Prudish New Brighton

A gem from the NZ Truth in 1928 – New Brighton was apparently inundated with “pagans from the city”. The photograph below from 1918  shows a group of these “pagans” displaying neck to knee swimwear.


A wowser council

N.B According to the Oxford English Dictionary a wowser is “A Puritanical enthusiast or fanatic; esp. a fanatical or determined opponent of intoxicating drink.”

New Brighton, a beautiful marine suburb … is a painfully pious settlement which produces two religious publications and regards it as sinful to marry the sister of a defunct missus. In the summer months pagans from the city swarm to the seaside to breathe the health-giving ozone and parade the beach in scanty attire. New Brighton is shocked periodically and, last year, made itself the laughing stock of the Dominion by prosecuting the wearers of ordinary swimming costumes. It lost … but is still in the frame of mind which prevents it from seeing that prudishness which sees harm in a swimming costume is mere evidence of prurience. New Brighton was particularly scandalised by the conduct of some shameless ladies with good figures who entered the water in fetching, tight-fitting costumes which are worn on continental beaches and in Australia ….  Notwithstanding the magistrate’s decision, new by-laws have been drawn up to prevent the public enjoying themselves at the seaside

[Both sexes were to wear neck-to-knee costumes and women’s costumes were to be shapeless.]

No bathing costume in any part of the world reaches to the knee …. Girls are to make themselves look as unbeautiful as possible in baggy garments that are a hindrance and vexatious in the water.

NZ truth, 19 January 1928

The library has some great photographs of New Brighton capturing its life as one of New Zealand’s premier seaside suburbs, full of life and character. New Brighton residents have been good at recording their local history and the place has inspired novels and biographies.

This information came from Richard Greenaway – an expert on the local history of Christchurch. Some of you might have been on one of his fascinating cemetery tours. He has an eye for a good story and the skill and patience to check and cross check all kinds of references. He has compiled a wonderful array of New Brighton stories.

Love loves to love love – Dishing out the Valentine’s Day love

It’s Valentine’s Day! I’ve got a big, sloppy Valentine for Dan Rhodes – oh so aptly his latest book is a crop of teeny stories that skewer love and marriage. Dan does both anti-romance and the most exquisite, heartfelt portraits of love and passion – so he’s a winner for both romantics and cynics.

He has written a list for The Guardian of top 10 marriage tales. One of his picks is The Man Who Went Into the West by Byron Rogers :

Writers are weirdoes, and you must never marry one. We don’t come much weirder than the great poet RS Thomas, and this riotous biography is a beauty. Amazingly, he had a wife. Give this a read and imagine how strange it must have been to be married to (or even by) the rhyming vicar of Manafon.

And another reason to lavish love on Dan is he has my equal favourite author website (first equal with Jasper Fforde).


Christchurch Art Gallery shopWhen it comes to music, I give a big smoochy Valentine to Aussie Paul Kelly. A: for coming to play in Christchurch A big plea to other bands and musicians: Come and visit! We won’t bite! We love music. B for some lovely lovesongs like Winter Coat and Give in to my love.

And when it comes to art, I’d like to do a big shoutout for our own Christchurch Art Gallery. They don’t have their gallery, but they keep us in arty goodness. A Caxton exhibition has just kicked off at Central Library Peterborough. There is a great show at the NG Gallery by leading Canterbury artists Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond.

Their blog is full of interesting and quirky art (and life) insights. Plus their fab shop is handily located next to Central Library Tuam (and the Re:START). It has a range of art stuff, but also lots of great gifts, art t-shirts, David Bowie paperdolls and more. Arohanui!

Have a gander at some of our previous posts about Valentine’s Day  – the bright and dark sides:

And share your Valentine – who would you like to give some love too? Who are the authors and artists who ring your bell?