Sydney Cox

Sydney Cox was born in 1930 and grew up in Bethnall Green, London. He lived with his parents and two brothers in a cul-de-sac and played a lot in the street with his friends. He often got a ha’penny from his grandparents who lived nearby.

Unfortunately, his mother was taken ill in 1938 and the three boys had to go into a home in Hornchurch. Sadly, while they were there, one of his brothers died, so it was just Sydney and one of his brothers who were later evacuated in 1940 to Norfolk. Here they caught up with the students they had been with at Columbia Road School before going to the home. They stayed in Norfolk for 8 or 9 months and were then moved to Staffordshire and stayed there for 8 or 9 months before moving again to Staffordshire.

Sydney can remember the train journey to Leek and getting off the train before making their way to Rudyard on coaches. Here Sydney tells us about arriving in Leek. Click on the following audio link to listen:

sydney cox rural swythamley

Transcript of Sydney’s audio clip

Sydney was dropped off at the lodge house to the big estate and lived with a man who had been the head gardener at the estate. His wife had died in 1938 and his daughter was living there to look after him. He called them granddad and aunty and they were very kind to him. Their house was far better than he had been used to, with a large kitchen and pantry and an outside flush toilet. He also had a bedroom all to himself. He went to school a mile away at first and shared schooling with the locals and some evacuees from Manchester. When he turned 11, Sydney went on the bus to Leek School.

During his evacuation Sydney’s mother visited him often, but he was more interested in playing with his friends. He also visited home once in 1942 but was more than happy to return; he thought he had a better life in the countryside. He returned home when his grandfather found him a job at home and his mother came up on the bus with his brother to fetch him. He found going home strange because all his friends were in Staffordshire. By chance, he was reunited with a few of these in London and they remained good friends. He visited Swythamley every holiday until he was 18, cycling from Cosford where he was then based.