Fremantle Stuff > buildings > Norm Wrightsons Hairway. See also: Norm Wrightson.
7 William St, formerly the studio of Nixon & Merilees. In 2020, the barbershop has been taken over by Peter Kennedy. Meanwhile, "Wrightsons Hairway" has moved to where Peter Kennedy came from: South Terrace, near the corner with Wray Avenue. The two businesses have exchanged premises.
Fremantle Society blog 10 August 2019
Last year we drew your attention to the iconic Norm Wrightson’s hairdressers in William Street, which was slated for removal to another location without the owner’s knowledge or consent – to be replaced by a brewery (right outside the front door of the Town Hall).
The owner won the battle to stay where he is, for now. The Fremantle Society campaigned to save the iconic business and to have Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf restore the shop to its original glory as shown in the photograph above. With support from Cr Archibald, a former President of the Fremantle Society (and former Mayor), council approved allowing Silverleaf to spend the $100,000 percent for art money putting back the wonderful ornate verandah shown in the image below, instead of ugly public art like the three metal poles nearby which Silverleaf had to pay for as part of their as yet still unfinished Atwell Arcade project.
But the owner of Norm Wrightson’s is distraught with what he sees as bullying from Silverleaf, whose construction works are affecting his business. He alleges that workmen are trespassing on his business premises without the required permission being sought.
The top photograph shows recent damage to his rented premises.
Norm Wrightson’s has been a barber shop since 1933 in this location. 86 years. The first business in that building was the famous photographer shown above, who lasted there for over 40 years.
Norm Wrightson grew up upstairs in the building, and by age 13 was helping his father in the barbershop cutting kids’ hair. During the war there were no shopfronts- the windows being taken out and boarded up in case of air raids. After the war when Norm took over from his father he employed Italian hairdressers to help him. He called them “Ding” and they called him “Aussie Bugga”.
The current owner of the business Morteza is not paying high rent to make money. Business is tough. He is passionate about the history of Fremantle, and wants to see the traditional barbershop with great haircuts, shaves and flat tops continue. That is why he is battling Silverleaf and trying to survive.
Why isn’t this iconic business valued? Why isn’t he feted and offered a long lease? As businessman, and Fremantle Society committee member, Mike Finn said: “An iconic business like this needs to be nurtured and given concessions.”
When the building was renovated in 2020, Silverleaf restored the verandahs and posts in lieu of the 'percentage for art' requirement.
Justin Stahl, Fremantle Herald, 10 August 2019
ICONIC Fremantle barbershop Norm Wrightson Hairway has been plagued with dust, water leaks and noise during the $10 million renovation of the Manning buildings.
The barbershop has been at the Manning Buildings on High Street since 1933, and eight years ago Mr Wrightson sold the shop to Morteza Shojaee.
Mr Shojaee claims that under the conditions of his lease he should be given notice about any works, but says without warning his access to a storage area was removed, and the rear car park was demolished, filling his shop with dust everyday.
As winter started, water began dripping from the roof onto his customers and the walls have begun to peel, crack and show signs of mould damage.
Rubbing his finger through thick layers of white dust on shelves and benches, he claims his staff are spending up to half an hour each day cleaning up.
Mr Shojaee says he pleaded with developer Silverleaf to help, but they didn’t do anything, and Fremantle council staff have been to the premises and seen the rain coming in.
He says the final straw was when workmen cut a hole in his awning and damaged his sign.
“Why should I have to accept dust, noise, water, broken signs, broken air con? There’s no end to it!” an exasperated Mr Shojaee says.
“Why should I, as a tenant, pay the price in health and safety for my staff and clients?”
Mr Shojaee says that because of a redevelopment clause in his lease that prevents scaffolding being erected on his shopfront, and the decent amount of time left on his lease, he is being “bullied out”.
Describing Silverleaf’s tactics and lack of communication as “dictatorial”, he says “they took my kindness for weakness. I do not wish to mislead the public – everything is documented. All my complaints to the council, the police, Silverleaf – everything.”
Mr Shojaee says all he wants is a personal apology from Silverleaf, and for the damaged roof to be fixed.
When contacted by The Herald, Silverleaf’s Robert O’Brien said he had “no comment” on the matter, saying that he “just wants to make Fremantle better.”
This April 2020 photo is courtesy of Roger Garwood (from Facebook).
Later in 2020, the building was renovated by owner Silverleaf (Gerard O'Brien).
The rear of the Nixon & Merilees building no longer looks this, having new building on the site. Note that the Town Hall still had the Arcs d'Ellipses yellow on it at the time I took the photo, just before the redevelopment began.
The shopfront of what is now Kennedy's in August 2020.
See also: Norm Wrightson, Nixon & Merilees (buildings).
Norm Wrightson Hairway website.
Garry Gillard | New: 26 November, 2017 | Now: 5 January, 2021