Having a haircut isn’t what it once was. Colin Drury remembers Sheffield’s historic salons and barbers...
Going for a haircut, hey? It’s not what it once was.
In 21st century Sheffield a trip to your average city salon means lengthy discussions with ‘style technicians’, glasses of wine served at your seat and the option of an Indian head massage. If you’re lucky, at some point during the whole operation, someone will might actually get out a pair of scissors and give you a quick trim.
But things weren’t always this way.
Time was a visit to the hairdressers meant short back and sides and getting asked if you required ‘something for the weekend’. Aye, and the men were just as brief about things.
Now, to mark The Star’s Salon Of The Year 2014 award - which recognises the places in our region which are a cut above the rest - Midweek Retro remembers an era when this industry’s idea of innovation was a bit of Brylcreem for the gents and 20 minutes under a helmet hair dryer for the ladies.
These evocative images from The Star archive show trimmers down the decades. And, while they capture how much has altered in terms of equipment and product (not to mention price), they also illustrate some things never change: namely, the fact that people have always been partial to a daft style.
“Salons and barbers are like any other service - they’ve moved with the times,” says Daniel Taylor, manager of Sheffield’s Taylor Taylor Hairdressing, which was opened by his great grandfather Albert back in 1907. “Getting a haircut has always been considered a treat - especially for women - so you have to offer customers what they want. Back in the Fifties and Sixties that meant a weekly appointment because techniques were less developed and hair soon went out of shape - my father and grandfather would almost have the same customers at the same time every Saturday. But today it means longer appointments and offering a bit of luxury. Customers expect a bit of spoiling. They’re there to walk out looking great and filled with self-confidence so they want to be treated great too.”
Sheffield hairdressers have found their fair share of fame down the years.
Snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan makes a regular trip to Savills, in Chapel Walk, city centre, each year before the World Championship; while Pablo Picasso (who had less hair than most) famously visited a city barber during an afternoon visit here in 1950. He wanted to look his best ahead of speaking to 500 delegates attending a peace conference at City Hall.
Probably less good for publicity is being at the centre of a murder investigation. Two Sheffield hairdressers have found themselves in such a position in the last six years. Tarek Chaiboub was shot in Frenchies barbers, in Burngreave, at the height of the postcode gang violence in 2008, and in 2011 Mubarak Ali was stabbed after being asked to step outside SWARV hairdressers in London Road.
Still, the worst thing that will happen to most of us inside a salon is coming out with a style which, years later, you just know you’ll regret
“I’ve done some beauties,” says Daniel who runs five salons in total - two in Surrey Street and two in Division Street, both city centre, and one in Dronfield. “Fashions and trends change. I remember there was a time in the Nineties when every customer I had seemed to want the Jennifer Aniston. You just have to try and stay ahead of the game.”
A HAIRDRESSER REMEMBERS
Susan Clarke has seen plenty of hairdos - and the odd hairdon’t - in her time.
She was a hairdresser in Darnall for 52 years before retiring in 2012. She ran her own salon, Susan Clarke Hair Stylists, in Staniforth Road, for 34 years.
Here, the 68-year-old remembers a career spent cutting...
“We had bubble perms, beehives, bouffants, capcuts, undercuts, spikes, straightened. I’ve done them all. The list goes on and on.
“I loved every moment of being a hairdresser. Cutting hair was all I wanted to do from before I was a teenager. I love the creative side - but I must admit I always loved hearing what people had to tell me too. In this job you have to be a counsellor as well as a cutter. You have to listen to all kinds of troubles. Having a good ear is almost as important as having a good pair of scissors.”
A HAIRDRESSER REMEMBERS...
Emma Lee has run Em’s, on the corner of Leppings Lane and Vere Road, Hillsborough, since 1994. She took over the salon from Eric Foreman who had himself run it (as a male-only barbers) since 1954.
Here, the 40-year-old recalls her 20 years trimming:
“It hardly seems like yesterday since I took over. I lived round the corner growing up and used to joke with Eric that I’d buy the business when he retired. Then one day he said: ‘it’s yours if you want it’.
“My first week one bloke sat here all morning. He watched me do six blokes before he trusted a woman to do his hair.
“I used to open at 5am Saturday mornings back then because that’s when steelworkers wanted their hair cut - before a shift. Now it’s not so bad. I start at 7am.
“When I started doing female customers I knew the men wouldn’t approve so for a long time I’d do them on my day off, sneaking them in round the back.”