What did they do to occupy themselves, apart from collecting - and presumably reading - the piles of newspapers and books which filled much of their house? Well, the photographic record suggests that they regularly spent at least a part of their summers visiting various seaside resorts. In Sidewalk Photographers I presented a series of "walking pictures" taken of them with various other family members in Great Yarmouth (1931, 1937 and 1938) and Bournemouth (1932 and 1933).
Passengers aboard the Bournemouth Queen, 15 September 1923
Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison
This snapshot was also taken by a professional, but is not a "walkie." Here the photographer has opted to capture his tourist clientele en masse, conveniently gathered together on the top aft deck of an excursion boat. The boat appears to be tied up on the western side of the Bournemouth Pier, the characteristic Dorset cliffs being visible in the background, and possibly the Bournemouth beach huts and amusement arcade at the foot of the cliff. In some respects, it could be considered the same genre of commercial portrait to that of a charabanc outing that my Dutch grandparents had on the Isle of Wight, also in the early 1920s.
Mobile sales tent for Bailey's postcards
Image © Martin Parr, Photography: a critical introduction, Liz Wells
Courtesy of Google Books
Provided the excursion was long enough, as soon as the boat departed the photographer would have time to nip into his dark room, possibly even a small booth on or close to the pier, develop the negative and have a couple of dozen postcard prints of each on display and for sale by the time the boat returned.
The negative was inscribed in black ink - reversed to white on the print, of course - with "Queen 15.9.23" at the lower left, the latter being the date of the photograph, 15th September 1923, and the number "1999" on the funnel, presumably a negative number. An enlargement of the lifebelt hanging over the railings shows that the boat was the Bournemouth Queen registered at Southampton.
Red Funnel Steamers postcard of Bournemouth Queen
Image © and courtesy of Alwyn Ladell
According to Ian Boyle's comprehensive web site Simplon Postcards, devoted to passenger ships, the Bournemouth Queen was a paddle steamer of the Red Funnel Line serving as an excursion ship out of Bournemouth for most of its lengthy career, which included service in both world wars, before being finally scrapped in 1957. There was another Bournemouth Queen based in Poole who also operated on the Bournemouth-Isle of Wight run from 1968 to 1973.
Bournemouth Queen advertising signboard
Image courtesy of Ian Boyle/Simplon Postcards
This photograph of the later ship taking on passengers shows a signboard on the gangway advertising daily trips to the Isle of Wight departing from Bournemouth at 10.15 a.m. and returning at 6 pm, with the opportunity to spend 4½ hours ashore, and coach tours of the island available if booked in advance. Granted this was several decades later, but it indicates that there would have been plenty of time for photo developing and printing before the customers returned.
The back of the postcard reveals the photographer to be "Bailey, 228 A Christchurch Rd., Bournemouth." Alwyn Ladell tells me that Ernest Benjamin Bailey operated first from 240/242 Old Christchurch Road, then later at Glen Fern Chambers/Glen Fern Studios in Bournemouth, and the range of dates that I've seen on similar postcards extends from 1914 to 1940. The negative number clearly visible on most examples could be used to order copies at a later date. This might suggest that negative numbers could therefore be used to establish a date sequence, and thus lead to an estimation of the number of photographs he was taking.
Analysis of postcard negative numbers, Bailey of Bournemouth, 1914-1938 © Brett Payne
However, after a preliminary analysis of the numerous examples of Bailey's postcards available on the net - a selection can be seen on Alwyn Ladell's Flickr photostream - there doesn't appear to be a single sequence of negative numbers, and it's possible he started a new series each season.
My aunt has inscribed the reverse of the postcard in blue pen, with the suggestion that her father (CLLP) is seated 5th from left in the front row, and "Sarah & Hallam also CVP right of funnel ... three rows behind," CVP being CLLP's father and Hallam's older brother. I've had a good look at a higher resolution image of the postcard and, while Sarah and Hallam (shown above) are unmistakeable, I don't think either CLLP or CVP are on that boat.
Passengers aboard the Bournemouth Queen, 16 August 1923
Image © and courtesy of "Billy Voak, The Pagham Wanderer"
This postcard, also by Bailey and taken only a few weeks before Uncle Hallam and Aunt Sarah were in Bournemouth, shows the same vessel but is a far more interesting view of passengers on the foredeck. Apart from the wonderful detail of the excursionists sporting a fine array of hats, clothing and accessories, there is a magnificent view of the holidaymakers arrayed in their deckchairs or promenading past the beach huts and amusement arcades on Bournemouth beach, a few ankle deep in the water, some even preparing to board a smaller pleasure boat. What a different feel it has to the one showing Uncle Hallam and Aunt Sarah, where all are dressed in heavy overcoats, the sun does not appear to be showing its face, and there is no action in the background to liven things up.
Passengers disembarking from Bournemouth Queen, 25 April 1935
Postcard by Bailey, Glen Fern Studios, Bournemouth
Image © and courtesy of Scott Henderson/Striderv
Sometimes he would photograph the passengers disembarking from the steamer, presumably on their return from the Isle of Wight. Perhaps they were given tickets by an assistant, printed with the negative number, and told they could return the next day for the prints.
Coloured Postcard view of Bournemouth Pier from the West Cliff, n.d.
Image © and courtesy of David Gregory/Postcards of the Past
This early postcard view from the West Cliff by an unknown publisher - possibly James Valentine or Photochrom - shows the popular beach and the pier, and a paddle steamer moored beside the latter.
Postcard photo, Bailey, Glen Fern Studios, Bournemouth, 1939
Image © and courtesy of Doreen Smith
As shown by the photograph above of an exuberant group of swimmers at the beach, and another of more sedate beachgoers occupying deckchairs below, Bailey did not restrict himself to the pier, and when there were no excursion boats to be serviced he no doubt touted for business along the waterfront.
Postcard photo, Bailey, Glen Fern Studios, Bournemouth, n.d.
Image © and courtesy of David Vickers/Reminiscene
Pier Approach, Bournemouth, 20 August 1935
Postcard view by Bailey, Glen Fern Studios, Bournemouth
Image © and courtesy of Dorset Coast Digital Archive
A further postcard by Bailey of the Pier Approach, Bournemouth is of a different genre, which indicates that he also produced more general views, and probably had them on sale along with his specific excursion oriented group shots at the tent shown earlier.
Don't forget to head over to Sepia Saturday to be entertained by more photographs, perhaps along a similar theme to either this one or Alan Burnett's image of a London & North Western Railway Co. office in Waterford, Ireland.