A Pendle hairdressing institution has put down his scissors for the final time after almost six decades in the business.
Tony Ingram (71) saw his final clients on Saturday having been in the business 57 years to the day from his first shift in a salon.
A heavy-hearted Tony, who lives in Barnoldswick, made the decision to retire on medical advice after suffering a minor stroke a couple of months ago.
He plans to enjoy free Saturdays for the first time since he started the business and spend more time playing golf at Colne Golf Club, cycling with Barnoldswick Clarion Cycling Club, devote more time to the family including his four grandchildren and holiday a little more, with Majorca a particular favourite destination.
Having cut the hair of generations of people from Burnley, Pendle and the Ribble Valley, an emotional Tony took the opportunity to thank all his clients and colleagues from down the years.
He said: “I have trained hundreds of staff, many of whom still have salons of their own locally, and I take great pride in that.
“I feel truly blessed as I have always loved and been passionate about my work.
“My customers have become lifelong friends and every one of them so special. I would like to say a big thank you to you all and I will miss you so much.”
However, it could all have been so different as Tony initially set out on a career of cutting crime rather than trimming locks.
He left Primet High School in his home town of Colne and immediately got an apprenticeship as a barber at Stanley Hendley’s and never looked back.
Tony said: “I wanted to be a policeman but I had to wait until I was 19 so I got a job at the barbers when I left school and I loved it. I just took to it.
“I travelled to Manchester to the ‘toast rack’ college for three years of training and one of my guinea pigs was Engelbert Humperdinck!”
Tony started teaching barbering at Nelson College in the 1960s, began entering competitions and opened his first salon in Nelson in January, 1966, at 70 Leeds Road where he finished.
He continued to train, and began going to Vidal Sassoon’s courses in London as hair styling through high profile stars including Twiggy, Mary Quant and members of The Beatles, as he sought to move women away from rollers and give men and women a new look. Soon after, the business began to expand.
Tony said: “It was a fabulous time and I was in the right place at the right time. It was a revolution of style.
“In the early 70s I opened a second salon in Colne with my wife Jean and Sue Gibbons, closely followed by a third in Burnley and then lastly in Clitheroe with my senior stylist Gary Standring, all under the name ‘Sissors’.
“I employed 40 staff at the time and we had monthly hair shows at The Muni in Colne and at the Fence Gate, at WIs and at golf clubs, showing people what you could do with hair and introducing ladies to a cut and blow.
“It was so exciting, introducing ladies to a good hair cut, one that was stylish but also easy to manage. The demand was tremendous.
“I was the personal hairdresser for the Burnley football team in the 1970s. They were brilliant days.”
Tony’s children Sean and Beverley, having trained at Pierre Alexandre’s in Manchester, later joined their dad to create a truly family business. Beverley worked in Nelson for over 30 years and Sean still has the Burnley salon.
Looking back on his career, Tony said: “I have never been into fashion, I have always preferred style. Fashion comes and goes but style is forever.
“I’ve always said I have never had to go to work in my life and nobody has ever worked for me, they have always worked with me.”