Len Dow: A hair salon that became a Kirkcaldy institution

On September 1, 1927 Gordon Dow opened his first gents’ hairdressing salon in Kirkcaldy - and the business is still going strong to this day. It’s a Lang Toun institution.

Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 1:09 pm

There can’t be a man in Kirkcaldy over the last near 100 years who hasn’t popped in for a quick trim at one of its salons.

Today it still operates out of Kirk Wynd and St Clair Street.

Mr Dow started out at 7 Kirk Wynd, virtually next door to where Len Dow is based today.

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The original Kirk Wynd salon with Gordon Dow second from right

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These pictures from the Fife Free Press of 1977 will spark great memories

The salon began with two ‘juniors’ - local men Sandy Thomson and Jimmy Penman, both of whom stayed with the business for 30 years.

The salon then moved into the premises still occupied by Len Dow - named after his son who took over the business.

1977 marked the firm’s golden jubilee with a special feature in the Fife Free Press.

o mark 50 years in business, Kirkcaldy hairdressing firm Len Dow Salons invited one of its original customers to ‘sit’ for70-year old Sandy Thomson, a barber with the shop when it was first bought by the late Gordon L. Dow in 1927. Looking on are members of staff sporting the style of moustache much favoured half a century ago.

In it, Len recalled: “In the old days when my father started, all the men wo came in for a haircut got the same ‘scalping; treatment with red hot clippers run up the back of their heads as a matter of course, and tuft of hair left on top!”

To mark the golden jubilee, the first 50 men through the door got a haircut for the price it would have cost in 1927 - the equivalent of three new pence - plus a nip of whisky.

Staff also wore the favourite long white overalls of the period, sported curtly moustaches and flattened down, well greased hair.

In 1975 Dow took over what was Daisy Hutchison’s ladies salon at Port Brae, and a year later it acquired a salon in Links Street and called it Ace Cut.

By 1977, Dow had five salons and that year saw it take over the business previously run by Sandy Thomson in Dunearn Drive upon his retiral.

The jubilee saw its High Street salon refurbished and called Snips, while a ladies salon opened upstairs in Kirk Wynd.

More than 30 stylists worked for them, making them one of the largest employers of ladies and gents hairdressers.

And while salons have come and gone, the name of Dow continues to this day.