Although this strip of three walking pictures is not identified, the seller was based near Hove and suggested to me that it might be Brighton. As the town had three piers at one time this was not quite so easy to pin down but I started with the surviving Palace Pier and some digging brought close-ups of the pier decoration which matched exactly. The elaborate metalwork structures on the left is an arch base, although all but one of these has now been removed.
Although I have a few walkies from the town they are less common than I would expect and these strips are also scarce, and I’ve certainly seen none from Brighton pier before. It is unusual in that the print is around 4″ by 9″. From the fashions and the style I would date it to the 1930s. Behind the couple is a kiosk selling Cadbury’s ‘Cup’ Chocolate at 3d; this product was certainly on sale in the late 1920s and very popular into the 1950s.
The firm who took the walkie is unknown. It seems likely that the print was usually supplied as a smaller size but a larger version like this could be ordered for a little extra.
Happily much of Palace Pier remains as it was, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times and lets hope they look after it properly.
This is a really interesting documentary image I spotted on the web which provides a rare look at early street photography studio set ups. The backdrop being used is of an early bi-plane. It is in two sections, the customer poses behind the front section and the rest of the plane is on the backdrop. When photographed square on, the illusion is complete!
The gent with the beret is taking the photograph, and you can see a couple more props in the space, including one of those head in a hold boards. Although open to the daylight, there are also three large lamps directing light at the subject.
It is obviously French, but I do not know when (probably 1920s) or where it was taken, or by who. The Rapid Photo sign at the top suggests the stand is bigger, so perhaps the darkroom facilities are next to the studio. The sign inside says “instances” which suggests the print was processed while customers waited, although there looks to be a little brasserie behind the stand for a drink while doing so! There are a few comic seaside images on the site.
I am struggling to find any clues as to where this walking picture was taken. The camera is obviously very close on the pavement to the two young women, one of whom looks very puzzled as to what is going on. It looks like a parade of shops perhaps leading down to the beach, and some of the architectural features to me have the feel of a South Coast town like Brighton. Beret’s were obvious in fashion that summer at any rate. If anything rings a bell do let me know!
It’s always good to see Sunny Snaps walkies as the firm’s history remains a bit of a mystery, so each identified example helps build up the story (and also dates the fashions nicely!). This pair were sent to me by John Thompson, who was trying to identify the locations. The 1937 walkie was taken on Worthing sea-front promenade, and was a popular spot with cameramen for some years before World War 2. The array of buses shows why! I also have a walking picture taken at exactly the same location as the 1938 Sunny Snap, which we know was South Street.
John knows the people are his family and is now trying to find out exactly who they are.
There is more on the site if you search for Sunny Snaps and more from Worthing in particular with a link to the firm’s story, and more in the book Go Home On A Postcard.
You cannot argue with that, as this couple stroll down Lumley Road in Skegness towards the esplanade and beach one August lunchtime. He has the popular white leisure shoes, regulation ciggie in one hand, and rolled up paper, and she has bathing gear wrapped in a towel. What makes this informal walking picture find useful is that has been dated in pen August 1933 on the back, with Wrate’s Harrington Gardens address printed on as well, which helps us pin down their move to open a new studio there and other similar cards by the firm. The history of Wrates is covered on this site and more examples of their excellent walkies appear in the book Go Home On A Postcard. It is very difficult to replicate the shot today as so many of the old houses have long since been coveted into shops and amusements.
Sunfilms walkies continue to generate as many questions as answers, and we have yet to fully understand their operations. So each new Sunfilms find which is dated or has the town written on by the owner helps to unravel the story. This frame from Lindsay is one such, as she identified the location for us as Bognor. I did a street view search and it turned out to be London Road, the main shopping area (now pedestrianised at this point). But it has changed so much it is quite hard to match on street view, even the church has been pulled down (in 1972). So I did a search for old photos and turned up a nice view of the road from the late 1950s which did correspond exactly. I’ve shown the photo below and added the family in to the version at the bottom of the page.
Sunfilms provided three frames on a strip using old movie cameras in the Thirties, and Lindsay dates this walkie to 1933 which ties in nicely. The photo shows her grandparents on the right while her father is the older lad helping with the push-chair; well one hand on the push-chair, the other holding a cornet!
Lindsay scanned me three complete strips which are not easy to find – most people just cut them up – and they will feature in the walking pictures book.
This then gives us a new location for the firm to add to the others we know about, but I suspect there will be more to find. What we do know about Sunfilms is on the site, and do get in touch if you have any of these strips.
The walking picture photographers in the Margate area were some of the busiest in the country, but also took some of the best portraits. This happy looking young couple are walking, albeit very slowly, seemingly transfixed by the camera. What really makes the image for me however is the woman to the right, not intended to be part of the portrait but captured looking back as she carries on, checking to see what has caught the eye of the photographer.
The card is not identified but a quite look through Margate cards in the archive showed a match for the round headed windows in the building behind them. This was on Palm Bay, in the Cliftonville area of Margate, one of the most popular with tourists in the pre-war years. Remarkably the building survives and is now a cafe. The old postcard shows it in relation to the rest of the area at the time.
Again looking at other examples, a date of around 1930 can be pinned on the card. Note the reference number scratched into the negative bottom left. There is no firm identified on the card back but it is likely to be one of the Sunbeam affiliates.
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.
I do like this pier walkie, but so far the location has eluded me. The gentleman is looking a bit suspiciously at the camera, but must have bought the print, which I think is a frame cut off a strip. Date wise it looks to be early 1930s, and there is a poster propped up advertising Clapham and Dwyer, a vaguely amusing comedy duo I’d not heard of before who were popular in the late twenties and into the thirties, perhaps appearing at the end of the pier show.
There’s a group of people by the turnstile buying tickets to get on the pier, many had a small admission charge before the war to keep a little exclusivity to the site (sadly Wentworth Gardens have had to impose a £1.50p fee recently due to some people damaging the site, nothing changes). There are some nice bits of street furniture about too, the wheeled container and Pratts Oil dispenser would fetch a small fortune today at a salvage yard.
Let me know if the location rings a bell.