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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 02-20-2019, 02:50 PM   #1
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Default Oldest Pipe Bands

I have been working on a history of Clan Macleay Pipe Band (Portland, Oregon), which has been around since just after WWI to early 1920s. More to come on that. In the process, I've come across a number of works on the oldest bands, including oldest "civilian" bands, around the world.

In regard to those in the U.S., one that seems to have been overlooked is the original Portland Pipe Band (later renamed in the 1950s to Portland Scottish Pipe Band). Although it ended in 1977, it was a very early band, formed in 1906 in a pub in Portland owned by a James Moon. Clan Macleay, still in existence, sprang from that Portland Pipe Band, the story being that members of some union got "into it" with non-union members. One or the other--I don't know which--split off from Portland PB to for Clan Macleay Pipe Band.

Part of this post is to add the early formation of Portland (Scottish) Pipe Band to the list; but also to ask if any have additional early history of Clan Macleay Pipe Band, as I continue on filling in its early history.

Cheers, Michael

Last edited by Andrew Lenz; 02-20-2019 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Added some paragraph breaks, just for better readability.
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: Oldest Pipe Bands

Hi Mike,
Glad to see you're getting all this info together. I don't know if it's relevant, but I believe Chet McNeill and Bob Johnson were in the Portland Scottish PB. I believe both of them were also in the Portland Sea Scouts as young men when my grandfather was the USNR teacher of the group. Probably post War to the late 1950s. That group was a pretty heavy pro-union force in that period. Supporters of Wayne Morse and the shipyard unions. Gramps was also in the printer's union and I think was a typesetter for either the Oregonian or Oregon Journal; forgot which right now. He was fan of pipe music.
Hope all is well back home. Cheers, rook
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Old 02-20-2019, 07:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Oldest Pipe Bands

Thanks, Steve. That is helpful. Yes, they were with Portland Scottish Pipe Band, originally Portland Pipe Band. Bob was helpful, as was Harry Finley, both P/Ms of Portland Scottish, in filling in some related history. We have a really good list of all the P/Ms, P/Ss, D/Ss, Band Managers, etc. from 1954. I'm now tryiing to fill in the real date of formation (varies from 1927, 1926, and there's even a photo of the band with "Clan Macleay" on the bass drum head, labeled 1912...but we're doubtful of that). And I'm trying to fill in from formation to the fifties. Yes, I wish I'd started this earlier; but at least I'm getting to it. Thanks. Things are well, and I've enjoyed myself since stepping down as P/M (after 25 years in the role!). Cheers, M
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Old 02-22-2019, 06:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: Oldest Pipe Bands

Does anybody know about this pipe band?


Note the Pipe Major chevrons are upside down.

I don't know if this is the same band. (Chevrons sorted now.)

proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

Last edited by pancelticpiper; 02-22-2019 at 06:34 AM.
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Old 03-11-2019, 10:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Oldest Pipe Bands

Coincidentally Mike, I'm working on getting old photos of the band recreated - the old photo albums were lost (spirited away as no one could remember who had them years ago), and hopefully have them accessible online for all to enjoy.

Just found a great one of Howard Cooper, Pat Sheaffer and John Osburn in the Hillsboro Happy Days Parade in 1986, and you, Don Stewart and Joe Chartier in the Rose Parade in 1989.

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Old 03-12-2019, 08:10 AM   #6
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Default Re: Oldest Pipe Bands

Dont forget about the Chicago Stockyard Kilty band. Started in 1921 and still going.
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Old 03-12-2019, 12:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: Oldest Pipe Bands

The Accrington (Lancashire) Pipe Band were founded in 1885 and are still going. I remember as a kid, there’d be a Pipe Band in our town’s annual parade and I wonder if it was this band.


They are still going too, although their website seems defunct, their Facebook group isn’t.

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Old 03-13-2019, 05:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Oldest Pipe Bands

The oldest mention of civilian pipe bands that I have come across includes:

(a) the Dundee Highland Pipe Band (not to be confused with the Dundee Highlanders - the Volunteer Rifle Corps), a wholly civilian pipe band sponsored financially by the Dundee Celtic Club and mentioned in the press in 1879. A press article of 1871 also mentions a Dundee Highland Pipe Band however as it was on parade alongside the men of the local Volunteers, I suspect that this was actually the pipes & drums of the Volunteers rather than the band that was formed with financial assistance in 1879.

(b) the Brechin Oddfellows Pipe Band (mentioned in the press in 1878),

(c) the Alloa Pipe Band (an 1877 mention),

(d) the Kirriemuir Pipe Band (mention of it existing in the 1870s)

(e) The Caledonian Asylum (a.k.a. the Scottish School) in London also had a corps of pipers as far back as the 1850s, but I don't know whether it was a pipe band per se with drummers included. By the 1890s it certainly had drummers.

The early 1880s (1883?) saw the Govan Burgh Police Pipe Band (with drummers) come into being as well as the Edinburgh City Police (albeit only as a corps of pipers).

It was also around the early 1880s that the Dr Guthries Ragged Boys School Pipe Band (a.k.a. The Liberton Boys Pipe Band) came into being. The alias was due to Dr Guthries School being located in the Liberton district of Edinburgh.

Subsequent pipe bands to be formed included the likes of Colinton & Currie and Accrington.
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