Britain's oldest hairdresser is 91 - with no plans to retire

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Watch: ‘Britain’s oldest hairdresser’ is still chopping away aged 91

Britain's oldest hairdresser who is still chopping away aged 91, says she has no plans to retire after celebrating 65 years of working in the same salon.

Margaret Sherlock opened her own salon, Hair By Margaret, in 1956 and still opens four days a week to see her regular customers who come from far and wide for her hair snipping services.

June 19th marked 65 years to the day since she opened the shop and she celebrated by giving a perm to the first customer she ever served, who is now 90.

Incredibly, Sherlock has only ever shut the salon down once, in 1958 when her son Adrian was born.

And according to her daughter, despite standing on her feet for hours on end while tending to her customers, she plans to keep going until she “physically can’t go on”.

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Margaret Sherlock, 91 cuts the hair of Cath Murphy a regular customer. (SWNS)
Margaret Sherlock, 91 cuts the hair of Cath Murphy a regular customer. (SWNS)

Reflecting on her impressive career, Sherlock said: “It’s been lovely, I’ve loved every minute.

“I’ve always had wonderful customers who I’ve got on very well with.

“Lots of them have come back year after year, so I know them very well and would consider some more like family.

“They tell me all about their problems.”

The mum-of-two from Chorley, Lancs goes on to explain that she's not considering retirement just yet as she believes her customers would be very upset.

“They wouldn’t know where to go if I stopped working," she says. 

“A lot of the younger hairdressers don’t know how to do the styles my customers like.”

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Margaret Sherlock with Adrian as a baby outside the shop in 1963. (SWNS)
Margaret Sherlock with Adrian as a baby outside the shop in 1963. (SWNS)

Sherlock originally completed her hair apprenticeship in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, when she was just 15.

However, there was little demand for hairdressers there, so she trained as a nurse in Omagh.

In 1952 she came to England with her sister and they both worked at Eaves Lane Hospital in Chorley.

Later she married her husband Frank and when her daughter Linda was born in 1956, Margaret opened the salon in her front room on the day she took her new baby home from hospital.

While it started off at home, the business soon became a proper salon, with the family living upstairs until 1971.

“I only intended to run the salon until Linda went to school but the business grew and Frank joined me in the hairdressing trade," Sherlock explains. 

"When my son Adrian was born in 1962, I decided that I would carry on so that I could be around for both of the children while they grew up.”

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Margaret Sherlock with one of her first customers. (SWNS)
Margaret Sherlock with one of her first customers. (SWNS)

The Irish-born former nurse worked alongside her husband Frank until his death at the age of 80 in May 2008.

Now, her mainly elderly clientele come for their weekly shampoo and set, which she describes as a "dying art", and involves applying setting lotion to hair, putting in rollers and drying gently under vintage hair dryers.

Despite the style not being so common nowadays, Sherlock is also in demand for her perms, though many of her customers also simply pop in for a cuppa and a chat.

Watch: Meet Britain's oldest butcher who worked through the pandemic. 

"Mum is really busy," her daughter Linda Sherlock, 64, who helps out in the salon after retiring from her job as a deputy headteacher, explains. 

"When people find out about mum's services and come and get their hair done, they tend to keep on coming.

"It's like a family at the salon, it's great.

“A lot of mum’s customers worry about her retiring but she’s wants to keep going until she physically can’t go on anymore.”

At 91 Margaret Sherlock is believed to be one of Britain's oldest customers. (SWNS)
At 91 Margaret Sherlock is believed to be one of Britain's oldest hair stylists. (SWNS)

Though the family had planned to have a tea party to celebrate 65 years of Hair By Margaret, current coronavirus restrictions prevented them from doing so.

“It was lovely to mark the occasion with Jean coming in for a perm though.”

Sherlock, who still uses the same razor she had when the shop first opened, has seen a lot of popular hairstyles come and go over the years, such as the Princess Diana flicked bob in the 1980s.

She thinks she has stayed a cut above other salons in the area as she treats her customers like friends, rather than clients.

Equally, she says her clients have given her great support right from the first day she opened the salon.

"My customers have been really good - they have really backed me up from day one."

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Linda, Margaret and Adrian Sherlock inside the hairdressers with the book written by Linda. (SWNS)
Linda, Margaret and Adrian Sherlock inside the hairdressers with the book written by Linda. (SWNS)

While hairdressing keeps Sherlock fit, her daughter believes her zest for life also keeps her healthy.

"Some people have a glass-half-full attitude to life, but my mum has a glass that's brimming over. Her customers do wonder where she gets it from," she adds.

Linda Sherlock has recently written a book about her mum's remarkable life entitled Shampoo and Set: 75 Years as a Hairdresser.

Additional reporting SWNS.

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