Obituary: George ‘Geordie’ Pryde, 92

Geordie Pryde drummed on his lunch tin down the mine. Picture: contributed
Geordie Pryde drummed on his lunch tin down the mine. Picture: contributed
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FORMER miner George “Geordie” Pryde, who became a champion pipe drummer, has died, aged 92.

Born in Newtongrange, Midlothian, on March 5, 1921, George Thomas Pryde, was the son of a miner, Geordie, and his wife Nancy.

By the age of 14, Geordie, as he was known, was working at the pit and had become the family’s breadwinner after his father was injured in a mining accident.

He spent several years in the mines and it was not until some time after the outbreak of the Second World War that he managed to join the army. He was posted south to Dover, where he was a lance corporal with an anti-aircraft squad of the Royal Artillery, fending off attacking German planes arriving from across the English Channel.

However, after a year he was back mining again, transferring to the Territorial Army Reserve in April 1942.

He was part of a musical family and as a small boy had spent hours outside playing with the sticks. Down the mine he had been known to drum on his lunch tin.

He also had a hankering for a kilt and, in a ­successful attempt to procure one, he began pipe band ­drumming with the police.

The Edinburgh City force briefly lowered its height requirement to accommodate his 5ft 10in frame and allow him to become a constable. He also joined the police pipe band’s drum corps. He enjoyed great success with the band, winning the solo championship in 1947 as drum sergeant and travelling as far afield as Scandinavia and South Africa.

He also contributed his ­musical expertise to the ­Edinburgh Tattoos of 1952 and 1955, working on the arrangement of drum scores.

Geordie emigrated to the Pacific coast of Canada in 1957, attracted by an advert for the Powell River Company in British Columbia which was seeking pipers and drummers to bolster its band.

His wife Mary and their three children followed three months later. Tragically, their youngest daughter, Nancy, died of pneumonia within a couple of years, a loss which affected him deeply.

Geordie’s police experience helped get him a job in mill security. He also took charge of the Powell River band’s drum section, becoming the leading drummer and one of those instrumental in the band’s success locally, nationally and internationally over the next few years.

Just as he had at the Edinburgh Tattoos, he arranged the drumming and also led the drum corps for two Military Searchlight Tattoos in Vancouver. He gave lessons in a soundproofed drum room in the basement of his home and played with a jazz band at weekend dances.

Predeceased by his wife Mary and daughter Nancy, he is ­survived by his children Roddie, George and Margaret, brother Tommie, sisters Peggy, Nessie and Betty and a large extended family.