Peterborough hair salon owner celebrates 50 years in style

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A well known owner of a hair dressing and beauty salon in Peterborough has celebrated 50 years in the business.

Chris Parsons (65) who can count among former customers pop icons Freddie Mercury and Lulu, opened the business in 1981 after moving out of London with his beauty therapist wife Tina.

Chris Parsons.

Chris Parsons.

The salon opened in Church Walk, Peterborough, and was called Parsons Hair and Beauty.

The business grew and occupied several sites before being brought under one roof in Cumbergate with the name Burghley Academy.

It was home for 20 years until the business moved to its present location at St Peter’s House in Bishops Road, where it now employs 13 staff and is known as Burghley Hair - Beauty - Academy.

Mr Parsons said: "We have been in Bishops Road for three years and it is going really well."

However, even after 50 years in the industry, Mr Parsons is not really ready to hang up the scissors.

He said: "I still enjoy the hairdressing side but the business side does sometimes gets to me a bit.

"But I am now down to three days a week and our daughter, Alexa Hillier, is now the person driving the business.

"I have thought about retirement but I've got such a lot of clients who come in telling me I can't retire."

Mr Parsons said he was 15 when he opted for a career in hairdressing.

"I was fed up with school. My parents encouraged me to take a vocational test. It gave my career choices as hair dressing, jewellery making or working in the fashion industry.

"I thought hairdressing sounded interesting and was maybe a good way to meet girls."

Mr Parsons said it was during his early years in London that he had the good fortune to meet Freddie Mercury, Lulu and even members of the Dads' Army cast when they came into the salon where he was working..

He said: "I only saw Freddie Mercury once but he wasn't even a household name then."

Summing up half a century in hairdressing, Mr Parsons said: "It is a fun business because it is very much one to one and you're in an open environment with people around you all the time and there is quite a lot of banter going on. You also create something for the customer who goes out feeling better.

"I came into it as the shampoo and setting was becoming less and and the cutting and blow drying was becoming more prolific.

"I learned my hairdressing skills more for cutting and drying rather than putting the rollers in.

"I quite like the precision cuts - the bobs, pageboys, inverted bobs, which we used to do years ago and which are styles that have gone on forever."

But in common with many areas of work, hairdressing is also going through a period of change.

Mr Parsons said: "The biggest change has been in men's hairdressing as barbers are now more trained in hairdressing techniques.

"There is a lot more skill involved in the creation of some of the hairstyles for men than for some of the ladies.

"The barbering side is growing hugely as men become more aware of themselves and want much more sophisticated hairstyles."

One of the features of Burghley Hair and Beauty Academy is its commitment to training the hairdressers of the future.

Mr Parsons said: "Training was something we felt we needed to do.

"We take on six trainees at a time - they pay for the course and receive a qualification that is valid worldwide.

"It has been extremely successful and we've never had to advertise."