Tom & James Littlewood

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A TALE OF TWO BROTHERS TOLD IN A NEW DISPLAY AT THE WOLLONDILLY MUSEUM

Tom and James Littlewood were the sons of William & Jane (nee Wheatley) Littlewood. They lived at “Waratah” The Oaks and were two of eleven children. Tom was born in 1871 and James (Jim) in 1892. They attended the local Church and School run by Josephite nuns. The whole family and their neighbours helped to support the nuns and their school by growing and supplying them with vegetables.

Trapping and selling rabbits and growing and selling flowers were activities they both shared and they were both creative but in different ways.

Tom Littlewood

Tom Littlewood

Tom made a living from selling honey from his many hives and grew and sold waratahs, but his creativity was demonstrated in sketching and wood carving. He made wooden furniture and decorated it with hand cut stencils and even made a battleship which he copied from photos, never having actually seen one. He also helped his brother Jim by making ‘props’ for his photographic studio. Tom also made stencils for his sweetheart to turn into embroidery, but this did not help him to win her heart because she found another partner. After this disappointment Tom became a recluse and concentrated on his creative activities and growing waratahs and other plants in his cottage on Dairy Road, The Oaks.

Jim also grew a variety of flowers and travelled to the guest houses and hotels in the Blue Mountains to sell them. To keep them fresh he would insert the stalks into potatoes from his garden to maintain moisture for the journey. He discovered a fascination with photography and purchased a camera and glass slides and saved up to buy photographic magazines and trade catalogues. He enjoyed trying out the latest trends and set up his little cottage as a studio with props such as a wooden hallstand made by Tom.

James' Studio

James’ Studio

He produced many of his photos as postcards using commercial borders to create a more artistic image. Jim was not afraid to try slightly more ‘saucy’ designs, but many of his images are of his family and friends, local places and sports teams. He was a member of both the Oaks Cricket and Football teams who feature in his photos. He also recorded special events such as Empire Day and Peace Day pageants featuring many of his young neighbours and families dressed in costumes representing the diverse members of the British Empire and usually Clara Dunk dressed to represent Brittania!

Jim’s studio was demolished in the 1970s when a new road was constructed through The Oaks to serve the coal industry and many of his glass slides were destroyed by vandals. Fortunately his niece Elva MacDonald (nee Littlewood) managed to save some of them as well as Jim’s camera, a suitcase which he used to carry his photographic equipment for travelling, and his collection of trade journals and magazines and equipment as well as his small diary where he recorded details of his travels.

Tom's Bull Horn

Tom’s Bull Horn

 

Tom died in 1951 and Jim died in 1978 but their stories live on in a new display featuring images and objects from their collection.

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