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Florence Cole as a child

Barbers in early 1900s
north London

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This page is based on childhood recollections of shops in Edmonton, north London in Edwardian times.

The barbers pole

Red and white striped pole signifying a barber's shop, both now and in the 1900s

 Red and white striped barber's pole signifying a barber's shop. Photo taken in recent times outside a barber's shop.

You could always recognize a barber's shop, because there was a red and white pole outside, about 18 inches high and 4 inches across. Barbers cut men's hair and did shaving.

Why barbers had a pole

A teacher told me that striped poles were common outside barbers' shops because the levels of literacy were so low that clear symbols were needed to encourage custom.

Paul Dutton

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How barbers shaved men

A man to be shaved would first have a towel put over his shoulders and under his chin. Then the barber would work up a lather with a small brush and soap, apply the lather with the brush and use the razor to scrape it off, along with the beard stubble. Finally the man would have a warm towel put round his face which was supposed to help the skin feel better.

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The importance of a good barber

A good barber was well sought after because being able to trust oneself to someone with an open razor was obviously important.

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Cutting hair at home

Women often cut their husbands' hair. It was all a matter of cost - but couldn't you tell!

It was usual practice to cut children's hair at home. Often a pudding basin was put on their heads to guide the scissors.

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The local Edmonton barber

I have been unable to find a barber named Rawlinson in Silver Street in the 1911 census. So he probably arrived later.

Pat Cryer, webmaster
and daughter of the author

Our local barber in Edmonton was owned by the Rawlinson family.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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