Reunion for legendary Morecambe hairdresser

Mick Byron in his younger days at a charity event at Byrons.
Mick Byron in his younger days at a charity event at Byrons.
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As the hairdressing community gathers to remember one of the greats reporter Gemma Sherlock looks back into the life of Morecambe legend Mick Byron.

It’s been 13 years since one of the resort’s most influential hairdressers passed away.

Mick Byron; and inset, Linda Byron and Bob Wallbank at the reunion; and  Bob Wallbank and Alex Turbas at the reunion.

Mick Byron; and inset, Linda Byron and Bob Wallbank at the reunion; and Bob Wallbank and Alex Turbas at the reunion.

Mick Byron, often considered to be a man ahead of his time, was responsible for training hundreds of stylists when he opened his first salon on Nelson Street, in Morecambe.

Byrons revolutionised hairdressing in the town, becoming one of the first in the North to offer blow drying instead of shampoos and sets.

Mick was hot property. Everyone wanted to work at Byrons and get to know the man behind the new craze.

“It just took off, we worked really hard,” said wife and owner, Linda Byron.

Linda Byron with daughter Rochelle Byron-Keeler from Byrons in Kirkby Lonsdale

Linda Byron with daughter Rochelle Byron-Keeler from Byrons in Kirkby Lonsdale

“Alex Turbas was 16-years-old at the time we first opened, he was cycling along the promenade and bumped into Peter Smylie, he just left school and was talking about getting a job and Peter told him about Mick.

“Alex went in and asked Mick for a job and he said yes and it just went from one person to the other. Nowadays I don’t think you can go in anywhere and just ask for a job like that.”

Byrons grew when another salon opened on Church Street, in Lancaster, so too did the staff and popularity of the former DJ and drummer.

Linda said: “Mick was a very strong character, charming, a good teacher, and very forward thinking in everything he did.

Mick Byron with staff and clients at Byrons

Mick Byron with staff and clients at Byrons

“He put black windows in the shop on Nelson Street in the 1970s, at the time it was during the miners strike and we weren’t allowed to use any electricity but no one could see in!

“He was training a lot of people, many have now actually opened their own salon. Patricia Smylie was one of the first at Concept in Lancaster and Alex Turbas has got a shop in Kirkby Lonsdale.”

Linda first met Mick when he was DJing as Lord Byron on Central Pier in Morecambe.

Mick was popular around the resort when he was also a drummer for a local band called Pilot.

Linda Byron and Bob Wallbank at the reunion.

Linda Byron and Bob Wallbank at the reunion.

He had a tragic start in life when he lost his father at the age of three when he drowned on a fishing trip, his body wasn’t found until a year later in Ulverston.

Mick also lost his sister a year later and became the only child to his mum, Monica and her partner Mack.

The 53-year-old left behind two daughters when he passed away in May 2003.

Mick was diagnosed with lung cancer and was given just nine months to live but survived for two and a half years.

Linda said: “He decided he wanted to go over to Antigua after he was diagnosed and lived there for a year, we used to holiday there all the time so we had a lot of friends there. He got really poorly and we got him home, and he lived with me until he died.

“He was such a determined man, but he became quite accepting, he was going to enjoy what time he had left.”

Patricia Smylie and the Byron family, including Mick’s daughters Rochelle, who owns Byrons in Kirkby Lonsdale, and Nico organised a reunion for the former staff in memory of their father.

The family has also raised around £14,000 for the Macmillan charity on Lancaster St John’s Hospice who looked after Mick.

More than 20 former employees and close friends gathered for the reunion at the Midland Hotel in Morecambe to remember Mick.

Patricia said: “It was really nice to meet up with people, some I haven’t seen in 15 years.

“I worked with Mick from a junior, he was very much a comedian. He was the first in the area to have a place like that, his work was unseen, unheard off. If you’ve got a passion then the world is your oyster and his was hairdressing.”

Alex Turbas said: “Byrons was just the coolest place to work, many memories.”

Patricia’s brother Peter Smylie said: “I remember 1974 when I first started Mick asked if I could go the health shop on Pedder Street and purchase a pack of Kakabix, the woman laughed saying ‘no Kakabix here love’ that was Mick’s humour. An inspiration, an entrepreneur, a comedian.”

Linda said: “The reunion was lovely, everyone shared their stories all saying he was a legend. I think he would be looking down finding it quite humorous, he lived an amazing life.”