Before they were married, Nev James and Alma Hill were both children growing up in Staffordshire. Nev was living in Colton and Alma in Rugeley.
Alma was born in February 1929 and remembers Rugeley as a lovely country town where everybody knew everybody else. She lived in Cross Roads which was one of the first council estates to be built. She felt very lucky to live here, because although it was small, it was double-fronted, with three bedrooms and a modernbathroom with a flush toilet.
Her mother died when she was six, and when she did, the four children were split up. They all went to live with various family members, and Alma went to stay with an aunty in a much more old-fashioned house where they took in lodgers.
When evacuation started, she can remember many of the evacuees who came to Rugeley, and most of them were from the London area: “proper cockneys”:
Neville (Nev) James was born in August 1929 in Hill Ridware. However, he wasn’t there long as at the age of 18 his parents moved to Colton to live in the house opposite to Nev’s current home. The cottage they moved to was built in 1784 and when they first moved in it had no water or electricity supply. Nev’s grandfather also lived with them, and they got light from an oil lamp hanging from a beam in the living room. In the 1930s they finally got electricity, but there was still no heating. The family huddled around the fire and the nearest one got warm!
He has fond memories of growing up in Colton, including travelling on the bus into Rugeley to go to the cinema, and buying goodies from the tray. There were a number of local ‘characters’ in the village, including Mr. Mellor the farmer, who was summonsed for selling meat to the villagers.
During the Second World War, Colton saw a number of official evacuees as well as families that moved together, including the Hubble family from Walsall, who owned the chemists shop and hairdressers. He went to see the evacuees from Kent arriving on the bus, and can remember the evacuees being taught separately from the local villagers in Colton School in the North Room, which was at the back of the school. They were taught by their own teacher from Westgate, a Mr. Willis.
He remembers many of the evacuees, including a number of those Children on the Move has interviewed for the project. He also remembers making friends with a group of travellers: