Ladies in Uniform? Cambridge 1936

The image below was a recent Ebay purchase. It depicts two young women walking in what appears to be St Andrew’s Street Cambridge, (opposite Christ’s College). The print is 2 1/2 x 2 1/8 inches. On the rear is printed “Photo by Topical Pictures” and handwritten “Cambridge 5 October 1936”. The image raises a number of questions. The young women appear to be dressed in similar fashion with what looks like belted dark leather jackets, mid length dark skirts, black shoes and with relatively short-cut hairstyles.  Was this some sort of uniform, or just a passing fashion of the day? The date could put this into the period of Mosley’s Black Shirts (The Battle of Cable Street occured on 4 Oct 1936) but could this be the sort of uniform worn by Mosley’s followers? And what about the photographer? The format, the framing of the subjects and soft focus all point to an amateur, rather than a professional photographer. But does the “Photo by Topical Pictures” on the reverse suggest a professional shot, perhaps by a street photographer of the type normally taking “walking pictures” of holidaymakers at seaside towns? We have not yet come across a local firm of this name. Alternatively, could this refer to a processing lab or photographic paper supplier, rather than a particular photographer? Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

topical1

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