Sharon Offley

My name is Sharon Offley. I was born in Wallace Road, I still live in Wallace Road, I've never moved away. I bought a house opposite mom and dad. Mom and Dad were Rose and Pete Offley, they had me and then four and a half years later they had my brother, Pete. I've always loved Wallace Road and I used to know everybody. We are thinking of moving in a couple of years' time.

 

In the first photo, the lady here on the right is my nan. Nanny Marge we called her. She actually lived until she was 90. She was absolutely fab. She was the proper Nanny, if you get what I mean, she did everything for us. I think I spent most of my childhood at my nan's. She took me and my brother Pete on trips to places like Birmingham Cathedral, Coventry Cathedral, we went to the park every day with her. She used to take us the pantomime at Birmingham Hippodrome and to see Santa at Lewis's. I used to go down to the old people's club with her and play bingo for a bag of sugar or something. You know, I absolutely loved my nan, she was just amazing.

She was originally from Langley on Oldbury and she was born in 1919. In this photo I think she looks about 20.

The second photo - that's my grandad. Grandad Harold. He married Nanny Marge. Pedley. Yeah. I don't know much about Grandad before, other than he was in the army and he fought at Dunkirk and he was one of the survivors from when they were all stuck hiding. Yeah. No, I think he came out and he was quite ill after that. They say because of the time he spent in the water it just damaged him, and he used to be prone to chest infections and lung infections and that, all the time. After the war he worked at Tube Products in Oldbury, but he had to stop work early because of his chest. 

He was very kind. I got away with everything because I couldn't do no wrong. I was his pride and joy as I was his first grandchild. I just remember Grandad as just being everything to me. As soon as he walked through the door it was Grandad time.  He bought all my shoes, I had the best shoes, the best dresses, everything.

I think they got married in Oldbury Church. just think that they were very, very lucky to have a wedding like that at that time. It was probably pre-war or just during the war and things were hard. But the dress and the flowers and the veil and everything just looks so pretty and expensive for that time.

Nanny (far left) and Granddad (middle) taken in the late 1950s
Grandad and me taken at Welshpool on our holidays.

I remember that Nanny used to tell me she used to pack cakes for Lyons in Cape Hill, Smethwick. She died probably about 10 years ago (2010) - not so long ago really.

My nan was very big-hearted. She'd got her own children, my mom and my Uncle Malcolm who had also got their own children. But along the way she helped other families as well. There's a family she helped, I think their mom was one of my nan's friends, and they were going through a struggle and my nan helped rear three other children - Jean, Carol and Robert - who we still have a lot to do with now 

If you upset her, you'd know about it. You didn't get away with anything, neither did the neighbours or anybody else who upset her. She was proper hard in that way, but her heart was massive. She'd give her last penny to anybody who needed it.

This is Grandad. They lived in Brades Village, that's just out of Oldbury. From what I've been told, throughout the years he worked he was a policeman, a fireman and then a lorry driver. He was well known around Oldbury. He's named Percy Offley. All I know about Grandad is that he passed away when my dad was approximately 13 years old.

I think that was taken in the Wagon and Horses in Oldbury. I was told that Grandad spent quite a lot of time in there. I just think Peaky Blinders. They've all got the flat caps on. I just think it's a Sunday afternoon just before dinner, meet up with the lads, let's have a few halves.

I can see the Offleys straightaway, because that is a classic pose with a fag.
I met my nan, but I was a baby. don't remember meeting her because she passed away when I was one. I don't think I was even one. I was one in the March and she died the Boxing Day before that. She was a dressmaker helping her brother George and her sister Mary.
This is a school photo of my dad Peter Offley and his sister Margaret. It was at Rounds Green School.

Dad always told me that money was very scarce, and it got harder when Grandad died because there was no wage coming in. So Nan brought them up really on a widow's allowance or something like that. So all the children got jobs.

My dad told me that he had a job at the bakery and he had to start very early on a morning. And then he went to school, did the day at school, normally got the cane because he was late because he'd had to go to work. And then come out of school and he helped out in a butchers. And close to where they lived was the canal, and they used to take chocolate to Cadbury's on one of these barge canals. He used help this man with what he said it was like a cement mixer that they used to mix the chocolate in.

My dad said, "Now and again I had to chip all the chocolate out of it to clean it. But whatever chocolate I chipped off I could keep. It was like Christmas. I used to go home with this big bag of chocolate."

I am not saying my dad and his siblings had an unhappy childhood, but it was a hard childhood because there was little money. I know they had chickens in the garden so they could have eggs, but I think they had other animals as well, and they were kept for food. I think that's when my dad started to his gardening. He used to plant vegetables so they had got fresh vegetables to eat because they hadn't got the money to pay for them. So they used to grow them, that's how he started growing his own stuff.

Dad at Dudley Zoo taken in 1965.

In this first photo of him digging, I'd say he looks about 16 there. I think it was taken when they've moved from Brades up to Wallace Road.  I think that's when he first started to develop his very beautiful garden. Because by the look of it, it was very, very overgrown, so I can actually see now the work he actually did put into it. His garden was just immaculate. He grew all his own flowers from seed, he grew all his own vegetables, he'd got a greenhouse. And at one time he had an allotment as well. I really don't know how he used to do it all because he got a full-time job as well.

My youngest got into gardening because he used to follow my dad around the garden. And I'm the same, I love my garden and I think it all comes from Dad.

His first job was on the rolling mills in Oldbury. After that I know he bought a chip shop with his brother Tommy. and then I know he bought a chip shop. He had that for a few years. Along with the chip shop he had three or four chip vans as well. They both went out on weekends and evenings and did shows, like Sandwell Show and Himley and Half Penny Farm.

He used to do the fish and chips or the chicken in chips in a basket for events. That was a really good business, but they ended up selling it in the end because it was far too many hours and they were spending no time with me and Peter.

He had other jobs as well, he was a 'pop man', a window cleaner, and he also set up his own painting and decorating business. After this he worked for British Steel for about 15 years before he retired.

He liked everything looking nice. His vans were like himself, if he went out anywhere, as you can see in other pictures, he always looked immaculate, shiny shoes, nice hair, you know what I mean, just nice. That's how he kept everything, everything was clean and always done to a good standard.

He was a great man who did everything for his family, made sure food was on the table, we were all dressed as we should have been. He was very strict. If we did go out to play we had to be in for a certain time, he had to know where we were. But he was always fair and he'd sit and play games with you, we'd got loads of board games, so he'd sit and play board games with us. Or Painting By Numbers. He doted on his grandkids Ryan, Summer, Liam, Mia and Addison. 

Everybody loved my dad, everybody in the street. And they still talk about him now even though, I mean he's passed away now but he left the street about 10 years ago, and people still ask about him. They always say, "What a true gentleman he was." If there was any trouble they'd go and call on Pete, he'll sort it. If they wanted anything doing like maintenance they'd ask my dad, either for advice or ask him to do it.

He was 69 when he died, 3 years ago (2016). I do miss him a lot. But his memories keep. Everybody talks about my dad, they all loved him.

People say I do look like my dad, but some say I look like my mom. But my son Ryan is the spitting image of my dad in the photo above with him and his red mini. 

Mum and dad in Ibiza in 1971, a year before they got married in 1972.

He met my mom at Langley Baths which used have dances. They first met when they was 17 and they started dating. And from what I can remember I've been told I think they were together about 18 months and they split for about a year, and then got back together and then got married.

I just think they look so much in love. Looks like they like a drink seeing as there's two bottles. One of them is empty by the look of it.

My mum is much like my nan where she has a big heart, helps everyone, likes to feed everybody, hard-working, she worked full-time. Before marriage, she worked at a shop at the Queen's Head, that's just not far from where she lived with my nan. She worked at the greengrocers for Mrs White.  And then when she got married she had me and Peter, I don't think she worked then, but as soon as my brother went to school she worked Formbend in Oldbury which later moved to Great Bridge. 

I think the photo above was taken in Birmingham, not far from the Bullring. All I can say on that picture, she's 38 weeks pregnant with me. 

25th of March 1972 - the day they got married, and they look beautiful, don't they? That'll be two cousins there, that was the two pageboys, that was John and Allen. That's my dad's sister's two sons. The other pageboy oin the right was Nicholas who is my mom's second cousin. And then you've got my nan, my grandad. My nan and my dad's brother, Tommy (far left). And the lady on the end (on the right) is my Auntie Shirley, so she's married to my mom's brother.

The young girl on the right who is their bridesmaid is Tina. She was the daughter of my dad's friend at the rollings mills where he worked. She always wanted to be a bridesmaid but had never had the chance, so my dad said to her that she could be theirs.

This photo is taken in the late '70s in the Tower Ballroom in Birmingham. It would have been one of the dances they used to go to. The other couple are their friends Barbara and Micheal. 

They're looking very dapper as they always do, as I keep saying. But they always did, they was always really well presented. It's the fashion, it's just making me giggle, the sideburns.

So this is me, I'm trying to look at the wallpaper to see where it was actually taken. But I'd say with that coat and hat, my grandad would have bought me them because he always made sure I got the best. I do remember my Womble. 

I think it's because we've never had a big family. As children, as a child, our family was very close and we did a lot together. When we went on holiday my cousins always came, my grandparents always came, it was always a proper family, but they're near enough all gone. My cousins have moved on and they've got their own lives now and it isn't very often I see them. But all my aunties, my uncles and my dad, my nan and grandads, they're all gone, so I find it really important to keep the memories there and not keep them in a locked cupboard.

I just think it's nice to talk about them. I don't like being sad, I just think that it's nice to remember all the good they put in to this community, and they did, they really did.

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