AFTER 35 years of doing short back and sides, legendary barber John Matheson will soon be packing away his scissors for good at Hilton Unisex.
Perry Ward has been a regular since 1987, and described a chat with John as a great way to “find out what the state of play in the suburb is”, adding that “in thirty-odd years, I can only recall two times he wasn’t in the shop.”
John’s dad, Bob, opened the family’s first barbershop in 1954 on the site of what is now the South Street Tavern, when the surrounding area was “mostly bush and market gardens”.
Bob then relocated the shop to Carrington Street, before widening works for the Narrows Bridge prompted him to move to the Hilton Town Centre, where’s he remained ever since.
Back then Fremantle was the closest place to get a haircut, so Bob did a roaring trade in Hilton, with 15-year-old John coming onboard as an apprentice in 1966.
John eventually moved to Melbourne to run his own barbershop for a number of years, before returning to take over the family business in 1983 after his dad retired.
Bob and John developed a loyal following in Hilton and some of today’s customers have been regulars since the early 1960s.
John is well-known for his saintly patience when cutting children’s hair, and even has one customer who is a centenarian and a few others who are 99 years old.
Hilton Unisex, on South Street, will remain while John transitions everyday operations to new owner Sameer ‘Sam’ Abboud, who bought the business in October.
Sam moved to Australia in 2003 from Iraq, and lives in Hilton with his young family.
Mr Abboud has pledged to carry on the friendly, personal service pioneered by the Mathesons for more than half a century.
by JUSTIN STAHL