My Time With Frank: Remembering a Lincoln Legend

Tributes have been paid to beloved barber Frank Connell who sadly passed away at the age of 75 last month.

Established in 1968, Frank’s barbershop on Burton Road has served hundreds of loyal customers who deeply felt the impact of his passing. Locals described him as ‘part of the furniture’ on Burton Road and he could often be seen sitting outside his shop reading his paper and talking to those passing by.

His legacy surpasses beyond his barber shop and extends into the countless charities and good causes he helped with his best friend Joe Cooke, the duo raising over £1million in the last 40 years. As well as fundraising, the pair served meals for the homeless every Christmas Day for around 10 years and were also instrumental in establishing the popular tank memorial at Tritton Road roundabout.

Steven Haddock, documentary photographer living in Lincoln, met Frank in 2017 when he was working on a long-form documentary project about the city.

“My friend told me his barber was soon to celebrate 50 years of trading from the same shop” Steven recalls, “In such a transient university city with a high population and turnover of temporary residents, I was looking for stories with real roots and recognised Frank and his shop as being a rarity in the city.”

“One weekend I dipped into Frank’s shop, and there were 5 or 6 clients sat patiently, all chatting communally. At this point I had shoulder length hair, and he was quick to joke that I wasn’t there for his trademark short back and sides!” chuckles Steven.

“After my first hour or so, I realised this was more than a place to drop by for a trim, sure a few did that, but for many it was a place where they met a friend and was part of their weekly routine. For others I saw it was an escape and a place to help the community; charity and community were certainly at the centre of the shop. I witnessed people pop by to discuss times for charity collections, network and talk about hosting events and even to borrow milk or drop off some food.”

“The shop was top to toe with clippings, achievements, gifts and photos with people he’d met at events he’d either been part of or orchestrated. Frank was very proud of these achievements and spoke fondly of wanting to give more and continue trading at the shop long after his 50th year celebrations. From how he spoke I could tell he felt frustrations around limitations he had through health, yet he would still put others before his own comfort.”

“I would document the smaller victories such as drag markings on the shop floor which only Frank’s foot could have made after circling and navigating client’s hair in the same way in the same chair for 50 years.”

“I used to develop the film, make prints and take them down to the shop the following week to show him, which he loved. I’m not sure Frank really understood why I was documenting him, the shop and the community he was part of, but now more than ever it shows how important it is to do so. I don’t see the city having a man, hub or moment like it again.” Steven concludes.

Photo Credit: Steven Haddock