As a gentleman’s hairdresser, Bunkers is a cut above the opposition
Instead of hard chairs and dog-eared old magazines to read while you wait for your haircut, there are comfortable sofas to sink into, a copy of The Times on hand, and even a free cup of tea or coffee.
Interesting antiques are scattered around, intriguing pictures line the walls, and there is even a Victorian fireplace to relax in front of. Then, when the hairdresser is ready for you, you step up to an equally cleverly designed traditional salon at the rear of the premises.
“I wanted the waiting area to be just like a front room where clients could relax in comfort and enjoy the whole experience,” explains owner Mrs Donny Buller who opened Bunkers in 1987. It’s a concept which has worked well and stood the test of time in a very competitive field.
“When I opened there were just four hairdressers in Sheen, now there are 16,” she added. “So we have to be on our toes to keep our customers happy.”
Donny was born and grew up in Sheen and her family have over a century’s connection with the area. She inherited her premises in Sheen Lane from her father who ran it as a radio shop.
Trained as a hairdresser and after working at other salons in Richmond and Sheen, she relished the opportunity to open her own shop and concentrate on cutting men’s hair. Donny runs the business with the help of two staff, Becky, who has worked with her for 25 years, and Lyn.
It costs £22 for a cut and blow dry, £15 for a clipper cut, and the same price for boys under 16. “We allow half-an-hour for a cut so we have enough time to do a really good job,” she added. “We must be doing something right because we have a big regular clientele who have been coming here for years.
“We love chatting to our clients and we specialise in having a very special rapport with each one.
The rear of the shop is equally full of interesting objects and photographs, many of them reflecting the passion of Donny’s husband, Tim, for aviation and military matters. Photos of Spitfires and other World War II aircraft adorn the walls, along with sepia prints of World War I soldiers, including Donny’s grandfather.
On the back of a rear door hangs a flyer’s sheepskin jacket, goggles, and white silk scarf. Nearby is an ornate cap which belonged to a colonel in the United States Air Force. Over one of the mirrors is a photo of a WWII flying ace, Squadron Leader Grey-Ward, who was one of Donny’s regular customers until his death a few years ago. His image is thoughtfully flanked by bottles of Spitfire, Bomber, and Bombardier Ales.
“He was a real character who became a great friend,” she said. “He was a Lancaster bomber pilot who flew on the mission which sank the German battleship, the Tirpitz, and was also on the last raid of the war to bomb Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest lair in Berchtesgaden.”
“I never advertise,” added Donny. “My clients come from word of mouth and it keeps us busy.”
Words by Mark Dowdney – Pictures by Bob Lisney – Project Coordinator Richard Osbourne