A Piece of History of the Northern Beaches Sydney
Have you ever wondered about the history of a certain vintage item? Or wished if only things could tell their stories? Or some of the history of the Northern Beaches? Well, a story has unfolded in our family recently that starts just like that – with a vintage item, which in the end, served as a reminder that the Bryant’s have helped create the history of the Northern Beaches Sydney. Not long ago, a family member was browsing in the Regional studies section of the Dee Why library, when she spotted a vintage crocodile leather bag as part of an exhibit about history of the Northern Beaches (i.e. Brookvale). She was sure she had seen that bag before and the librarian only confirmed her suspicion – it was a product of Bryant Bags, a small local shop and factory operating in the area between 1946-1960.
Its owner was Jack Bryant, Michael Bryant’s (Go Beyond Tours owner) grandfather. Jack Bryant was a trained tailor, but as the story goes, after the Second World War it was extremely hard to find material for suits, as quality fabrics had fallen victim to uniforms and supplies were scarce. Having himself
served in Borneo and Brunei during World War II, Jack wasn’t ready to let this small complication put him off his business plan. Interestingly, leather was in abundance after the War, and even luxury leathers like crocodile were readily affordable. Resourceful Jack decided to seize the opportunity and put his skills to a different use – he became a maker of quality ladies handbags.
Unfortunately, our family doesn’t own any of Jack’s handbags anymore, so I was very curious to see this bearer from the past for myself. In the Dee Why library I was kindly met by Rose Cullen, a Northern Beaches historian, and to my delight was given the chance to have a look and a feel of this beautiful handbag. It was truly gorgeous, the craftsmanship was outstanding and even though my attire on the day didn’t exactly match its glamorous style, I can see a vintage-loving lady absolutely rocking it
I can only imagine what amazing pieces must have left this little family operated business. Bryant Bags stayed in their first location at 230 Pittwater Rd (near today’s Bunnings at Warringah Mall) for almost 15 years, and was not only a factory and a shop, but also the home of the family. In 1960 two petrol companies made offers for the property which were too good to refuse. The business was moved to Roger Street, Brookvale, where unfortunately the passing traffic was scarce. And this proved to be the beginning of the end for Bryant Bags.
This moving encounter shows that the Bryants have been serving the Northern Beaches community for over 70 years and we at Go Beyond Tours would like to continue that legacy, and add to the history of the Northern Beaches Sydney.