Could you get your hair cut at Binns in South Shields?

Hairdressing in 1976.
Hairdressing in 1976.

There were some places where men feared to tread – one of which was a ladies’ hairdressers.

Which is probably why none of my male colleagues were able to answer the question put to me by a curious Gazette reader recently when she asked: “Was there a hairdressers salon in the old Binns store in South Shields?”

Now I know a lot of you used to shop at this once-popular department store in town, so please get in touch if you know whether this was true or not.

Back in the day, before the advent of uni-sex hair salons, I seem to remember men going to barbers and women to hairdressers.

Hairdressers were places where women went to have their locks coiffured and cut; where they spent hours on end being primped and preened, and even longer under huge, space ship-like dryers.

On the occasions when, as a small boy, I was dragged to the hairdressers where my mam had an appointment, I learned that they were places of continuous chatter and background radio music and DJ patter (probably Jimmy Young in those days). Piles of glossy magazines cluttered short-legged tables, along with half-drank cups of tea and coffee.

They were bustling, hot, homely spaces, more social clubs than workplaces.

But above all, they were places that smelled of strange chemicals; that produced that most sought-after hair affair – the perm.

Phew what a stink they produced, but having that must-have curly look, more than made up for the nasty niff.

That was then, and times, of course, have changed, and nowadays there isn’t the same distinction between a hairdresser and a barber.

Having said that, though, a colleague of mine was quick to point that in certain places, hairdressing habits seem to have remained rooted in the past.

“There are women who go to the hairdressers every week, what I would call the ‘blue rinse brigade’,” she said.

“They probably don’t need a hair cut but they go anyway, for a bit of a chat and maybe a bit of cake.”

What do you think? Is getting your hair cut a pain or a pleasure? And how has it changed over the years? Please get in touch.