History: Brechin, Kirriemuir Pipe Band and Piper Peter Massie

We are grateful to reader Mrs Massie for passing on these photographs and newspaper clippings. They offer an interesting snapshot of life and society in and around the Brechin/ Kirriemuir area of Angus in the late 19th century. If anyone can help her in her quest please get in touch…. 

Mrs Massie writes: I recently commented on the thoughts on ‘History of the Pipe Band and the Worlds’ by Keith Sanger on your website regarding Peter Massie and the Forfar/Kirriemuir connection.

I do not own the original photos which I mentioned in my comment, but I do have official copies of the glass slides which my grandfather donated to the museum in the 1990s. I have attached the photo, but please be aware that Angus Archives owns the original image (part of collection MS167), so please recognise that if posting something on the website. I am not sure on the legal side of things re the ownership, but I have sent the photos anyway!

Some background: I have been trying to narrow down who is in the photos (there are 63/64 in the collection) which are mostly taken in and around Brechin, and said to be my ancestors. This is how I came across your website and the article. The man in these photographs, in all his piping finery, badger sporran and all [above], was photographed at a house on Park Road, Brechin, (not evident in this photo, but deduced from various other photos in the collection) just behind the Brechin Agricultural and Trading Company (at the railway). I also attach two other photos of him and his wife [top]. I assume this from context of the full collection.

The piper in the photo is wearing what appears to be the Egypt Medal and the Khedive’s Star Medal – having searched through various service medal websites, the Khedive’s Star is the only upside down five-pointed star I could find that matches the photo, which would mean that these photos were taken after this man (or perhaps a relative who died?) served in the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War. I have had no success so far in confirming that this is Peter Massie Jr. who was born in 1847 (my great grandad’s brother) but I have a strong feeling that this is him.

I have also attached two newspaper articles for your reference from the British Newspaper Archive which I assume are the ones which were discussed in the Keith Sanger comment. My apologies, this may be too much information for you, but as you can probably tell, I am passionate about identifying the people in this collection. I look forward to hearing back if you think there is anything you can do.

The first cutting from the Dundee Courier reads: ‘Haugh and South Street Works. The employes [sic] met in the grounds of South Street Works at 7.30am when the appointed marshals under Mr John Easton, began their work of arranging the company into line for the procession. By the time given for the start the band of the 1st FRV Dundee, specially engaged for the occasion, under the leadership of Mr R Warren, arrived from Dundee, as also the Kirriemuir Pipe Band under the leadership of Mr Peter Massie, jun.

‘The former now headed the procession, while the latter were placed in the centre, and in this order, with flags and banners flying and models displayed, the Railway Station was reached, where the special train was waiting to take the company, which numbered about 400 to Brechin. Arriving there, the procession was again formed, and the Temperance Hall having been secured for their use, the flags, &c were carefully laid aside, after which the grounds of Brechin Castle, kindly thrown open to them by the Earl of Dalhousie, was soon reached. Mr Gray, head gardener, met the company at the gate, and courteously conducted them to the front of the castle.’

The second reads: ‘Forfar Athletic Games. On Friday morning rose dull and cloudy and by the hour of 11 o’ clock it was a perfect downpour of rain. Notwithstanding this when the gates of the Muir were opened at 11 o’ clock a very considerable number of onlookers and competitors had assembled. Among the famous athletes we noticed Donald Dinnie, James Fleming, McCrae and Davidson….in fact we might say the most of the best runners in Scotland.

‘The arrangements of the Committee were everything that could be desired. The circle had a very gay appearance, decorated with flags, banners, &c. The Baxter Band discoursed excellent music during the day. They marched through the streets of the town, followed by a large concourse of people, who accompanied them to the Muir at 11 o’ clock. The Gairy Pipe Band from Kirriemuir, led by Mr Peter Massie enhanced the proceedings much by marching round the circle, sending forth the rousing notes of the Highland pibroch [sic]……..’