Editor’s Notebook: John Ban MacKenzie Gravestone/ Rule Change after 214BB Success/ Lochryan Pipe Band Tutor Search

Correspondent Duncan Watson has been in touch: ‘It might be of interest to add this to the bit re John Ban. The headstone is in the burial ground at Kinnetas which is up the hill from the village of Strathpeffer.

‘I have taken one or two people to the grave for some kind of inspirational visit. I have taken photographs of the headstone and of the one next to it which relates to his sons who died.

‘The place of birth of John Ban MacKenzie was either at Achterneed which is about a mile or so east of Strathpeffer, or in the Achility area about three miles west of the village.

‘I am not sure if this is still the case, but some of the tools which John Ban MacKenzie used were in the shop Cabar Feidh, Inverness, which at one time belonged to Niall Matheson.’

The inscription reads: Erected by his sorrowing widow to the memory of John MacKenzie, late piper to the Marquis of Breadalbane for the period of 28 years, who died at Greenhill Cottage, Munlochy, on the 24th of April 1864 aged 68.

He was a real specimen of the true hearted Highlander, esteemed and respected by all who knew him; he was known as chief and father of all the Highland pipers and had taught upwards of forty young men. After a long and painful illness which he bore with Christian resignation he fell asleep in Jesus.

Also to the memory of her beloved son Donald, late Pipe Major 25th Regiment, who died at Greenhill Cottage on the 13th of April 1863 aged 30. Universally regretted by all who knew him. 

  • Read last week’s stories on John Ban here and here.
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214 BB Success Ended ‘Playing Up’ at Majors

Hector Russell’s funeral was a well-attended occasion with many of his former 214 Boys’ Brigade comrades present. They included P/M Ian McLellan formerly of Strathclyde Police PB. No need to repeat Ian’s success story with Strathclyde Police here.

Inevitably we got talking about the BB and Hector’s last article for Piping Press about the remarkable winning streak of the 214 band.

Ian: ‘I read with pleasure the article and all of the statistics showing how well the 214 had done in the decades after WW2.

‘One occasion was missing from what Hector so lucidly wrote however. That was the result from the 1955 British Championships at Renfrew. I was playing that day and the 214 won the Juvenile, placed in Grade 3 and also won Grade 2.

The triumphant 214 band of the mid 1950s. Ian is far left middle row standing directly behind P/M Alex MacIver

‘Our Pipe Major, Alex MacIvor never went up to receive a prize himself always sending one of the boys to the podium. When the Grade 2 result came out I was selected for the honour.

‘As I was returning to the band with the trophy P/M John MacAllister of Shotts shouted to me ‘I’m glad you weren’t playing in Grade 1 today Ian!’

‘I’ve never forgotten that even after all these years. It was phenomenal achievement by a boys band all under 18. Second to us that day was John Weatherston’s 402 TA band. This was before they were changed to the 277.

‘I don’t think the 214 were popular among the adult bands after that day and it wasn’t long before the then SPBA changed the rules preventing bands playing ‘up’ at the majors!’


Lochryan Pipe Band

Andy McCartney: ‘During the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the oldest bands in south west Scotland hung up its chanters and drumsticks. From being a competitive Grade 3 band it ceased to function.

‘However, John Harvey, the last Pipe Major believes that never is a long time, and has asked South West of Scotland Piping & Drumming Academy for help to get the band up and playing again.

‘This we will do if at all possible, so, with the help of Piping Press, we would like to appeal to any piping tutors and drumming tutors who think they would be in a position to help this Pipe Band in Stranraer, please contact myself on 07754 326746, or e-mail andrewmccartney2@gmail.com.

‘All travelling expenses and tuition fees will be met, and dates and times for tuition will be by arrangement. The nearest places to Stranraer are in Northern Ireland, so any help from that region would also be considered, and ferry costs, travelling expenses, etc. also being met.’

1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: John Ban MacKenzie Gravestone/ Rule Change after 214BB Success/ Lochryan Pipe Band Tutor Search

  1. This historic achievement of the 214 of winning top prizes in 3 different grades on the same day at the 1955 British Championships deserves further comment. This was an era long before the emergence of synthetic drone reeds, moisture control systems and synthetic/zipper bags, all of which are taken for granted in the modern piping world. For these youngsters to have maintained their sound and performance across sequential events, to win the Juvenile Grade, win Grade 2, and a placing in Grade 3 on the same day was a remarkable achievement.

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