These two ladies are deep in conversation as they stroll along the main street at St. Annes On Sea. If they’d noticed the camera at all I’d be surprised! These three frame cards are some of my favourite, done up to look like a chunk of movie film. There is no town given on the card but if you look you can see a delivery bike on the right, and this is for the shoe shop Stead & Simpson, St. Annes branch. Hipsters today like to think bike delivery is a new thing but of course it was going for decades before the last war. I would put the date at early 1930s. Given the St. Annes On Sea clue I was able to match it with other cards taken in the town. It’s a postcard size print and was taken by the firm of Spotlight, who operated in a number of British towns. So far not much is known about them, but what I have gleaned is on the site if you follow the link above. I’d welcome any more examples.
No, not some strange East Coast knitting pattern, but the location – a ‘pullover’ which led from the High Street over the dunes to the seafront walks and stalls. As it was the only such access, walking picture photographers had a steady stream of customers, including this young couple, Vera and George. Writing on the postcard to Mam and Dad, Vera explains that “this was taken walking in the street, it isn’t too bad.”
And indeed it isn’t, although the cameraman might have filled the frame better if he’d allowed them to get a bit closer. But because he didn’t, it’s allows us to take in all the incidental detail in the background. I have lots of walkies taken on this spot so can date it to the mid-1930s. although there is no firm printed on this one. There are more views taken here on another Mablethorpe page, and put together a time lapse style video for our You Tube channel. For more cards from this spot just search Mablethorpe on the site.
I posted a strip of walkies taken on Brighton’s Palace Pier some months ago, and said I’d never seen any taken there before. This pair turned up not long after! Only two of the original three frames have survived, but it was taken in almost exactly the same spot, with the ornate cast iron framework helping to confirm the location. It looks like two married couples out for a stroll along the pier and back, and the presence of the camera has certainly made them smile. It probably dates from the second half of the 1930s.
This pair of walkies came to me unidentified, but were taken in Paignton. The Remington’s photo kiosk can be seen in the left hand photograph, and the couple on the right are walking down Princess Pier close by. These two ladies both have beach towels, but there is no beach access so I’m not sure why! As the two walkies came together, there might be some family tie, but sadly if so it has been lost now. The kiosk was opened just after WW2 so that helps date the photo on the left but I don’t know who took the earlier pre-War walkie. Remington‘s very eventful history can be read on the site.
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.