tinted by hand 3

Hand tinting was very popular in the pre-and immediate post-War years, and often adds an unexpected dimension to monochrome photographs as these two examples show. Photographic processors (and even walking picture firms) often offered a colouring service but you could buy small sets to do this at home.


The two women seated on a country style were out for a walk in the countryside around Lower Bourne, near Farnham in Sussex, and then Marjorie posted the card to Dorothy Walder to wish her a happy birthday on July 24th 1934.

It was processed and printed by the Jerome studio, who had branches across the country, although probably not in such a small town, and they may have tinted the card to order.


The couple posing in their garden (he has his house slippers on!) are unknown, but it looks to be from the late Thirties. It just says “Dad and Dolly” on the back in red biro, and someone has added “Alan’s” underneath the word Dad. You would expect it to say Dad and Mum if they were man and wife, so maybe the woman is another relation. Very hard to know if the tinting was done by the processors or not, as the print is a bit worn, but it is a neat job. A bit like the privet hedge!

Tinted by hand 2

Tinted by hand 1


Espana walkie

Walking picture from Spain, 1964, MajorcaMajorca-wallet

While I have tended to concentrate my efforts on researching in the UK, the walking pictures craze was worldwide. This example is typical, taken in the gardens of a monastery at Valldemosa, famous because the composer Chopin stayed there with George Sand in 1838 / 1839. It catches the Godfrey family on holiday in Spain in 1964, with Paul, his Mother Sheila, and his younger brother Mark. The photograph was taken while they were walking in the gardens, and was processed and ready for sale when they returned to their coach later in the day, with a little sketch of the location over printed. It was stuck into a wallet showing a woman in national costume and a little map.
Paul was a keen amateur photographer at the time, and his carrying his MPP Microcord Camera with him.
So very similar in style and format to many walkie prints sold in Britain, some of which also came in decorated paper wallets. My thanks to Paul (as ever) for letting me show this on the site. Do let me know if you have any similar examples from holidays abroad.

24 frames a second (4)


This walking picture strip was a few pence and I do find these consecutive images interesting so picked it up without paying much attention. On closer examination it may actually be from a French holiday resort; the back has the French type of layout and the words ‘carte postale’ which is a bit of a clue, but the curious beach tents also look foreign. Otherwise the scene is very much as many British resorts, and shows us that walking pictures were popular everywhere. Of added interest for me was the glimpse of the walking picture kiosk top right, with a couple of people studying walkies pinned to the display. I’ve had a go at animating it, and you can see other animations on the site on the video page.


24 frames a second (3)

I’ve had a bit of fun animating two walking picture strips from my home city of Sheffield (the originals are already on the site). The strip with the railings is outside Sheffield Cathedral, although this has changed a lot as the area was made into a tram stop when the new system was introduced. The irony of there being an original Sheffield tram in the background will not be lost on people who argued against the ripping up of the extensive original system in the early 1960s, only for the chuffs at the council to then look at putting something back 40 years later.


The second set is from around the same time but taken on a different camera as the frames are smaller (again the original can be seen on the site). The spot is only about 400 yards from the other strip, right outside Sheffield Town Hall, and the business gentleman seems to be ignoring the camera although it must have been hard to ignore. You can actually get much the same view today remarkably, although some of the buildings in the background are now facades on more modern constructions. I tried recreating the scene when a local paper did a feature on walkies a few years ago!


You can see earlier animations on the site at Clacton and Bournemouth . There is also one from an as yet unknown location on the site.

Butlin’s Clacton


Butlin’s camp at Clacton was one of the earliest, and opened in the summer of 1938 only to have to close during the War. It reopened in 1946 to the public and I suspect this souvenir postcard was of some of the first visitors.
The camp had it’s own access to the beach (with a ticket so you could be readmitted!). Butlin’s also had their own photographic department, and took souvenir postcard pictures of holidaymakers which could later be bought at the kiosk. There was a reference number stamped on the back.
The woman in the centre is I’m fairly certain the mother of the two younger girls seen on the 1938 walking picture taken in Bridlington posted a few days ago.

Butlins Clacton stamp

There is a Butlin’s Filey souvenir photo on the site.


Snaps, 1938


A very travelled walkie by the looks of the wear round the edges, found at a flea market last month. It has lasted some eighty years and perhaps there was no surviving family to want it. I think it’s two sisters, one a little older (and dressed in a more grown up style). The younger girl also appears in an an amateur snap taken in the same dress, sat on the beach with her younger brother Jeffrey. So the family clearly had their own camera, but still liked to buy the professional walkie.  There is another early souvenir photo of their mother on holiday at Butlin’s Clacton camp in 1948 which I found in the same bundle, so will post that shortly.
The walking picture here though is by the firm of Snaps, based in Bridlington, and well documented on the site (they took walkies for forty years). It’s good to have it dated as well (this information will have been added during the printing). I think it will have been taken on the North promenade and judging by the shadows quite early in the photographer’s morning shift too. The reference number is only 26, again suggesting near the start of the day. The DD prefix will have been to identify the photographer.

Cartes des Visites

The Cartes de visite portrait craze started in the late 1850s. It’s not hard to see why people should be fascinated by this early form of portrait photography but by all accounts it peaked about ten years later, with people using them like business cards, swopping and collecting them, then settled down, before disappearing around the turn of the century as people turned to more regular studio portraits.  My theory is that it was the first big photo trend, and walking pictures were the next, starting in the early 1920s.


Many families have at least a few in their albums, and I have been making an effort to identify and date those we have.  Remarkably my Great Grandparents on my Mother’s side seem to have arranged sittings for all their children at an early age, and all were done at the same studio in Hull, Turner and Drinkwater, in the 1880s (the firm’s purpose built building still survives).  I’ve posted them all with some more information on the site, but here’s Thomas around 1884, the eldest.  These cards were all very much alike, a thin paper print fixed to a rigid card backing with the firm’s details pre-printed, and usually rounded corners.  The firm named their building The Studio Royal having managed to get one of the royal family in there to pose!

There are always hundreds of these Cartes de visite at fairs and antique centres, most of which have been tipped out of albums so we’ll never know who they are.

Family walkies

Philip Brooke, Filey, 1957, walking picture

I do like finding walkies of people I know, and this first one (WP879) came to light only a few weeks ago when I was visiting relatives and remembered to ask. It shows my late Uncle with his two youngest children (the family lived in Hull), and was taken in the East Yorkshire coastal town of Filey around 1957. They’re clearly just heading onto the beach and I like the casual gear my Uncle is wearing, very wide trousers, jumper and open necked shirt.
I cannot quite work out where on the Filey seafront it was taken as there have been a lot of changes, but will have a look next time I’m over that way. But it does really show how the walkie could capture so well a very ordinary moment that would otherwise have been forgotten.
It is also another tiny piece of the walkie story as it’s the first example taken in Filey I have seen. It is a seaside resort but quite peaceful, and perhaps didn’t generate the trade to attract many walking picture operators. It is unmarked and looks like it might have originally been one of a pair judging by the way it is roughly cut at the bottom edge.

Billy Audas-Gill Holtby

The second walkie is another which turned up in my Aunt’s photo albums. It shows my Great Uncle William striding down Marlborough Terrace, and the young girl is my Aunt, who was then attending Bridlington High School for Girls, so it would be around 1937 (the family were living on Cardigan Road in the town). The walkie is also unmarked and would be one of a strip of three originally. The same firm took lots on this stretch of road, and given it is so busy you can see why. Coaches also used to stop off here to drop day trippers.
I have another walkie of them on almost exactly the same spot taken on a different day. As residents of the town they must have come across walkie cameramen before, but seem to be either ignoring him, too busy chatting (or “here’s another ruddy cameraman, pay no attention,” knowing my Uncle). But they still bought the strip. The woman to their immediate right dressed like a nurse or perhaps a maid is certainly looking straight into the lens.

Both walkies have an everyday feel about them which really crosses the years. I can even connect the two walkies, as the young girl in the Bridlington print married the gentleman in the Filey print in 1964…  There are some more formal family photographs of the pair on the site.

Brigham Portrait

Gill Holtby 1929 Brigham portrait

Gillian Holtby, 1929

Having researched the history of Foster Brigham’s studios in Bridlington (particularly his Snaps walking pictures operation) , it is fascinating to discover photographs taken there of my own relatives.  This remarkable portrait is so well done, and hard to believe it’s a black and white portrait hand coloured by the studio, the work is so good.  It is nicely signed by Brigham in pencil, something most professionals did at the time.

It’s of my Aunt, Gillian Holtby, and was taken in 1929 in Bridlington at Brigham’s studio on The Promenade. As she was born in 1925, it makes her around four years old.  I have also found the original black and white photograph (also signed) from which the hand tinted version was done, so you get an idea of the work involved.

Gillian Holtby pre tinting

Gillian Holtby. Photographic portrait by Foster-Brigham, Bridlington. Gill born 1925, image taken C1928.