THE DEMON Barber of Mossley is hanging up his scissors after almost 50 years.
But Frank Webster will take with him a lifetime of memories after staying in the same premises since 1969.
December 22 is the final day the 76-year-old will be open for business at his premises on Lees Road before he heads off to New Zealand.
Customers old and young, including 98-year-old Bill Buchan, who has been with him since day one, will bid a fond farewell to the man who has kept their hair in check since before Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon.
Frank will still have one customer – wife Lesley who herself is a former hairdresser. She cuts his hair and he cuts hers.
Frank said: “I’ve loved every day of being a barber and I’d like to thank every single customer!
“I’ve got several men who come in and tell me things where I think, ‘Why are you telling me?’ since I started in April 1969.
“Customers like Bill could worry but I’ve told them not to worry about it, even though I’m retiring.
“I’ve lived in Mossley all my life and worked in Mossley for most of it – I wouldn’t want to move out of Mossley either.
“But I’ve made a comfortable living, brought two daughters up and now three grandsons. I can retire happy.”
Lesley, 71, who retired four years ago, added: “He didn’t retire previously because he would have been under my feet!
Frank started off as a sheet metal worker before deciding to train up as a barber under Jim Evans.
And one memory sticks out above all over his time cutting hair – the proverb ‘Never work with kids’ certainly rang true.
He added: “I remember Jim said he’d train me up then he took a holiday on the week of Whit Friday.
“He came back on the Tuesday afterwards and said, ‘Was everything all right?’ I was like, ‘They were queuing up outside!’
“He turned around and said something like, ‘Well, if you can cope with that, you’ll be OK,’ and he left soon afterwards. That was that.
“There have probably been three or four major changes style-wise during my days. We’ve had short hair, long hair, short hair then all shaved off!
“Now it’s all about razor partings but they’re nothing new. I remember doing them some 30 years ago.
“I’ve had families come with kids, then the kids have come with their kids and now their grandkids!
“If I would pick one memory, it would have to be the time I gave lollipops to two boys after cutting their hair.
“These kids didn’t say anything, so their mum said, ‘What do you say?’ Still nothing. Eventually she went to them, ‘What’s the magic word?’ to which one replied. ‘Abracadabra!’”
Once he retires and sells the premises, with one party already interested, Frank and Lesley will head off to New Zealand for seven weeks to spend time with family then their time will be split between Mossley and their caravan in Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire.
But Frank believes he will be just as busy as he indulges in his other passion, working with Mossley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (MAODS).
“I’ve been helping to build their sets for about 30 years,” he said.
“The Demon Barber of Mossley nickname comes from my association with MAODS. One year we put on a production of Sweeney Todd and it’s just stuck from there!”