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Sidney Henry Barker


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I was only ten years old when my great uncle Sid died and I don’t claim to be able to remember him in any great detail. He was only an occasional visitor to our house and maybe he only came down to Twelve Acre Crescent once but we did visit him in Ruislip a few times. My main reason for remembering him is not especially honourable, it is because he would always press half a crown (and sometimes five bob) into my palm when it was time to leave. His niece Olive Knight says that Sidney was quite well off, having become a senior Civil Servant in Customs and Excise and working at their then headquarters, Adelaide House, adjacent to London Bridge and the then Port of London. Before moving to Ruislip he owned a large house in Finborough Road, Kensington.

Sidney was widowed in 1950 when his cousin and wife Emily died and soon afterwards his health deteriorated “due to far too much smoking” according to Olive. He was looked after by his sisters Gladys and Louise and another cousin Amy Heath. “The Heaths were not generous like the Barkers and would take whatever they could” and if this reputation is to be believed, Amy married Sidney for just one reason and subsequently inherited all Sidney’s property and possessions apart from a few gifts and photographs that Gladys and Louise had provided whilst involved with his care. I was particularly upset at this, again for not the best of reasons, as uncle Sid had promised to leave me his cigarette card collection but it never materialised, at least not then. In 1998 I found a small part of his collection among my own mother’s effects. Obviously at the age of ten I was not to be trusted with them.

Information provided by Malcolm Knight with assistance from Olive Knight.

Cigarette Card Album - Cover and first page