It was August 1964, and Glasgow Corporation - together with headteachers almost everywhere - had had enough of the long hair being sported by young men in imitation of their idols, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The city's baths manager, Frederick Rhodes, had drawn up a report after filter plants in municipal swimming pools had become clogged by men's long hair. The only solution, he suggested, was that male customers should, just like female ones, wear bathing caps while on the premises,

Bailie Dan Docherty, convener of Glasgow's baths committee, said the report had had the committee 'rolling in the aisles but it agreed to Mr Rhodes' request that he be allowed to put up notices to tell men that they must wear bathing caps by the end of the month.

If any long-haired man failed to comply, he would be ejected - and not allowed back in until he'd agreed to wear a cap. A similar scheme was in operation at London's Oasis Pool.

In the early years of the Beatles' success, the press on both sides of the Atlantic were drawn as much to (if not actually more than) their hair-styles and fashion sense as to the music.

The Herald: John Lennon, 1964John Lennon, 1964 (Image: Newsquest)

In the States, the venerable New Yorker magazine greeted the group's impending arrival with these words: "Their appearance, to judge by photographs of them in the English press, is distinctive, their getup including identical haircuts in dishmop—or as one London newspaper put it, Ancient British—style, and lapelless suits patterned after a Pierre Cardin design". There was much more of the same as Beatlemania took hold, first of Britain and then of the US.

In November 1963 boys at a grammar school in Guildford, Surrey, were told that they risked being suspended unless they got rid of their Beatles haircuts. "This ridiculous style brings out the worst in boys physically", the headteacher declared. "It makes them look like morons.

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"If I find the ban is being disregarded I shall write to all the parents, asking them to support me".

A senior boy at the school retorted: "The ban will not go down well with most of the boys. I think it is stupid. The Beatles are great and I see nothing wrong with their style of haircut".

In Escondido, California, a 13-year-old boy who had a Ringo Starr-style haircut was sent home from his school, his headteacher having ruled that the hairdo violated "minimum appearance" standards for boys.

The boy was suspended for six days or until he got a haircut. "It's my own personal hair", he told a reporter, "and I have a right to wear it as I want to".

Many older people lamented what they saw as a decline in standards - and not just in men's hair-styles. In Glasgow, an Evening Times reader complained that the modern businessman in the city "never seems to carry gloves nowadays".

The Herald: Beatles fans in Renfield Street, Glasgow, October 1964Beatles fans in Renfield Street, Glasgow, October 1964 (Image: Edward Jones)

A pensioner said the sight of modern young men in places like Sauchiehall Street made him sick. "Oh", he wrote, "those frilly shirts, those Mod-style bowler hats, those high-heeled shoes - not forgetting the shoulder-strap handbags and eye make-up".

Hugh Brown, a Glasgow councillor who would shortly become Labour MP for Glasgow Provan, was worried about the pressures facing young people at the time, and about how they could be made fit for adult responsibilities in the 1980s.

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"Look at our children", he said in an interview, "pressurised on all sides by pop music and all the other 'isms' of the day to the extent that they are beginning to believe that the only important thing is to be 'with it' - materialistically".

In Glasgow, at the end of the month in which the Corporation approved the bathing-caps plan, a boy of 14 at St David's R.C. Junior Secondary School in Dalkeith, Midlothian, was ordered by his headmaster to join a girl's class on account of his long hair.

The Herald: The Scottish DJ, Stuart Henry, pictured with long hair in 1964The Scottish DJ, Stuart Henry, pictured with long hair in 1964 (Image: PR)

The headteacher complained: "I went in to see him in his class today and honestly couldn't tell him from the girls. In fact, the first time I clapped eyes on him I thought he was a girl. I'm sure he will feel more comfortable sitting among them".

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The boy's father said he had told his son to walk out if he got domestic classes and needlework. "Really I would prefer to have my son to have short hair, but I'm not going to get it cut. I think the boy has the right and the freedom to wear his hair as he wants". The teenager seemed to take his punishment with equanimity, however.

The Herald: Police hold back Beatles fans who congregated outside Glasgow's Odeon Cinema during a concert in April 1964Police hold back Beatles fans who congregated outside Glasgow's Odeon Cinema during a concert in April 1964 (Image: Newsquest)

Another long-haired boy at the school had been given money by a teacher to get his hair cut. "He agreed to go to the barber last Monday", the headteacher said. "There must be quite a queue, however, because we haven't seen him since".

On September 1, the Evening Times greeted confirmation of the bathing-caps edict by saying: "The squares are hitting back.

"Long-haired youths are discovering, belatedly, that if they chose to strut around like unlaughing cavaliers in ringlets and cuffs they can expect to fall foul of society's rules".

The justifiable decision to force long-haired youths to wear bathing-caps, it added, "is also a welcome use of the squares' deadliest weapon - ridicule".

Long hair continued to be a badge of pride - and of principle - for countless young men as the decade progressed. But few went so far as the stand taken by a young man in Brittany, France, in 1970. Refusing to comply with his employer's demand that he get his hair cut, reports author David Hepworth in his book A Fabulous Creation, he bought two litres of petrol, soaked his clothes and set fire to himself at his place of work.