I could not resist this small walkie. Mother is doing her level best to ignore the guy with the cine-camera on a tripod, but young daughter is fascinated, peeping up from her toy pram. Mother must have relented! I cannot tell where it was taken, the lens is too soft to read the detail in the print, but it might be Blackpool (one fo the streets running down to the promenade), as it matches other small walkies from there in size and layout. Let me know if you recognise it. I guessed at a date of the early 1930s from the fashions, etc. but Richard Jones (of http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/) says the saloon whizzing by is a Ford Model CX which was introduced here in 1936, and looks quite new, so sometime just after that seems likely.
This is another seaside souvenir portrait, taken on an unknown promenade in the 1930s. The customer has bought a print and then ordered an extra copy to be hand-coloured. At first it looks like a more formal situation such as a wedding reception, it’s only when you start to notice a small boat in the sea and iron railings that we realise it’s a far more relaxed occasion. Most seaside photographers offered this colouring as an extra service, the work usually being done back the studio or office by hired staff. To see more search ‘Tinted By Hand’ on the site.
It’s the quiet nonchalance in this walkie which I like, a slow stroll down the promenade, with one lad just bouncing his rubberised swimming float about as the walkie was taken, inadvertently framing his head. It might be three generations of the family; two sons (one very dressed down in his beret and open top, the other seemingly in his school clothes, pen in top pocket, and a cap), father (with his box Brownie) and grandfather. The card is not identified; the shingle beach suggested southern England and there seems to be a photo kiosk on the left. The background closely matched a walkie I just found, which is by the firm of Mr. Snaps in Felixstowe and sure enough the location checked out, somewhere along Undercliffe Road. I’ve never been to Felixstowe, which to me was always a port, but it is also a large seaside resort and the smart promenade looks to be one of the longest in the country. I don’t know which firm took it, and it doesn’t match the format of those taken by Mr. Snaps (which are usually marked in any case). At some time somebody in the family has written a list of twenty breeds of dog in pencil on the back, perhaps as part of a quiz. I would think it’s from the Twenties.
Identifying this has since helped me locate a few more from my unknown walkies file, including this one above, which is clearly the same concrete slabbed promenade walk (still there and good as new). Again the firm is not given, but the couple are “Tommy and self…”, and it was taken on August 24th 1932 according to the lady who wrote on the back. It’s a very good photograph too, with the smartly dressed pair enjoying a brisk late morning walk. There are pin marks in the corner suggesting this was printed up and posted on a display board, where the couple went along later that day and bought it.
This later image below from the Frith collection shows the same promenade near the pier (which went in the Fifties, a new one has been opened recently). Mr. Snaps are included in our A to Z of walking picture firms.
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.