I could not resist this small walkie. Mother is doing her level best to ignore the guy with the cine-camera on a tripod, but young daughter is fascinated, peeping up from her toy pram. Mother must have relented! I cannot tell where it was taken, the lens is too soft to read the detail in the print, but it might be Blackpool (one fo the streets running down to the promenade), as it matches other small walkies from there in size and layout. Let me know if you recognise it. I guessed at a date of the early 1930s from the fashions, etc. but Richard Jones (of http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/) says the saloon whizzing by is a Ford Model CX which was introduced here in 1936, and looks quite new, so sometime just after that seems likely.
It’s the quiet nonchalance in this walkie which I like, a slow stroll down the promenade, with one lad just bouncing his rubberised swimming float about as the walkie was taken, inadvertently framing his head. It might be three generations of the family; two sons (one very dressed down in his beret and open top, the other seemingly in his school clothes, pen in top pocket, and a cap), father (with his box Brownie) and grandfather. The card is not identified; the shingle beach suggested southern England and there seems to be a photo kiosk on the left. The background closely matched a walkie I just found, which is by the firm of Mr. Snaps in Felixstowe and sure enough the location checked out, somewhere along Undercliffe Road. I’ve never been to Felixstowe, which to me was always a port, but it is also a large seaside resort and the smart promenade looks to be one of the longest in the country. I don’t know which firm took it, and it doesn’t match the format of those taken by Mr. Snaps (which are usually marked in any case). At some time somebody in the family has written a list of twenty breeds of dog in pencil on the back, perhaps as part of a quiz. I would think it’s from the Twenties.
Identifying this has since helped me locate a few more from my unknown walkies file, including this one above, which is clearly the same concrete slabbed promenade walk (still there and good as new). Again the firm is not given, but the couple are “Tommy and self…”, and it was taken on August 24th 1932 according to the lady who wrote on the back. It’s a very good photograph too, with the smartly dressed pair enjoying a brisk late morning walk. There are pin marks in the corner suggesting this was printed up and posted on a display board, where the couple went along later that day and bought it.
This later image below from the Frith collection shows the same promenade near the pier (which went in the Fifties, a new one has been opened recently). Mr. Snaps are included in our A to Z of walking picture firms.
Although this strip of three walking pictures is not identified, the seller was based near Hove and suggested to me that it might be Brighton. As the town had three piers at one time this was not quite so easy to pin down but I started with the surviving Palace Pier and some digging brought close-ups of the pier decoration which matched exactly. The elaborate metalwork structures on the left is an arch base, although all but one of these has now been removed.
Although I have a few walkies from the town they are less common than I would expect and these strips are also scarce, and I’ve certainly seen none from Brighton pier before. It is unusual in that the print is around 4″ by 9″. From the fashions and the style I would date it to the 1930s. Behind the couple is a kiosk selling Cadbury’s ‘Cup’ Chocolate at 3d; this product was certainly on sale in the late 1920s and very popular into the 1950s.
The firm who took the walkie is unknown. It seems likely that the print was usually supplied as a smaller size but a larger version like this could be ordered for a little extra.
Happily much of Palace Pier remains as it was, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times and lets hope they look after it properly.
Just a regular small walking picture, from a strip taken before WW2. But one of the two gents has written in pen on the back “Corporation Street, Birmingham” and the date, 1936. So this is the first confirmed walkie I have from this large city, which would have been almost impossible to identify otherwise. Urban walkies are much less common than seaside ones, so it’s good to be able to add another to the growing list, although we will probably never know much about the photographer or indeed the people walking along a very busy street on that Friday lunchtime 80 years ago.
More in hope than expectation I had a look to see if I could discover what the site looks like today, but needless to say being Birmingham NOTHING remains from this entire view. There are just a few old photos to show us how fabulous it once looked like. And it’s no good blaming the War, the city still attacks its architectural heritage ignoring wiser advice, witness the great modernist library they ripped down recently. Philistines. Probably best mates of the same idiots in charge of destroying Sheffield.
Skeg Cards (from Skegness if you hadn’t guessed!) have been documented on the site before but this particularly nice example came my way recently. Sometimes a walkie just catches your attention, and this is one such. The young girl just looks so excited to be both on holiday and having her photo taken. I cannot make my mind up whether the couple are her parents or perhaps Grandparents. They look a little austere at first glance but once you get past the gent’s now deeply unfashionable moustache, he is on the verge of a smile and his partner appears to have just realised what is going on.
Technically it also stands out, with the trio highlighted against a misty faded background. I suppose it’s possible someone in the darkroom spent a few seconds “dodging” to increase the contrast, but it is likely to be a happy accident.
The image was marked “unknown” when I bought it, but the view looked familiar. Sure enough the large building behind them is the old Pier Hotel at Skegness. If that wasn’t enough, the girl is holding a holiday regulation wooden spade but also an unusual metal seaside bucket, more like a small milk pail, and this has the words “Present From Skegness” printed on the side.
Skeg cards were in business from around 1920 and took walkies near and on the town’s first pier. They did not mark their cards, but the neatly hand written reference number jotted down is typical of their output. I imagine this must be circa 1924 or so. More potential customers can be seen behind them, in what looks to be the early morning.
He is dressed down, no tie and white shoes, but the older woman, smothered in a huge fur stole of some sort, is not exactly beach ready so I assume the next port of call was to hire a deckchair before sandcastle building could ensue.
This would have been a great walkie originally, but then someone young has been let loose with the hand tinting set and this garish image is the result! At first I assumed the little girl was the woman’s child (and perhaps the guilty party!) but having looked more carefully I think there is actually another adult hidden behind her, holding the dog lead and a pink basket. The image is post-WW2 but looks older, and I cannot make out where it was taken although the level ground around the cliffs near Margate might be a possibility.
I played with the mono levels and you can begin to see the original image below. Most walking picture firms offered a professional hand tinting service but I have seen very few of these, perhaps the price put people off plus most people bought these on impulse, and would not have wanted (or been heading home) to wait for them to be coloured. There are some proper examples in the Go Home On A Postcard book!
Most walking pictures date from the early 1920s onwards, with just two in my archive from before WW1. This looks to be a third. The card is very faded and frustratingly has no location or indication of which firm took it. Not does it carry the usual reference number, just a regular postcard printed back. But it clearly is a commercial walking picture from the composition and the way the woman is looking with curiosity at the camera, he waving his stick in the general direction seems to be trying to ignore it. The dating comes from her fashions, and also his collar.
Being so early, it is before negative numbering had come into use on walking pictures, and the couple were probably just informed where they could see the print on display later in the day (maybe in the kiosk in the background), and did indeed go and buy it.
It’s not a brilliant image but that’s mostly because it probably wasn’t processed as well as it could be, so it is now a very pale sepia colour which I’ve had to work on in Photoshop to increase the contrast.
The view has a south coast feel to it, but the depth of field is quite shallow so everything behind the couple is very out of focus. If the area looks familiar to anyone do get in touch! There is a hi-resolution version in the Go Home On A Postcard book.
The back stamp on this walkie seemed to read Beech’s Photographers, with an address at Gloucester Row, in Weymouth. The clock tower confirms the location but another walkie turned up and showed the name to be Meech’s. The firm offers no results on a web-search but looks to be taken in the early Sixties. It is interesting to see Mum has a Kodak Box Brownie in hand, which shows that while people were camera owners they still liked buying a walkie photo.
It’s possible Meech’s were only going for a season or two, hopefully more of their prints – which have those shaped edges – will turn up. There is another example on the site.
Other firms known to taken walkies in Weymouth are Chambers in the 1930s, and Guy’s Snaps in the Fifties (also detailed on the site).
This great portrait looks like it could have come from a family album it is so informal, but the reference number shows it to be a commercial walking picture. Two of the gents are in the new fangled Oxford Bags, and may be brothers. Their female friend is smartly dressed too. It was taken around 1936 by the firm of S R Keig, based in Douglas on the Isle of Man (and photographers since around 1860 through to 2010) but very hard to locate exactly until another by the same firm turned up which was taken in the smaller resort of Port Erin not far away, and this enabled us to identify the rest as from the same town. I have added them to our list on the site where you can find some more Isle Of Man walkie examples and a bit more detail.