Tongland (gang area)
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Tongland is a local nickname for the area of Calton, Glasgow controlled in the 1960s by a violent Scottish teenage gang called the Tongs. The Tongs financed themselves using a protection racket, levying money on shops within their territory, and they marked that territory out in graffiti with their slogan "Tongs Ya Bass".
The origin of their name has varied legends, one legend is told thus: "In the 1960s, in an East-End cinema near Fielden Street, some of the local Calton gang with some leader called McCabe were watching a film, The Terror of the Tongs. about the Chinese secret society...
"...when McCabe shouted out 'Tongs ya Bas' for the first time. McCabe consequently renamed himself Terror McCabe"
This is a legend and may not be a historical event. The name Tongs may have a combined origin:
"Ya bass" is generally taken as the Glasgow slang for "you bastard", though it has been proposed it could be the Gaelic war cry aigh bas meaning "battle and die". Another Glasgow gang slogan was "Spur ya Bass". "Tongs Ya Bass" arguably became Glasgow's unofficial motto in the 1960s and 1970s.
Tongland appears in Gillies MacKinnon's 1995 movie Small Faces, set in the 1960s. The Tongs and other gangs' power over the area and their decline in the 1970s is described in Janey Godley's 2005 autobiography, Handstands in the Dark.
- Scotia cinema (7 Millerston Street): "Completely demolished". Moderne interior tyling. Closed as cinema 1964, Bingo until 1985, demolished 1987, scottishcinemas.org.uk; accessed 4 October 2015.
- The Terror of the Tongs was a 1961 low budget Hammer film.
- DS Forums: Tongs ya bass date 19 Oct 2008
- Easterhouse gangs in the 1960s (documentary), dangerousminds.net; retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Razor Gangs Ruled the Streets But Even In the Violence of Pre-war Years One Man Stood Out". 19 October 2007.
- "'Ya bass' = ancient Gaelic expression "battle and die"". Retrieved 4 October 2015. 'Today' International Child and Youth Care Network; retrieved September 2013.
- "The Scotsman". 2 September 2004.
- "British Film Institute review of Small Faces". Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- Godley, Janey. Handstands in the Dark (2005), Chapter 10
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