ONE thing we can’t do without is a good haircut and in Blackburn, there are a number of men’s barbers who have been providing a great service to the town for decades.

The oldest barber in town still being run by the same family is Passerini’s in Mincing Lane which was first established in 1963 by Emanuele Passerini. Records show that a barber has been trading from this spot since 1935.

It is now run by his sons Joe, 48, Luigi, 52 and his grandson Emanuele. The shop still has some of the traditional interior features.

Joe said: “The original shop was based here at number 15 and then we extended it into number 13.

“We have been on the same spot here for 57 years so that would certainly make it the longest running barber shop in town.”

Luigi said, “We all grew up in the shop and have been here as far as we can remember.”

Elsewhere in the town centre, established by Nigel Womack, Nigel’s Cutting Shop was opened in 1984 opposite the library.

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Across town on Johnson Street Mickey P’s Barber’s first opened in 1986 and is run by Mick Passerini who started his own business aged just 16 fresh out of school.

He said: “I had finished school in May of that year and opened this shop in September of 1986.”

The shop has been revamped several times over the years but still includes some of Mick’s famous football and movie images which adorn the walls.

“Actually, my earliest memory is being back at the other shop in 1983 when a family of three could get their hair cut for 90p!

“When I began here I used to charge 75p per cut.”

Mick said the lockdown and ensuing pandemic had affected all businesses, “You can’t say anyone who has not been affected in some way.”

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Chandrakant Jetha runs CJ’s Gent’s Hairdresser on Johnson St and started cutting hair back in 1963 when he just 14-years-old!

The 71-year-old said: “My father trained me and from then on I just picked it up. Of course this was a matter of cutting people’s hair on the street corner.”

CJ, as he is known to many was one of many barbers who during the seventies and eighties would visit people’s homes, “It was something people loved at the time. We would come to the home and style all the family’s hair all at once. I knew many families and it was wonderful to be welcomed into people’s homes.

“In 1990 I opened my own hairdressers on Johnson Street and have been based here ever since. There have been a lot of changes over the year’s but we are still here.”

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Lala George Patel, as he is known to many, opened his own barbers, aged 24, in 1982 on Palm Street. He later moved to premises off Plane Street, which was accessible through a back alley and up some stairs before opening a shop front on the same road in 2018. It still has his iconic sign above the door featuring the flags of Pakistan, India and Great Britain.

His ‘incredible’ 99p Thursday offer led to queues forming outside his barbers, 

He said: “I remember when I started I used to do kids haircuts for 50p and adults for 99p. Then in the late Nineties decided to do the 99p offer again for one day only. It got very busy.

“Even now I only charge £3.50 a cut.”

Lala George, now 62, had no plans to retire just yet, “I can’t imagine retiring. I have people who have been coming here for close to 40 years. I have got loyal customers and I think if I do ever retire they would probably come knocking on my door!”

Several of the more traditional barbers in Blackburn have either retired or passed on. In March 2019 Ernesto Ceraldi who had run his traditional barber shop for 37 years in Richmond Terrace retired. Jeff Stone, co-owner of Jeff Stone Hairdressing, retired after 51 years in 2016.

Bhatti’s based on Whalley Range and Martin’s Barber Shop on Accrington Road are still operational.

Dillons Barbers was first established on Preston Old Road in 1961. The new Dillons is based directly next door to the old barber and is now run by Jemma Schofield.

There are also barbers who are continuing the family tradition.

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The Prince Hair Salon moved to Oswald Street in 2018. Before then it was based on Randal St and originally at the bottom corner of Inkerman Street where it was first established by Haji Fazal Hussain in 1985.

Fazal Hussain, a World War Two veteran was regularly seen on at annual commemoration events before his death at the age of 95 in 2013.

The ‘original’ Prince Hair Salon is now manned by his grandson Ikhlaq Hussain with a further six Prince branded hairdressers in the North West. The Prince Hair Salon on Woodbine Road is run by Ghaffar Hussain the nephew of Haji Fazal Hussain.

Ikhlaq’s modern looking Prince Hair Salon is a far cry from the establishment his grandad set-up. He said: “We had a makeover in 2016 when this new hairdressers opened.

“These days it is not just about the haircut and male grooming has come a long way.”

Ikhlaq revealed how the name Prince came about, “We are told that my grandfather went to get some signs made and they were thinking up names there was a syed (spiritual advisor) who prompted him to go for the name ‘Prince’. It has stuck with us and proved to be a great choice known throughout the region.”

Fifty-two year-old Muner Edan runs New Look Barbers on King Street. Originally from Iraq, Muner came to the UK in 2005, got level 3 NVQ in hairdressing and opened up his barbers in 2011.

He has however, been styling hair since the eighties and felt there was much to be said of the traditional barbers, “I always think hairdressers should be qualified before they can open a barbershop because now everyone opens the shop without experience.

“The traditional barbers are still the best.”