Bognor Regis council seem to have altered so much on the Esplanade that I doubt we’ll ever be able to pin this walkie down, but it is unusual in that the company have added a what looks like an automatic date stamp to the side of the print, and the name of the town, as well as the normal hand written reference number. I assume all this was done at the darkroom stage while the prints were being exposed. These are two frames from what would have been a strip of three originally, and were found by Paul Godfrey. We have seen walkies by Sunny Snaps and Sunfilms taken in the town around the same time, but this is not by them, and is simply marked Walking Snaps on the back. I have one frame from the same firm but that only has day and month, and lacks the year date. The quality is much poorer than prints by their two bigger rivals (my example is so bleached out it’s hard to see anything!) but very filmic.
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.
This woman and her bloke are keeping up a brisk pace but have been snapped centre frame by a walking picture photographer on Sandside, down near Scarborough harbour. It would be a difficult image to locate except we have seen very similar walkies taken on this exact spot before. They all appear to have been taken late 1930s to the mid-1940s. We do not know who the couple are, but someone has written a strange coded message on the back : X222X111X112121. I suspect this is some sort of romantic note from one to the other, but have no idea what it means! Smashing two tone shoes she has on as well.
There is more about Sandside walkies on the site.
Although this walkie carries no identifying details, it is a half postcard size print with a miniature postcard style back print. One of the few firms to do this were Walkie Snaps of Blackpool, who sold two identical prints this size to customers. There is dirt on the negative and a scratch down the film too, evidence of hasty processing.
The large building in the distance looked familiar and the Olympia sign just visible confirmed it as Blackpool. The Winter Gardens block survives and has a large exhibition venue inside called The Olympia.
The scene is full of everyday incident, people out shipping, stopping for a chat, and various vintage delivery trucks. It has a pre-War feel about it, so probably late 1930s.
The couple are fascinating, with the gent’s open necked vest at odds with the usual dress standards of the day (an open collar buttoned v-neck top perhaps). But then he probably figured they were off to the beach for a sit and a read of the paper, so what the heck. His solid build and direct look at the camera does suggest you wouldn’t want to argue the toss with him!
The part of Adelaide Street they are on has now gone, replaced by yet another bland shopping mall of some sort (the Houndshill Centre – I looked it up), so where you could once walk straight down to the sea-front from the many guest houses, your way is now blocked by this and service car-parks. A bit of sensible town planning could have opened up a generous parade down to the tower and promenade. You can get an idea of the location by comparing it with the modern day street view above.
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!
Dated walking pictures often prove useful in helping to determine when a Walking Picture business was operating, and also in putting a date to unmarked cards. This walkie is by the firm of Sunbeam, based in Margate. It shows “Auntie Annie and Uncle Harry” and was taken on the seafront on a breezy day (judging from his flapping coat and her tightly held furs) in Easter 1931, as they have written this in ink on the back.
As the reference number bottom left is still scratched into the negative we can reasonably assume that any cards which have the numbers on the negative done in pen or by machine post-date this. The E prefix refers to a particular photographer’s pitch, so he could be credited with the sale.
I do like the accidental composition on this photograph; Harry just a step or two ahead of his wife, the cameraman has caught them in mid-stride, no chance to collect themselves and pose. He only had a moment for them to be just in focus.
Sunbeam was an important firm and probably the largest Walking Picture business in the UK at one point. It was established around 1919 and was still taking walkies into the 1960s. Their history is covered on the site.
Photo : courtesy Easy On The Eye.
I posted these walkies some months ago, which remain a mystery – nobody so far seems to know where Wardoura Motion Pictures operated. Anyhow, I have had a go at animating the two strips to bring them to life a little and give us an idea of the camera operator at work. You can see the original post on the site.
I’m not sure where this ‘Movember’ craze all began but scanning this photograph the other day I felt it more than fitted the theme.
This Edwardian portrait was taken in Folkestone in August 1908, probably at a cheap indoor seaside photograph studio. The lady has moved slightly during the exposure (there don’t appear to be any clamps for holding heads straight in the studio) and is a little out of focus as a result, but the resulting image has a nice relaxed feel to it. The gentleman in particular, with his waxed moustache, loose (and very short, but still clipped in place) tie, and cap seems very at ease. You can imagine him setting off for a cycle ride dressed like this.
The couple also had a sense of humour, one of them has written “Types of English beauty!” on the back before sending it to friends or family.
The print has been processed quite quickly, you can see the fingerprints of the darkroom assistant in some places where he or she hasn’t washed all the chemical off their hands. I do like the slightly impressionistic flower backdrop being used too.
This walkie, and several others taken on the same spot, emerged while I was sorting images recently. Overlooked before, I found eight of them in my ‘unknown’ file, and remembered I had one more on which someone had just written ‘Scarborough 1946’ in pencil on the back. I was a little unsure as it didn’t really look like any view of Scarborough I could recall.
Once all of them were side by side, it was time to look at Google Street. If it was Scarborough I assumed it must be somewhere down near the harbour and quickly found the background building still happily extant. Not only that, but a building of the 1700s listed Grade 2; numbers 32 and 33 Sandside, part of the shipbuilding area of the original town overlooked by the castle.
This area of the town is still very bustling, albeit fairly downmarket with Poundbuster and Factory Outlet type retailers today. The view had escaped me as the walkies were taken looking back into town from the harbourside. The couple may have been off to walk round the headland on Marine Drive, though buses stop here to form a link between the North and South Bays.
All the walkies from this location are off strips of Walking Picture photographic paper, but are otherwise unmarked. They date from 1935 to 1946 and it is not hard to imagine a walking picture firm operating from one of the smaller buildings in this area just before and after the wat, carving out a niche from the two bigger Scarborough walkie operators, North Bay Snaps and the Sun-Ray Photo Co. After the war other smaller firms also started up in Scarborough; we know of Castle Snaps, Holi-Photos and Benson’s (who also had a shop in Bridlington).
As with other strips like this, taken with converted movie cameras which gave smaller negatives, the image quality is less sharp than their bigger rivals but the best of them made nice souvenirs. The youngish couple in this example clearly thought so. Here’s as close as I could get to the view today. There is more about North Bay Snaps, the town’s biggest walkie firm, on the site.
Thanks to Ron Cosens