Govan covers a huge part of Glasgow's Southside and is famous the world over for its ship building and football team.

In recent years it has seen major improvements with the building of Glasgow Science Centre and the Glasgow Arc, better known as the Squinty Bridge.

Several hotel chains have moved in while both BBC Scotland and STV have their studio complexes there.

However, in 1989 the same area was one of the most crime-ridden and deprived in Scotland.

Resources were stretched as detectives dealt with high levels of violence including murder - much of it drug related.

Govan was then one of 15 police divisions in the former Strathclyde Police and accounted for 20% of all homicides in the force.

Today the area is policed from bright new shiny offices opposite Bellahouston Park on Helen Street.

But then officers were based in a more forbidding Victorian building about a mile away in Orkney Street.

Its cells were just as grim but did not seem to deter the many local villains who frequented them on a regular basis.

Around this time heroin dealing was rife in Govan, particularly in an area called Moorepark, which was nicknamed Wine Alley.

Most of it has now been demolished to make way for an industrial estate.

Then the area - close to Rangers’ home at Ibrox - had a reputation for deprivation and poverty having been built in the 1930s to relieve overcrowding in the Gorbals. 

Drug and alcohol abuse was a widespread problem and unemployment stood at 30% - three times the national average.

The area was parodied in the BBC sitcom Rab C. Nesbitt, though episodes were usually filmed elsewhere. 

The wine in the Wine Alley nickname was not expensive red and whites like Beaujolais and merlot.

Instead, it referred to the popularity of cheap and powerful tonic wines particularly with young people - the vast consumption of which would often lead to violence and disorder.

In early 1989 police discovered a team of young drug dealers were operating in Wine Alley, led by older man Eddie Burnside.

The layout suited their operations as there were only two ways in and out - making it easy to spot the police.

There was no point in carrying out any raids because the dealers could quickly escape and dispose of their drugs.

They also had an army of lookouts.

However, given the area's reputation there was also a large numbers of empty houses.

There, two local cops came up with the idea of using several of the houses to keep a 24-hour watch on the gang.

The plan was to video and record any deals as they happened - a tricky and dangerous proposition.

If either cop was caught then they were on a hiding to nothing.

It would also mean long hours of up to 18 hours day in unpleasant conditions.

It seemed a dangerous idea but worth the risk if they could dent a hole in a major heroin dealing operation.

One flat was chosen in Wine Alley and a second across the road in a collection of tower blocks called Iona Court.

The police discovered an empty flat on the eighth floor which would give them a bird’s eye view of the entrance to Burnside’s tenement flat close.

Long range video and still cameras were set up at both locations so that the daily activities of the dealers could be filmed and monitored.

It meant that the police had two key surveillance points, one in Wine Alley itself and a second from the high-rise.

The scheme was codenamed Operation Buckfast after a brand of tonic wine popular in the area.

Burnside, 42, known as the Godfather, lived on the top-floor flat of his tenement.

He liked nothing better than to throw empty drugs packets out of his window and watch a crowd of desperate addicts scrambling for them.

Another trick was to get a queue lined up outside his house but to serve only half of them and tell the others to come back later. 

Burnside also appeared to take sadistic pleasure in watching them scrabbling about on the ground looking for their hit.

Local people were also too scared to speak out for fear of reprisals.

During the two-week surveillance every addict who called at Burnside's flat for drugs was then arrested by the team and questioned.

One of his best customers was a former police officer who had been thrown out the force due to his heroin addiction.

He was able to give police precise details of the drug operation Burnside was running and the names of his associates.

They also discovered in the early days that one gang member was driving about in hired cars.

The local hire firm in Govan wasn't aware that their customer was a drug dealer.

They also told police that the same man would rent out a larger car about once a month.

When they checked the mileage they realise it was being used for much longer trips of up to 600 miles a time.

That suggested that the suspect was taking the van south to Manchester or Liverpool to pick up much larger drug consignments.

It also told them that he was changing the vehicles and registration numbers to avoid detection.

However, the dealers were less careful back in Wine Alley where they thought they were untouchable.

As a result, it proved very simple for them to track the gang movements on a day-to-day basis.

During fortnight surveillance in February 1989, they discovered that the same gang member had hired his biggest car yet.

It was followed by an undercover drugs team down the M8, onto the M74 and over the border into England.

It arrived at a house in Liverpool and then left a short time later to head back to Glasgow, arriving about midnight.

When the car stopped at lights in Helen Street it was surrounded by the surveillance team who arrested the driver and seized the heroin which had a street value of £50,000 - worth £125,000 today.

Around this time a second surveillance was being carried out on Burnside and three members of his team who had travelled to Liverpool in another car.

They were followed there and back by a second surveillance team and the vehicle stopped near Ibrox.

The Burnside gang were found with £150,000 in heroin and a large sum in cash.

With five suspected drug dealers in the cells and £200,000 worth of heroin seized, it had been a very productive day for the police.

Later that year Burnside was handed a 12-year prison sentence at the High Court in Glasgow following an 18-day trial, while his three associates got terms of between five and seven years.

The man caught in the earlier operation with £50,000 of drugs in Helen Street was given six years.

Before sentencing, judge Lord Caplan told Burnside: ''You have been a significant dealer in a dreadful trade and the courts have seen the havoc it causes among young persons. You have to take the responsibility for some of that.''

Following the five convictions, the man who led the investigation, detective superintendent Joe Jackson, received several letters from grateful Wine Alley residents.

They thanked him for the work they had done in cleaning up Wine Alley and bringing Burnside’s two-year reign of terror to an end.

Jackson had only just taken charge of the CID at Govan, having left his post as head of Strathclyde Police’s serious crime squad.

Sergeant Angus McIvor and constable Bob McDonald were the two cops who had bravely filmed the gang operating from one of the empty flats.

The two men, working for up to 18 hours at a time, had to be smuggled out before dawn each day.

The evidence they gathered was crucial and the jury was able to see the gang operating on the video footage shown to them. 

At the time DS Jackson said: “These two cops were the real heroes and were at high risk. I don't like to think what might have happened if they had been discovered.''

Jackson retired in 1992 after a distinguished 32-year career with Burnside and his cohorts still behind bars.

In his 2008 memoir Chasing Killers he reflected on his time on the Southside.

He said: "I found myself in charge of one of the hardest areas within Strathclyde, if not Scotland.

"I like to be challenged and Govan did that every day."