Cloth caps and bonnets on! This is a frame originally one of three in sequence, taken on a converted movie camera on a tripod. The Mum and her son seem amused to realise they were being snapped, and even though the end print is very unsharp and there are negative scratches, they have purchased it later that day (and later cut it up into 2″ by 3″ frames). Everyone seems well wrapped up and it has been raining, but that doesn’t seem to have put off the crowds walking down the Tower Esplanade in Skegness (you can just about make out the tower in the background) so lots of potential customers for the photographer. The print is also helpful as it has been dated in pen on the negative at the side, 4.X.32. This may mean Oct 4th. 1932, if so quite late for a break. There are a few from the same family’s collection surviving in those I found, most seem to be Skegness.
There are more Skegness images on the site if you use the search button (the post below is a set taken there). I don’t know who took this one, but the biggest firm in the town were Wrates, you can read about them on the site as well.
Another of those small photo booth portraits, but mounted on a little pre-printed backing card by the photographers, Horsfield’s Happy Snaps of Redcar. With his shirt collar undone, I would imagine the gent was on holiday and wanted a souvenir. A photo booth would have been the cheapest option, certainly cheaper than a walkie. It would also be the quickest. I cannot find any reference to the shop on the web, but the name does suggest they may also have done beach and street photography, although I have not yet seen a walkie from this seaside town.
And while Redcar as a resort is not one that springs readily to mind these days (though I have been for a look), with a superb beach it did serve the populations of some big North East cities from Victorian times onwards, particularly Middlesborough. One lady on the web recalled her day as a child at Redcar: “On the morning as we left our apartments we went to the beach. I had a donkey ride, then on to the ventriloquist whose show began at 10am, then the Punch and Judy Show (a little further along the beach) started at 10.30am. The Pierrots started at 11am (The Optimists of ’38, The Seafarers, and The Wavelets are all names she recalled). Sometimes before going back to the digs for lunch, we went along to Sunshine Corner. After lunch we either went to the boating lake end, Lock Park or the Stray end to the paddling pool.”
Makes you exhausted just reading it! I’m trying to date the picture but would suspect late Forties.
Another unidentified Walkie, but the roller skating craze of the Fifties is clearly being catered for judging by the hoarding behind. The walkie has a nice contrasty look about it, perhaps caused by excess light getting in when it was printed. It’s a curious size too, like a shortened postcard. There is no firm identified on the back, but further evidence that the photo must be from the late Fifties is the slightly teddy boy affectation of the son, as seen by the hair do and the big shouldered jacket. Still at least he seems to be enjoying the experience of being photographed on holiday, as do his Mum and Dad. And he has forsaken crepe soles for a pair of those old fashioned leather sandals with the cross weave front panel. And socks.
I have looked at Remington’s walking picture operation in the site in some detail but this walkie is both a great informal image and it shows their pitch near Torquay’s Princess Pier. Remington were based in Paignton by this time, just a mile or so down the coast. Given the shadows this would have been taken mid-morning, and the postcard print available for the family to buy later that day from the kiosk on the right. Son and heir is wearing what looks like a knitted trouser suit from a pattern and was probably on holiday in the late 1930s.
These two cheerful looking ladies clearly went on holiday together quite frequently judging from a small pile of walkies I found at a market stall recently, probably from a house clearance. Although they are seen with a small child in some (and perhaps grandchildren in others) and husbands, mostly they were photographed together by the walkie cameraman. The majority of the walkies were taken in Skegness after the War, and one in Margate in the Fifties (when the lady on the left seems to be on her own more) but these two sets here I cannot identify, although I do have others taken on the same spot, so it would be good if anyone does know where it is.
Theses walkies were of the type taken on a converted movie camera and sold as a strip of three, but they were cut into individual frames later by the owners and one is missing from each. I think they were probably taken on the same holiday (judging by the tree in the background which hasn’t changed!), and the lady on the right has a very sharp imitation snake skin pattern handbag in both sets. The rough frame edge of the enlarger is also identical on the final frame in both cases.
Date wise one of the Skegness photos is identified as August 1932, but the women look a little younger in these walkies, so possibly 1929, 1930? The then fashionable beret which suddenly appears in one set might have been a holiday buy…
It seems a popular spot, with people perhaps coming up a slight hidden incline in the background to the seafront from town, and you can see half a dozen people in the background in the scene below waiting their turn to walk toward the camera.
So far I’ve been able to push walking pictures back to 1913, which is the earliest positively dated card I have found. This pair turned up recently at a flea market, and look very much like early commercial walking pictures (rather than someone snapping a friend with a Box Brownie!). Although there is no obvious reference number, the scowl of the woman and the disinterested look of her companion does not suggest they knew the photographer. But if it is an early walkie, perhaps they were yet to get used to the experience. In contrast the gentleman in the other walkie looks bemused by it all, with a smile on his face.
Dating images like this is never easy, the quality of the photos in not great to begin with and they are quite small (2.5″ by 3.5″). But a check on fashion history sites suggests that the woman’s hat, which has a clearly arched brim and domed top, was in vogue for a short time around 1917-1919, so that could give us a reasonable date for the photos.
I was not able to pin-point the coastal town myself, but Simon Potter has confirmed this as sunny Eastbourne.
Blackpool’s North Pier must have been captured on tens of thousand’s of walking pictures. This group of funsters out for a stroll down the pier one afternoon in the early 1930s represent just four of them. It’s clearly a sunny day as we can tell from the shadows cast (and the guy behind them in his sports jacket), but they’re rugged up to the nines – vest, shirt, cardigan, tweed jacket AND an overcoat in the case of the gent on the right. Hands in pockets? Well we are on holiday! That’s the back of the large restaurant at the entrance to the pier behind them. There are more walkies from this spot on the site here.
Paul Godfrey, who has helped on this site and shares our interest in seaside photography, is helping with the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival, and presenting an illustrated talk on the local photographers who specialised in those comic cut-out boards where you put your head through and were photographed. It’s on at St Georges Theatre in the town on June 11th at 5.30. More details at the festival site www.greatyarmouthartsfestival.co.uk As well as this there will be cut-outs throughout the town and on the pier. Sounds great fun!
While walkies form the most numerous seaside souvenir photos, the ever popular idea of poking your head through a gaily painted image of bathers (male and female) remains popular. I’ve pulled out a handful of these comic seaside images for the site, including this strange image of a happy looking guy in Edwardian style women’s dress!