Mr. Oliver was born in Egham and lived in the town for most of his life. He started his career as a gentleman’s outfitter, in Egham High Street, but was best known for his historical knowledge and his work as a valuer of antiques.
Sydney opened an antique shop at no.94 High Street, Egham, and he built up a considerable personal collection of historical documents and other antiques. He was a founder member of Egham-by-Runnymede Historical Society, and was one of the main forces behind the setting up of Chertsey Museum, in its current Windsor Street premises.
Sydney did not accept retirement, and was known for his frequent and spirited clashes with authority. One of his trustees, and long-term friend, John Hardaker said in tribute to Mr. Oliver `In every little fracas he had with those in authority, he was always concerned for the protection of Egham and the rights of the people of Egham.’
Shortly before his death, Mr. Oliver arranged for a charitable trust to be set up, to look after his collection, and organised the re-housing of his antiques and historical documents in Chertsey Museum, and Bedford New College, Egham.