A group of the German POW’s at the Sutton Bridge Camp on the West Bank,

Hans, the Barber of Sutton Bridge

There’s probably not a person in Sutton Bridge who does not know Hans, the barber of High Street. His premises are now closed since Hans retired nearly three years ago, when he was 82.

Hans Heib arrived in Sutton Bridge after the war. He had been a prisoner of war and was released in 1948. He had the choice to return to Germany or to stay here. To stay in England, he had to have a guarantor and a job and work on the land. He was living in the hostel for POW’s on West Bank, near where Travis & Arnold had their warehouse, and worked near Gedney Dyke. He was able to come and go as he pleased.

In 1950 he got a job as a barber at the USAF air bases at Sculthorpe and Lakenheath. Hans said it was good pay. For twenty years he travelled back and forth to the bases in his car. He said there were twelve barbers at the American bases. When asked why so many, Hans said: ‘With several thousand airmen who had to have a haircut every week, that would be a lot of work for just one man!’

Sutton Bridge had three barber shops then and when one of the barbers decided to close, Hans opened up his own shop. He said now that he was his own boss he could buy himself a better car than the older one he used to travel between Sutton Bridge and Lakenheath and Sculthorpe. He said it was 41 miles there and back to Lakenheath and took about an hour each way.

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