The “Glad Eyes Gang”


11The “Glad Eyes Gang” were a gang of young men in Low Blantyre during the mid 1920’s.

Their rather strange name came from their self belief of being able to attract a lady or two. (The meaning of ‘Glad eyes’ being the glance given to young women indicating an advance of a romantic nature!). Their most common meeting place was at the many Blantyre dances each weekend and they did NOT take kindly to Hamilton or Burnbank men coming into Blantyre each weekend, on their patch, and dancing with Blantyre’s beautiful women!

One story goes, on the evening of Saturday 9th January 1926 a dance at the Co-operative Hall near Rosendale was taking place. Hamilton man Neil McLaughlin decided to attend the dance and found himself in a pickle when asking a Blantyre woman out, who four members of the “Glad Eye Gang”, each had their interest in.

However, Neil was a miner from Wylie Street, Hamilton. A well built man of such build that gave any onlooker the impression he could protect himself. He was not afraid of 4 smaller built gang members. It was alleged that when the dance finished, some of the Hamilton men, including Neil got to know that the “Glad Eyes” were waiting for them outside in Glasgow Road.

Neil McLaughlin lifted a bottle in his hand and made a blow at a Glad Eye member, Hutchison, but the bottle missed him and struck another gang member Richard Waters in the left eye and cheek. M.’Laughlin then shouted ‘Come on then, Glad Eyes! Boys…let’s get mucked into them!”

A crowd of Blantyre Glad Eye gang members then rushed into the midst of the attack and some of them received a general mauling before managing to get out the fight.

Police were called and Neil McLaughlin was arrested, along with 4 of the Glad Eye members.

Fiscal Hiddleston had that remarkable story to tell at Hamilton J.P. Court on Monday 11th January 1926 when Neil McLaughlin described members of the gang known as “The Glad Eyes.” but to no avail. Neil being the one brandishing the broken bottle, had to plead guilty to the charge of assault and breach of the peace.

The court, annoyed at the growing fighting of Hamilton and Blantyre men stated that that when any of the members of these type of gangs were fined anything at Court, there was a simple collection made amongst friends, and the fine is paid over quickly and without any real detriment or punishment. He said, “I think any monetary fine is not punishment at all.”

The Chairman. Mr Dunn. J.P.. Bothwell. characterised the offence very serious. M’Laughlin had been previously convicted of assault, the Court considered that a heavy penalty must be imposed and so he decided to make it one of £5 (about £300 today), with the alternative  or thirty days imprisonment. Time to pay the fine was refused.

Can you tell me anything more about The Glad Eye Gang or feuds in the 1920s?

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

On social media: Shared exclusively with Blantyre Project, (not for use elsewhere):

Janey Murray O dear I don’t know if this could have been my grandad he was Neil McLaughlin.
Lorraine Hislop OMG that’s what I was thinking Janey need to ask my mum if she knows anything about it lol! Knowing him it prob was haha xxxx
Janey Murray Yes I think so Lorraine my dad was born in 1928 and he would have been going about then my mam said he was maybe in digs in Hamilton although he was a Blantyre man from Dixon Raws xx
Janey Murray He was a rogue Lorraine my mam said he always had his hand out he went into Sweeneys the butchers and said to jimmy a pound jimmy said a pound of what Neilly he said a f—–g paper pound xx
Paul Veverka 1920s Blantyre was a tough place to live. Housing and work shortages, strikes including huge miners strikes, food shortages and the impact of the depression Atlantic side. Many men left with families due to closing pits too. Canada and America popular choices.
Ray Couston Kevin Madden Mind that patter? “She gave me the glad eye”

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