Norwich barber where a dog used to help brush hair

The little dog hard at work while a customer gets brushed-up at Griffins. Picture: Archant library

The little dog hard at work while a customer gets brushed-up at Griffins. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

Just off up the city to Griffin’s to have my hair brushed thanks to the little dog on the wheel. Derek James, who lost his own hair years ago, reports

It is a book called Colman’s Norwich Directory which was published way back in 1877 looking at the life and times of the city.

It does exactly what it says and is packed full of information about the people and places – from where and when to post a letter and when it would arrive to listing churches, public houses and just about every society, organisation you can think of.

The court directory along with the trade directory names hundreds and hundreds of people and businesses.

But it is the advertisements which add the real sparkle to this interesting slice of local history.


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And one stood out which made me feel very sorry for a little dog.

J Griffin’s Hair Cutting Rooms, at St Andrew’s Hall Street in Norwich.

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This poor little pooch was put in a wheel so a customer could have their hair brushed!

The little dog hard at work while a customer gets brushed-up at Griffins. Picture: Archant library

The little dog hard at work while a customer gets brushed-up at Griffins. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

As you can see in the advertisement Mr Griffin (sole proprietor of the Eau de Fontaine Hair Restorer) offered a haircut and an extra bonus…“hair brushed by machinery” and it was “turned by a dog.”

You can see that all those years ago the people who put these advertisements together were a talented bunch.

For example:

The prize-winning Holmes and Sons New Hay & Corn Stacker, No 2. The prize of ten pounds was awarded to this machine at Thetford in June 1873. Five pounds at Chatteris in the same year and another ten pounds at Norwich in 1874.

The top Norfolk engineering company Holmes and Sons which made a range of top agricultural machinery

The top Norfolk engineering company Holmes and Sons which made a range of top agricultural machinery. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

The traction and portable steam ploughing tackle and finishing thrashing machines also made by Holmes at the Prospect Place Iron Works in Norwich. Plus the celebrated turnip hoe and thinner which won no less than 120 awards and prizes at agricultural shows across the region.

Feeling a touch under the weather then you could head for Fuller’s Pharmacy in Rampant Horse Street for homeopathic medicines or a spot of cod liver oil which was pleasant to the taste and easily retained on the stomach.

On the move or needing somewhere to store belongings?  Then head for Prince of Wales Road where Arthur S Howard would look after your every need at his Eastern Counties Depository and goods were carefully packed for shipment.

There were, of course, some very familiar names such as Jewson and Sons, Coal & Timber Merchants in Colegate Street and at 8 Queen’s Road, Victoria Station. You were also invited to try and “Celebrated Guinea Silkstones” – but what were they?

If you were on the move back in 1877 then Arthur Howard would look after you. Picture: Archant libra

If you were on the move back in 1877 then Arthur Howard would look after you. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

If you were staying a while and looking for somewhere to rest your head, then it was best to head for the Livingstone Hotel on Orford Hill where the Most Noble the Marquis of Townshend after staying there in 1875 declared: “In every respect the Hotel is all that can be desired.” It was a Temperance Hotel but if you fancied a night on the tiles then you could head round the corner to the Hell Fire Club at the Bell Hotel.

Spot of trouble with corns  and warts? Robinson’s cure was on sale at chemists across the county and…”the preparation (a modern scientific discovery) 
is introduced to the public to supply a want long felt by a numerous class of sufferers, compelled to endure the torture  of Corns or the unsightly and disagreeable possession of warts.”

And it you were suffering from nervous headaches, pains in the face, teeth, gums and all other you needed to head for Pentney’s in St Benedicts, Norwich, and they claimed: “By those who have been the victims of these excruciating tortures, Pentney’s Nerve Mixture will be welcomed as a friend indeed.”

Whatever you think of the bold claims all those years ago they certainly had a fine way with words….

I wonder if our little dog Bertie would fancy a morning at the barbers? Probably not.

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