Northern Soul heart of hairdresser Pat

Hairdresser Patrick Reddy from Hermanos on Central Drive
Hairdresser Patrick Reddy from Hermanos on Central Drive

Forty years of marriage earns you a variety of colour-based gifts. But what about 40 years of hairdressing?

A pair of ruby encrusted scissors? Arthritis in your hands?

Hairdresser Patrick Reddy from Hermanos on Central Drive

Hairdresser Patrick Reddy from Hermanos on Central Drive

Patrick (better known as Pat) Reddy isn’t sure - but he’s been cutting, blowing, snipping and clipping since 1976 and has no intentions of stopping just yet.

Born in Bury in 1960 his family first moved to Kenilworth in Warwickshire then to Blackpool in 1971 when his dad switched from managing a furniture store and bought a hotel on Central Drive.

For the 11-year-old Patrick, already making the transition from junior to secondary school it was “quite a time.” But there was more to come. After three years his dad bought a café on Lytham Road – The Pantry – which is now part of KFC, and a house on the corner of Preston New Road, which became the family home for a few years. Then there was the Stuart Hotel on Clifton Drive which he ran before changing direction to mail order surplus clothes in the shop on Central Drive which Patrick now runs as Hermanos.

But he chose not follow in his father’s footsteps.

It’s good. It’s a sociable thing with your clients

“I got led to hairdressing,” he says. “It was partly watching Warren Beatty in the film Shampoo going around on his moped and doing Julie Christie’s hair - and all she had on was a towel. I thought that looked like a good job. I was also going to Northern Soul events and one the guys a couple of years older than me had all the girls fancying him. And he was a hairdresser in Blackpool.”

He actually fancied studying law but “Warren Beatty won over Rumpole of the Bailey and anyway I enjoyed hairdressing when I tried it.”

He started at Mario’s on Lytham Road near his dad’s café but it was more of a barber’ shop so within six months got a job at Trendsetters on Springfield Road and became the now multi award winning Pat Wood’s junior “which helped” he laughs.

“She is probably the best hairdresser I’ve ever seen to be honest, very innovative.”

Pat with scissors and comb

Pat with scissors and comb

And after 40 years he doesn’t regret putting law on the back curlers.

“I still love my job. I don’t ever get up and think oh god I’ve got to go into work. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to get up but there’s never a dark cloud about having to go to work. It’s good, it’s a social thing with your clients and I work with my daughter and two other girls so there’s quite a rapport.

“It’s a fun job to do. I’ve always been quite a sociable person, your clients become friends, I couldn’t work in a clinical atmosphere, it’s a bit like the theme song from Cheers, ‘everybody knows your name’ and do they take sugar?”

He doesn’t see his Central Drive location as being in a firing line.

“We do hoteliers from the area and quite a few people who live nearby - but with hairdressing clients come from Fleetwood, Cleveleys, Lytham. They come from all over and stick with you if they enjoy the experience. It doesn’t matter where you do it and other things come into play, like parking. The town centre must be difficult, we’ve got a car park at the back so it’s one worry gone.

“There might be the odd person with a preconception of Central Drive but on the whole we get all sorts coming. In summer we get quite a bit of Saturday walk-ups - girls who want their hair straightening before going out and a surprising number of guys who for some reason come to get their hair cut before they go to the pub.

“I don’t ever feel threatened walking along Central Drive, I think it’s been portrayed badly especially through 999 What’s Your Emergency. The amount of people who told us about the post office over the road and getting their money out at midnight but I would have thought that happens at a lot of post offices.

“No, I like Central Drive, it’s a good cross section of people and just a hop skip and a jump from the town centre.”

Apart from hair, his other passion is Northern Soul.

“I’ve been into it since I was about 13. I went to the youth club one night and could hear the older lads in another room listening to something different with amazing beats - so infectious. I wasn’t into much of the mainstream stuff so because it was different I started going to the Blackpool Casino.”

Then there was Wigan’s legendary Casino and Blackpool’s equally fabled Highland Room where he and his friends had to lie about their age to get in.

They were golden days with coaches shipping people in from around Lancashire for an 8pm start then the hard core heading to Wigan at midnight to start again.

“Blackpool had the rooms and the access – it was in the right place at the right time.”

With Northern Soul still going strong he took to the turntables himself a few years ago.

“It isn’t like a modern DJ. Northern Soul is about what you’ve got in you record box and you’ve got to play originals to be taken seriously. They have a camera on your decks at the Tower and Winter Gardens showing the labels you are playing so if you’ve got a re-issue on a lesser label, then you’ll have some connoisseur or other dj coming up complaining because if you’ve got the £10 re-issue and he’s got the £5,000 original, once you’ve played it he can’t play it - you’re not allowed to repeat records.”

He and his friends still go to venues such as Blackburn King George’s Hall and Stoke King’s Hall as well as Blackpool’s regular big nights and fast rising gatherings at the Wainwright Club on Hornby Road.

“Part of it is educating a new generation,” he says. “You can go to a lot of little local soul events and the djs just play well known stuff from cd’s, but when we do the Tower our slot is to feature some under played material to introduce people to something else.”

Can he still do the dances?

“Oh yes, but not for as long as I used to. If we go an all-nighter that finishes at 7am we probably last until 2am – or 3am tops. My best friend Chris O’Donnell can still do the back drops, Cossack leg and things. I do the odd spin now and again but I tend to bump into people.”

But there is a new generation too.

“It’s great watching them dance, it reminds you how agile you used to be – and they do it old school, they wear the baggy pants and Fred Perry tops, it’s really nice to see young blood coming in.”

But the nightclub scene has gone.

“It’s nearly all late bars not clubs now. We used to go to the No 3 until 10.30pm then the Mardi Gras or the 007 or the Adam & Eve. That’s all gone.”

So what’s the future hold for Blackpool?

“Blackpool should be advertised as a proper holiday. These days it’s all short stays or weekends, hen nights or football club nights out. It’s too accessible, you go to Devon or Cornwall for a holiday but you come here for a short stay.”

Would he come?

“Yes, I’d bring the family if we didn’t live here. It’s got such a variety of things, the beauty of Stanley Park, you can drive up and down the coast, it has plenty to offer though it may be a bit pricey at times.

“It would be nice to see some more money spent on the piers to make sure they don’t go under, the Tower is flourishing with a lot of events on, the Pleasure Beach does well, the promenade looks lovely – there’s plenty to keep visitors here longer.”

And his favourite building?

“The former King Edward Cinema on Central Drive, I like the arches there, the domes on the Cliffs Hotel and the kiosks on North Pier.

“It was sad to see the ABC/Syndicate go. Even though it was more modern it had memories of who had played there and when it was used as a cinema I remember queuing up to see The Exorcist. I was still at school, the queue was down the street and they had police outside. We got to the bottom of the steps and a policeman asked us our age and told us to come back another time.”

So if he was in a pub with his mates and heard Blackpool being slagged off would he leap to the town’s defence?

“Yes. And I think all my friends would as well, I think we get bit of a rough ride with the headlines, it’s an easy target the way it’s portrayed nationally - but there’s a lot of good in Blackpool.

“We take it for granted. If I took my wife and children and stayed somewhere like Blackburn and we came out of the hotel and walked a few hundred yards to a Stanley Park with its grounds, café, boating lake, all weather football pitches, children’s play area, you’d think this is wonderful. Then walk 20 minutes the other way and you were on a prom with a Tower, three piers and a beach?

“We get spoilt. When Blackpool people go away somewhere they do the things that people do when they come here, but some of them think they shouldn’t do it here because they live here – or shouldn’t have to pay full price for things. That doesn’t happen elsewhere.”

And his least favourite thing about the town?

“The litter. And the apathy of quite a few people about what they’ve got on their doorstep. I think they’d realise if they got shipped out and had to live in an inland town like Oldham or Burnley that don’t have the same scale of attractions that we have here and places to go.”

So fashions and styles change, the once rather risqué unisex idea is now de rigueur but is a hair salon still a hotbed of gossip?

“It can be. People tell you things they might not discuss elsewhere because you build up a personal relationship with clients.

“They wouldn’t if you bumped into them into a pub but it’s a bit like a doctor/patient confidentiality when they’re having their hair done.

“It must be a trust thing – or maybe at my age they think I just forget.”

Although he sold the property last year – “there were six flats attached and I’m not a natural landlord” – he has no intention of hanging up his clippers.

“I’m 55 now and can see myself working for another 15 years at least,” he says. “I’ve no plans to retire. I still love it as much as I ever did – even though I never got to do Julie Christie’s hair.

So who does his?

“My daughter,” he says proudly.

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