Butlin’s camp at Clacton was one of the earliest, and opened in the summer of 1938 only to have to close during the War. It reopened in 1946 to the public and I suspect this souvenir postcard was of some of the first visitors.
The camp had it’s own access to the beach (with a ticket so you could be readmitted!). Butlin’s also had their own photographic department, and took souvenir postcard pictures of holidaymakers which could later be bought at the kiosk. There was a reference number stamped on the back.
The woman in the centre is I’m fairly certain the mother of the two younger girls seen on the 1938 walking picture taken in Bridlington posted a few days ago.
There is a Butlin’s Filey souvenir photo on the site.
The Cartes de visite portrait craze started in the late 1850s. It’s not hard to see why people should be fascinated by this early form of portrait photography but by all accounts it peaked about ten years later, with people using them like business cards, swopping and collecting them, then settled down, before disappearing around the turn of the century as people turned to more regular studio portraits. My theory is that it was the first big photo trend, and walking pictures were the next, starting in the early 1920s.
Many families have at least a few in their albums, and I have been making an effort to identify and date those we have. Remarkably my Great Grandparents on my Mother’s side seem to have arranged sittings for all their children at an early age, and all were done at the same studio in Hull, Turner and Drinkwater, in the 1880s (the firm’s purpose built building still survives). I’ve posted them all with some more information on the site, but here’s Thomas around 1884, the eldest. These cards were all very much alike, a thin paper print fixed to a rigid card backing with the firm’s details pre-printed, and usually rounded corners. The firm named their building The Studio Royal having managed to get one of the royal family in there to pose!
There are always hundreds of these Cartes de visite at fairs and antique centres, most of which have been tipped out of albums so we’ll never know who they are.
I do like finding walkies of people I know, and this first one (WP879) came to light only a few weeks ago when I was visiting relatives and remembered to ask. It shows my late Uncle with his two youngest children (the family lived in Hull), and was taken in the East Yorkshire coastal town of Filey around 1957. They’re clearly just heading onto the beach and I like the casual gear my Uncle is wearing, very wide trousers, jumper and open necked shirt.
I cannot quite work out where on the Filey seafront it was taken as there have been a lot of changes, but will have a look next time I’m over that way. But it does really show how the walkie could capture so well a very ordinary moment that would otherwise have been forgotten.
It is also another tiny piece of the walkie story as it’s the first example taken in Filey I have seen. It is a seaside resort but quite peaceful, and perhaps didn’t generate the trade to attract many walking picture operators. It is unmarked and looks like it might have originally been one of a pair judging by the way it is roughly cut at the bottom edge.
The second walkie is another which turned up in my Aunt’s photo albums. It shows my Great Uncle William striding down Marlborough Terrace, and the young girl is my Aunt, who was then attending Bridlington High School for Girls, so it would be around 1937 (the family were living on Cardigan Road in the town). The walkie is also unmarked and would be one of a strip of three originally. The same firm took lots on this stretch of road, and given it is so busy you can see why. Coaches also used to stop off here to drop day trippers.
I have another walkie of them on almost exactly the same spot taken on a different day. As residents of the town they must have come across walkie cameramen before, but seem to be either ignoring him, too busy chatting (or “here’s another ruddy cameraman, pay no attention,” knowing my Uncle). But they still bought the strip. The woman to their immediate right dressed like a nurse or perhaps a maid is certainly looking straight into the lens.
Both walkies have an everyday feel about them which really crosses the years. I can even connect the two walkies, as the young girl in the Bridlington print married the gentleman in the Filey print in 1964… There are some more formal family photographs of the pair on the site.
Having researched the history of Foster Brigham’s studios in Bridlington (particularly his Snaps walking pictures operation) , it is fascinating to discover photographs taken there of my own relatives. This remarkable portrait is so well done, and hard to believe it’s a black and white portrait hand coloured by the studio, the work is so good. It is nicely signed by Brigham in pencil, something most professionals did at the time.
It’s of my Aunt, Gillian Holtby, and was taken in 1929 in Bridlington at Brigham’s studio on The Promenade. As she was born in 1925, it makes her around four years old. I have also found the original black and white photograph (also signed) from which the hand tinted version was done, so you get an idea of the work involved.
This photograph has been in the family for as long as I remember, housed in a small portrait box with a lid, and a nice gold looking metal surround. This is all falling apart now, but a small caption in biro on a piece of paper inside written by my Grandmother tells me it is my Great Grandfather “aged 4”, which seemed very early for a portrait, so I thought it was time to see if this was correct. Thomas Holtby, the gentleman in question, was born in 1852 in Wainfleet, a small village on the Lincolnshire coast.
The portrait is exposed direct onto glass. Looking at the information on the Science Museum website, this type of photographic portrait, known as a colodion positive, enjoyed a fairly short period of popularity between 1853 and the 1860s when better technology arrived, but continued to be used for street portraits as it was so quick to do. Basically the photograph was taken on a small glass plate to produce a negative, but then using chemical to bleach the negative, it turned into a pale positive. By placing this on top of a black backing sheet, a viewable positive image was produced.
Thomas certainly could be four here, so the portrait here is likely to be from 1856. At that time his father (and his uncle) had a joinery and carpentry business in the town, but whether the photograph was taken there or in the town of Hull I’m not sure. There is no fancy backdrop, just a couple of props, but he is quite smartly dressed which suggests a special visit. Thomas would later become a dentist in Hull, survived serving in World War 1, and was also an amateur naturalist.
It does amaze me that something this fragile has survived over 150 years. I did take it out of the frame to scan but haven’t put it back too firmly in case I cracked the glass. Nor have I done any restoration to the scan yet; I kind of like the flaws, developing faults, scratches and other signs of age.
I have added a few more of my interesting old family photographs, or ones which have some added social history content, to the site.
The walking picture firm of Wrates are covered on the site, but this seems to be quite an early hand numbered example of their work as the back print does not mention their Harrington Road studio or the Pier kiosk. It turned up recently, I would think it dates from the 1920s and shows two elderly but imposing ladies pottering past the entrance to the Tower Gardens on The Grand Parade in Skegness one morning. They are wearing fashions from an earlier to the photographer era, which perhaps make it look even older than it is. Despite their seeming indifference they must have taken a ticket a few seconds later and gone back to the kiosk in the afternoon to buy the print!
From one of the three Blackpool piers (my money is on the South Pier), another walkie from Blackpool company Walkie Snaps. This is a pre-War example, identified by the film sprockets showing on the right hand side, their layout at the time. The print is 3″ by 4″ approx and would have been a strip of three. The two girls are enjoying an early afternoon stroll judging from the shadows, other holiday-makers are taking a post-lunch rest in the shelter on the left!
There is some history about Walkie Snaps on the site (although for such a prolific walkie firm not much is yet known) and more examples of their photos in the book Go Home On A Postcard.
Although North Bay Snaps (whose known history we covered on the site a while ago) were probably Scarborough’s premier Walking Picture firm for a time before WW2 it’s hard to know what else the firm supplied. I assume there was a kiosk to collect and pay for walkies, but also probably a main shop and studio.
Peter Wollinski in Australia has sent me this North Bay Snaps postcard print which poses a few questions. The image is very low quality and looks like it was taken in an Autobooth. Peter says the younger woman on the right is his late Mother, the other lady is not known: “I have no idea when the photo was actually taken, but from the information on your site must have been before 1941 and probably before the war began. My mother was Austrian and worked in London from 1936 to 1943 before being interned on the Isle of Man and then repatriated back to Austria in 1944.”
Most autobooth photographs are quite small, passport size, but the machines often did (and still do) have an option for larger sizes. But they would do prints on special paper rolls, not postcards and as this is on a North Bay printed postcard back (and clearly cut by hand), it rather suggests they printed it in the normal way. Maybe the two women had a small photo and just wanted a copy doing, which would account for the out of focus look, yet the frame edge being perfectly sharp.
If anyone does know any more, let us know.
John Lawson sent me this example of a Benson’s walkie recently, which we suggest dates from around 1962. The walkie shows John’s Great Grandparents William and Jane Wandless and was taken on Sandside next to the harbour in Scarborough, Benson’s usual beat. There are more details of Benson’s Scarborough walking pictures business on the site and the firm also operated in Bridlington. Looking again at the examples I have, it is possible that Benson numbered their cards continuously over the years, as they are numbered from 7000 or so up to 50000+. It would be a great way to help date them if so and also shows us that the firm took over 50,000 photographs during their tenure.