BLOG// The last days of the Broadway Hair Stylist
Sat on the edge of Muswell Broadway is a little hair salon that hasn’t changed much since it opened in the 1950s. It’s mid-century mosaic tiled frontage is easy to miss amongst the PVC facias of nearby shopfronts. But there it sits open for business, a little curious, a little puzzling, a little magical. Those who notice Broadway Hair Stylist, peer in through the window and see that under the clutter of haircutting tools and odds and ends, there are perfectly formed formica-esk shop fittings, 50’s chairs and mid-century lampshades.
In a world where most high street businesses struggle to survive, I’ve often wondered what the story is behind this place. There are books and websites about London’s lost 50’s and 60’s classic cafes and bars, those of us who appreciate these kinds of nuggets of history leaf through the pages and mourn their demise. But here we have something just as iconic, still there, still functioning, still perfectly intact. That is until this week, when the owner shuts shop for the last time and the place will be gutted and turned into a Turkish Barbers.
This news, though some what inevitable, is difficult to swallow. I wish I had known in advance, I could have tried (and probably failed) to crowd fund to save the place. I would love to have taken it on, kept it exactly as it was but used it as a vintage shop or a coffee bar or something. But alas, the ship has already sailed.
I decided to go the the salon and have a chat to the owner and ask if I could take some pictures. He generously agreed and we had a long chat. Mr Costa, who happens to also live next door to me in Muswelll Hill, started the business in the 1950’s. He told me that his daughters are retiring this year and he felt that if they were retiring it must be time for him to retire too. He talked about his family living nearby and his wife who he sadly lost to cancer in the 1980s. I really loved hearing his stories about Muswell Hill and his career in haircutting. He showed me a picture of himself as a young man when he first opened the shop, describing how hard he had to work and how determined he was to achieve his goals and provide for his family. In the early days working three jobs, including a 2 hour commute to cut hair at an army barracks.
At the back of the shop there was a ladies section, I’d never seen it before because the lights were usually off and it was hard to see through the window from outside. I asked if I could turn the lights on. At the flick of a switch appeared tongue and groove walls, pink vinyl chairs with hood dryers, 50’s sputnik stands full of perming rods next to cool black sinks and soap bottles.
It’s really upsetting that next week it’ll probably all be in a skip. I asked Mr Costa what would happen to the furniture and fittings, he wasn’t sure. I gave him my number and said I would love to buy some of the fittings if he didn’t want them, but he didn’t seem sure and I didn’t want to make him feel like I was trying to scam him out of anything. I just want the stuff to be saved and not put in a skip. At least I got to take some photos of this amazing place before it’s gone for good.