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A Cradley Heath barber of the old school

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: January 09, 2003

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Old fashioned barber’s shops have a character all of their own - real ‘talking shops’ where customers can solve the problems of the world over a quick short back and sides!

Sadly, such establishments are thinner on the ground these days, but one that survived until comparatively recent times which will be fondly recalled by readers in the Cradley Heath area, was Fred Dunn’s, in Graingers Lane.

The daughter of the proprietor - Mrs Susan Roden - who helped her father in the shop and then succeeded him as he got on in years, has sent us this photograph of Fred cutting a customer’s hair, together with the following interesting notes... “I enclose a photograph of my dad in his barbers shop at 121 Graingers Lane, Cradley Heath, the date of which I do not know.

My dad Charles Frederick Gore Dunn, was born 5th November 1905, the youngest of twelve. He was always known as, simply, Fred Dunn. He began his hairdressing career as an apprentice in his brother's barbers shop in Lomey Town, Cradley Heath. His brother William had also started a photographic business which was at the back of his hairdressing business. Dunn’s Photographic in Chester Road is still in his family.

After finishing his apprenticeship there was no job for him with his brother. He went all over looking for a position in hairdressing, even as far as Birmingham but there were no jobs to be had. He decided then to rent a shop in Cradley Heath and start his own business. He first rented the shop next door to where this photograph was taken. He was there for nine years.

He actually moved into 121 Graingers Lane in 1939. His dad lived in the back and dad rented the front room for his business. When his dad died in 1949 he bought the premises. He worked there alone, and during the war he was a “night fire watcher” at Woolworths. He used to open the shop every afternoon and evening, then all-night fire watch, like for everyone at the time life was not easy.

I went to Wolverhampton to learn hairdressing and in 1964, joined dad in the shop, making a few alterations to accommodate me. When dad was 65 in 1970, I bought the business from him but we continued to work there together, dad then only part-time. He worked there with me, all be it less and less, until 1985 when he was 80 years old. He loved the shop and the people, there was always a buzz in there,tales from the past always being retold.

I’m sure many old customers, those still surviving of course, will remember my dad with much affection, he was a lovely man.

The customer in the chair is Eddie and he is married to one of dad’s cousins. I cannot remember his surname”.

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