the site,
It’s difficult to be sure if the five children are locals, or visitors – both the boys have school outfits on but this was often kept as best wear for trips out. Two of the girls have macintoshes on which suggests parents worrying about the likelihood of rain.
What amazed me is that despite the decline of photography shops in the digital age, there is still a photo shop at Number 51 Aberdeen Road, albeit providing in-store colour printers to out-put your digital camera snaps on.
Loaned by Brian Sylvester, this walkie shows (l-r) his two cousins David Baker, Roy Clarke, and Samuel Clarke his great uncle. The card was posted back home in July 1931. It was taken by the busy seaside photography firm of North Bay Snaps in Scarborough, who took generally excellent walking picture images from around 1928 to 1941. The firm has been added to our list of potted histories on the site along with another selection of walkies taken by them over the years.