This article was written in 1975 by Peter Bain’s friend and pupil Angus MacPhee, Inverness, now himself sadly deceased. It is reproduced here by kind permission of Peter’s daughter Mrs Mairi McCulloch who also kindly supplied the photographs. Additional material is inserted in square brackets.
Born in Glasgow but raised on the isle of Skye, Peter Bain was the son of the late John Bain of Portree and Margaret Bain (nee Nicolson) one of the famous Nicolson family of Braes, Skye, who could trace a genealogical relationship to the MacCrimmons of Borreraig. His interest in piping was fostered in his youth in Skye and became professional on his entering an army career, as a boy-piper in 1920. From then on he soldiered and travelled to many parts of the world, constantly furthering his art, learning at the feet of such great men as John MacDonald of Inverness and Pipe-Major William Ross at the Army School and becoming a more and more the polished performer we learned later to admire and appreciate.
[A contemporary report reads: ‘A romance which began at the Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, has culminated in the marriage of Sergeant Peter Balfour Bain, Scots Guards, and Miss Mary Dunlop
Cossar, a daughter of Mr and Mrs JT Cossar, Lambhill, Glasgow. Sergeant Bain, a son of Mr J Bain, Portree, Skye, was piper at the Clachan in the Empire Exhibition, while hisd bride was employed in the Clachan tea room. In a talk with the happy couple before they set off on their honeymoon, I was told that they met for the first time in the course of their duties at the Clachan. ‘I went to the tearoom for meals and in that way met Miss Cossar,’ said the bridegroom, smiling proudly at his wife. ‘We became good friends and that started the romance,’ added the sergeant. ‘We became engaged at the outbreak of war when I had to return to my unit. I joined the Scots Guards as a piper when I was 17 and served 10 years, finishing up in 1937. I was, of course, in the reserve. Before war broke out I was a postman at Morar, Inverness-shire, and in addition to that job taught piping and dancing.’ The bride is 22 and the bridegroom 30.]
Many of us, privileged to have been his pupils, will remember with affection his advice and encouragement while we sat with him the front room of his home in Lambhill. Later he returned once more to the site of the Exhibition at Bellahouston to teach many young players over the years at the academy there.[easyrotator]erc_14_1414056032[/easyrotator]Men of his stature in the world of piping are rare today. He was of a quiet, reserved disposition, which shunned the limelight of piping platforms in his latter years, though was a familiar adjudicator at Scottish Pipe Band Association competitions, where he was much thought of for his fairness and impartiality.
Finlayson, instructor at Portree High School. Iain Ruairi was taught by Iain MacFadyen who in turn was a pupil of Peter Bain. In the manner of piping tradition, Peter Bain’s teaching skills have been passed down to his great-grandson.
* Peter Bain had a number of pupils in the Glasgow area many of whom will have memories of him they would like to share. If you are one of them, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. See our Letters pages.