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.
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.
Bognor Regis council seem to have altered so much on the Esplanade that I doubt we’ll ever be able to pin this walkie down, but it is unusual in that the company have added a what looks like an automatic date stamp to the side of the print, and the name of the town, as well as the normal hand written reference number. I assume all this was done at the darkroom stage while the prints were being exposed. These are two frames from what would have been a strip of three originally, and were found by Paul Godfrey. We have seen walkies by Sunny Snaps and Sunfilms taken in the town around the same time, but this is not by them, and is simply marked Walking Snaps on the back. I have one frame from the same firm but that only has day and month, and lacks the year date. The quality is much poorer than prints by their two bigger rivals (my example is so bleached out it’s hard to see anything!) but very filmic.
No mistaking mother and daughter here, they look so alike on this postcard sized walkie. One of them has dated it to July 1954 on the back but didn’t add where it was taken. I thought at first it might be Filey Brigg in the background, but while it is clearly right on the seafront somewhere I could not get a proper match for those very distinctive street lights until the other day when a card from Bournemouth sea-front turned up.
The second walkie was also initially another mystery, this is a single frame cut from a set of three originally sold on a postcard to one of the two ladies. Frustratingly there wasn’t enough detail in any of the background to give a clue, the photo is only around 1.5″ by 2.5″. It must be from the mid-1920s and seems to be a shopping trip rather than a seaside visit, some three decades before the card above. That advertising board propped up on the left rang a bell though, and I found it in exactly the same place on another walkie which I have identified as one of the main shopping streets in Bournemouth away from the seafront. It advertises shows in Victoria Park in the town.
There are more Bournemouth walkies on the site if you do a search, including a set of three which I have animated.