This is one of my favourite family history photographs. You might have seen the image already on my website or Twitter account because I've posted it several times before. Naturally, there are no names, dates or locations written on the back but recently I've been making another attempt to work out who, when and where.
I think these ladies are definitely close relatives to each other and to me. Facially they seem so similar and familiar.
The hats are the biggest clue as to when the photo was taken.
Cloche hats were the fashion throughout most of the nineteen twenties and into the early thirties.
This clipping from the Hartlepool Mail 3rd August 1928 is a good example of the style.
From the late 1920s onwards it was fashionable to wear the cloche hat with the brim turned outwards. All three of the lovely ladies in my photo are wearing their cloches with the brim turned out so I think this is good evidence that they are at the seaside in the late twenties, early thirties.
If you look at the two younger women in the background, their dresses look typical of the nineteen twenties with the dropped waists. And their hairstyles too.
This clipping is from The Bedfordshire Times and Independent 13th March 1925. Looks like you could get everything you needed to be a dedicated follower of fashion at Braggins Store in Bedford.
Could it be my grandmother and her family?
My grandmother (Elsie) had three sisters: Edith, Anne and Beatrice. Edith had died in 1919 in the Spanish Flu pandemic after the First World War and then Anne died in 1926. So, if my deductions are correct that the photo was taken from about 1928 onwards this could be Elsie and Beatrice. The lady on the right looks older so maybe that's their mum, my great grandmother, Eliza Smith.
I've got a photo of Elsie taken about 1925 which I know is definitely her and I've cropped her face with the lady on the left of the paddling photo and I think they could be the same person.
I've also got a photo of Elsie taken about 1950 and I've added that as well and think I can see close similarities. I tested this out on my niece who is keen on family history and she thought they looked like images of the same person too. She also said she thought there was some resemblance to her own mum.
So, maybe the paddling photo is Elsie with her sister Beatrice and her mum, Eliza.
Are they paddling at Blackpool?
From the postcard collection passed on from my grandmother (See Postcards for Miss Smith) I know that the sisters liked to go on seaside holidays to Blackpool, Southport and Douglas in the Isle of Man. For a number of years Beatrice ran a guest house in Blackpool and I can only speculate that her mother and sisters went to stay with her from time to time.
This view of Blackpool was sent to Edith by her mother in October 1915 who wrote on the back:
Just a line to say we are going on nicely. Hope you are all keeping well + that everything is alright. It has been very nice so far. Love to all E.A S.
Whether the paddling photograph is really Elsie, Beatrice and Eliza at Blackpool in 1928 I don't think I will ever know for sure but for now it's my best guess.