The story behind the photo: Glasgow Skinhead Razor Attack, 1971

On the 16th of October 1971, the Irish Solidarity Campaign organised a demonstration march in the centre of Glasgow from Blythswood Square to North Frederick Street. The demonstration was arranged officially and was supported by members throughout Scotland of different left-wing organisations, such as International Socialism and the International Marxist Group.

There were about 250 people demonstrating that day against internment and the use of British troops in Northern Ireland. The marchers gathered around lunchtime. At this time, the Rev. Jack Glass (Pastor Jack Glass, as he was known in Glasgow), of the Twentieth-Century Reformation movement in Glasgow, arrived at Blythswood Square with about 40 of his supporters to stage a counter-demonstration.

Trouble began before the Irish Solidarity supporters left Blythswood Square. Counter-demonstrators were shouting angrily at them and when a tricolour flag was raised, a man dashed out to grab the flag but the police stopped him.  Then Mr. Glass went behind the ranks of the Irish sympathisers, pulled the flag free and ran off to the loud cheers of his followers.


Map showing starting and finishing points of march and place where incident ocurred. The route of the march after the incident involving D.I. Johnston (star annotation) is not known at this time.

As Mr. Glass and his supporters made their way through the streets following the Irish Solidarity demonstration, other like-minded Protestants joined them. Their numbers swelled to that of double the Irish march.

On Sauchiehall Street a volatile situation arose when the two demonstrations clashed, despite the police efforts to stop both marches following each other. Mr. Glass and his followers were marching on the pavement alongside the Irish sympathisers and ended up in front of them, while singing loyalist songs and the National Anthem and shouting anti-IRA slogans. They walked only 100 yards when the police began to edge them off the road back on to the pavement. There were more than 50 police officers on duty, who had to call for reinforcements twice.


On the right, the demonstration of the Irish Solidarity Campaign. On the left, the Protestant counter demonstration.

As the march entered Renfield Street, James Cook (16, Glasgow), who was carrying one pole of a banner bearing IRA slogans, was slashed in the neck with an open razor by Brian Stewart (17, Glasgow), an apprentice electrician. Stewart was seen to draw the open razor from his pocket and severely injure Cook, causing a seven-inch wound which exposed the jugular vein.

Plain clothed Detective Inspector George Johnston (44), who was in the front of the Irish sympathisers’ march, saw what had happened and went after Brian Stewart, who had tried to run away. In the end, he caught Stewart but Johnston himself was slashed as well during a struggle in which the youth brought the razor down on the right side of D.I. Johnston’s face. The wound was four-and-a-half inches long and needed 2 stitches.


Photo by Allan Milligan for the Scotsman. 16th of October 1971.

Both, James Cook and Inspector George Johnston, attended Glasgow Royal Infirmary for treatment to their injuries. Cook received 17 stitches in his neck wound and was later allowed home. D.I. Johnston’s wound wasn’t so severe and he was also discharged after treatment.


Photo displayed at the Police Museum in Glasgow.

When the Irish march reached its end in North Frederick Street, the demonstrators then moved to John Street hoping to enter Strathclyde University Student Union to give their speeches but they were not heard as the police refused them entry. Further trouble came as police tried to block the Protestant’s demonstration from following the Irish one. After several minutes, police succeeded in moving Rev. Glass and his followers down John Street to the Back of the City Chambers. 

Once the march was over the pro-Irish marchers dispersed, however, most of the Protestants continued with a demonstration at Glasgow’s Central Police Station to protest against the arrest of various members.

Two days after the incidents, on the 18th of October 1971, 30 men (approximately) were to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court surrounded by the strictest security measures the building had ever seen at that date. Among them was Brian Stewart, the youth who attacked James Cook and Detective Inspector Johnston with the cut-throat razor. The rest were charge with breach of the peace.


Brian Stewart after his arrest and being led away by the police. 16th of October 1971.

On the 14th of December 1971, Stewart was sent to a young offender’s institution for eight years by the High Court in Glasgow. Mr. Donald Macaulay, counsel for Brian Stewart, claimed that the youth was a Protestant, that he had found the razor in Sauchiehall Street and that, as D.I. Johnston had been wearing plain clothes, Stewart thought that he was a member of the Irish demonstration.

Mr. W. Cowie, Advocate Depute, said that the incident could not be disputed as a press photographer (Ernest McLintock) had taken photos of what had happened.


The astonishing picture was taken by Scottish Daily Express photographer Ernest McLintock (25), who was working a casual shift for the Sunday Express on that Saturday. The paper could not use the photograph because the law would not permit this until the accused had been sentenced. However, The Scotsman did use two photographs taken on the day of the incident by another photographer, Allan Milligan – these photographs were published on Monday the 18th of October 1971, one photograph of the two demonstrations side by side and the other one of Constables Archie Cornes and Andrew McCulloch arresting Brian Stewart.


Photo by Allan Milligan for The Scotsman. 18th of October 1971.


This one is from the Daily Record.

So it was the day after Brian Stewart received his eight-year sentence that the Scottish Daily Express published the picture of Stewart slashing at D.I. Johnston. The picture was praised at the High Court of Glasgow and described as “remarkable”, “a unique piece of instinctive  professional photography”, “a pretty spectacular piece of work”. It was of much assistance both to the Crown and the public; Mr. Macaulay said: “it provided me with one of the most damming pieces of evidence any defence counsel has ever had to face in determing what action to take”, with Stewart then pleading guilty to two charges of assault.

Photographer Ernest ‘Ernie’ McLinctock, described the photo as his “best ever picture”. He also told the story of how he had captured it: “The incident happened in a flash. I saw some action among the crowd 30 yards away and focused my telephoto lens camera. Then changing lenses as I ran, made to the pavement in Renfield Street where the youth had been brought down by two uniformed constables. I was only a few feet away and again started taking pictures by the dozen, capturing all the drama of the arrest.”


Photo by Ernest McLinctock for the Scottish Daily Express, which can be found in the Police Museum in Glasgow. 16th of October 1971.

Detective Inspector Johnston said: “It is thanks to the photographer’s professional skill that the exact moment of the attack was recorded. In all my time as a policeman I have never been more frightened. I was being struck with such force that my hands might have been chopped off. And I didn’t even have my baton to defend myself”.

Allan Milligan, photographer for The Scotsman, took a very similar photo to McLintock’s one – this is the photo we usually see. Some of the readers might remember having seen it in an article in a issue of ‘Skinhead Times’, as the cover of the book ‘Such Bad Company’ ( P. Harris Pub, 3 May 1982) or all over the internet. 

Such Bad Company

Book ‘Such Bad Company’. 1982.

An image caught in time synonymous with Glasgow’s ‘No Mean City’ past.

A noticeable point discovered whilst researching for this post was that none of the Scottish press state that Brian Stewart was a skinhead. This is surprising due to the time period (1971) and the attire that Stewart was wearing on the day of the incident. He was undeniably a Glasgow skinhead.

Sources: Daily Record, Scottish Daily Express, The Scotsman, Evening Times, The Herald, Glasgow Police Museum, ‘Such Bad Company’.

The Ballroom Blitz does not condone violence of any sort, it only wanted to tell the story of a very famous photograph.


Tonik or Tonic?

Tonik or Tonic? When we talk about tonic (or tonik) we usually think of any two-tone look, shiny material, such as satin, but this couldn’t be more incorrect.

ToniK (with K) was a material produced by the French textile company Dormeuil. Dormeuil started as a small family business in 1842 and in 1957, the fourth generation of this luxury fine cloths suppliers introduced the famous “Tonik”, a trademark of the company. But what would make this fabric special or different?

Dormeuil Tonik 1957

Tonik was a 3-ply mohair/wool mixture. Its contrasting effect was not always caused by using two different colours but by the weave of the warp and the weft and the chemical shrinkage and singeing of the fabric. In fact, on the webpage of these manufacturers, this iconic material can still be found in plain black and medium navy.

Dormeuil ad

It is important to mention that Tonik was never cheap, therefore, it was very difficult for first mods and then skinheads to afford it. Other cloth companies saw this as a market opportunity and soon started developing their own version of this popular fabric to satisfy potential customer needs: the so called ToniC (with C). Remember that Toniwas already a trademark of Dormeuil.

Tonic came in different mixtures, usually including man-made materials such as Trevira or Terylene, both better known as polyester. Some were good and still looked smart, some were not good and did not look smart. Anyway, it was a cheaper alternative to Tonik and definitely easier to iron if they contained polyester.

Tonic Fabrics

Tonic Fabrics

If you are not lucky enough to get vintage fabric, Dormeuil re-designed a version of the Tonik cloth called Tonik 2000, which has a range of dark colour as well as pastels but it is quite expensive. Otherwise, you might also want to try ebay, there are a few shops selling tonic fabrics (mohair/wool, mohair/polyester/wool) at affordable prices.


Now that we know the difference between Tonik and Tonic, it’s time for some music. And as always in parting… Proper fabrics are like gold dust.

External Sources:



The mod generation

When Skinheads and Hells Angels were the Target

New week, new post! Today I would like to share with you a little review on a boys’ magazine from 1972: Target.

Target was a weekly magazine aimed at boys published and distributed by The New English Library Ltd in 1972. I do not own the very first issue but doing a bit of research, I read that in its editorial, it was proclaimed that the intention of Target was to “incorporate all the facets of popular reading into one magazine”. And it’s true, this weekly would cover a varied range of interests and boys would find articles on music, sports, cinema, fashion, nature, stories of war, etc. The magazine also included comic strips, one about Skinheads (Bovver Boy) and one about Hells Angels (L’s Angels) among them.


Cover of issue 28


Get Clobbered! section. Oh dear!


Article on Rangers F.C.

Even though Target was quite a good weekly, it didn’t last for long, perhaps a year or so until the first months of 1973 (if someone knows, please confirm). It came with free gifts and it was well designed, with some pages in colour in a better quality paper, well written and with popular writers. For example, actor Christopher Lee would have a column: ‘World of Cinema and Tv – Christopher Lee writes for you’ and the BBC radio presenter Dave Lee Travis would have his own too: ‘Record review with David Lee Travis’.


Free gift: Large Colour Poster of the ‘Bovver Boy’


World of Cinema and TV – Christopher Lee writes for you


Record Review with Dave Lee Travis

Bovver Boy and L’s Angels

Target decided to capture two popular youth subcultures in its issues with comic strips as parody. Bovver Boy, the one about skinheads, showed an almost bald young boy, wearing ‘bovver boots’ and braces, who liked fighting and messing with people. The L’s Angels were 3 scruffy friends, not very clever and whose enemy was, of course, the ‘Bovver Boy’.


Bovver Boy comic strip



L’s Angels Comic strip. In this one it also appears the ‘Bovver Boy’


L’s Angels comic strip

And this is all for today, hope you have liked the post! Remember that you can also follow TBB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As always in parting, a nice little tune. This brilliant song was included in the review by Dave Lee Travis above. See you next week!

External sources used in this post:

– Blimey!

– The Cowebbed Room

Where were you? Dublin Youth Culture & Street Style 1950-2000

“You won’t be alone… at least you’re in” David Bowie wrote in his lyrics for Join The Gang and in those lines you have the essence of the need for like-minded souls to celebrate the music they love and its related style of dress. It was a means of expression, of identity, of inclusion and individuality – even when the overall look had a distinct similarity. It was all a part of belonging to a particular tribe. A dress code that brought you a sense of being ‘in’, of being a part of something that was oftern larger than the numbers in your own group.

This is how the foreword of the book “Where were you? Dublin Youth Culture & Street Style 1950-2000” starts. These words by Steve Averill couldn’t be truer. It is that feeling of belonging to something and being different that makes us feel proud of who and what we are.


Where were you?, published in November 2011, is a photographic celebration of Dublin’s youth culture. street style and teen life, from the 1950s to the 1990s. From a pool of over 5,000 images, this fascinating visual record features over 800 photographs, taken from a huge range of sources. Included is the work of established photographers such as Tony O’Shea, Derek Speirs, Bill Doyle and Fergus Bourke, alongside an incredibly diverse and eclectic mix of snapshots, photobooth and Polaroid photos contributed by the public. A selection of ticket stubs, badges, flyers, adverts, quotes and newspaper clippings complement the photographs and enhance this unique social document of an often overlooked aspect of Dublin’s past.

I would like to thank Garry O’Neill, the man behind this fantastic book, as I got in contact with him to use the pictures for this post and Garry kindly agreed. As this blog is focused on the late 60’s and early 70’s, that’s the period from the book that I would like to cover today.

  • O’Connell street, 1969


  • Spotlight Magazine, Ocotober 1969

“Music and love is the message and anyone who digs the Pioneers and Desmond Dekker is their mate…”


There are other interesting pictures from the late 60’s but as I don’t have a scanner, I can’t show them to you ;)

Moving on to the 70’s, here we can see how the Skinhead thing was in Ireland. Skinheads didn’t take long to apread across the Irish sea, with various newspaper articles relating to Skinhead activity in the city appearing as early as October 1969 (see photo above).

Some early Skinheads bought their clothes while on holiday or on work trips to England. After returning home, some were approached by shop owners, aware of the popularity of the new trend and eager to copy the cut and style of certain brands not available in Ireland.

  • Spotlight Magazine, 10 april, 1970


  • Middle Abbey Street, 1970


  • Trip to Kilkenny beer festival, 1970


  • Sunday Independent, 19 April 1970


  • O’Connell Street, 1972


  • Weaver Square, Cork Street, 1974


  • O’Connell Street, 1973


  • O’Connell Street, 1972


  • O’Connell Street, 1973


  • Johnny Eagle’s Tattoo Shop, Capel Street, ca. 1975


  • O’Connell Street, 1974


I find this book brilliant and I bought it when it came out. As you can see, Where were you? has loads and loads of great photos, most of them unknown to us before the book was released; therefore, I highly recommend it. Moreover, if you are a fan of youth cults in general, you will love it as it is quite complete. You can purchase the book through their Webpage and you can also follow the updates on their Facebook Page.

Hope you have liked the post. Remember you can also follow TBB on Facebook, and Instagram.

And as always in parting, a nice little tune. So the Irish skinheads liked The Pioneers, me too!

Hells Angels Versus Skinheads

Hello, everybody!

So it’s been a while. Almost one month without posting anything but hopefully I will make it up to you with the next posts. Nice stuff even if I say so myself!

What have I prepared for this Sunday? Well, a week ago or so I bought two magazines dated January and February 1970. The one from January came with an article on Reggae/Jamaican music and the February issue with an article on Greasers and Skinheads. I’ll be sharing the latter today.

Hells Angels Versus Skinheads

The Battlefield

The slum wastelands of Birmingham where multistorey flats tower above the back streets.

The Armies

The Hells Angels and the Skinheads.

This is War in Brum

Wendy Jones reports.

“My brother did two Skinheads single-handed, stripped off their coats and shoved them in the cut. They swam out, but the police got my brother and he’s ‘inside’ for six months. Wait till he comes out! I’m polishing up his motorbike, and we’ll be off again on a hunt for Skinheads….”


Hells Angels, brum. Members of the Small Heath Chapter. A squad of 50 hogs – and 300 local allies.

That’s Rosko Kane talking. He’s eighteen and one of the Hells Angels’ Small Heath Chapter.

“When we go to the City match on Saturday we defend the Tilton Road entrance against the Angels and the other team’s supporters. We get there early to start scrapping. We fight with anything that comes to hand – bottles, bricks.”

That’s David Ward, aged sixteen. He’s a Skinhead.

The Birmingham “war” has been hotting up in the past year since more Skinheads appeared on the scene – in the district of Small Heath. Every Skinhead tells a story of: “How I beat up an ‘Angel’ “. They fight a lot and talk about it a lot.

As gangs they hate each other. But more than that, they all hate conventional society. Angel leader Ron Saunders, aged thirty, explains: “We are the one per centers, while ninety-nine per cent of the population conform, we are the rebels. We are free, and we live as wild as we like.”

“We were rejected by society long before we put on leather jackets. Nearly every one of us has been victimised by the police in some way. So now we wear swastikas – our mind-snappers. They hated the Nazis and now they can hate us. We’re not afraid to use violence. I’ve only to make a couple pf phone calls to get together three hundred Angels in this area.”

Ron joined the Hells Angels two years ago. Excitement for him comes in Angel gear: leather coats, covered with badges and swastikas, with the red-yellow-and-black “colours” of the Angels on the back; the greaser look and the Hogs, a squad of fifty motorbikes built from spare parts. Angels despise shop-bought bikes, the “citizens’ cycles”. Some Angels, though, have clipped wings – many of them have been banned from driving.

Rosko, at eighteen, is proud of his record of minor offences. He is on probation. “I got caught for screwing telephone boxes.”


A commitee meeting for the Angels. Left to right: Rosko Kane, Ron Saunders and Steve Taverner

Shaun McKearny, who is seventeen, left home to join the Angels, and now lives with Ron Saunders in a back street terrace. Damp runs down the walls and furniture is sparse, but he prefers it to the new semi where his parents live.

“Take my dad. He works all day in a boring job as a painter, comes home, watches television, never says a word to me except to ask for money, my share of the housekeeping or something.”

“If you live like that you might as well be dead. So when my dad said: ‘Burn that swastika or get out’, it was like choosing between life and death. I chose life – with the Angels.”

Shaun wears a German army helmet, which his parents hate. “My mother worked on ambulances during the war. I don’t know what my father did – he’s never told me anything about himself, and I never asked him.”


Shaun McKearney. he left home to join Hells Angels.

Like most of these Angels, he has had a number of convictions for stealing motorcycles and breaking and entering. “You don’t steal for the money so much as something to do. A bit of excitement. It breaks the routine.”

Chris Murray, twenty, wears a Brownie badge among the collection on his leather coat.

“I bought a job lot of badges. I didn’t realise I’d ‘joined’ the Brownies. Middle-aged people don’t understand about badges. They scream at us for wearing swastikas. They don’t realise it’s just to give them a bit of aggro. If this country were run by the Nazis, or anyone else for the matter, we’d be wearing Britis uniforms to aggravate them.”

Members of the group usually move from one casual job to another, as the fancy takes them. At the moment Chris is a gravedigger.

Three of the Hells Angels are in their thirties and exert strong influence on the younger ones. Barry, at thirty, is worried about the number of youngsters of sixteen and seventeen who are coming in.

“I don’t think they’re old enough for this kind of wild lie. They copy us older ones and get into more trouble.”

His father was an alcoholic. His home broke up when he was small. “All along, I’ve been in this sort of gang. Teds first, then Rockers. I left it for a while when I was married but after my wife ran off with another man I came back into the Angels. Something to do, I suppose.”

Barry lost a finger in a Mods’ and Rockers’ fight. He also has had his face badly cut in a fight with Skinheads.


Angel Barry (30) – he lost a finger in a fight. He had a bad accident on a motorbike recently.

He’s a trained biologist but doesn’t need his qualifications to do manual work on the railways. “If you go round with ‘Death to Coppers’ printed on your back, you’re not likely to get a job in a profession. Anyway I don’t care, the money’s lousy in most professions, especially being a biologist.”

He is one of the only Angels who takes drugs. Angels as a rule say they get al their kicks out of bikes, and the clothes they wear.

The Skinheads are obsessed with cleanliness. Their convict crew cuts – half an inch long all over – make them more popular with the older generation than the Angels who prefer their hair long.

Many come in from the suburbs. David Ward, who works in a factory, used to live in a city back street, but his home was demolished to make way for redevelopment. His family were moved to a suburban council house. “It’s death out there,” he says, “nothing to do. No one to talk to, and all the houses look the same.”

So he spends every evening in what remains of his childhood area – the sordid streets of cafés and clubs for coloureds. “We like Jamaican music. Sometimes we stay out all night in the clubs.”

“The haircut is compulsory, though you do feel a bit cold at first.”


Skinhead David Ward says: “We don’t like a lot of show and boasting, like the Angels. We’re a quiet lot and we want to be left alone by newspapers and all that.”

Steel-capped boots – “cherry reds” – and braces are uniform. “The police don’t like the boots. They take them off us at football matches; we get picked on all the time. Just walk along the street in boots and they’ll stop you.”

“We look nicer, but we’re much rougher than the Angels. They’re always saying how brave they are, but we think they go in more for beating up old ladies* than fighting tough people like us.”

“At football matches the ‘cock of the Tilton’ – the best scrapper at the Tilton Road entrance – is a Skinhead. We usually chase the Angels into Town and scrap with them there. We always start it. I don’t know why we fight; it’s just that everytime you see an Angel you’ve got to. You must do what everybody else does.”

“We’re no organised with financial accounts and everything like the Angels – we’re just a gang of mates who know each other. There are thousands of us around; particularly in this area.”

“Parents don’t have the faintest idea what goes on. When they heard about the fighting, my parents started to get a bit stroppy, but I’d threatened I’d leave home if they didn’t stop nagging. so now I’ve got them where I want them, and I do as I like.”

John Barnfield, who is sixteen, spends his days putting down pavement slabs. He joined the Skinheads when he was really very young.

“You can join from the age of eleven upwards; most of us do because it’s the fashion.”

We like this fashion. It’s like the Mods, it’s very smart. Look at the Angels, all that revolting greasy hair and the way they’re always boasting. It can’t possibly be normal.”


Skinhead John Barnfield, aged 16. “We’re the really smart ones, you won’t get us making an exhibition of ourselves.”

The Angels almost have a pathological delight in anything that is cruel or frankly revolting.

Whatever you decide about all their different stories, one thing is certain; the Angels really do believe in their way of life and living. some are saving up to go to America.

“That’s where it really started ad where we could all be kings. We could have our own land and build our own town. Compared with the ‘Frisco Angels’, we’re quiet and respectable. But just wait until our numbers grow and we’re big and powerful over here.

*The old ladies

Girls who hang around with the Birmingham Angels are known as “sheep”. When they become the property of one particular Angel, they are known as “old ladies.”

If they don’t choose one steady boyfriend, they are expected to “pul a train”, which means they have sexual relations with all the members and are known as “Mammas.”

Skinheads don’t go in for lasting relationships with girls; more often they are passed around among the group.

Occasionally they are called ‘Irigs’ instead of girls, but most Brimingham Skinheads feel that their “special language is a myth invented by the newspapers.

Sylvia, who is eighteen, is the old lady of one Angel. “I’ve known them all about a year and they’re great,” she says. “I wouldn’t be seen dead with a Skinhead. They’re freaks. Angels don’t abuse their old ladies as the Skinheads do. We’re treated wit respect, not like something the cat dragged in.”

“It’s not true to say Angels don’t work. I work in a sweet factory forty-two hours a week, and so do a lot of the girls, and most of the lads have jobs, too.”

Maureen Taverner, who is eighteen, married an Angel last year. She met her husband, Steve, through her brother, who used to be an Angel.


Steve and Maureen Taverner, both 18, were married at a special Angels’ ceremony with a line up of “hog” motorbikes.

“My parents weren’t keen on the group, so after an argument I left home and now we both live with Steve’s parents.”

“When you’re on your bike it’s so wild you don’t think of anything except the run. I’m never scared of an accident, but I keep away from fights. I worry about Steve sometimes.”

Lorraine, twenty-one and also addicted to motorcycles. “All my life I’ve been mad on bikes – that’s all I care about. I go around with Mad Mick – he’s the president – and we just live for Hells Angels.”


A crazy read! But with lots of details. Of course we know that this couldn’t and can’t be applied to the 100% of Skinheads, many of the ‘originals’ didn’t like violence and I don’t like it either. The aim is just to share, stuff like this doesn’t come out that often, you know.

Here are a couple of links regarding the same ‘fight’ in case you would like to have a look:

Man alive (BBC documentary 1969)

– Skinheads and reasers (BBC clip 1969)

And as always in parting, a nice little tune. Last week we were dancing to this in his honour, what a gem! R.I.P. Harry, ‘The Liquidator’, Johnson