SPBA Secretary Criticises Branches for Apathy over Worlds and Calls for Unity

Secretary Mr RC Whitelaw concludes his hard-hitting commentary from 1948 on the Scotish Pipe Band Association’s rift with Cowal and the difficulties he had in staging the second SPBA Worlds in Glasgow.

Judges at the SPBA’s first Worlds held at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh in 1947

Permit me next to refer to a few awkward moments which existed in the plan to run the contest [the second SPBA World Pipe Band Championship] at Scotstoun in Glasgow.

Is it believable that only on 26th August, 1948 – remember my application for co-operation was made on 15th May, 1948 – did I receive final confirmation that the Association was granted the use of Scotstoun Showground?

The contest was due lo take place eleven days later. Is it conceivable that, although 500 posters and bills had been issued throughout Glasgow, not one could be seen anywhere in the centre of the city?

I challenge anyone to prove that a poster was displayed for public benefit in either Renfield Street or Sauchiehall Street, and had it not been for the News of the World [newspaper], not one would have been seen in Argyle Street. [These three streets are all main thoroughfares in Glasgow city centre.]

What a contrast to Edinburgh, the previous year, when every lamp post, pillar, hoarding, and public building not only displayed advertisements for the contest but actually added lustre to the display by tartan buntings.

In addition, a different pipe band was engaged to play in Princes Street Gardens every night for a full week, principally to advertise the World’s Pipe Band Championship contest.

Bands paraded in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens to publicise the first SPBA Worlds in 1947

Compare such co-operation and support with my application to the Chief Constable of Glasgow to allow selected bands to play at selected points in Glasgow on the day of the contest. This application was refused. Such is Glasgow, 1948.

I have mentioned the News of the World. Let me assure you now that had it not been for the help given by the Glasgow representative (Mr R. Corrie), and the publicity manager (Mr Leslie Holmes), it would never have been possible to complete all the mass of detail necessary in time for the contest. Believe me when I say that we definitely owe the News of the World [the sponsors] a debt of gratitude.



Before concluding this article I would like to make a pointed reference to the future. No matter in what town or city the contest is to be held in 1949, the Association Branch in that district must play a full and organised part.

A passive interest is not sufficient. An active interest, with organised and controlled action, must take its place. It is comparatively easy when the Branch is willing to play its full part in the control and conduct of such a vast undertaking as the World”s Championship.

On the other hand, it becomes very difficult and trying if the Branch in that area is content to sit back and do nothing except look for faults. Believe me that I really would welcome organised help.

I am not attempting, nor do I wish, to censor or condemn any Branch. No one knows better than I do that every Branch has its own problems to face. In spite of it all, however, I am bound to admit that the apathy towards the World’s Championship contest has been for the past two years really appalling.

Let us. therefore, prepare for the future. Stop, once and for all, this nonsense of sitting back and condemning, criticising, and finding fault. Come into the organisation, which is your organisation, and work for its general betterment.

If it has its faults, these are due entirely to your own lack of interest. I am fully convinced that the Scottish Pipe Band Association is worth working for, otherwise I would cease to devote any more of my time to it.

Let us work together for the furtherance – and not the hindrance – of the great instruments we so proudly claim to represent: Pipes and Drums. Treat the saboteurs in the same way as we treat all other kinds of insects and vermin and, having disposed of them, let us pledge ourselves to avoid a repetition of ‘Glasgow 1948’.

  • The winners of the 1948 Worlds were Shotts & Dykehead under P/M Tom MacAllister Snr. Read the first article in this series here.

1 thought on “SPBA Secretary Criticises Branches for Apathy over Worlds and Calls for Unity

  1. Your photo with the words, ‘Bands paraded in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens to publicise the first SPBA Worlds in 1947″, is actually of the City of Edinburgh Police Pipe Band (but without P/M Iain McLeod). circa 1963/1964.

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