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.
This walking picture is a long way technically from being a great photograph but it captures a tiny moment in time so well; two young women with a new baby out walking with their pram on a blustery day, you would think it was just taken by a friend – except it has the giveaway print reference number on the back. One of the women has written their home address on the back, 3 Howgill Cottages, Low Road. This is a rural road in Brigham outside Workington in Cumbria, but I cannot locate the house. Not do we know for sure where it was taken, though one of the North West resorts seems likely, perhaps Morecambe (could that be the Midland Hotel – 1933 – going up in the distance?).
Despite the poor print, what seems to be double exposure, chemical marks and the lack of detail (it’s only 2″ by 3″ but may have been one of a pair), they clearly enjoyed having it taken and bought the print as a souvenir of the day.
Scottish walkies are not seen so often, but the trade was active there and this walking picture turned up recently, taken in Union Street, Aberdeen in September 1947, the details recorded on the back by one of the two women in the photograph. This suggests a local photographer making a living throughout the year, as it’s beyond any sort of holiday season (I have seen a Skegness walkies dated as late as October.) The road is the main shopping street in the town, and unwittingly the image gives a real insight into the bustling nature of the thoroughfare, with a horse and cart, cars, cycles and buses (there are tram tracks too) all passing the camera, and there is a slightly misty atmosphere to the photo which I like. Although people on holiday might have expected to be photographed in the street, the look of puzzlement particularly in the lady on the right suggests this was not the case here.
The view is still very recognisable today in the shot above although the cobbles have gone and it is hard to replicate the foreshortening in the original image. The two women are just passing what is still Jamieson & Carry’s jewellery shop on the left (the firm have been on this site since 1925 although that’s a fairly recent move, they were established in 1733!).
Frustratingly there are no photographer details on the back beyond the ubiquitous frame number. The only other firm I know operating in the town was Movie Snaps, who also took smaller walkies here and in other Scottish locations in the late 1930s but seem to have closed when the War started.
Whilst my main interest is in the images, walking picture research on this site is providing information for family tree researchers, and we do get quite a few requests for help in identifying unknown walkies which we can sometimes solve. This walking picture is a case in point, sent to me by Annie Goldsen. She knew it showed her mother Mary, the young girl in the centre (aged 7), as well as Mary’s parents (her Mum in the sun visor hat) and her Grandmother, but was keen to know where they were holidaying. It was taken around 1935, and they were clearly off to the beach for a spot of cricket.
I like a challenge; at first I thought it might be Skegness as the white block building was quite like some buildings there, but I drew a blank. In the end it needed a potter through my archives from A – Z, and a match finally turned up in Worthing.
The postcard view below shows the exact spot the family were when the photographer pressed the shutter. The building in the background is amazingly still there, a sort of shelter, changing room and shop combined. Even the buses in the view match.
The walkie would have been one of a strip of three, the reference number is hand-written sideways down the frame edge.
It’s a lovely image, they all seem really happy and having seen him in advance smile for the photographer.
There are quite a few more Worthing walkies on the site if you use the search button.
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.
We have looked at Benson’s on the site before. They operated in Bridlington and Scarborough post-WW2. This walkie is from the Scarborough office which was based on Sandside next to the harbour. It was sent to us by Joy Rawlings and shows her Grandmother Lillian Fox on the right (in the spotty dress) with two friends (Mrs. Duddle centre and Mrs. Jones, a neighbour, on the left) and her Grandfather John Fox in the background. I would think mid-1950s from the look of it. They have just passed the little fish market stalls (a newer version of them survives) and the previous lifeboat house on the end of Foreshore Road, which was only demolished in 2015. Amazingly Google Maps still has a glimpse of this view, see below, but on the rest of the map it has disappeared. You can read more about Bensons on the site. Thanks to Joy for the scan.
This walking picture is just typical of hundreds of thousands, and turned up amongst some recent finds. As is often the case I’ve no idea who the couple are, or where it was taken – although the style of the lamp-post might provide a clue when I have the time. I just liked the slightly resigned expression on the gents face, and the tab hanging from the mouth Andy Capp style. His wife is looking more robust, and has kept her hairnet on so perhaps they’re on their way somewhere special. I’d think it was taken in the Forties, both by the fashions and the smaller print size.
Back to Miss Bradbury! We posted a cut-out walkie with her on here recently. Going through her snapshots a number of walkies emerged, and seem to cover both her and her husband’s holidays over a twenty year period or more. Here are three more. I might have assumed the first to be just a family snapshot except it has the ‘Walking Picture’ backprint. It looks to be late Thirties to me, the dress pattern on what I assume to be proud Mum is very vivid, and it probably qualifies more as a just learned to walkie! The location didn’t have many clues but I thought the arched gable on the right looked like it might be by Scarborough harbour and so it proved (see the then and now below!). This location at Sandside was popular with walkie photographers and Miss Bradbury was snapped here as a teenager in the walkie below.
Walkie two was taken on Blackpool Central Pier in the late Forties. The V1 display which featured on the pier just after the war (which can be seen on the site) has gone but the Bicycle ride is still there. This is a busy walkie scene; Miss Bradbury and her father are walking toward the cameraman, but you can see a queue of people behind them waiting their turn.
Lastly Miss Bradbury is back in Blackpool for walkie three, this time the North Pier, but with her boyfriend (or perhaps by now her husband) on her right (Uncle on her left?) rather than her parents. She also has a box camera of some sort with her and the patterned frock suggests early Fifties.