Express & Star

Mystery Walsall women with the film star look - do you know them?

Who were these fashionable young women from Walsall who were getting the film star treatment back in the 1930s?

Gladys Jones.

When we say the film star treatment, we mean that they were the subject of studio portraits – which as they would have set them back a pretty penny, were not something to have done lightly.

There are names to conjure with, such as Maisie Toddington, Olive Powell, Nancy Jones, Gladys Jones – probably Nancy's sister – Eva Rainbow, Doris Clarke, Nancy Woolley and "Hilda."

"Hilda" is written on the back of this portrait but no surname is given.

And much as we would like to tell you something about them, we're stumped, as we know next to nothing and are hoping a reader with a very long memory could help.

The pictures are in our archive but turn out to have been sent in years ago by David Stanford, of Goldthorn Park, Wolverhampton.

"We found them. I can't think where now but it was local, in the Wolverhampton area, and we thought that rather than throw them away it would be better to send them into the Express and Star so you could publish one or two photographs which would jog people's memories," he said.

"They may be of some interest and somebody might recognise one of their long lost relatives."

As it happens David's wife Ann did have an aunt called Gladys Jones from Walsall, who was her father's sister, but with the photos being from before she was born she can't identify the portrait as being her relative.

Gladys Jones.

Those pictures which do bear a date are from the 1935 to 1937 period.

Some have a copyright stamp for "W Richardson. M.P.P.A. Portrait Specialist. Phone: Walsall 4071. The Studio, The Square, Walsall. Repeats may be had at any time," but other photographic studios were available and a few are stamped "For further copies or enlargements return this photograph to Photocraft, 34-36 Park Street, Walsall, Staffs. (Over 'Fifty Shilling' Tailors).'"

Nancy Jones has an obvious resemblance to Gladys – her sister perhaps?

If it's any sort of clue, one portrait of Doris Clarke has the names Cyril Bladen and Baden Walker written on the back, while with the picture of Eva Rainbow is added "she lives by us."

Eva Rainbow.

Incidentally we are assuming they were from Walsall area because they used Walsall studios, and there is one picture which is not of a young woman at all. It shows a man in a suit striding out, with a woman – his wife no doubt – by his side, and in modern writing on the back is written "The Boss" and his name, which looks like Mr Ponnesky.

Do drop a line to if you can help identify these Walsall people from the past.

Here comes "The Boss. Mr Ponnesky."
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