A commemorative dinner is being held tomorrow night at Inchdrewer House in Redford Barracks, Edinburgh, the home of the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming.
The dinner is to mark 20 years of the Army School moving there from its previous home, Edinburgh Castle. Many retired Army officers, Pipe Majors and Drum Majors have been invited as well as luminaries such as Ian MacLellan, Walter Cowan Torquil Telfer, Niall Stewart, Ian Ruari Finlayson and Ian Duncan.
The dinner will no doubt be a memorable one, featuring as it does piping from Fred Morrison and from pipers on the current Pipe Majors’ Course as well as a mini band of instructors.
At the time, the move from the castle disappointed many who saw it as a loss of prestige for Army piping and piping in general. The Piping Times wrote in April 2003, “… moving the Army School from Edinburgh Castle to Inchdrewer House has proved a pubic relations disaster in the longer term. The signal sent out has been one of downgrading and downsizing …”
With hindsight, however, this hasn’t turned out to be the case. The Army School has significantly more numbers going through its doors than in those days and the logistics of it remaining at the castle would have been very difficult, to say the least.
Indeed, today, the Army School is in a very good state and the standard of playing in the Army is better than in recent years. Inchdrewer House has proved to be an excellent facility in producing pipers for the British Army and beyond.
In 1990, the Piping Times published the late Diana Henderson’s history of the Army School. It is an interesting read and covers the tentative steps taken by the Piobaireachd Society in the early years of the 20th century to address the issue of standards of piping and piping instruction in the British Army.
Part 2 will be uploaded tomorrow and in it, Diana ends her history at 1990, a period when Major John Allan’s tenure as the Director of the School was coming to an end. Since then, the School has seen four more Directors: Major Gavin Stoddart (Royal Highland Fusiliers), 1990–2003; Captain Stuart Samson (The Highlanders), 2003–2007; Captain Steven Small (The Black Watch), 2007–2016; and Major Gordon Rowan (Royal Regiment of Scotland), 2016–Present.
* The Army School’s annual piping and drumming championships are on February 22-23. Four new categories were introduced last year, all for veterans of the British Army. These will be held on the 23rd. To enter contact Senior Pipe Major Ross McCrindle on 0131 310 5563.