Heavy hearts as Jannali hair salon closes after more than 60 years

The small but beautifully appointed hair salon in Jannali Arcade was a homely place for the mainly older clientele, some of whom would drop in for a touch-up because they were lonely and wanted company.

"My salon was old school and very social," said Sue Britton, who, with a heavy heart, has closed Jannali Designs to enjoy well-earned retirement.

The salon opened in the 1950s and is believed to have been the oldest in Sutherland Shire and one of the longest-trading businesses still operating in its original role.

Mrs Britton was 16 when she began work in 1966 in the salon where her mother also worked, and has owned the business for the last 27 years.

"Even though we didn't know each other, we did know each other," Mrs Britton said of her clients, some of whom had been coming since the 1970s.

"We were a big happy family and we covered a lot of topics - family, news, sport and even politics. We had lots of laughs.

"What was said in the salon stayed in the salon. We didn't do gossip."

Tears were shed when she broke the news of the closure.

"I love all my ladies, I will miss the banter, but I just woke up one morning and knew it was time," Mrs Britton said.

Mrs Britton said the salon was attuned to the needs of its clientele.

"The young ones today don't want what the older ones want," she said.

Mrs Britton is proud of her perming skills, especially solution winding in under 25 minutes.

"That's an art being lost to the trade," she said.

The salon's hair dryers date from the 1950s and there were no takers when they were advertised for sale.

"I thought they would have to go out on the council clean-up and was so pleased when we found a a home for them with Sydney Theatre Props," Mrs Britton said.

"I still have metal butterfly clips, hand clippers, an assortment of cut throat razors and wooden perm rods."

Jannali Arcade was built in the 1950s and George Heavens, a well-known shire businessman bought the Jannali, Kirrawee and Sutherland salons under the name of Jill-Anne Salons.

Mrs Britton's mother Linda Lucke was one of the original employees at Jannali when it had just cubicles and curtains.

Not a lot has changed since.

Mrs Lucke took over the business in the 1970s and, when licences became mandatory, her number was 003.

When Mrs Britton began her apprenticeship, she had to go to the city for her exam, taking two clients with her to be assessed on perms in the morning, and tinting in the afternoon.

She took a few years off to have her two children before returning in the late 1970s.

Mrs Britton has some parting advice for the hairdressers of today: "It is important to listen to what people are saying, and be interested".