Hairdressers and shoemakers – it’s covered from head to toe

PUBLISHED: 12:39 12 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:26 05 May 2010

60-64 Shortmead Street in 1957

60-64 Shortmead Street in 1957

60-62 Shortmead Street THE building is shown on the tithe award plan of 1838 as comprising two shops with outbuildings. At number 60 William Farrington, a shoemaker and leather cutter, was there in 1838. After his death in 1848 his son George Farrington

60-64 Shortmead Street in 1906

60-62 Shortmead Street

THE building is shown on the tithe award plan of 1838 as comprising two shops with outbuildings.

At number 60 William Farrington, a shoemaker and leather cutter, was there in 1838. After his death in 1848 his son George Farrington continued the business, employing 22 men and 10 women.

George had a short career and after passing away in 1857 his widow Hannah Farrington, and owner of houses in the town, was resident there in 1861. But her son Joseph Farrington, also a shoe manufacturer, took over the business employing 21 men, two boys and three girls. He retired in 1881 but died in 1882 aged 62.

Then another Joseph Farrington, believed to be a cousin and also a shoemaker, married Hannah's daughter Elizabeth who was a widow aged 29 in 1881 and living with her mother. Both families lived in adjacent houses at 33/35 London Road until 1901 when Elizabeth moved to 43 London Road where she died in 1928.

William Stokes, a sewing machine agent, established a shop at number 62 in 1868. By 1881 he had taken over number 60 combining both premises. He was also a gentleman's hairdresser, as well as selling and repairing Jones sewing machines and accessories and was also an agent for Singer sewing machines, New Hudson bicycles, pianos, harmoniums and musical instruments and Suttons carriers.

He continued with the business until his sudden death after his breakfast on May 12, 1908. There was an inquest and the verdict was death from natural causes.

His son William (Billy) Stokes carried on the business as a hairdresser until his death following a minor operation in 1952. Both father and son were staunch Wesleyan Methodists and Billy Stokes was a local preacher on the Biggleswade circuit for 51 years. Mr Merrison continued the hairdressing business.

Bernard Gurney (Bernard's hairdressers) took over in 1967. He completely refurbished the premises in 1988 with an up-to-date hairdressing salon, but at the same time restoring the exterior to the original Victorian style and character, adding a traditional barber's blue and white pole above the front door. He also fixed a Victorian Shortmead Street sign. The shop appropriately fits in to the street scene in a conservation area. This completes 140 years of hairdressing to date in Biggleswade.

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