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Book Title:

The Good Old Days: Then and Now

Sidney lived long enough to record and publish his memoirs.

The publication is currently being published here, in text & pdf versions, so all the pages will be available soon.


The Good Old Days: Then and Now by S. Box

Published by: S. Box, The Firs, Marden, Hereford

Printed by: Reliance Printing Works, Halesowen, Worcs.


M.B.E., C.C., (District Secretary, Birmingham and West Midlands District of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers)

"One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward. Never doubting clouds would break, Never doubted that, though worsted, right would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better."
R. Browning.

These words of Robert Browning are indeed a fitting description of Sidney Box, who, in the County of Hereford at a time when the squire, the parson, and the landowner dominated the countryside, fought with outstanding success to improve the working conditions of agricultural workers and others.


Drawing on his own experience he has set out the history of our Movement in that County.


His story will, I know, be read by some who lived through those difficult times. It ought to be read by the present generation who enjoy the fruits of the labours of pioneers like Sidney Box. Apart from its value as a factual history it measures the progress made over the last fifty years or so.


Our Labour Movement has, from its beginning, produced men and women prepared to make great sacrifices for the Cause but I doubt if any have, over so long a period, and with such energy and zeal, served it better than Sidney Box.


In the ranks of our Labour and Trade Union Movements Sidney Box is greatly honoured. Outside it his obvious sincerity and his complete integrity have won for him universal respect.


Finally, I think this book sets the seal on his life's work.


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In attempting to place before the public the truth and facts in connection with the awakening of the farm and other workers, such as road workers, quarrymen, corporation employees and general labourers, I do so at the urgent appeal of a large number of ladies and gentlemen who are anxious that a record of the state of the underdogs of industry from 1912 to 1953 shall exist for the benefit of those of a future generation. I am mindful of my limitations in such a task, having received little education, being obliged to commence work at an early age, losing both parents before I reached the age of five, and being kept by the eldest of the family, ten of us from one year old to eighteen years. I do not intend to give the life story of myself, as this is written purely to deal with the struggles of the workers in this and adjoining counties, to reach the standard and status now enjoyed by the young people of to-day, and to urge them to think and act, to safeguard and improve their lot, as there is much to be done before we obtain justice, equal opportunities for all and a fair share of God's gifts to all, created by those who labour to produce all that exists for the benefit of mankind.


It is with profound regret I must state with reference to this movement and work, we had little support from the churches, in fact some definite opposition, as later recorded.


In concluding this introduction I must place on record my deep gratitude to my late wife for the part she played, as I was out late practically every night, reaching home often at midnight. She was up to greet me and not once complained.


I am now over eighty years of age, trying to do my best to inform the present generation of the workers life during those years, and hope it will stimulate others to do better.


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An appreciation of the progress now being made in some cases by those formerly opposed to Socialistic policy, and to the magnificent efforts of those farmers and workers to obtain from mother earth the essential production so necessary to human life with higher living standards for all doing the nation's work, as those not engaged in some useful employment are not morally entitled to live upon the industry of their fellow men and women.


This progress has been made, and is very prominent in all our Local Government Administrations, and I am pre-pared to admit by some members of all Political Parties, but still assert such changes have been mainly due to Trade Union and Socialistic activities, which has benefitted all sections of the community, materially or spiritually. Materially as stated in previous chapters: Spiritually by a change of heart and outlook; As an illustration—Some years ago a member of the Liberal Party and the writer corresponded through the press for a considerable period on the question of Land Nationalization. In the end he gave in, and later became a Labour M.P., and asked me to address meetings during his election campaign which I did.


It is true to say few understand the benefits to be obtained under that system. Take the County Councils Small Holding Scheme: The tenants have absolute security of tenancy as long as the land is properly cultivated and reasonable care is taken of house and buildings. These are kept in a good state of repair, not always so under private ownership.


The tenant has not to use his liquid capital in purchasing the land, or spending large sums in repairs. Adequate buildings are provided and new ones added if required.


Under the present system, thousands of acres of land are still allowed to be badly cultivated, much neglected, growing bushes, docks, thistles, weeds of all kinds and over-grown heldges, etc. A sadly needed improvement in land tenancy is: One household, one farm, irrespective of the size, to allow thrifty workmen, farmers' sons and ex-soldiers to obtain land.


May I urge the young men and women of this generation to study the abominable conditions their forefathers had to endure in contrast with the present, notwithstanding much has yet to be done to bring into existence a just and sane system. This can only be accomplished by men and women of goodwill, willing to make sacrifice, uniting for this purpose; insisting upon our laws being framed without privileges for the few at the expense of others. Acknowledging the fact that all belong to the great human family with the same human rights whatever their colour, race, creeds or ideologies. This way leads to a better life, by abolishing pride, class, and war, by following the life of the Founder of Christianity.


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