Solo Piping Competition in Edinburgh 50 Years ago

The PP history archives are raided today for a fascinating look at piping half a century ago. Back then Edinburgh rivalled Glasgow a the world centre for solo piping with thriving competitions run by the City of Edinburgh Police Pipe Band and the Eagle Pipers’ Society. These were senior events attended by all the leading players of the day with all the top judges manning the benches. The picture above is of P/M Donald Morrison, of Aberdeen City Police a winner in Edinburgh all those years ago (see below).

The police contest on 8th April 1967 took place in the Royal Arch Halls and here are the results:
Piob (three tunes): 1 Hector MacFadyen 2 Hugh MacCallum, In Praise of Morag 3 Iain MacFadyen 4 Kenny MacDonald
Others who played included  Ronald Morrison, Malcolm McRae, Peter Forbes, Tom Speirs, Ronnie Lawrie, Dougie Ferguson, Jimmy McIntosh, Angus John MacLellan, Archie MacPhail, John MacDougall, Willie Dickson, Johnny Barnes.

Dougie Ferguson

Marches (two of own choice): 1 Dougie Ferguson 2 P/M Angus MacDonald 3 Angus MacLellan 4 Ian McLellan
S&R (own choice): 1 P/M Angus MacDonald 2 Ian McLellan 3 Hector MacFadyen 4 John MacDougall
Jigs (own choice): 1 P/M Angus MacDonald 2 Dougie Ferguson 3 Ian McLellan 4 Kenny MacDonald

No details are given of judges.

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The shield presented to the Eagle Pipers’ Society by ‘the Commanding Officer of USS Elokomin’

Later that year, on November 18, the burgeoning Eagle Pipers Society held its annual competition at the same venue. The programme introduction reads: ‘It will be noted that entry this year is not so large as in the past. This is due to more stringent conditions required for each event and these conditions were necessary so that listeners could have a more varied choice of music and also to lay down conditions that would preclude those who had not yet attained the standards that are required for competition.

‘The membership of the Society has increased from 130 members last year to approximately 200 this year. A group of Swedish pipers have founded a branch of the Eagle Pipers Society in Sweden and it has ten members. At the beginning of 1967 Ian Cameron and John MacLellan were elected to change offices and George Stoddart was elected to his former office of Fear an Tighe in place of Ronnie Ackroyd who had carried out his duties with a great charm of manner.

‘Messrs. D. R. MacLennan, Hugh C. R. Macrae, Calum MacPhee, and James Macrae were all appointed Vice-Presidents of the Society, and we were delighted that Pipe Major Gordon Asher was appointed as an Honorary Vice-President. During the Festival three very successful ceilidhs were held in the Hotel and last month in the Leith Town Hall a most enjoyable evening was spent, when champion pipers Hector MacFadyen, Ronnie Lawrie, Angus MacDonald, Scots Guards, Donald Bain and Duncan Johnstone, assisted by a trio of pipers from the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band, put on a magnificent performance which was heard by an audience of some two hundred and fifty.

‘The chairman for the evening was Dr. Kenneth Mackay from Laggan who carried out his duties as only Dr. Kenneth can. We are much indebted to him and to the artistes for their very fine contribution to our art. His Grace the Duke of Atholl has very kindly presented the Society with a trophy that will be put up for competition in the Strathspey ind Reel event…..The very handsome Eagle that graces the platform is another presentation to the Society. Mr Kenneth MacDonald, Lochawe, presented this very fine specimen to replace the Eagle that was presented to us by Mrs Gordon Asher but which was unfortunately stolen earlier his year. Our new mascot is called ‘Cruachan’.

There were few more imposing sights in world piping than P/M Angus MacDonald in full Scots Guards regalia. Angus was the overall champion at the Eagle Pipers in 1967

Piob. Class 1: 1 Donald Morrison 2 John MacDougall 3 Willie MacDonald, Inverness 4 Willie MacDonald, Benbecula
Others who played were Hugh MacCallum, Duncan MacFadyen, Hector MacFadyen, the two Ronnies, Lawrie and Morrison and P/M Angus MacDonald.
Judges: Major General Frank Richardson, Hugh MacRae, Captain. DR MacLennan

Piob Class 2: 1 Jimmy McIntosh 2 Malcolm McRae 3 Angus John MacLellan 4 George Lumsden. Others who played included Duncan MacDiarmid, Aberfeldy, Martin Wilson, Edinburgh, Roderick Barnes, St Andrews, Thomas Pearston, Andrew Wright, Davy Hutton, John Percival and Bill Maitland, Bucksburn.
Judges: Dr Kenneth MacKay, Captain Iain C. Cameron, P/M Ronnie MacCallum

Marches: 1 P/M Angus MacDonald 2 Hector MacFadyen 3 John MacDougall 4 Lawrence MacIver
Judges: Dr Colin Caird, P/M Willie McRostie Capt. DR MacLennan

S&R: 1 P/M Angus MacDonald 2 Jock Percival 3 AJ MacLellan 4 Willie MacDonald, Benbecula
Judges: P/M George Stoddart, Ronnie Ackroyd, Hugh MacRae

H&J: 1 P/M Angus MacDonald 2 Ian McLellan 3 George Lumsden 4 John MacDougall
Judges: Dr MacKay, Capt. Cameron, P/M MacCallum

Others not already mentioned who played in the ceol beag included Colin Forbes, P/M Iain McLeod and Harry McNulty all Edinburgh Police, Donald Bain from New Zealand, who was then under the tutelage of P/M Donald MacLeod and P/M Archie Pinkman. 

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