Sheffield barber retiring after 53 years - and 750,000 haircuts

Bill Mills who is retiring after over 30 years cutting hair at Just william on Campo Lane in Sheffield

Bill Mills who is retiring after over 30 years cutting hair at Just william on Campo Lane in Sheffield

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A hairdresser who has worked for 53 years has given more haircuts over his career than there are people in Sheffield.

Bill Mills, the 68-year-old owner of the Just William salon behind Sheffield Cathedral, said: “I was asked this in the early 1970s, and I worked out that I could fill Wembley Stadium two and a half times.”

Bill Mills who is retiring after over 30 years cutting hair at Just william on Campo Lane in Sheffield

Bill Mills who is retiring after over 30 years cutting hair at Just william on Campo Lane in Sheffield

Four decades later, Bill estimates he has worked on a whopping 750,000 haircuts since he first started in 1962. In comparison, there are roughly 564,000 people living in Sheffield.

He said: “I would have been a rich man if I charged just £1 and kept it all.”

At the peak of his career, he would send 70 to 80 men out of his salon every day looking smart. No job is too big or small and Bill still works his magic on comb-overs and mullets.

The born-and- bred Sheffielder said the trends are coming full circle and reverting to the ‘short back and sides’ cut that was fashionable when he first started.

Father-of-three Bill, from Mayfield Valley, said: “I was always quite creative at school and liked art. I wanted to be a joiner, but my father talked me out of it. He said: ‘Hair always keeps growing and you’ll never be out of work.’”

After training for three years as an apprentice and working in various salons in town, William set up his own shop on Campo Lane in 1979.

He’s been at it for so long, he is now working on his customer’s sons and grandsons and his most loyal clients have been returning for more than 50 years. The list also includes Lord Mayors, Master Cutlers and solicitors.

Bill figures a combination of ‘good service, good haircuts, and loads of chats’ keeps them coming back.

He said: “We talk about football and they become friends. I’ve gone to their son’s weddings, christenings. I’m afraid now – I’m going to funerals and that’s what makes you think.”

Bill, who has decided to retire on Christmas Eve this year, said: “It’s time to call it a day – standing up all day is a strain on my back, knee joints and ankles.”

The salon, which was previously owned by another barber for 40 years, will be run by his five members of staff.

Megan Wykes, a 17-year-old who works in the salon, said she has learned about customer service and built up her confidence. She added: “It feels like a family – this is my second family.”

Bill hopes to spend his days walking dogs, planning holidays and going to auctions again to pursue his interest in antiques.