HORSEBOXES have been a common sight this month as the racing world has descended on Gloucestershire - but one in particular has turned more heads than most.
Nicky Henderson trained Barber Shop was once a favourite racehorse of the Queen and had many a run out over the hallowed Cheltenham Turf.
But this new Barber Shop has a difference.
Business partners Richard Humphries and Richard Battye have been cutting men’s hair for 25 years. After seeing their traditional men’s barbers in Brockworth and Innsworth flourish, they decided it was time for a new style of service.
The pair splashed out on an unused horsebox on Ebay with the hope of transforming it into a mobile gent’s salon.
Mr Battye, from Longlevens, said the shop’s opening coincided with the Cheltenham Festival by chance, but has attracted plenty of second glances on the road.
He said: “We took it out and drove it through Worcester and Tewkesbury. You wouldn’t believe the amount of looks we got, it is certainly unique.
“We have had to chuck a few quid at it to get the electric professionally done, the awning and the roof. It was a shell when we had to, but now it looks like a proper barber shop.
“It had a bit of welding done but it flew through the MOT. I do the driving and it goes well.”
The idea of a mobile shop is proving to be a smart move. Not only can the lads take their services all over the county wherever there is a demand, but they can also cut down on pricey business rates.
“We looked at a unit in Quedgeley next to the post office but there was a planning permission problem,” he added.
“The city council are very approachable and there are lots of business grants available. People don’t always know how to access them, that is the problem.
It is up to small businesses like ours to help get the economy back where it should be.
“The biggest letdown is landlords. With the tax breaks they get is better for them to have their units empty, rather than an income. It is very sad and the main reason why a lot of those shops are empty.”
His friend and business partner, Mr Humphries said: “We have always done the full gent’s service with a proper wet shave with a cut throat razor. We had to have the van’s roof weather sealed or replaced which would have cost us £4,000.
“A builder said we should just tape bubble wrap to the ceiling to keep th heat in and the water out and it has worked well.
“We got Busy Bees in Worcester Street to stitch some Union flags together to tidy it up and it looks pretty smart.
“It is up and running now and once we are more established we will put on a new roof. We try to keep the traditional art of barbers going and do exactly what it says on the tin. Our motto is a traditional service at traditional prices.”
The pair are donating five per cent of their takings to Help for Heroes, charity events are also held throughout the year.
The mobile Barber Shop will be outside GL3 Community Hub in Cheltenham Road East on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am until 4pm, opposite the new Tesco’s.