"It has a been a wonderful journey and I am really proud of what we did", said hairdresser Nigel Womack as he retired after 50 years in the business.

One of Blackburn’s most flamboyant and colourful characters who turned 70 recently said it was time to finally close the legendary salon which has graced Town Hall Street since the 80s.

The shop, with its almost iconic mural, was the first thing people would see as they headed towards the town centre.

Nigel himself, took up hairdressing in 1974 and opened Nigel’s Cutting Shop opposite the library in 1984.

Over the years he has seen styles change, the town reinvent itself and people come and go but he remained as enthusiastic as ever and proud of the borough.

He said: “I was 20 when I bought my first shop with my girlfriend who was 19. This was in Cherry Tree and that is still there.

“Ten years later I moved to the town centre and it was an immediate success.

“We got the footfall here. Suddenly people were streaming past and walking in and asking for a haircut and a perm.

“It was buzzing.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

A total of 13 staff worked at the salon and then this had dropped to nine in recent years. Some of the employees have got roles in other salons or gone mobile and Nigel said he had recommended people elsewhere.

He said turning 70 made him realise that maybe it was time to retire. 

“Two or three years after the pandemic things changed", Nigel said.

"A lot of stylists are renting chairs now.”

He said one of the biggest challenges town centre businesses faced were the parking constraints.

Nigel said: “It is so difficult to park in Blackburn. They have made harder and harder and a town centre like this needs footfall and parking.

“Even for deliveries it is difficult.

“What shopping can you do with one hour of parking? You are running round like Linford Christie or Usain Bolt, nor can you go stop for a coffee!

“I always said that when Marks and Spencer closes I am done. It was an iconic store.

“Then we had Debenhams closing and Wilko.

“If them big companies can’t do it then who can? I can understand why Marks and Spencer would go out of town and where they people can park for free and shop.”

Nigel’s had overcome many challenges around Blackburn Library, none more so when Northgate was closed to traffic.

He added: “I know this is not just Blackburn but other towns are like this too. They are making it so difficult. They should make it more shopping friendly.”

Nigel himself has been writing since he was a teenager and released his first book, The Angry Giant, in February 2019. He then went on to publish his second children’s book, Bea.

This prompted him to have a large image painted on the side of the salon.

He said: “The artist paid the angry giant and the bee outside the shop and it made the shop distinctive. I like things like that.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Nigel revealed that he had seen hair styles change over the years but one style tended to stand out

He said: “In the 70s we had everyone wanting a Kevin Keegan. The perms were great.

“Then all the lads were coming in for a David Beckham, who was constantly changing his style.”

He joked: “Then one day he decided to shave it off. That was it for us!

“Oh my God. What happened was, you lost all your male customers. It was shocking. I would have to have a word with David about that. It was rubbish for hairdressers.”

Nigel was renowned for keeping up with the changing styles.

“If I had the same staff as I had back 50 years ago they would be all my age. Each generation taught me as much as they learnt from me.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Andrea O’Keefe who runs body piercing is based at the salon and will remain open.

She said: “It has been brilliant and I have loved it over the years.

“I walked in here at the age of 25 and have stayed here ever since.

“I am looking for premises and I do want to stay in the town centre as it is more central for me. Any updates will be on my social media at Blackburn Piercing Studio.”

Nigel said: “The body piercing studio has been good for the salon too as people would come in for one service and then maybe have their hair done or book and appointment.”

Nigel said he already spends six months of the year in Spain.

He added: “I would like to wish everyone the best and it has been a wonderful journey for us.

“Thank you to all the staff and all the people who have walked through these doors. It has been special. Notsoflippinbadeh!"