Extract from OXGANGS - A CAPITAL STORY
'...Whilst the area had various Bar-Ox signs written on to the walls of buildings I’m unsure just how apocryphal and how much of a myth the ‘gang’ really was but it’s something that completely passed me by.
Whatever, but to an extent it’s become slightly mythologised over the years.
On the Oxgangs - A Pastime From Time Past Facebook group there has been much debate over the years as to where the name came from.
Paul Henderson said ‘The name comes from a local sergeant named Dick Bar who said the Ox is mine and Tiny Burns so the name was formed Bar- Ox.’
But Dougie Begbie said ‘Jimmy Catterson told me it had nothing to do with Dick Barr - it was Tiny Burns and Ronnie Hendrie who came up with the name - sort of copied from Bar-L.’
Joseph McKenzie remarked that ‘Dick Barr was one of the better polis along with George Ferguson who knew everyone in Oxgangs.’
Jayne Hinds mentioned Ronnie McPhail who had ‘…spray painted the first BAR-OX sign on the road at Greenbank as the bus came down into Oxgangs.’
Gordon Douglas said ‘It was not until I went to Firrhill Secondary for a couple of years that I met the guys who would become lifelong friends and it was not till I joined the Community Centre up at the Broadway that my friendship grew with these guys, most of whom became founder members of the Bar-Ox named by Ronnie Hendry, it was a cross between the Bar–L - which was slang for Barlinnie and Oxgangs ...'
However, Terry Cameron said ‘Far be it to contradict your memory, but our take on who named the infamous Bar-Ox was Brian Stewart; it was at the time of all the Glasgow gangs - Bar this, Bar that! etc. Brian found an old Roy Rogers annual in the bins at Firrhill shops; in it there was a picture of a ranch ‘The Bar-Ox’. He sprayed it on the door under the stairs next to the Dummy Dairy and just like that the urban legend was born! The reason I know this, I was there with his brother Gary, Rod Newlands and Gerry Donaghy when he did it one Sunday afternoon in 1966!'
Terry may or may not be right but without access to the annuals I guess it’s impossible to check. Not that it confirms anything either way but Roy’s ranch itself was the Double R Bar Ranch - but a great wee tale.
Afterwards I contacted a Roy Rogers specialist who has eleven of approximately twenty eight annuals; he kindly spent a few hours of his time going through them but he said he couldn’t find any reference to Bar-Ox, however the term ‘Bar’ featured quite regularly. I’m not sure if that takes us any further.
Harry Chamberlain said ‘I never became a member (was anyone?) of the Bar Ox gang. All my life I tended to stay away from any 'gang'. When I lived in West Pilton I was scared of the gang known, as I remember, as the Pennywell Gang. I’m sure if I ever met any of them.’ I was similar to Harry in that (thankfully) it too passed me by; perhaps also because I moved away from Oxgangs when I was sixteen.