Historic Colinton and Currie Pipe Band disbanded after 134 years playing in Edinburgh and across Scotland

A 134-year-old pipe band based in the outskirts of Edinburgh has disbanded after pandemic pressures made it “increasingly difficult” to attract new members.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 4:01 pm

The Colinton and Currie Pipe Band, one of the first civilian pipe bands in Scotland formed as far back as the 19th century, recently took the decision to disband.

The decision comes as the group had not been a competing pipe band for many years and had an ageing membership.

The band said it had become increasingly difficult to attract new members and, in particular, new young learners.

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Colinton and Currie Pipe Band 1925 (Photo: courtesy of Piping Press and Mr Alistair Aitken OBE).

In recent years, attempts were made to develop links, with a pipe band being created by Currie Community High School and local primary schools, offering a progression route for young learners, but sadly the schools pipe band project has also not been sustained.

The pipe band is splitting their remaining funds to associated schools in the area. It is understood some schools in the south-west area of Edinburgh have received around £1,000 from the band.

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Alistair Aitken OBE said: “Its [the band] winding up is disappointing for me personally as it was one of the bands I played in after I got married and moved to stay in Currie, Midlothian. Most importantly, however, it was a band with a great history stretching back to its founding in 1887.

Colinton and Currie Pipe Band leading the Armistice Day Parade in Kirknewton 2010 (Photo: Courtesy of Piping Press and Mr Alistair Aitken OBE).

"The pandemic has finalised the band’s demise and unfortunately this may prove to be the start of a trend. Other bands may not survive these troubled times.

"It must be said, however, that the Colinton band had already been struggling to get new recruits before the pandemic struck. There was much more interest in pipe bands in the area when the paper mills still existed in Kinleith (Juniper Green) and Balerno."

The band’s rope tension bass drum – now part of the drum display at RSPBA Headquarters – was carried all over France in the 1914-18 war by James Ferguson, Royal Scots.

The first Pipe Major was William Thomson and his brother Andrew was bass drummer.

The band played in the parade in Edinburgh to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary in 1935.

The band, initially, did not feature prominently in competitions, but under Pipe Sergeant John Neill Jnr, it entered the Scottish Championships at Meadowbank in 1948.

The band competed again in 1959, under Pipe Major Alexander Campbell, who had joined in 1946 from the 4th Edinburgh Boys Brigade, taking second place in grade three at the World Championships at Kirkcaldy.

The band also competed successfully in 1960 under Pipe Major Angus Graham, a former Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band piper. In the later 1960s and early ‘70s, the band again competed successfully under Pipe Major Robert Peat – a local builder in Currie – and Pipe Major James Dawson.

In recent years the band has concentrated on teaching piping and pipe band drumming to young and old from local communities, as well as playing at an annual programme of performances at gala days, public parades and charity events.

Arrangements are being made to dispose of the band’s uniforms and equipment, including five rarely played modern Andante snare drums, two tenor drums and three bass drums of different makes with proceeds set to be donated to local charities.

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