Who is Olive Shapley?


osThrough its name, the nursery pays tribute to a very remarkable and popular person, parent and grandparent who had a long-standing association with Didsbury and a distinguished BBC career, both as broadcaster and producer.

Although originally from Peckham in London, Olive Shapley’s long assocation with the city of Manchester began in 1934, when she joined BBC Manchester as the organiser of the northern ‘Children’s Hour’. She later moved on to drama, but it was her pioneering documentary work which took her all over the North of England, consolidating her already great interest and affection for this region.

Olive spent some of the war years in America, where her husband, John Salt, was head of the BBC’s New York office.  After his death in Manchester in 1947, she moved back to London as presenter of ‘Woman’s Hour’ before returning to Manchester to present Woman’s Hour’s northern edition and take on other varied broadcasting work, including television.

For 28 years, Olive lived at Rose Hill (now Appleford Lodge) in Millgate Lane, Didsbury. The original household of herself, her husband, children and pets expanded to include lodgers and tenants. When she was widowed again, Olive launched the Rose Hill trust which, for fifteen years, provided accomodation with a nursery and other help for unsupported mothers and babies. In 1979, the Trust was wound up while Rose Hill accomodated Vietnamese refugees.

Olive moved in 1981 to a smaller house in the heart of Didsbury, where she continued to be part of village life and enjoyed local activities with her many friends – both old and new. In July 1992, Olive’s continuous residence in Didsbury of almost forty years came to and end. She was by then 82 and left Didsbury to move to a flat by the river Severn in mid-Wales near to one of her sons and his family.

The nursery said ‘goodbye’ to her at a special coffee morning, where the children presented her with a card and a gift they had made for her.

Her autobiography, ‘Broadcasting a Life’, was published in 1996.

Olive died in Powys in 1999.