“Bridlington’s Photographic Heritage”

A report on our meeting held on 28th November 2016

The Prior Rick Hudson welcomed members and guests and introduced the speaker Bro John Walker.  Bro John has given talks to the Augustinian Society for over 50 years and is an honorary life member. Bro John’s talk today was entitled, “Bridlington’s Photographic Heritage”.

Bro John began by thanking all those artists and engravers, and later the photographers, who for over two centuries have provided views frozen in time of the town and its people. He hoped that others would do as he does and continue to record changing Bridlington. Early paintings reveal the wooden harbour as it was, and the small hamlet of Quay huddled around the northern shore. The earliest photographs show the new stone piers and the start of sea defences with the construction of the Princes Parade. A group in front of Victoria Terrace, a terrace of buildings where the leisure centre now stands, is perhaps the earliest group photograph.  Some of the posed people seem to have body clamps to keep them still.

Some of the early professional photographers include Boaks, Waddington Gibsons, Spurr, and of course Brighams who ran the “Snaps” franchise.  Less well known are Allerstons. Bro John showed that they had a studio next to Christchurch where the road by the cenotaph is now. Perhaps the well discovered near here in the last few years provided clean water for developing their photographs. Bro John also mentioned Harold Pinder. Some of the Photographs that Bro John showed had “HFP” on them identifying his work. Past Augustinian member Cyril Pilling had a photographic shop at a south shore holiday camp and compiled his own collection of photographs of Bridlington. Bro John has copies of many of these.

Featuring amongst the photographs that Bro John showed were the changing face of the buildings on the north side of the harbour, military camps at Bessingby, the London Lord Mayors visit in 1906, beach scenes, lost garages, the Swiss chalets, and the Spa and boating pool.  Events such as the Empire Day carnival processions, and open air dancing on a dance floor over the Spa boating pool, are now just fading memories. No talk by Bro John would be complete without a magnificent series of photographs taken in Old Town, particularly in High Street. Amongst others we saw John Holtby’s bicycle showroom, Milner’s Shop, Gatenby’s chemists, the Globe inn and Post Office, and Dales agricultural engineers.

The vote of thanks was given by Bro Tom Ainley.  He thanked Bro John for imparting some of his vast knowledge to interpret the photographs so that we could see all these places anew.