Playing the pipes for 125 years

Wallacestone & District Pipe Band is celebrating its 125th anniversary
Wallacestone & District Pipe Band is celebrating its 125th anniversary

The sounds of the pipes and drums stir emotions for many proud Scots and none more than one of the world’s oldest bands.

Wallacestone & District Pipe Band was formed in 1887 by miners who gave part of their wages each week to establish it.

It is now one of longest surviving civilian pipe bands on the planet and is in the midst of marking its 125th anniversary year.

To help the current members celebrate the milestone in true Braveheart style, they’ve turned to one of Scotland’s most feared and revered sons – William Wallace.

The band is marking the achievement in several different ways, including featuring the familiar Wallace figure on the bass drum heads and the sale of specially commissioned enamel pin badges.

Chairman Peter Anderson (62), a gas engineer from Hallglen and one of the longest-serving members, said the band prides itself on its provincial ethos of teaching youngsters the art of piping.

He said: “It’s a great achievment to reach this milestone. Like other clubs we’ve had our up and downs, but there’s always been a few stalwarts there throughout the years to keep it going.

“There’s been a great family tradition to the band over the years too and this has been one of the reasons we have lasted so long and will continue to do so.”

Pipe major John Wilson was the first leader of the band from 1887-95, followed by Thomas D. McLuckie who passed away in 1914 at the outbreak of World War One.

John D. Sharp was the third band leader, remaining at the helm for 38 years, and has been credited with keeping it together and bringing success at the famous Cowal Highland Gathering, the world’s biggest Highland games.

Alex Bryce was in the post for just a year starting in 1952 before Jim Inglis took over and the band enjoyed another period of success.

After appointing Jim Anderson as its first drum major, many major championships followed although the world title eluded them, finishing second in both Belfast and Paisley.

Inglis carried the band through the swinging sixties until 1972 when Tam Anderson, older brother of Peter, returned as pipe major until his son David took over in 1999.

David stepped down last year and current pipe major Neil Henderson (30) took over in November.

“We’re very proud that we’ve only had eight pipe majors since the beginning and of the fact that we are a provincial band that teaches children how to play,” added Peter Anderson.

“Stuart Cassells, formerly of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, was taught here at Wallacestone and there’s been a great number of others who have gone on to great success with other bands.”

With the summer piping season well under way at the moment, the band will formally celebrate its 125 years with a dinner dance in November.

The band is always open to new members, especially youngsters who want to learn how to play the bagpipes. For more information visit www.wallacestonepipeband.com.