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