At first he rented premises owned by Mr Craxton near to the Working Men’s Club, having been promised that there was no other hairdresser in the village. (In this matter he discovered he had not been told the truth!). In the late thirties when the landlord needed the premises for other things John was able to buy a small piece of land from Mr Line, who owned a field opposite what was in the forties and fifties Mr S.Drage’s taxi business and later the paper shop run at first by Mr and Mrs David Mallows.
The shop, at 29, High Street was erected as a temporary structure of asbestos sheets lined with varnished tongued and grooved boarding. The saloon consisted of a row of chairs backing on to the windows, on which chairs were the daily papers – or at least one – the News Chronicle. (It may have been the cheapest at the time!) These customers’ chairs were facing two hairdressers’ chairs, one all of wood, on which he placed a plank between the arms for youngsters to sit on and the other a proper padded affair for grownups. Behind this saloon was a small “back place” which had some storage space and a separately screened tiny room with a lavatory and basin. (Until 1949 this was an “Elsan” for like everyone else living in High Street main sewage drains were not put in until then and a night cart had to suffice removal!) The front part of the saloon was screened off into a little kiosk shop. Here, until he retired, customers could note the line he had drawn in to show where the flood of 1952 reached!
“John Farey ‘The Hairdresser’” as he styled himself, was also a wholesale and retail tobacconist, selling associated goods like pipes and snuff as well as toiletries often in fancy coffrets (gift boxes) and torches and batteries. He was also an agent for the Rushden photographer - AJ George. The council boards erected on the premises in recent years were the very ones used initially for displaying people’s black and white holiday snaps.
During the early thirties people would often come in to sit and read the papers and chat with John. He remembered times being hard for those out of work and it meant little income for him, too. When war broke out he was given six months to train his shy and self-effacing wife to learn his trade and run the business. This was very difficult in the time scale but in the event of call-up he did not pass the medical- his eyesight, his heart (he had had rheumatic fever as a boy) and his flat feet meant that he stayed in the village, serving time with the Home Guard.
Ironically, as the war progressed business improved, as his regular customers were joined by the boys from the USAF, who would come over from their base at Podington aerodrome for a quality haircut.
He was considerate and perceptive with young children, too. In addition, he always had some discerning customers who, once they had found him, were prepared to travel to come again. He seemed to have a gift for disguising bald patches as well as tapering hair in a way barbers who can only use thinning scissors do not seem to learn nowadays. He always put cotton wool in the neckline under the cloth and brushed the neck hair with a special brush afterwards when discarding it and shaking the cloth;- cloths, which his wife assiduously washed! She used to help him at busy times by serving in the kiosk shop part and sweeping the hair up into a natty dustpan which snapped shut to prevent it coming out again. He knew how to sharpen a cutthroat razor and often gave shaves. He only once nicked a customer’s ear (He never saw him again!).
John was very kind, visiting the sick in their homes to give them both shaves and haircuts - in the fifties the wounded man in the cottages against the railings that is now the Green, the old man who lived along Dychurch, or the elderly gentleman at the farm.
After the war perhaps the biggest events were the floods in the High Street and down fish alley. As a child Joy, his daughter, remembers getting into trouble paddling along in Wellingtons in the flood but the night of the biggest flood she was in bed with measles yet remembers someone banging on the door shouting, “Come quick John, the shop’s floating!” It wasn’t, of course, because he knew it had adequate foundations but that was the year all his accounts and bank statements were literally in the red and instead of three days at the seaside, the summer holiday was a few days with a relative in Leicester!
John could rarely afford a proper holiday such as we enjoy nowadays, partly as a business service needs to be maintained and partly because there were insufficient funds in those days, anyway. However, from the fifties he did enjoy short outings in his Austin Seven and later in an old Ford Anglia. It was the advent of the fashion for boys and men to have long hair that caused life to be really tough and he was thankful to get a job for a few months travelling for one of his wholesalers. Then he closed the shop at the beginning of the week, opening just three days.
A heart attack and angina slowed things down and eventually he retired. Initially, letting the shop to Olive Roberts for a ladies’ Hair Salon. Then she sold animal feed. After that, there were a succession of tenants, including a baker and Mr R. Chapman as a cake maker extraordinaire, before Eric Green took it over as a charity shop, which later became Bozaid.
BOZ-AID, THE BEGINNING
Travel with a purpose was Geoff’s motto, he was an acquaintance who got me to travel to Romania with him with aid in 1990. The previous year had seen the overthrow of the country’s president Nicolae Ceausescu in a bloody civil war. The secretive country opened up and was awash with TV and newspaper reporters. The plight of Romania’s orphanages, full of unwanted children made headline news around the world. Geoff’s plan was to take his Land Rover with food and medicines to a town in the north east of Romania. The charity, Scottish European Aid had taken over an orphanage in Botosani and Geoff had offered assistance. I bought an old Land Rover and we prepared for our journey. Geoff, his girlfriend Sue and my co driver Gary had raised money to buy the food and medicines recommended by the charity, we packed both vehicles leaving just enough room inside to sleep.
On a cold January morning we set off from Geoff’s home in Northampton heading for Dover and the channel ferry. Five days of travel took us through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary and into Romania, over the Carpathian mountains and deep into Dracula country. I remember the villages and countryside resembling 50’s Britain. Horse and cart was the most used transport, very little of anything in the shops, long queues for petrol and factory chimneys belching out thick smoke.
We found the orphanage and delivered our cargo to the small group of Scottish volunteers. We were shocked by the dilapidated buildings, lack of resources and overcrowding. The children, many babies in cots, fifteen or twenty to a small bitterly cold room, older children and teenagers sitting around, some rocking backwards and forwards, none of the children smiled, they had no reason to, they were all unwanted. Geoff and Gary’s day jobs were as social workers, conversations with the volunteers held round the breakfast table were usually about social issues and Gary’s statement that, how we treat today’s children will determine the world’s future, stuck in my brain. The volunteers hadn’t been there long, they had plans but needed funding and help. We returned home, I wanted to help.
The village barber’s shop had seen a few enterprises since John Farey last clipped a short back and sides and it was now empty. I negotiated a lease and emptied our loft and garage to raise money for the Romanian orphanage, Boz-Aid was born and the villagers of Bozeat proved to be very generous in supplying goods and also buying. I returned a few times to Botosani taking more aid. Orphanages throughout Romania thrived on aid delivered from many European countries and Scottish European Aid handed over a much improved orphanage to the local authority. My last visit to Romania was in 2005, it was to a country vastly updated with European money.
After Scottish European Aid pulled out of Romania a new project for the money raised by Boz-Aid had to be found. Sue Wagstaff put her long time pen pal forward. As head teacher in a school in a small town north of Nairobi Kenya, he was having trouble finding funding to re-roof his school. Geoff’s motto came to mind, travel with a purpose, a self-funded trip to Kenya was planned. On arrival I found Kenya was the opposite of the drab, dreary, soulless oppressed country that I’d witnessed in post-revolutionary Romania. Kenya was colourful, vibrant and busy. The school on the outskirts of the town was self-built by the pupil’s parents. Made from sun dried mud bricks and roofed with rotting corrugated iron sheeting the school really did need a makeover. £750 of Boz-Aid money re-roofed the entire school and the children were happy the rain didn’t disturb their lessons.
A school in India was another recipient of Boz-Aid funding. A charity-cum-school in a small village on the outskirts of Orissa’s capital Bhubaneswar received donations of roughly £3,000 a year from the charity kitty. The school was founded by an extra-ordinary woman named Kadambini. Her benevolence and foresight saved many children from lives of misery. India’s caste system separates the can do’s from the can’t do’s. More complicated, but on similar lines to apartheid, parents status determines the future of the children. High caste children have good education and get the better things in life, lower castes usually follow the family traditions, low paid work and poor lifestyle. With no pension system the family looks after each other, parents depend on their children for support in old age, hence large families. Male births are more welcome, boys can usually find employment. In wealthier families girls are often aborted, with poorer families girls are seen as another mouth to feed and are often abandoned. Kadambini rescued girls destined for prostitution or wageless menial work. She argued that education would give the girls a better chance to find a decent job, and hopefully a good husband. As a follow up to education older pupils were taught skills to help them find gainful employment. I made several trips to the school and was very impressed with the setup. Money was raised for Orissa up until about 2004.
The heroes and heroines which every charity needs are the volunteers, Boz-Aid was no exception. They hardly ever get to see the results of their unselfish dedication, they give their time freely manning the little shop in all weathers. I probably never thanked them personally, but do so now. For such a small village the role call is long and thanks to these volunteers Boz-Aid survived and prospered for twenty five years. The names are in no particular order and I apologise if I have missed anyone.
Christine Line, Sue Evans, Fran Field, Anne Hickling, Ann Brown, Jean Freeman, Jennifer Spencer, the late Peter Collier, James Spencer, Maureen Brown, Marion Brown, Kay Gale, Pat Conroy, Pat Driver, Penny & Gordon Brannon, Rose Ellis and Sandra Mayne. Thanks also to the late Derek Spencer and Gordon Brannon for all their help, and to Roy Mayne for painting the outside of the shop.
Pat Taylor (who now lives in Uppingham) was the first treasurer, followed by Mavis Holman then Ann Brown. Christina Downey, the late Snip Reeves and Derek Cox kindly allowed us to use their garages to store our stock. I must also thank my wife Hazel for her support and the villagers of Bozeat for their generosity in supporting the charity for so many years.
Ann Brown took over the running of Boz-Aid in 2004 and continued successfully to raise funds for the various charities.
Boz-Aid annually sponsored 2 children through World Vision and another child through Everychild. Each year with the remaining funds that we had raised, the people who were actively on the rota, each had a vote as to where they wished their share to go. These charities were mainly ones where the whole amount donated by us went directly to help - usually one of the team had a personal connection. NB apart from supporting Eric when he took medicines, clothes, etc. to Romania and Kenya, we supported a charity run by people in Filgrave called The Children of Orissa, in India.
After 2003 we supported the following charities:
Apart from running the shop we also raised money by having a stall at the annual Earls Barton Steam Rally and also the Great Billing Fayre. Many car boot sales were also held and a stall was run on Wellingborough market. Funds were also obtained from pub quizzes, the village fete, recycling companies, Michael - the book man - who bought books from us for his shop in Birmingham, Mums & Tots, eBay.
We were honoured in 2006 when we won an Unsung Heroes Award from Northamptonshire Police Authority. Thank you to all of the people in Bozeat and Wollaston for their generous donations. Sadly Boz-Aid closed in October 2014 due to forthcoming development. Unfortunately there were no other suitable premises in Bozeat.
Final payments have been made:
Medicins Sans Frontieres £200
The Daylight Centre £760.63
Barry & Sandra Carvell £900
Southern Africa’s Children £500
Bozaid - The Shop: 29 High Street, Bozeat
John Farey (NB no “i” (never an “i” – not on his birth certificate!) came to Bozeat in 1929, travelling by push bike from Little Irchester, where he lived with his parents somewhere opposite the “Dog and Duck.” He later rode a motorcycle until he came to live in Bozeat, in the bungalow in London Road, on his marriage to Grace in 1935. John had been an apprentice in Wellingborough to Alex Thorneycroft where he had learnt to cut and taper hair, how to shave with a cutthroat razor and how to carry out Marcel waving. His father, who had had six sons and three daughters, had earlier given him a cash box and five pounds to give him a start in the difficult job market.