Lowestoft hairdresser hangs up scissors after 50 years

From crewcuts to poodle perms and mohawks to mullets, Bruce McMeekin has 'seen them all'.

Over the years, Bruce has seen countless styles and trends come and go while working at his Lowestoft salon. But, after half a century in the trade – and thousands of haircuts – he is finally hanging up his scissors.

When he closed the doors of Bruce's Barber Shop for the last time on Wednesday, it ended the long tradition of a men's hairdressers in London Road South, Kirkley, that dates back more than 70 years.

Mr McMeekin, 65, took over the salon in the late 1960s after following his parents into the 'family business'.

But the premises had already been home to a hair salon for more than 30 years.

He recalled: 'I started here in July 1976 but I've actually been in the trade 50 years. I started an apprenticeship at my father's shop in Kessingland.

'It was a ladies' and gents' hairdressers run by my father Sid and my mother Lorna, who was a ladies hairdresser. The man who had the shop before me, Bertie Prig, had been here for 35 years.'

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Prior to taking on his own business, Bruce used to put his skills to the test against fellow professionals. He said: 'I used to do some competitions and between 1963 to 1965 I took part in the Suffolk hairdressing championships, which were held in a circus ring in Great Yarmouth. I finished second one year, and third the next.'

Over the years, Bruce's Barber Shop has only closed for holidays and its conscientious owner has only had the 'very occasional' day off in the 36 years since he started running it single-handed in 1976.

Having been one of just a few sole traders in Lowestoft who managed to maintain a successful business for so long, Bruce said one of the best things about running the salon was getting to know its regular clients.

'Some of my customers came as schoolboys, some even for their first haircuts, and they've stayed the full course,' he said. 'There must have been thousands over the years – in fact I've got backache thinking about it!'

'I must have been on London Road South for about 45 years, and I've had a fantastic time. Obviously, I've seen the area change dramatically. When I came here it was quite a village atmosphere, with the Fisher folk and various industries that have all faded away.

'In the 1990s and early 2000s, seeing the regeneration of south Lowestoft and Kirkley to what it is today – I really think south Lowestoft is on the up and up.'

Grateful for the loyalty of his customers, he added: 'I've enjoyed it immensely over the years and I would like to say a very heartfelt thanks to all of the customers for their support and friendship over the years.'

Bruce is now looking forward to spending more time with his family – including his wife Shirley, his daughters Clare and Sarah and grandchildren Tabitha and Ebie – and to having more spare time to go river fishing.

But the McMeekin family's long-standing connections to the hairdressing business has not ended with his retirement, as his brother Andrew is a ladies hairdresser who owns Robert Owen Haircutters in Kirkley.

Clare and Sarah said: 'We are extremely proud of what dad has achieved. He even had both knees replaced a few years ago and the shop was only shut for a few weeks – he definitely is a cut above the rest!'

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