AT first, some dismissed it as nothing more than a publicity stunt.

But when 60s crooner Frankie Vaughan pitched up in Easterhouse to ask gangs to lay down their weapons, he put in motion decades of valuable community work which still continues to this day.

Glasgow Times: The amnesty in the east end.

It was the summer of ‘68, and trouble was rife on the streets of Glasgow’s east end.

Young people were being injured in gang battles, with dreadful consequences, and the whole area’s reputation was tarnished by the fighting.

Our sister newspaper The Herald noted in an article written many years later: “Particularly badly affected was Easterhouse and the surrounding area where members of the rival Drummie, Pak, Rebel and Toi gangs orchestrated a reign of terror. Until, that is, the arrival of an unlikely peacemaker. Entertainer Frankie Vaughan, better known for his high-kicking stage routine than his mediation skills, offered to visit Glasgow and talk to the gang leaders.”

He seemed an unlikely hero. Frankie was an easy-listening singer, who regularly topped the bill at all the big British theatres – he also became the first British singer to star in Las Vegas. He broke house records in cabaret at New York’s Copacabana and had two number one hits, Tower Of Strength and Garden Of Eden.

But gangs were not new territory for the boy who had had a tough upbringing on the streets of Liverpool and had for many years been involved in trying to offer youngsters better opportunities through the Boys Clubs of Great Britain.

“Against a background of scepticism and accusations of publicity seeking, Frankie flew into the city and did the rounds of the gangs,” reported The Herald.

“There was support, too, from powerful allies in the Scottish Office and Glasgow Corporation. He even invited some of the gang members to further talks in Blackpool where he was appearing in summer season.”

In fact, four local gang leaders went to Blackpool for a successful ‘peace conference’ with Vaughan. Frankie organised a fund-raising gala - Not the Gang Show - in a Glasgow theatre, and the Easterhouse Project was born. With the help of commercial sponsors and the army, a community youth club was built in the heart of the housing scheme to offer youngsters an alternative to street fighting.

On July 13, 1968, senior police officers and the Scottish Under-Secretary of State, Norman Buchan, urged Easterhouse residents to keep clear of a local stretch of vacant ground between 7pm and 8pm “to give disarmament a chance.”

Frankie had met gang leaders on their home turf, having told the Evening Times: “I feel I can do some good because the boys like and respect me and know I am not just a do-gooder.”

On the Saturday morning, youths who were leaving on holiday deposited a cache of weapons with a social worker who was the link man between Vaughan and the gangs. The weapons included three 12-inch daggers and a hatchet.

Three binfuls of weapons were handed in at the amnesty. Later housewives complained that their sons raided their kitchens for knives so that they could get their picture taken with Frankie.

The Evening Times reported it was “at least a start, “and that work could now begin on phase two of the plan, the building of a ‘gang hut’ centre in Easterhouse. Hugh Brown, Labour MP for Pollok, who witnessed the amnesty, said he believed it had achieved a real breakthrough, and would be giving Mr Buchan a report.

At the time, Frankie was a huge star in Britain, so his high-profile visit was a huge boost for the area.

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The Evening Times reported that the singer’s intervention, and heavier sentences handed down at the High Court in Glasgow, were said to have contributed to the quietest opening weekend of the Glasgow Fair that city police could remember.

Frankie’s visit was only part of the story – once the star had gone, the hard work began and the community rallied to support its young people with a raft of innovative and exciting initiatives. But the singer did keep in touch with developments and visited the area regularly until his death in September 1999.

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