The SPBA was formed in 1930 and ‘Royal’ status was subsequently conferred on the Association by HM The Queen in 1980. The objectives of the Association from the outset, which still remain the same, were:
- To promote and encourage the culture and advancement of Pipe Band Music internationally, and to sponsor a Pipe Band College;
- To create and maintain a bond of fellowship with all Pipe Band personnel throughout the world without discrimination as to colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins;
- To devise and operate a proper system of Pipe Band Contest Rules; and
- To organise the World, European, British, Scottish and all Major Championships held within the United Kingdom.
By Alistair Aitken OBE,
former RSPBA Adjudicator
The first competition to be run by the SPBA was at Forthbank Park, Stirling on 18 June 1932. Fifteen Grade 2 bands competed: Scottish Motor Traction Co; Denny and Dunipace Ex-Service; Glasgow Caledonia; Lochgelly Public; Mar; Parkhead; Barry Ostlere and Shepherd; Dalzell Thistle; Bowhill Colliery; Michael Colliery; Ardrossan Burgh; Dunfermline City; Rutherglen Rechabites; Singer; and Lochore and Crosshill Public.
The competition format was March, Strathspey and Reel (MSR). In the same competition in 1933, ten bands competed in Grade 3 and nineteen in Grade 2.
Following lengthy acrimonious debate it was eventually agreed with the Cowal Highland Gathering that the SPBA would take over responsibility for the World Pipe Band Championships; and the first WPBC run under SPBA rules were held at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh in 1947 (the same year as the first Edinburgh International Festival). This was an ‘open’ competition (i.e. not restricted to Grade 1 pipe bands) which was won by the Bowhill Colliery Pipe Band from Fife.
The competition format again was MSR. Twenty-six pipe bands competed: Bowhill Colliery; Pumpherson; Renfrew; Michael Colliery; Shotts and Dykehead Caledonian; Edinburgh Corporation Transport; Lowland Brigade Training Centre; Edinburgh Special Constabulary; Edinburgh City Police; Highland Brigade Training Centre; Newtongrange Lothian; The Clan MacRae Society; Bonhill Parish; Clan MacKenzie; Dalzell Highland; Rutherglen; Clan Fraser; National Fire Service (Western); Muirhead & Sons; MacLeod (Dundee); MacKenzie (Dundee); Lochore and Crosshill; Airdrie Highland; Glasgow Shepherds; Glasgow Corporation Transport; and City of Dundee.
It was not until 1970 that Musical Medley competitions were introduced at RSPBA Major Championships, at the same time as ‘ensemble’ adjudication.
Since 1947 the WPBC have continued to be organised annually by the SPBA/RSPBA. The Cowal Highland Gathering, however, did not lose out completely as the Cowal Pipe Band Championships became one of the SPBA/RSPBA’s five annual Major Championships, the Argyll Shield still being awarded to the winning Grade 1 pipe band.
This arrangement was sustained until 2013, when it was decided that the pipe band Major Championships competitions had outgrown the limited facilities at Dunoon Stadium. As a consequence a reduced pipe band competition was retained at the Cowal Highland Gathering as an RSPBA-supported local event; and the fifth RSPBA Major Championships became known as the UK Pipe Band Championships, which have since been held in Northern Ireland.
Since 1947 the WPBC have been held in a variety of Scottish locations, ranging from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Ayr, Aberdeen, Stirling, Paisley, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Dumfries, Forfar, Oban, Grangemouth, Perth, Lanark, Hawick, Glenrothes and Hamilton.
The Championships have also been held in Northern Ireland on one occasion (Belfast in 1962) and in England on two occasions (Corby in 1975 and Nottingham in 1979). Since 1986 the Championships have always been held in Glasgow.
The WPBC were unable to be held in 2020 and 2021 due to the worldwide COVID pandemic. 2022 represents the 75th anniversary of the WPBC under the stewardship of the RSPBA.
WPBC Winners Since 1947
|Year||Pipe Band||Venue||Pipe Major|
|1947||Bowhill Colliery||Edinburgh||Chris Sutherland|
|1948||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Glasgow||Tom McAllister Snr BEM|
|1949||City of Glasgow Police||Edinburgh||John MacDonald|
|1950||Edinburgh City Police||Dundee||Donald S Ramsay|
|1951||City of Glasgow Police||Edinburgh||John MacDonald|
|1952||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Ayr||T McAllister Snr BEM.|
|1953||Clan MacRae Society||Edinburgh||A MacLeod|
|1954||Edinburgh City Police||Aberdeen||Donald S Ramsay|
|1955||Muirhead & Sons||Stirling||Jackie Smith|
|1956||Muirhead & Sons||Belfast||Jackie Smith|
|1957||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Paisley||John K MacAllister|
|1958||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Aberdeen||John K MacAllister|
|1959||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Kirkcaldy||John K MacAllister|
|1960||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Inverness||John K MacAllister|
|1961||Muirhead & Sons||Edinburgh||Jackie Smith|
|1962||227 A &SH Regt.R.A. (T.A.)||Belfast||J Weatherston MBE|
|1963||Edinburgh City Police||Dumfries||Iain McLeod|
|1964||Edinburgh City Police||Ayr||Iain McLeod|
|1965||Muirhead & Sons||Forfar||Robert Hardie|
|1966||Muirhead & Sons||Inverness||Robert Hardie|
|1967||Muirhead & Sons||Oban||Robert Hardie|
|1968||Muirhead & Sons||Gr’mouth||Robert Hardie|
|1969||Muirhead & Sons||Perth||Robert Hardie|
|1970||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Aberdeen||Tom McAllister Jnr|
|1971||Edinburgh City Police||Lanark||Iain McLeod|
|1972||Edinburgh City Police||Hawick||Iain McLeod|
|1973||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Ayr||Tom McAllister Jnr|
|1974||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Stirling||Tom McAllister Jnr|
|1975||Lothian & Borders Police||Corby||Iain McLeod|
|1976||Strathclyde Police||Hawick||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1977||Dysart & Dundonald||Aberdeen||RT Shepherd MBE|
|1978||Dysart & Dundonald||Lanark||RT Shepherd MBE|
|1979||Strathclyde Police||Notti’ham||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1980||Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia||Glasgow||Tom McAllister Jnr.|
|1981||Strathclyde Police||Aberdeen||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1982||Strathclyde Police||Gle’othes||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1983||Strathclyde Police||Glasgow||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1984||Strathclyde Police||Glasgow||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1985||Strathclyde Police||Hamilton||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1986||Strathclyde Police||Glasgow||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1987||78th Fraser Hders (Canada)||Glasgow||William Livingstone|
|1988||Strathclyde Police||Glasgow||Ian McLellan BEM|
|1989||Strathclyde Police||Glasgow||Ian McLellan BEM|
|1990||Strathclyde Police||Glasgow||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1991||Strathclyde Police||Glasgow||Ian McLellan BEM.|
|1992||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|1993||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|1994||Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia||Glasgow||Robert Mathieson|
|1995||Simon Fraser University||Glasgow||Terry Lee|
|1996||Simon Fraser University||Glasgow||Terry Lee|
|1997||Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia||Glasgow||Robert Mathieson|
|1998||Victoria Police||Glasgow||Nat Russell|
|1999||Simon Fraser University||Glasgow||Terry Lee|
|2000||Shotts and Dykehead||Glasgow||Robert Mathieson|
|2001||Simon Fraser University||Glasgow||Terry Lee|
|2002||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2003||Shotts and Dykehead||Glasgow||Robert Mathieson|
|2004||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2005||Shotts and Dykehead||Glasgow||Robert Mathieson|
|2006||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2007||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2008||Simon Fraser University||Glasgow||Terry Lee|
|2009||Simon Fraser University||Glasgow||Terry Lee|
|2010||St. Laurence O’Toole (Dublin)||Glasgow||Terry Tully|
|2011||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2012||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2013||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2014||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2015||Shotts and Dykehead||Glasgow||Ryan Canning|
|2016||Field Marshall Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2017||Inveraray & District||Glasgow||Stuart Liddell|
|2018||Field Marshal Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
|2019||Inveraray & District||Glasgow||Stuart Liddell|
|2020/21 Not held due to COVID pandemic|
|2022||Field Marshal Montgomery||Glasgow||Richard Parkes MBE|
- To ber concluded.
1 thought on “History of the Worlds Part 2 – the Scottish Pipe Band Association and the ‘Royal’ Title”
Very interesting historic analysis by Alistair. I would add one additional comment: following the SPBA assuming responsibility for the Worlds, many bands throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s continued to regard Cowal as the pinnacle of the pipe band calendar. In particular, many of the great Irish bands of that era (e.g. Finan Lalor, Robert Armstrong Memorial, St Patricks) who could only afford 1 trip to Scotland each year chose to attend Cowal, and achieved many great and historic successes there.
The demise of Cowal as an RSPBA major was a huge blow to the pipe band community, and the reason of “limited facilities” could equally be applied to a number of other venues on the pipe band competition circuit. With the right cooperation between the Cowal Organising Committee and the RSPBA, I am sure that Dunoon could re-appear as a major venue on the pipe band competition circuit.