It’s always good to see Sunny Snaps walkies as the firm’s history remains a bit of a mystery, so each identified example helps build up the story (and also dates the fashions nicely!). This pair were sent to me by John Thompson, who was trying to identify the locations. The 1937 walkie was taken on Worthing sea-front promenade, and was a popular spot with cameramen for some years before World War 2. The array of buses shows why! I also have a walking picture taken at exactly the same location as the 1938 Sunny Snap, which we know was South Street.
John knows the people are his family and is now trying to find out exactly who they are.
There is more on the site if you search for Sunny Snaps and more from Worthing in particular with a link to the firm’s story, and more in the book Go Home On A Postcard.
One consequence of the Walking Pictures project has been people sending in scans, wanting to know where they were taken. And while I have 101 other things I ought to be doing, I can’t resist a challenge. It’s as well Google don’t charge for their street view by the hour (but then given the tax they dodge, free is the least they can do!).
This walkie by the firm of Sunny Snaps arrived recently, sent by Peter Aylett in California. It is very typical of their output, well composed and very naturalistic. It shows his father Jim on the right, looking very dapper in his pale suit, with an unknown friend (taken around mid-day in April.) Sunny Snaps have dated this one, 1939, but not given the location, and Peter was hoping we might be able to help.
My initial thought was that this was unlikely to be a coastal Sunny Snaps walkie, but more likely to be back in London, their other main area of operation. The railway bridge was a clue, and the buildings very distinctive, but London has an awful lot of these.
From what little I know of Sunny Snaps in the city, Fulham High Street seemed a good starting point, but while a rail bridge and church there matched quite well, the buildings were not quite right. Having trawled around on street view, I gave up and went in search of an Underground rail enthusiast site and discovered District Dave’s London Underground forum (http://districtdave.proboards.com/). Their moderator Rich kindly posted the scan and within a few hours John Tuthill had recognised the scene as Shepherd’s Bush Market station on Uxbridge Road in London.
Many of the buildings have gone but he spotted the end of the Passmore Edwards library (now closed and replaced by a modern library, but hopefully opening as a theatre before long) just to the left of the fly postered telegraph pole. The bridge matches, but I could not see the church in the present day scene. John explained that the spire had been removed a few years later. The bus in the background is a new trolleybus, which had replaced the trams on this road only two years earlier.
Peter has tracked the path Jim would have taken that day in 1939 from the family home on Astrop Terrace to the point where the Sunny Snaps was taken.
This is a useful addition to the story of Sunny Snaps, who we are beginning to think had a number of photographers out and about in London in the late Thirties as well as the South Coast towns. Quite often photographers worked near their base, and incredibly the yellow fronted shop in the modern view is currently a branch of … Snappy Snaps!
Our second example was taken the same year, and shows Johnny Smith’s Grandmother, again photographed in London, and looking smartly dressed for a shopping trip. She lived on Battersea Rise near Clapham Junction in 1939 and this may have been taken on that road (or St. Johns Wood High Street which crosses it), which was (and still is) a busy shopping area, although I have not been able to make a match with the surviving streetscape yet. If anyone spots something they recognise, please let us know. That might be some sort of street market going on in the background.
You can read more about Sunny Snaps on the site, and there is another London walkie there. If anyone has further examples please get in touch. You can also join a newsletter service about the forthcoming book, which will keep you updated on progress and details of any pre-publication offers. This service is provided by the book’s publishers. Your details will be kept confidential and you can unsubscribe at any time. Click the button below for details:
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My thanks to Andrew Gordon for sending this unusual Sunny Snaps card in. I know it’s not a walkie, but the overall result with the colouring is so attractive I had to post it here. Colour photography had been developed but not for the mass market, so many seaside photography firms offered a colouring service at an extra charge. I’ve seen so few examples that I assume not many people went for the option. After all, the whole idea of such prints was that they were purchased (often on the same day they were taken) as souvenirs. Having to spend more and wait longer went against this concept. Most professionally hand coloured photos you see are more formal portraits, often weddings, and larger prints, where the extra expense was felt more justifiable.
There was of course an alternative, DIY. Firms offered sets of coloured paints which were formulated to work on photographic surfaces. These were oil based (normal water-colours wouldn’t dry properly) and applied using ordinary fine brushes. The results depended on the skill of the user! Here it appears one of the children in the photo was allowed to have a go, and they’ve not done too badly. As there is some evidence of paint drying in patches, they might not have had access to a proper set of hand tinting paint, but the overall result is very evocative. The usual Sunny Snaps type panel gives the date 1937, and Andrew says it was taken at at Elmer Sands in West Sussex (which is close to Bognor Regis.) It shows Mrs. Margaret Gordon, Mrs. Galder and Mrs. Nelson-Wright with their children. You can read more about Sunny Snaps on the site.
A little quiet yelp in a collectors shop in Hull recently puzzled my brother who was bemused by my excitement over a seemingly insignificant piece of paper ephemera. He was none the wiser when I explained I’d never seen a photographic wallet from the walking picture firm of Snaps in Bridlington before. For as well as their busy trade in walkies and other types of seaside photography, the firm also did develop and print work for visitors to the resort. These would be returned inside the usual card wallets, negatives in one side, the prints in the other. It looks to date from the early 1920s, judging by the typography and also the way the wallet has been stitched together rather than folded and glued (It would be interesting to know when this technique was abandoned, I have some 78 rpm sleeves which are also stitched rather than glued.)
The story of Snaps walking pictures (and a photo of the building) is on the site here.
This walkie was sent by Peter Wilkinson to see if I could help identify it. “It is of my mum and dad, Phyllis and John Wilkinson possibly on their honeymoon in summer of 1939. They were fond of Littlehampton and Weymouth, but I have drawn a blank.”
The scene looked familiar and I found another Sunny Snaps shot from 1933 which was taken on the same spot, and was marked Littlehampton. I like a challenge and found the location at the southern end of Pier Road, looking north. The brick shop in the top right has now been rendered and painted but the roof lines and chimneys are still recognisable. There is more information about Sunny Snaps on the site, it’s temping to think they must have had a shop in the row behind.
Thanks to Peter for letting us show the image here.
Following on from the page about Sunny Snaps in Worthing, I found this card. It’s a great image, the two young women (sisters by the look of it) in trouser skirts striding purposefully along, looking directly at the camera. As the card is only marked South Coast, I’d be stuck for the location but happily one of the women posted the card (perhaps to their parents, Mr and Mrs Marks, in Ashford) and this shows it to be sent from Worthing. Even better, the card writer comments directly about the photograph being taken: “We seem to have collected a few of these ghastly things so you are obviously doomed to have one. Actually we did not know it was being taken or it would not be sent to you looking as grim as this! “
Grim or not, Wilks and Epps (nicknames it’s hard to decipher over seventy years later) obviously dropped by to see it on display and overcame what sounds like a slightly middle-class view of walkies enough to buy it, and others taken on the same holiday.
I can just make out some signs for Kodak and Selo Films on the shop front behind them, so perhaps Sunny Snaps was operating from this location as well.