The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 5 - February 1991

Local Profile: Iva Keen

In the last ten years or so the Lenton end of Castle Boulevard has undergone some major changes. The industrial premises on both sides of the boulevard have gone, together with all those houses the Council declared unfit for human habitation. In their place have come the Castle Gardens housing development, Petersham Mews, and MFI. Construction of the road bridge over the canal opened up access into the Kings Meadow area but required the removal of Charlton Street and all its residents. The past few years have seen almost all the remaining 'corner' shops change hands and new lines of business established. One exception is Iva Keen's hairdressing salon and it is Mrs Keen's business that we feature in this profile.

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Iva Keen at work in her hairdressing salon

Although Iva was born and brought up in Manchester, Jamaica, there was a certain inevitability about her coming to England once her fiancé, Quince Keen, decided to move here. She joined him, they were married and set up home in Nottingham in the late fifties. In the mid-sixties Iva resolved to re-establish the career of hairdresser she had begun back in Jamaica. She undertook a refresher course and then started to look around for premises. No. 211 Castle Boulevard had fallen empty following the death of Joseph Rossell whose decorating business had traded under the name of 'K. Rossell & Son'. Iva realised the property was well situated on one of Nottingham’s main thoroughfares and decided to buy it. All the necessary fittings and equipment were installed and she opened for business in September 1967.

In the ensuing years customers, drawn predominately though not exclusively from the Afro-Caribbean community, have beaten a path to Iva Keen's salon. Some who now live as far away as Chesterfield, Sheffield and even London make regular journeys back to Nottingham because they prefer Mrs Keen to do their hair. In the mid-seventies Iva added a further string to her bow when she undertook a beauty therapy course. She now offers a wide range of Flori Roberts products such as foundation, translucent powder, moisturiser, lipstick and nail varnish along with the Dermablend range of corrective cosmetics. These latter items can be used to conceal blemishes, birthmarks and pigmentation problems. Iva can advise on the appropriate blend for any skin tone.

Until quite recently the tight curly hair that most Afro-Caribbean people possess rather limited what could be done at the hairdressers. In the eighties products started to appear, initially imported from the States, which allow Iva to chemically relax the curls and then reshape the hair. This has ushered in all manner of new hairstyles and these are being enthusiastically taken up by Iva's customers. Iva selects the most suitable product for each hair type, stocking the following range, 'Designer Touch', 'Soft and Free', ‘Natural Beauty', 'Leisure Curl', 'Care Free' and 'Optimum' and she is happy to advise on what can be achieved using these. Mrs Keen put her own judgement to the test last year when she entered a competition organised by Leisure Curl Perm. After a preliminary regional round held in Birmingham she was chosen as one of twelve finalists to compete in London. Competitors came from all over the U.K. plus a number of entrants from the continent. The hairstyle Iva created was extremely well received and she gained second place in the whole competition. Her trophy is now proudly on display in the Lenton salon.

With twenty three years already under her belt at Castle Boulevard Iva is 'keen' to continue there for many more years. She thoroughly enjoys the job and finds it gives her great satisfaction to create hairstyles that give everyone else so much pleasure.

And who were the other shopkeepers on this stretch of Castle Boulevard when Iva first moved into No.211? At the corner of Charlton Street on the ground floor were Nottingham Tyres while upstairs was Julie Anne another ladies hairdressers. Opposite them Terry Allsopp's second hand shop could be found. Across from Iva's hairdressing salon, on the other side of Cecil Street, Tony and Maureen Hume's general grocery was situated. Further along at the boulevard's junction with Chippendale Street (where you can now find the fitted bedroom and kitchen showrooms), back in 1967 it was a butcher's shop belonging to Henry Ledbetter and a beer-off run by Charles and Margaret Clarke. Then on the corner of Marcus Street (now subsumed into Alderney Street) came Fred and Ann Clay's general corner shop while opposite them was Jackson & Harris's newsagency. The latter business, admittedly, is still there but is now run by the Akhtar family. Alongside the newsagents was Rowland Gower's cafe (now Pizza Stop) and next to him Douglas Turner‘s shoe repair business. When Mr Turner later decided to move to Beeston his next door neighbours, Universal Engineering, took over his property. Finally at the corner of Castle Boulevard and Grove Road was the factory occupied by Steada Raywarp.

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