Wales

Carmarthenshire barber dies at 94 after 78-year career

Jack Wardell
Image caption Jack Wardell left the mines to set up his hairdressing business

One of the UK's oldest barbers, who cut and styled hair for almost 80 years, has died, aged 94.

Jack Wardell learned his hairdressing skills at the age of 13, his Barber Shed opened when he was 18 and he only retired in 2007, when he was 91.

The Barber Shed was transported from Tumble, Carmarthenshire, to Kidwelly Industrial Museum in recognition of its importance to local heritage.

Known as Jack the Barber, he was the father of ex-Gower MP Gareth Wardell.

Mr Wardell learned his trade as a lather boy with Tom Williams, the barber of Cross Hands, working for two shillings a week.

Local county councillor Clive Scourfield, who used to visit Mr Wardell for a "short back and sides", said he had initially worked down the mines.

But he left to set up his barber business in a corrugated iron shed, using his experiences of life in the collieries to create a successful shop.

"He was very much a character. He was, I think, typical of a breed of old miners who, for various reasons, left the collieries to set up as a barber. Jack was one of four I knew," he said.

"They brought with them this experience of being able to talk to customers at the same level, being that they experienced the same hardships. It led to easy conversations."

He said Mr Wardell offered a "good hair cut at a good value" but that the style he cut hardly changed from the "short back and sides" that was the trend when he started his business.

Image caption Jack Wardell's Barber Shed was transported to the Kidwelly Industrial Museum

"Going to Jack's wasn't just about the hair cut. His success came from the social experience you had there - being part of the conversations with people who were there."

It was this social interactivity that kept Mr Wardell working for so long, Mr Scourfield believes.

"He was lucky with regard to his health but it was obviously a job he enjoyed," he added.

"It kept his spirit vibrant because he was meeting with all these people."

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