Piping in the 1930s – Part 1

The pages of the Piping and Dancing Journal are a rich source of information and interest, bringing to our attention, as they do, some of the great names of the past. What follows is a series of results from the October 1935 edition. Comments are added as we proceed:

Aboyne – 4th September
1 P/M Reid, Glasgow [pictured above]
2 MR MacPherson, Invershin
3 RB Nicol, Balmoral
4 RU Brown, Balmoral
1 P/M Robertson, Scots Guards
2 J Wilson, Edinburgh
3 P/M Greenfield, Royal Scots
4 (tie) P/M Reid and P/M Cruickshank, Aberdeen
Strathspey & Reel:
1 J Wilson, Edinburgh
2 P/M Robertson
3 P/M Cruickshank
4 (tie) RU Brown/RB Nicol
MSR Silver Star presented by the Scottish Pipers’ Society
1 J MacPherson
2 J Brown
3 E Watt
4 W Collie

A superb win for Bobby Reid, one of the really outstanding pipers of the era. Taught by MacDougall Gillies, for him to prevail on Deeside in such company, and when the Bobs were under intense instruction from John MacDonald of Inverness, and when Malcolm MacPherson must have been playing brilliantly, was a considerable achievement for the Glasgow-based piper. But then, maybe we shouldn’t get too carried away. Perhaps he got lucky with the weather. John Wilson, Edinburgh, must also have been on top form that day.
The SPS Silver Star was obviously for amateur, junior or local piping. The Scottish Pipers’ Society were given the ‘Royal’ assignation after a  visit from the Prince of Wales some time in the 30s.

Oban – Argyllshire Gathering – 12th September

Marches, Strathspeys and Reels
1 P/M JB Robertson, Scots Guards
2 P/M J Wilson, Edinburgh
3 P/Cpl Peter Bain, Scots Guards
1 Donald MacLean, Glasgow
2 Duncan MacIntrye, Ballochyle
3 P/M Richard Hepburn, Bonhill
4 P/M W Logie, Depot, Seaforths
5 Piper J MacGrady, 1st HLI
Strathspeys and Reels 
1 P/Cpl Peter Bain
2 Piper Angus Macaulay, Lovat Scouts
3 P/M Greenfield, Royal Scots
4 Owen MacNiven, Paisley
5 Peter MacCallum, Clydebank

No mention of the piobaireachd results at Oban for 1935.

David Ross of Rosehall, immortalised in Archie MacNeill's superb 2/4 march
David Ross of Rosehall, immortalised in Archie MacNeill’s superb 2/4 march

Inverness – Northern Meeting – 19th Sept.

Gold Medal
1 J MacGrady, Fort George
2 P/M G Greenfield
3 Owen MacNiven
4 Lewis Beaton, Twickenham

1 MR MacPherson, Invershin
2 D Maclean, Glasgow
3 D MacIntyre, Glasgow

Gold Clasp
1 P/M Robert Reid
2 J Wilson, Edinburgh
3 P/M JB Robertson
4 P/M C Smith, Black Watch

Strathspeys and Reels
1 David Ross, Rosehall
2 MR MacPherson
3 D Maclean

1 Owen MacNiven
2 P/M GA Greenfield
3 P/Sgt Peter Bain

Scottish Pipers’ Association

‘An Amateur Piping Competition, held under the auspices of the Scottish Pipers’ Association, Glasgow, attracted a large entry, when the contests took place in the Highlanders Institute, Elmbank Street, Glasgow, on Saturday 5th October. The Chairman on the occasion was Mr D MacMurchy, President of the Association, and the judge was Pipe Major William Fergusson, Glasgow.’

Piobaireachd Playing confined to amateurs who have never won a prize in open competition – Farquhar MacRae Trophy and gold and silver medals:

1 R Hepburn, Newmains, Lament for Mary MacLeod
2 James MacNeill, Partick, MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart
3 Donald Ramsay, Avonbridge, MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart
4 L Craig, Lament for Mary MacLeod

James (aka Seumas) MacNeill
James (aka Seumas) MacNeill

The James MacNeill is Seumas MacNeill, co-founder of the College of Piping and pupil of his uncle Archie MacNeill, the blind piper. Just when MacNeill adopted the Gaelic version of his first name is not entirely clear, but among his own generation in and around Glasgow he was known as ‘Jimmy’ and in the late 40s still signed his name ‘James’ (see below).

Donald Ramsay is Donald Shaw Ramsay. Again, when or why he adopted the use of his middle name in later life is not clear.

‘L’ Craig is most probably Dr Leslie Craig who did so much for piping in mid-Argyll and who was a prominent member of the Glasgow Highland Club and pupil of P/M Donald MacLeod.seumas-sig

1 James MacNeill, Balmoral Highlanders
2 L Craig, Glengarry’s March
3 M Lawther, Balmoral Highlanders
4 D Ramsay, Donald Cameron
5 W Downie, Mrs J MacColl

Strathspey & Reel
1 W Kinnear, Lady Loudon/ Rejected Suitor
2 W Downie, Top of Craigvenow/Rej. Suitor
3 A Braid, Maggie Cameron/Smith of Ghilliechastie [sic]
4 A MacIntyre, Pipers’ Bonnet/Ca’ the Yowes
5 Agnes Young, Delvinside/Mrs MacPherson

Winner of the Gold Medal for Most Points: James MacNeill, Partick.

W Kinnear would be Willie Kinnear late of the Kinning Park band in Glasgow, and an outstanding contributor to the pipe band movement throughout his life.


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