Customer demand meant Longridge barber opened at midnight

Ike Walmsley is glad to be back in business - even if It was a midnight opening!

We've missed you. That was the message from The Gentlemen's Lounge off Derby Road, Longridge, where the first customers post lockdown were welcomed just after midnight today.

Ike Walmsley had made the earliest of starts on the day all hairdressers and barbers across England were allowed to open.

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Ike, who runs the business with brother Chad does not normally open on Mondays...but today was different with customers booked in all day until 10pm.

Waiting for midnight - first customer Cam Wilkinson pictured outside The Gentlemen's Lounge, Longridge waiting for barber Ike Walmsley to open for business. Photo: Neil Cross

First customer was Cam Wilkinson, who was delighted to get his first post-lockdown trim and explained the alternative would have been to wait until April 20

Ike said: "We had a few booked in for the people who were desperate (for a cut). My first four have all been total transformations."

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It was then back to grab some sleep before Ike and Chad reopened at 10am

He said: "It will be flat out. I've not got a dinner break for the foreseeable future. We're opening up extra hours to make sure we can fit people in and never really say no to anyone."

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A welcome haircut from barber Ike Walmsley at The Gentlemen's Lounge, Longridge, for first post lockdown customer Cam Wilkinson Photo: Neil Cross

The 24 year old continued: "It's great to be back, just to have something to wake up for, but also knowing that people are coming back in the shop and going to get a haircut that makes them feel ten times better. A hair cut is not essential but you do feel good after a hair cut - clean and tidy. You just want to go out. Everyone wants a shorter hair cut again. After people growing their hair so long they are sick of long hair!"

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He added: "And it's good to have a chat with everyone. Some people I've not seen for three months."

It was also he stressed a welcome resumption of their income after three months with no money coming in.

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Ike started out as a self taught mobile hairdresser using a moped to get to customers. He then completed his training at Preston College and opened The Gentleman's Lounge in nearby premises on Ingelwhite road, Longridge, some five and a half years ago, before opening the larger premises off Derby Road. He was joined by Chad, 27, three years later.

It's good to be back - barber Ike Walmsley welcomes his first post lockdown customer Cam Wilkinson to The Gentlemen's Lounge Photo: Neil Cross
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Ike said that several first day customers had been especially keen to get their hair cut before the pubs reopened.

As for his own hair he said: " I've attempted it once myself during lockdown and then I had a quick cut this morning off my brother Chad before we opened."

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The business had invested in personal protective equipment (ppe) and social distancing measures during the previous lockdown. Currently customers are by appointment only. Ike added: "Hopefully it all doesn't happen again. It's been a massive effect on everyone."

For more on the end of retail lockdown in Lancashire see here . Read more about how The Gentlemen's Lounge worked to help customers pre-lockdown here.

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