Editor’s Notebook: Pipes for Sale/ Playing Outside/ Letter/ Alec Craig’s Tune

Reader Hugh Bevan writes: ‘My Gillanders and McLeod pipes are for sale. They are blackwood pipes with ivory mounts and nickel ferrules and are in very good condition.

‘They were professionally refurbished at the beginning of this year. Price: £1,850. Please contact me on:  h.c.bevan@btinternet.com .’ More details and pictures here.

The Piping Press Online Advertising Service is a great way to sell your pipes, chanters etc. Only £25 per insertion and you reach thousands of pipers and bands worldwide. Book your ad now.

Is there anything stopping pipe bands from having a practice outside during what remains of the summer? Weather permitting, why not get out onto the village green or any spare ground and just have a tune for the simple pleasure of it?

I was struck by this picture in the national press the other day of a brass band practising in Yorkshire. I have yet to see a similar scenario in Scotland.

So come on guys. Keep your distance. Fix your own chanter, tune your own drones, keep the sanitiser handy but get out there and blow. It will do you, your band and any listeners a lot of good. They’ll keep their distance, no question.

Bands are too hidebound by the competitive imperative anyway. This contest-free season is a chance to re-discover the pleasure of making music for its own sake rather than using it as a tool to beat the hell out of your rivals!

Get the kilt on, the pipes going, the drums rattling. Send us your pictures and a short piece about your band. It will help keep your spirits up and help drag Scotland kicking and screaming into some fear-free semblance of normality.

Adjudicator Archie Maclean has written re his article on the Lament for Mary MacLeod on June 16: ‘Excellent presentation of the article and many thanks to reader David Livingstone for the Crystal Palace information.’

Archie’s father John (l) and P/M JB Robertson with two ladies at Crystal Palace 1928. The building was burned down in a huge fire in November 1936

Harry Stevenson in Northern Ireland: ‘I have attached a copy of the tune for wee Alec which was requested by reader Denis Connelly. Will you please pass it on to him.’

Downlaod a copy of the tune here:

Alec Craig was captured at the recently commemorated St Valery surrender during WW2. He is pictured here in 1939 prior to going into action on mainland Europe. His Pipe Major was Donald MacLean, Lewis. Also in the picture is P/M Donald MacLeod (to the P/M’s right):

Donald Maclean (front, centre) and the Seaforths in Aldershot in 1939. To Donald’s immediate right is P/M Donald MacLeod. ‘Wee’ Alex Craig is second from the right standing

Alec, although from Stranraer, retired to Larne. In the picture below he is seen tutoring William Evans formerly of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band:

The last time I spoke to Billy he was living and working as a car mechanic in Fort William. Grateful to you for the car rescue in Glencoe Billy!

Billy tells of how Alec was taught by P/M Donald MacLean during their PoW incarceration in Germany. When Donald lost his practice chanter Alec loaned him his and it was on this instrument that the famous 2/4 march, Major Manson at Clachantrushal, was composed. Alec is aged 82 in the picture (2001) and died a few years ago.

He’d had an eventful life even surviving the Princess Victoria disaster. The ship was one of the UK’s first ‘roll on, roll off ferries’ plying the waters between Stranraer and Larne. She got caught in a ferocious storm in the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland and went down off the cost of Co. Down on the dark night of January 31, 1953, with the loss of 133 lives. Definitely worthy of a suitably sad pipe tune if there isn’t already one out there.

1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: Pipes for Sale/ Playing Outside/ Letter/ Alec Craig’s Tune

  1. To Harry Sstevenson,

    Many Thanks for posting the sheet music of “Alex. W. Craig, Seaforth Hrs”, it’s a great tune and a nice tribute to the man himself.
    I did’nt know anything about Alec Craig until I read about the Poppyscotland St Valery tribute this year. I was intrigued to learn that he loaned his chanter to P.M Donald Maclean to write “Major Manson”and was in the 1939 photograph.
    It fascinated me to discover that Alec came from Stranraer and played with the pipe band before joining the Seaforths. He was also fortunate to survive Pricess Victoria tragedy. My Wife and I have family and friends in Stranraer so I was particularly keen to learn this tune about their own local Hero.
    Once again, Thank You very much


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