Above an estate agent's in Wells, Somerset, stained-glass windows advertise a former business. It offered quite a variety of services for appearance-conscious women, including 'modes' and 'robes' for the fashionably-dressed. And for those concerned about their coiffeurs, 'permanent waving' and 'electric massage' were on offer.
Permanent waving has been with us so long that many people have probably forgotten it's the correct name for the familiar 'perm'. The process, first invented in the late nineteenth century, developed steadily through the 1920s and was commonplace in the 1930s. Only after the Second World War would home perms become an alternative to visiting the salon.
'Electric massage' may seem a more surprising hairdressing treatment. Today, it sounds odd and uncomfortable but in the first part of the twentieth century, electricity was seen as a source of health. An advertisement from 1931 offers electric massage using the Vytalife Electric Comb: it would cure headaches, dandruff, and baldness as well as giving the user wavy hair! One suspects that the women of Wells did not experience similar miracles.