How Betty’s Teesside hair salon inspired a crowd-pulling tourist attraction in Beamish

For 37 years, cutting, styling and perming hair was Elizabeth Macpherson’s life.

The hairdresser, from Potto, had her own terrace salon on a street in Middlesbrough equipped with everything she needed to keep her clients groomed and groomed to perfection.

She hung up her scissors over 13 years ago and left her small shop aged 58 for what she thought was the last time – but it wasn’t.

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For Elizabeth’s street saloon has been recreated in all its glory and forms the central part of a brand new tourist attraction in the North East which attracts visitors. In recent years, the North East Beamish Living History Museum has built a 1950s street and one of the attractions there is Elizabeth’s Little Shop.

It was unveiled to the public earlier this year and brought back many memories for the salon owner who bought her premises in Bow Street, Middlesbrough as a wedding present for herself to fulfill her ambition to be her own boss . Elizabeth, known as Betty, and her husband Ian visited – and love it.

Elizabeth’s drawing room on Bow Street, Middlesbrough in the 1980s

Inside, there’s a typical 1950s waiting room and a row of hair dryers where shampoo and set ladies would have once sat in their rollers. Betty and Ian owned the terraced Middlesbrough shop for 37 years. They took it over in 1973, and it was Betty’s teenage years working as a hairdresser that helped shape Beamish’s exposure.

“To be honest, I can’t believe this has happened. To have our little shop recreated in Beamish is so special, the thought that it will be seen by hundreds and thousands of visitors every year and to think that ‘She’ll be there for generations to see is just wonderful,’ Betty said.

“I ran the shop for 37 years, working full time, it was a big part of my life and I’m so proud to see it part of the fantastic 1950s street.

“Some of my earliest memories are of going to the hairdresser with my mum in the 50s when I was little, I loved it and I knew I never wanted to do anything else.”

An undated photo of Elizabeth on Bow Street, Middlesbrough
An undated photo of Elizabeth on Bow Street, Middlesbrough

Betty, from Potto, retired in 2009 at the age of 58. She shared some photographs with TeessideLive which show how the show has changed over the years.

Elizabeth on Bow Street before retiring in 2009
Elizabeth on Bow Street before retiring in 2009

One, taken in the 1980s, shows Betty on the left with Leanne Spence who worked at the store and a frequent customer known as Ruby Willans, another was taken in 2009 and shows Betty on the right with member Caroline Lee of staff, outside the salon as she prepares to retire.


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