Summer in the West: Jack Diamond’s photographic record (part 2)

Following the news that the J. T. Diamond Collection has been inscribed onto the UNESCO Memory of the World documentary heritage register, we thought that a photographic blog series featuring some of the great images from the collection would be appropriate.

Spectacular Whatipu Beach attracted many day trippers and holiday makers in the 1920s and 30s, and even then little boys photobombed family portraits! Following the fashion for the Orient at the time, these two bathing beauties in substantial swimming costumes and stylish swim hats, sit beneath a parasol on the beach at Whatipu near the Gibbons' boarding house.

Ref: Photographer unknown. Whatipu beach, 1921.
West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, JTD-06K-02899

Jack Diamond sourced this photograph from the booklet 'A Guide to Muriwai' (1922). It shows two men and a young girl digging for toheroas on Muriwai Beach. This beautifully illustrated book is a tourist guide to the huge black sand beach where one could not only picnic and swim, but also watch or participate in car races. Copies of the original 1922 publication are held at the West Auckland Research Centre and the Auckland Central Research Centre.

Can you imagine the summer fun and mischief these five barefooted boys, pictured below, would have been up to? In the days of “Go and play outside!” you can imagine those clothes wouldn’t have stayed clean for very long! And joy of joys for historians, the boys in the photograph have been identified. From left: Reg Buscomb, Albert Morris, Billy Buscomb, Dartrey Allely, Phil Buscomb.

Ref: Frank Morris. Five local Henderson boys, 1930s.
West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, FMO-037-00055-G

Have you noticed the little white shelly bank by the side of the north-western motorway causeway? It is part of Pollen Island, named after Dr Pollen who bought it in 1855 as part of his brickworks. Jack Diamond and one of his children kayaked out there to have a look around in the summer of 1963. Part of a marine reserve in the Waitematā Harbour, it still has the remains of a construction possibly used for processing shells for lime and traces of a little tramway used for transporting shell from Pollen Island to Rosebank Peninsula.

Ref: J. T. Diamond. Shell beach, Pollen Island, January 1963.
West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, JTD-11K-00789

Messing about in boats… Below we can see two children paddling about on a private lake in the bush at the Leman property in Henderson Valley. From 1940, the Leman family operated a guest house from their 22 acre property, part of the original Dreamlands Estate which was first offered for sale in 1922. A. A. Leman bought the block on Dreamlands Road, renamed Opanuku Road, at the first of the auctions.

Ref: J.T. Diamond. Leman's Lake, Henderson Valley, January 1963.
West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, JTD-14A-01908

Very definitely a thing of the past, a beach without donkeys was unimaginable for visitors in the 1930s. These two donkeys and children are by Waiti Stream, at Te Henga. The little girl on the donkey is Lavinia Perry. The Perry family of New Lynn would rent a bach from local Maori for holidays at the beautiful beach.

Ref: Photographer unknown. Donkeys and children at Te Henga, 1930s.
West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, JTD-02K-05651-2

We all know what it’s like doing housework on a hot summer’s day. But can you imagine doing it without a vacuum cleaner? In a long skirt and a corset!? Beating rugs, sweeping and scrubbing floors on your hands and knees? This holidaying woman is very sensibly and coolly dressed in her “unmentionables”. Today it just looks like a fashionable playsuit!

Ref: Photographer unknown. House cleaning on holiday, 1915. West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, JTD-02K-05037
Author: Liz Bradley