The Barber of Belfield Street
Today’s feature is none other then the Star Barbershop, at Belfield Street.
Star Air-Conditioned Hair Dressing Salon,
97 Belfield Street (now Jalan Sultan Yussuf) IPOH 30000
The Star Hair Dressing Salon came into being in 1927, it was started by Megarai Karuppiah with just 2 barbers – Katchiappan and Manickam – and the premises were shared with a Japanese tailor before it was fully owned by the barbers.
It is a very old and well- preserved hair salon, with two 4th generation barbers still working. One of them started working at the salon in the 1953. The exterior of the shop is quite old and the building is old though there were few changes made to the structure of the shop over time. The shop has a unique style of tilted mirrors which run across the right side of the wall when entrance is made
through the front door, according to Thirunavu Karasu a/l Krishnan, the 4th generation barber, the mirrors were tilted for a better view for the customers. Right opposite that wall, there are 2 gorgeous ceramic basins without any damage of cracks over all these years.
There are electric hair trimmer and hair dryers ( Italian made) in the shop though rusty and old but still in working condition. There are few remaining chairs in the shop which look absolutely fine and strong, these chairs were imported from Japan, with the grey embossed letters “TOKYO – TAKEHANA CO – KURAMAE” on the metal frame of the foot rest, where Kuramae meaning “as strong as a sumo wrestler”.
Leaning against the back wall of the shop is a wooden cabinet with slots cut on the drawer fronts. These slots were used by each of the barbers to put in the daily takings from the customers.
Initially there was no electricity supply in the shop, so the cooling used to be provided with a Punkah Wallah to fan the customers before the ceiling fans were installed. Then in 1954, a ducted air-conditioning system was installed which was then replaced by 3 window air-conditioning units after 10 years.
The shop once employed 14 barbers and they used to live above the shop where they were provided with food as well. Their records were adequately kept and at the end of the month, each barber would be entitled to a salary depending on number of haircuts achieved, minus food and laundry allowance.
There is a framed group photograph (above) of all the barbers and the valued customers, hung from the top edge of the mirror and dated 1965. In the centre is Dr. Moreira who would normally ask for a barber to visit him in his office.
The salon has been given a notice from the property owner which means that there has to be end to its service after 84 memorable golden years.
This is a summary of the full story and a great selection of photos submitted by Peter Shaoming Wang. The full story and photographs may be found here.
On the left, we have Mr Thiru’s grandchildren. A traditional family they are seen saying their prayers. On the right, is Thiru (today) with his wife and granddaughter, Saathana.