History: The Northern Meeting, Inverness, 1970

The following series is from an issue of the Oban Times from September of that year. The article is unattributed. We would be interested to know who the writer was if anyone has any information. The article is of considerable length taking two full broadsheet columns – a credit to the newspaper. The writer is clearly someone with a knowledge of the art of piping…..

Following upon his success at the Argyllshire Gathering last month, Andrew Wright, Paisley, with a fine performance of the “Desperate Battle” won the coveted Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in Inverness last week, thus becoming one of the few who have won both medals in the same year.

Hector MacFadyen, Pennyghael, achieved this in 1964, D. R. MacLennan in 1955, John Burgess in 1950 and Wil­liam M. MacDonald in 1953.

Donald MacPherson, Devon, who has not competed for four years, won his sixth Gold Clasp to the Highland Society of London’s Gold medal.

The Dr Black Memorial Hall was filled to capacity at times during the medal competition and among the audience were those doyens of the piping scene Mr Angus MacPherson, Achany, Lairg, Mr Seton Gordon, Duntulm, Mr James Campbell, Kilberry, Col. Jock MacDonald, Portree, and Mr David Ross, Rosehall.

Andrew Wright as he was pictured by the Oban Times in 1970

The latter, now in his 80th year, gave tlhe experts a run for their money in the March, Strathspey and Reel competition for Former Winners and also in the Gold Clasp competition.

Mr MacPherson presented a copy of his book “A Highlander Looks Back”, now in its fourth edition, to Andrew Wright with a suitable inscription.

Andrew Wright was closely followed in the Gold Medal competition by Jim McIntosh, Dundee (The Gordon’s Salute), Finlay MacNeill (The Munro’s Salute), Corporal James Banks, Scots Guards (The Lament for the Little Supper) and Pipe Major John Mathieson, late The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) who played The Gordon’s Salute.

During the day there were many good performances and of those who did not receive a prize, commendable tunes were heard from James Young (The Company’s Lament), John Garroway (The Gordon’s Salute), Ian Duncan, now at Aberdeen University and wearing the badge of the Officers Training Corps (The Desperate Battle) and Donald Lindsay, USA (The MacLeod’s Controversy). Angus MacLellan, Glasgow Police, was unlucky to break down towards the end of a tuneful effort (The Desperate Battle). The judges were Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, Capt. D.R. MacLennan and Major G. B. Murray.

Ian Duncan impressed the writer with his playing in the 1970 Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting

This year’s meetings were a great success, and as always the organisation and stewarding, under Mr Ian Roy and Col. Stanley Hill, was superb. The competitors too, co-operated to the full by keeping to a minimum their tuning on the platform so that the audience, which was of record numbers, was not kept waiting while pipers kept adjusting their drones. There was also a record number of competitors, seventy four adult entries and twenty seven juniors.

In the March competition, 50 played out of 55 entries. Playing “Highland Wedding”, Ian McLellan of the Glas­gow Police Pipers won the premier award. The runner-up was Cpl. Iain Morrison of the Queen’s Own Highlanders with “Hugh Kennedy”. John Wilson won third prize playing “Inveran” and fourth was Arthur Gillies who played “Leaving Lunga”.

P/M Ian McLellan and John Wilson, first and third in the March at the Northern Meeting, Inverness, in 1970, are pictured 40 years on

There was a high standard in this competition and, apart from those in the prize list, particuliarly good tunes were heard from L/Cpl J Banks, Scots Guards, “Mrs John MacColl”, Duncan Watson “The Pap of Glencoe”, Hugh Mac­Innes, “Lochaber Gathering” and Andrew Wright “John MacDonald’s Welcome to South Uist”.

A feature of this competition was the number of good sets of bagpipes which were heard. The competition was judged by Dr Kenneth Mackay, Dr Robert Frater, and Pipe Major Ronald MacCallum.

  • To be continued.

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