Appeal for More Information on P/M Willie Jack of the Dalziel Highland Pipe Band

Reader Kerry MacIver has written asking for information about her grandfather, P/M William Jack of the Dalziel Highland Pipe Band.

Kerry writes: ‘I am wanting to find out more about my grandfather and I was wondering if you could help. His name was Willie Jack and he was Pipe Major of the Dalziel Highland Pipe Band. I believe it was based in either Motherwell or Wishaw.

‘He passed away in 1978 but in his day he seems to have been fairly well known. Going by a photograph I have, he was one of the judges at the SPBA competition at Murrayfield, Edinburgh in 1947.

Judges at the SPBA’s first World Championship held at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. P/M Jack is third from the right, the only one wearing a Glengarry!
The back of the photograph has the details of the personnel who made up the adjudicator panels that day

‘I was just wondering if it was possible if anyone still remembered him and had any anecdotes or photos (or both!)

‘If you know of where any archives of the band are likely to be kept, or others I can contact, please let me know, and I’d be grateful if you were able to put the word out there to see if anything comes up. I have already contacted the Pipe Band Association archive group but I thought I would come to you too.

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‘Here are some photos below. In the top photo, my grandfather is wearing the dark jacket. In the band photo, (excluding the two guys kneeling at the front), he is sitting to the left slightly behind the chap in the suit on the left of the bass drum. I hope you can help. Best wishes, Kerry MacIver.’
The Editor writes: Fascinating photographs Kerry and thanks for sharing them with us. I am sure you have come to the right place to get some more information on your grandfather. Off the top of my head the World Championship held at Murrayfield in 1947 – exactly 70 years ago – was the first to be run by the Scottish Pipe Band Association as it was then. Prior to this date the Worlds were always held at Cowal. Your grandfather must have been held in high esteem to be invited to adjudicate that day.
The winning band out of 26 competing for the ‘open’ title at the first Worlds were Bowhill Colliery from Fife under P/M Chris Sutherland. Clan MacRae were second, Bonhill Parish third, Clan Fraser fourth and Dundee City fifth. Other notables taking part were Renfrew,  Shotts and Dykehead, Dalziel Highland, Muirheads, MacKenzie Caledonian, Glasgow Shepherds and Glasgow Corporation Transport.
Dalziel Highland (sometimes Dalzell Highland) I know from our records won the Worlds Drumming title at Cowal in 1931, the first time the rod-tensioned snare drum was used in competition. I don’t know if your grandfather won the band title that day.

Dalziel were famous for their drumming and spawned Leading Drummers Gordon Jelly, who emigrated to Canada, Jimmy Catherwood and the great Alex Duthart. AD Hamilton seen far left of the picture above is considered the father of pipe band ensemble and was instrumental in establishing the RSPBA’s education programme. Also in the picture is Malcolm Macpherson, son of Angus Macpherson, Invershin, and a recognised expert and performer of ceol mor. The J Wilson mentioned must have been John Wilson, Edinburgh, who was soon to emigrate to Canada and become such an influence of piping in North America.

Over to our readers. Please email or leave a comment below if you can help Kerry (and us) with more on her grandfather.

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3 thoughts on “Appeal for More Information on P/M Willie Jack of the Dalziel Highland Pipe Band

  1. I wonder if I could take the opportunity of piggybacking on Kerry’s request for info?

    I own a set of pipes that once belonged to P/M David Ross of the Dalzell Highland band. He was one of P/M Jack’s successors and I think would have been in charge of the band in the ‘50s or ‘60s. He was certainly pipe-major during Alex Duthart’s time as leading drummer; I believe that composed the last two parts of the 6-parted version of The Clan MacRae Society following a request from Alex for a 6-parted competition march for the band.

    I had conversation about the pipes a few years back with Andrew Wright who told me that he was better known as ‘Dai’ Ross.

    I’ve been curious about P/M Ross since I got the pipes. I doubt that he was their first owner as they probably predate WWI.

    If anyone has any information about this later leader of the band, I’d be interested in hearing it.

    1. With you on that one Mike; one of the highlights of the Live Back in Ireland stuff were those bonnets! RW

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