Ronan’s Pictures Final Instalment: JB Robertson, Robert Meldrum, Donald MacLean, James Center

The final instalment today of enhanced piping pictures all courtesy Ronan Maguire former All Ireland Solo Piping Champion and currently a leading member of St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band in Dublin. We are extremely grateful to Ronan for supplying the pictures and making them available for download to Piping Press readers. Use our Search facility to view and download earlier images in this series.

Today we begin with P/M JB Robertson, Scots Guards, multiple award winner and a man who was a huge influence on piping in London and the south of England. Download the full length picture of ‘Robbie’ playing at the games here:

James Blair Robertson was born in Dundee in 1905. He learned his piping at the Queen Victoria School. The school had been set up to educate the sons of fallen servicemen. JB later joined the Scots Guards, his father’s regiment. Alexander Robertson was killed in action in WW1 in 1914. JB carried a picture of him in his sporran for the rest of his life.

During an outstanding competitive career, JB had a remarkable run of success at the Argyllshire Gathering, winning the Former Winners’ MSR nine times between 1930 and 1950. In piobaireachd he won the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness in 1932 and 1933.

Robert Meldrum was born in 1851 in Tomintoul, Moray, in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park. He enlisted in the 78th Highlanders in 1868 serving with them until 1873. Over a long career he received instruction from Calum Piobair MacPherson, Willie Murray (he of the reel) and P/M Ronald MacKenzie of the 78th.

He won both Gold Medals in 1886 and the Clasp in 1902. He served during the Great War and eventually became chief instructor at the Queen Victoria School

Here he is with his face showing the before/after process:

Robert Meldrum showing the remarkable transformation

And now in his pistol-totting glory:

P/M Robert Meldrum

Now a picture of an unknown Pipe Major from the 1st Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders. Does anyone have a name?:

Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban is one of our most popular competition 2/4 marches. Here is Donald MacLean pictured in 1931 after winning the Gold Medal at Inverness:

Donald was so annoyed with the results at the Argyllshire Gathering one year that he vowed never to return. His pique and his name were immortalised in music by the blind piper, Archie MacNeill. Ronan has cleaned and enhanced the original picture.

And we conclude with James Center. Here he is before and after:

Center was from Edinburgh. He won the Gold Medal at Inverness in 1902 and at Oban in 1906. He was a pipe maker and emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, where he resumed his business. Download a quality colour image here:

2 thoughts on “Ronan’s Pictures Final Instalment: JB Robertson, Robert Meldrum, Donald MacLean, James Center

  1. The Seaforth Pipe Major with beard is none other than Pipe Major James MacDonald born in 1851, a Caithness man. Joined the 72nd Highlanders in 1867 and became its PM in 1880. Nicknamed the Silver King. When the 72nd and 78th amalgamated in 1881, he remained PM of the newly named 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders His brother William was also Pipe Major of the Cameron Highlanders at this time. Died in Inverness in 1940.

    1. He was the younger brother of my Great Great Grandmother, he was very well regarded by my great Aunt. She wrote the following about him;

      “Jim ran away from home at 15, passed himself off as 16 and joined the army at Fort George, Inverness. He saw service in Ireland and was drafted overseas. He rose to be Pipe Major (Seaforths, the Black Watch) and wore the Prince Charles Edward Stuart Tartan. He composed and first played a March at the Battle of Tel-El-Kebir.

      Hope this was of interest!

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