In 1942, Peter Collinge left school and started out as a hairdressers apprentice at a salon on Richmond Street, Liverpool, called Symonds. The salon was predominately a ladies hairdressers and wig makers.
In 1945, Peter followed his father's footsteps by going to sea. He worked in the hairdressing salon on the Cunard White Star Line flagship liner, the RMS Mauretania – at the time a troop carrier returning troops and service personal home around the world following the end of the Second World War.
In 1946, the Mauretania was restored to her former glory as a luxury Trans-Atlantic liner. Peter was invited to stay and joined the team in the ships hair and beauty salon where the rich and famous, including film stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, were pampered.
Peter returned to the city of Liverpool in 1948 and worked in his parents' salon concentrating on ladies hairdressing whilst Wilfred ran the barbers.
It was during the early 1950s that Peter started entering hairdressing competitions, often alongside the young up-and-coming Vidal Sassoon. At the time, competition hairdressing carried a lot of prestige and was often reported in the local newspapers. His work was highly skilful and it wasn't long before he was impressing the judges and fellow competitors.
Between 1951-53 he won competitions in Blackpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Leeds and Brussels. His competition model at this time was Hazel Anderson who Peter went on to marry.
As a result of his successful competition work, he was invited in 1951 to join the newly founded Fellowship for British Hairdressing. At the time, there were only a handful of members. Today the Fellowship is the premier artistic organisation in hairdressing, with Peter being its longest serving member. He went on to become President of the Fellowship between 1974-76 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the organisation in 1992. In 2012 he was presented with the Fellowship Gold Medal, one of only four recipients in the Fellowship's history.
In June 1954, on the success of his competition work and the publicity that followed, the first Peter Collinge salon opened in Liverpool city centre. The small salon was on the third floor of Coopers building. Peter employed just one other hairdresser and two apprentices. Over half of the turnover came from permanent waving.
The salon was an instant success and it was only couple of years before much larger premises were found on the first floor of the same building. Hazel designed the salon with a modern look, and by now, with a large team of stylists, the salon was very much the place to go to have your hair done and be seen.
Liverpool throughout the 1960s was a very exciting place to be, with the explosion of youth culture and Liverpool being the home town of the Beatles. The salons throughout this time were not only popular but attracted clients from throughout the North of England. By the late 1960s, there was a chain of Peter Collinge salons within the Merseyside region.
To keep the salon stylists up to date with trends and techniques, Peter opened the Peter Collinge Hair Study Centre in Liverpool. The training salon also offered short bespoke private courses to visiting hairdressers from other salons throughout the UK.
In 1984, with training still very much in mind, the company was invited to become a Government Management Agent for Vocational Training. The initial training programme, known as Youth Training Scheme, was set up by Hazel Collinge and was soon recognised as the benchmark for NVQ training hairdressing.
Shortly following this, the company opened a Graduates salon. This new salon concept was the brainchild of Peter and Hazel and allowed apprentices in their third year to work in a stand-alone salon whilst being prepared for a position in the main salons.
Peter's services to hairdressing were recognised with an OBE, presented by the Princess Royal, in 2012.
Awards and Accolades
|1950||–||The National Hairdressing Federation Competition, Blackpool.|
|–||The Yorkshire Evening News Trophy, Leeds.|
|–||Elected to The Fellowship of Hair Artistes of Great Britain.|
|1951||–||The Jarvis Merseyside Trophy, Liverpool.|
|–||The Silver Trophy Open Competition, Liverpool.|
|–||The Criscuolo Cup, Glasgow.|
|1953||–||The Ost Challenge Cup, London.|
|–||Bronze Medal at International de Coiffure de Haute Fantaisie, Brussels.|
|1974||–||Elected President of the Fellowship for British Hairdressing.|
|1992||–||Awarded Fellowship for British Hairdressing Lifetime Achievement Award.|
|2012||–||Receives OBE from The Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace.|
|–||Receives the Gold Medal from the Fellowship for British Hairdressing.|