Cloth caps and bonnets on! This is a frame originally one of three in sequence, taken on a converted movie camera on a tripod. The Mum and her son seem amused to realise they were being snapped, and even though the end print is very unsharp and there are negative scratches, they have purchased it later that day (and later cut it up into 2″ by 3″ frames). Everyone seems well wrapped up and it has been raining, but that doesn’t seem to have put off the crowds walking down the Tower Esplanade in Skegness (you can just about make out the tower in the background) so lots of potential customers for the photographer. The print is also helpful as it has been dated in pen on the negative at the side, 4.X.32. This may mean Oct 4th. 1932, if so quite late for a break. There are a few from the same family’s collection surviving in those I found, most seem to be Skegness.
There are more Skegness images on the site if you use the search button (the post below is a set taken there). I don’t know who took this one, but the biggest firm in the town were Wrates, you can read about them on the site as well.
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!
These two walking picture cards are not identified, nor are the people known. I think they are probably by the firm of Skeg Cards, set up in Skegness by Bert Jackson, as he had the rights to take walkies on the pier from around 1920 onwards. These certainly seem to date from that decade and are typical of the firm. They are also nice sharp images and show a good grasp of the technique needed to capture people on the move. The reference numbers have been written in black ink on the glass negative, and show up white on the prints.
That might be Mum, Dad and grown-up daughter in the top photo [WP869]. He seems laden with supplies perhaps for a sit down at the end of the pier (and is pursing his lips at the camera!), and Mum looks to have a Box camera as well. There is clear interest in what’s going on from a lady in the background, glancing back to watch the cameraman. The image was taken late morning. Many of the buildings behind have now gone (as has most of the pier), but the turreted block of flats top left is still there.
The second card [WP864] must have been taken around the same time, and shows older parents, with Daughter taking her invalided Dad out for a turn. Given the date, he might be a veteran of WW1. His name is Tom, and they were staying at 39 Drummond Road, a guest house in Skegness. He has written a short note of greeting to his relatives back home in pencil on the back. The address on Drummond Road is still a guest house, now called Ivydene, just off the main parade fronting the sea. I wonder if they keep their ‘comments’ books from this long ago?
There are more photographs from the pier in the Go Home On A Postcard book.
The walking picture firm of Wrates are covered on the site, but this seems to be quite an early hand numbered example of their work as the back print does not mention their Harrington Road studio or the Pier kiosk. It turned up recently, I would think it dates from the 1920s and shows two elderly but imposing ladies pottering past the entrance to the Tower Gardens on The Grand Parade in Skegness one morning. They are wearing fashions from an earlier to the photographer era, which perhaps make it look even older than it is. Despite their seeming indifference they must have taken a ticket a few seconds later and gone back to the kiosk in the afternoon to buy the print!
Skegness – the coastal resort of choice for most of Nottinghamshire – was always a step too far for our family seaside trips from Sheffield (plus I had a Gran in Bridlington – how good was that?) So apart from a quick late afternoon peek at Gibraltar Point nature reserve a few years back, it’s taken me until a couple of weeks ago to actually get a proper look round the place and research some of the walking pictures from the town.
This particular walkie shows a young toddler called Garth Newton, determined to test his spade in the beach – just a hundred yards further on at the end of the Tower Esplanade in Skegness, though it probably seemed a lot longer! It was taken around 1946, and Garth’s Dad is holding the bucket. The firm who took it is unknown, though it would have been one of a strip of three originally.
I contacted Garth about a walking photo which he had on his family tree on the web. He couldn’t find it right away, but kindly went through the rest of his family photos and unearthed around fifty walking pictures. Nearly every one was taken in Skegness, many were still in their wallets, and he let me borrow them to scan for the Go Home On A Postcard Archive (as I am rather grandly calling the collection these days.)
His Mum and Dad must have really liked getting these pictures, often there are three or four from the same holiday. The small walkie above is one of the earliest, and they continued to buy them for the next twenty five years.
The second walkie shows Garth with his Mum and Dad in almost exactly the same spot about ten years later, having just got a modest sized ice-cream cornet (compare to the mega-sized offerings kids get today). This postcard walkie is by the best-known of the Skegness firms, Wrates, who worked in the trade for fifty years. Their tell-tale automatic numbering window is visible bottom right, although on this occasion it seems not to have worked! You can see the famous clock tower in the distance, and the now-demolished Osbert Hotel on the right.
Tower Esplanade still runs down from the Skegness clock tower to the seafront, and being so busy was a favourite spot for walking picture cameramen from Wrates and others.
The building on the left in both photos dates from 1911 and originally housed The Café Danson. It was later known as the Foreshore Centre which offered first-aid, information, left luggage office and a lost children’s shelter. It appeared in thousands of walkies until it was demolished in 1971 (incredibly the site has been empty ever since.)
The black and white view of the street I’ve marked where Garth and his parents would have been when the pictures were taken, while the commercial postcard shows the building from the town looking out to the sea-front.
Lastly a rather unique image; the loneliness of the long-distance walkie cameraman. This photo was taken from the top of the Foreshore Centre and shows one of the Wrates cameramen on duty in his striped blazer in the early Sixties. It looks like it was taken early-morning with the first trippers heading for the beach. It’s possible he may have photographed Garth and his parents on one of their visits.
This is one of a number of archive images which Wrates (who are still going strong, albeit no longer taking walkies) have loaned me and which I will use to help update the firm’s story on the site.
This good ensemble walkie is clearly from Skegness (the town name was printed into the postcard at the developing stage) and was loaned to me by Brian Froggatt who is the young lad on the left. It includes lots of his family from left to right; Joyce Green (his Aunt), Lily (his mother), Alice and Mary Green. The little girl is Vivienne Frogatt . They were all on the Grand Parade in 1948 on holiday from Sheffield. It’s a very typical Wrates walkie and they would start adding their name to the front of the card not long after this.
The history of the firm is on the site here and there are more Wrates images on the site if you use the search button down on the right hand column.
One of the longest running walking picture companies, Wrates operated out of Skegness for 50 years. This page looks at their walkies and the story of the company.
What with all the events surrounding the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s accession to the throne, here’s a walking picture to mark the occasion as closely as we can.
The Walking Picture firm of Wrates, based in Skegness, decided to mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. When you purchased a Wrates walkie (the cards cost 1/- at the time), it was sold in a card wallet which acted as “your cash receipt”. The walkies they took in 1953 were sold in special pink and blue Coronation wallets (with the famous Jolly Skegness Fisherman holding up the pennant) and helped remind people of their holiday during one of the biggest post-War events up to that time. London was the centre of the celebrations, but most towns and cities held their own special events to mark the occasion. Skegness for example decided to stage their own illuminations for the Coronation, and have continued the tradition ever since.
The walkie here has remained inside the Coronation wallet for nearly sixty years, though it was found at a market stall so I don’t know who the two couples in the photograph are. The Wrate’s ‘beat’ covered several busy spots in the town but their head office was on Lumley Road, which lead down from the railway station to the famous Skegness clock tower, beyond which were the seaside attractions. This walkie was taken – like thousands of others by the firm – on the corner of Lumley Road and Rutland Road. The long established shoe shop of G. Blackbourn – which sold beach shoes to tourists amongst other things – can be seen in the background (it closed only recently and is now a branch of Subway, just what the world needs). The two blokes are very sun-tanned indeed, but still managing to wear the full suit, shirt and tie ensemble despite the sunshine! Note too the mechanical camera reference number in the bottom right. The back of the wallet carries details of how to order more copies.