History: Pipe Bands in the East of Scotland Part 3

The response to these articles has been particularly encouraging and I am grateful to reader Ian Sword for forwarding this very interesting photograph [above]. Iain writes:

‘I enclose a photograph of Kinglassie and District Colliery Pipe Band winning the Grade 2 Scottish Pipe Band Championship at Blairgowrie in 1948, under the leadership of Pipe Major Sandy Burnside.

‘It was taken when I competed with the band on my 12th birthday [front row]. The band was promoted to Grade 1 shortly thereafter.’

By Alistair Aitken OBE,
former RSPBA Adjudicator

Thanks again Ian and if any other reader has similar photographs then please forward to the editor.

Now to my main narrative. Apart from the Grade 1 World Championship winners mentioned in the earlier instalment of this history, the East of Scotland has had many prize-winning bands.

Leading the way undoubtedly has been People’s Ford Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia.  Created in 1972, they have, since that time, had successful bands in four different grades. The Grade 1 band had won every RSPBA Major Championships apart from the Worlds until they were finally successful in achieving this accolade this year.

Hearty congratulations are due to Pipe Major Ross Harvey, Leading Drummer Kerr McQuillan and the band members on this tremendous achievement. But credit must go to the many people who have led and contributed over the years to the band’s renowned family-style teaching ‘institution’, and Ross and Kerr have been quick to acknowledge this. In particular we must mention the late Bob Martin, Craig and Ross Walker, and Tom and Gordon Brown.

Pipe Major Ross Harvey, Leading Drummer Kerr McQuillan of
World Champions Boghall & Bathgate

Over the years, Vale of Atholl, under P/M Ian Duncan were also a multiple prize winner in Grade 1 Major Championships.  Police Scotland Fife have in recent years become a major contender in Grade 1.

Other noted ‘eastern’ Grade 1 pipe bands have included Invergordon Distillery, BP Grangemouth, Woolmet & Danderhall (now City of Edinburgh in Grade 2), Bilston Glen Colliery, Torphichen & Bathgate, Polkemmet Colliery, Denny and Dunipace, 153 (Highland) Regiment RCT Pipes & Drums, Clan Gregor, Grampian Police, Bucksburn & District, and Buchan.


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Some successful East of Scotland bands in earlier days in Juvenile and Novice were Craigmount High School, Boghall & Bathgate, and Ballingry School (now by Lochgelly High School). 

In more recent years George Watson’s College, Dollar Academy, George Heriot’s School, Boghall & Bathgate, West Lothian Schools, and Preston Lodge High School are all regular prizewinners and provide a considerable throughput of players for senior bands.

Some of the notable bands in other grades included (North East area):  Deeside Caledonia, Deeside Ladies, Aberdeen Ladies, Stonehaven, Fraserburgh RBL, Oldmeldrum RBL, Portlethen, Ross & Cromarty P&D, Turriff, RAF Lossiemouth and Robert Gordon’s College.

P/M Ian Duncan leading Vale of Atholl, an innovative and top prizewinning Grade 1 band

In the Dundee, Perth and Angus areas notable bands included and include Kinross, Vale of Atholl, Pitlochry and Blair Atholl, Mackenzie Caledonian, Badenoch & Strathspey, City of Brechin, and City of St Andrews.  

In the Lothian & Borders, Central Scotland and Fife we have names like Arniston, West Linton, Colinton & Currie, Lady Victoria Colliery, Kelty & Blairadam, Newtongrange, Dalkeith, Drambuie Kirkliston, Linlithgow, Stockbridge, Whitrigg Colliery, Tweedvale, Scottish Borders, Hawick, Penicuik, Peebles Ex-Servicemen’s, Post Office, Glencorse, Wallacestone, Central Scotland Schools, Royal Burgh of Stirling, Camelon, Lochore, Alloa Collieries, Methil, Glenrothes, and Kinross.

Finally notable former Boy’s Brigade pipe bands in the east included: 1st St Andrews, 47th Culter, 47th Aberdeen, 6th Dundee, 16th Edinburgh (Leith), 65th Edinburgh (Currie), 48th Edinburgh (Penicuik), and 1st Denny & Dunipace.

  • In his next instalment Alistair looks at the current strength of bands in the east of the country.

3 thoughts on “History: Pipe Bands in the East of Scotland Part 3

  1. Sandy Burnside was a well known personality in Fife pipe bands and was a member of the Association’s Adjudicators Panel during the 1970s. Andrew Donaldson distinguished himself as a teacher of many good pipers and as pipe major of several Fife Bands – and the B P Grangemouth Pipe Band during the 60s and 70s. I’m sure I’ve missed out something important so any further information would be welcome.

  2. Enjoying seeing some names of bands i remember from my youngers days. Noticed a face in the Kinglassie band picture. PS position is occupied by “Auld Mashy” Mathieson. Confirmed earlier today by his Grandson Drew who i’m sure a few will know and who i played novice juvenile with some time back with Bowhill and Seafield Collieries Pipe Band. Drew did also mention that the piper behind Mashy is Andre Donaldson’s son Brian

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