Modern History of Pipe Bands from 1946 to the Millennium – 2

The 1960s era was dominated by Muirhead & Sons under P/M RG Hardie. They won a host of championships including the Worlds five years in a row from 1965 – 1969, still a record today for a civilian band. Here the band walk from the field at Oban in 1967, the Worlds trophy carried by Band Secretary Lawrence Jenkins

A new points system was introduced in 1961 and in 1962 the idea of a possible fourth grade to replace the Ladies’ and Juvenile grades was broached.

Grade Four contests began in 1963. The bands in this new grade were to play either a two-part march twice over or a four part march once and have a minimum of six pipers, two sides and a bass drum. Other grades continued to play a march, strathspey and reel.

By Jeannie Campbell

The question of whether judges should be under cover or in the open was being discussed at this time too, and in 1963 it was decided that they should be in the open.

The usual judging system was one piping judge and one drumming judge, but ensemble judges began to appear from about 1967 onwards.



In 1968 there was an additional grade for Novice Juveniles. In 1969 it was decided that judges should be under cover again.

At the World Championships 1970 there were contests for grade one, two, three, four, Ladies, Juveniles and Novice Juveniles.

At the 1971 RSPBA AGM it was decided that there would be Grades 1 to 4, Juvenile and Novice Juvenile.

Shotts at Shotts….. Bands in the 1970s paraded in full No1 dress as typified here by Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia pictured at Hannah Park, Shotts, for the European Pipe Band Championships, September, 1980. Centre of the picture is the band’s former pipe major JK MacAllister, then an influencial figure in the RSPBA and a leading proponent for the introductions of Medleys

There was pressure to change from the MSR tp Medley selection sin order to broaden appeal. Shotts won the first Medley Worlds at Aberdeen in 1970.

Depending on whether a contest was for MSR or Medley, Grade One bands would submit either two MSRs or two selections of five to seven minutes, Grade 2 one MSR or one selection of four to six minutes, Grade
3 one MSR or one selection of three to five minutes. Grade 4 would play eight or nine parts at march tempo.

Prizes for the best Ladies band in each of Grades 3 and 4 replaced the Ladies only grade at the World Championships. These Ladies’ Prizes were continued until 1987.

By the 1970s there were several overseas bands competing at the World Championships and a special prize was awarded for them in each grade.

In the early 1970s Grade 4 bands usually played a four parted 2/4 march and when playing up to Grade 3 at the smaller contests could play the same march followed by a strathspey and reel.

From the ’80s onwards bands adopted a more comfortable form of dress as exemplified here by Canada’a 78th Fraser Highlanders under P/M Bill Livingstone. This band was innovative and exciting to listen to and broke the run of success of the great Strathclyde Police Pipe Band by winning the Worlds in Grade 1 in 1987, the first overseas band to do so

Some of the most popular Grade 4 tunes at the time were Muir of Ord, Hills of Alva, Hills of Perth, Duncan Macinnes, and Peter MacKenzie Warren.

By 1980, two-parted 4/4 marches such as Wings, Murdo’s Wedding and Flett from Flotta were becoming popular in Grade 4.

The traditional competition type MSRs continued, but many new tunes began to appear in medley selections.

Another change at this time was the introduction of the simpler dress style for competition. In the 1970s the top bands competed in full dress, with spats, hose tops, doublets, plaids, cross belts and feather bonnets.

This looked impressive but was uncomfortable for the players, especially on a hot day. By the 1980s bands were dressing for comfort and wearing black jackets, white socks and glengarries.

During the 1980s and 1990s there were various other changes such as qualifying sections and finals, seeding at major championships, and consultative adjudication.

The last major change before the Millenium came in 1998 when Grades 3 and 4 were split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ sections, making, in effect, two extra grades.


Worlds Grade 1 winning bands from 1947 to 2000:

1947 Bowhill Colliery, Murrayfield, Edinburgh – P/M Chris Sutherland
1948 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Glasgow, – P/M Tom McAllister Snr., B.E.M.
1949 City of Glasgow Police, Edinburgh, – P/M John MacDonald, South Uist
1950 Edinburgh City Police, Dundee – P/M Donald Shaw Ramsay
1951 City of Glasgow Police, Edinburgh – P/M John MacDonald, South Uist
1952 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Ayr – P/M Tom McAllister Snr., B.E.M.
1953 Clan McRae Society, Edinburgh – P/M Alex MacLeod
1954 Edinburgh City Police, Aberdeen – P/M Donald Shaw Ramsay
1955 Muirhead & Sons, Stirling – P/M Jackie Smith
1956 Muirhead & Sons, Belfast – P/M Jackie Smith
1957 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Paisley – P/M John K. McAllister
1958 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Aberdeen – P/M John K. McAllister
1959 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Kirkcaldy – P/M John K. McAllister
1960 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Inverness – P/M John K. McAllister
1961 Muirhead & Sons, Edinburgh – P/M Jackie Smith
1962 277 Argyll & Sutherland Hders. (T.A.), Belfast – P/M John Weatherston MBE BEM
1963 City of Edinburgh Police, Dumfries – P/M Iain McLeod
1964 City of Edinburgh Police, Ayr – P/M Iain McLeod
1965 Muirhead & Sons, Forfar – P/M Robert G. Hardie

1966 Muirhead & Sons, Inverness – P/M Robert G. Hardie
1967 Muirhead & Sons, Oban – P/M Robert G. Hardie
1968 Muirhead & Sons, Grangemouth – P/M Robert G. Hardie
1969 Muirhead & Sons, Perth – P/M Robert G. Hardie
1970 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Aberdeen – P/M Tom McAllister Jnr.
1971 City of Edinburgh Police, Lanark – P/M Iain McLeod
1972 City of Edinburgh Police, Hawick – P/M Iain McLeod
1973 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Ayr – P/M Tom McAllister Jnr.
1974 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Stirling – P/M Tom McAllister Jnr.
1975 Lothian & Borders Police, Corby – P/M Iain McLeod

1976 Strathclyde Police, Hawick – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1977 Dysart & Dundonald, Aberdeen – P/M Robert T. Shepherd MBE
1978 Dysart & Dundonald, Lanark – P/M Robert T. Shepherd MBE

1980 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Glasgow – P/M Tom McAllister Jnr.

Victoria Police, Australia, under P/M Nat Russell after winning the Worlds Grade 1 title in 1998. They remain the only band from the southern hemisphere ever to have won the Worlds

1981 Strathclyde Police, Aberdeen – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1982 Strathclyde Police, Glenrothes – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1983 Strathclyde Police, Glasgow – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1984 Strathclyde Police, Glasgow – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1985 Strathclyde Police, Hamilton – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1986 Strathclyde Police, Glasgow – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1987 78th Fraser Highlanders (Canada), Glasgow – P/M William Livingstone
1988 Strathclyde Police, Glasgow – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1989 Strathclyde Police, Glasgow – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1990 Strathclyde Police, Glasgow
– P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1991 Strathclyde Police, Glasgow – P/M Ian McLellan BEM
1992 Field Marshal Montgomery, Glasgow – P/M Richard Parkes MBE
1993 Field Marshal Montgomery, Glasgow – P/M Richard Parkes MBE
1994 Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia, Glasgow – P/M Robert Mathieson
1995 Simon Fraser University (Canada), Glasgow – P/M Terry Lee
1996 Simon Fraser University (Canada), Glasgow – P/M Terry Lee
1997 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Glasgow – P/M Robert Mathieson

1998 Victoria Police (Australia), Glasgow – P/M Nathaniel S. Russell
1999 Simon Fraser University (Canada), Glasgow – P/M Terry Lee
2000  Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Glasgow – P/M Robert Mathieson

  • Read Part 1 of this history here.

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