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Calton, Glasgow


Calton, Glasgow

Scottish Gaelic: A' Challtainn
Scots: Caltoun
Calton is located in Glasgow council area
 Calton shown within Glasgow
OS grid reference
Council area Glasgow City Council
Lieutenancy area Glasgow
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town GLASGOW
Postcode district G40
Dialling code 0141
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Glasgow Central
Scottish Parliament Glasgow Shettleston
List of places
The River Clyde by the Calton. Photo taken 2004.

Calton (Gaelic: A' Challtainn, Scots: Caltoun) is a district in the Scottish city of Glasgow. The name Calton is derived from the Gaelic "a' Challtainn", which means "the hazel wood". It is situated north of the River Clyde, and just to the east of the city centre. Calton's most famous landmark is the Barras street market and the world-famous Barrowland Ballroom, one of Glasgow's principal musical venues. Originally spelled Caltoun, the area is universally known as The Calton by Glaswegians.


  • History 1
    • The Calton Martyrs 1.1
  • Social problems 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


The former Templeton's Carpet Factory in the Calton, designed to resemble the Doge's Palace in Venice. Photo taken 2004.

The area was a Burgh of Barony from 1817 to 1846, when it was annexed by the City of Glasgow.

The lands of Blackfaulds, on which Calton now stands, originally formed part of the lands of the Archbishopric of Glasgow, but were annexed to The Crown in 1587. In 1705 the owner, John Walkinshaw, began to feu the lands of Blackfaulds (part of the Barrowfield estate) on which the old village of Calton was built, and in 1817 a charter was granted, erecting Calton into a Burgh. During the area's time as an independent burgh, there were four Provosts of Calton:

  • Robert Struthers (1817-1818)
  • Nathaniel Stevenson (1818-1839)
  • Robert Bartholomew (1839-1843)
  • William Bankier (1843-1846)

The Calton Martyrs

The area became known for its weaving industry. On 30 June 1787, a meeting of Calton weavers was held on Glasgow Green. Their wages had dropped because of the increased importation of cheaper foreign textiles. Most of the workers decided to take strike action, although some accepted lower wages and carried on working. The dispute came to a head on 3 September 1787: when violence erupted after some striking weavers tried to seize materials from weavers who had carried on working.[1]

The military were called in and a detachment of the 39th Regiment of Foot opened fire on the demonstrators. Six of the men killed at the scene were locally called 'martyrs' and some of them were buried in the Calton Cemetery off the main London Road. The families of the men could not afford a headstone although, a century later, a memorial was raised to commemorate their actions.[1]

Social problems

The Calton Bar on the London Road in 2008

Comedienne Janey Godley, in her 2005 autobiography Handstands in the Dark,[2] wrote about the 14 years she spent running a Calton pub, the Weavers Inn (formerly the Nationalist Bar, now the Calton Bar). Her book details life there in the 1980s and 1990s, a time when the area became notorious for heroin abuse and when urban renewal began. The area is also notorious for street prostitution, being one of Glasgow's red light districts.

Calton is an area of considerable poverty and Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, at 82.[6][7] Most of the affordable housing is owned by Housing Associations with a high percentage of tenants on housing benefit (For example Thenue Housing Association has approximately 75% of tenants on housing benefit).

Tongland graffiti in the Calton. Photo taken 2004.

The area has experienced sectarian tensions for generations; it is a predominantly Catholic area (due to Irish immigration), and there are also Irish republican supporter groups present. This is reflected, albeit much declined in modern times, in gang and sectarian related graffiti, with the main gang being the Calton Tongs. In the 1960s, the Calton was known locally as Tongland (and still is by some), prominently marked out as such by graffiti. Tongland appears in Gillies MacKinnon's 1995 movie Small Faces.[8] The gangs' power over the area and their decline in the 1970s is described in Handstands in the Dark.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Scotsman, 30 April 2007". 
  2. ^ a b Godley, Janey: Handstands in the Dark. Ebury Press/Random House. ISBN 0-09-190029-8; ISBN 978-0-09-190029-8
  3. ^ "Download PDF file of Health Scotland statistics" (PDF). 
  4. ^ Nelson, Fraser (4 January 2006). "The Scotsman, 4 January 2006". Edinburgh. 
  5. ^ Gillan, Audrey (21 January 2006). "In Iraq, life expectancy is 67. Minutes from Glasgow city centre, it's 54". The Guardian (London). 
  6. ^ "Social factors key to ill health". BBC News. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  7. ^ "GP explains life expectancy gap". BBC News. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  8. ^ "British Film Institute page on Small Faces". 
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