TALK of the Town’s owner for more than 40 years, Tony Holmes, has admitted the last few years have been “distressing” in the lead-up to the demise of his hair and beauty salon.

The Devizes Road salon has been owned by Tony since the late 1960s, but he handed over the day-to-day control to his son and daughter in 2002.

He refused to discuss the reasons why the decision was reached to close for the final time last Wednesday, choosing instead to thank ex-employees and customers in an open letter.

In the closing lines of his letter, Tony only hinted at the difficulties he and his wife Carole have experienced.

“The last years have been very distressing for Carole and myself,” he said.

“We are happy most of the staff working on the day it closed were able to find employment in Old Town, and the two or three who haven’t yet should be able to find work given their client base.”

He instead chose to reflect on the former glories of the salon he and his wife turned into a successful business, complete with solarium, sauna and spa bath.

He said: “I have to say, we had such fun. All the hard work never seemed like hard work. All the amazing staff we had the pleasure of working with, I only wish I could name you all, but I hope you will know we will never forget each of you that gave us those memories.”

Tony oversaw a rise at the salon after he took it on in the late 60s, after he began working there as a barber in 1959.

At that time it was known as Dodgson’s Barber Shop, which was owned by two brothers. It was their father who had started that business in 1893.

When they offered to sell it to him, Tony used his family’s bungalow as security to get a loan to buy the business and Talk of the Town was born.

He said growth was steady, with always one employee on the books more than they needed, to keep waiting times low.

Tony eventually bought the properties on either side of the original barber shop and created the salon people now see.

At its height, the salon employed close to 40 staff.

“We always kept the prices right. If you had bums on seats, if you were busy, you didn’t need to charge high prices,” he said.

“The customers loved it and the atmosphere in there kept them coming back.”

Tony said he would now look to sell the property.