Chippenham barber goes from mop tops to razor cuts in 50 years
Barber Les Smith, who is about to celebrate 50 years in the hairdressing business, remembers the time when a cut cost just half a crown.
Mr Smith, who runs Leslie’s Gents Hairdressers in Station Hill, Chippenham, says a similar cut to the one that in 1964 cost the equivalent of 12.5p would now set his customers back £9.
He joined Milsoms salon in Market Place as a 15-year-old, straight from the boys’ school in the town, now Sheldon, and has never looked back.
He said: “I took to it straight away, but a good friend of mine, Les Weir, who went on to be a property developer, started at the same time and only lasted a week.
“I gradually built up my own list of clients and, when my apprenticeship finished, I rented a chair.”
He later rented space at My Fair Lady hairdressers, before opening his own shop more than 40 years ago in Station Hill.
“When I first started, people wanted hair cuts like those worn by Tony Curtis, Elvis Presley or The Beatles," said Mr Smith.
“There are new trends of razor cuts now, but I have kept up-to-date with them all.”
He also prides himself on customer service and two of his clients have been with him since his earliest days.
He said: “If someone wants a haircut at 6am, I am happy to open up especially for them. It’s all about offering a good service and really getting to know your customers.”
Mr Smith, who lost his wife Caroline nine years ago, has two children, Barry, 45, and Lynda, 42, but they have not followed him into hairdressing.
His son, who works as a sports coach, has three children, with a fourth on the way. His daughter is a nurse.
He will celebrate his 50th anniversary of being a barber on Tuesday, when it will be business as usual.
“I am very lucky to do a job that I love and I hope to carry on for a while longer yet,” he said.