The World Pipe Band Championships, 1978

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Craigmount High School Pipe Band pictured in 1978.
Craigmount High School Pipe Band pictured in 1978.
Pipe Major Bob Shepherd's Dysart & Dundonald Pipe Band photographed in autumn 1978 after what was a very successful season for the band.
Pipe Major Bob Shepherd’s Dysart & Dundonald Pipe Band photographed in autumn 1978 after what was a very successful season for the band.

The World Pipe Band Championships of 1978 were held in the town of Lanark. In those days the flagship event in the pipe band world was not held in the same place each year. The weather conditions weren’t great that day.

The Worlds that year was notable in that Bob Shepherd’s Dysart & Dundonald retained the title it had won the previous year.

A glance at the prize-winning bands across the grades, below, shows quite a few who have since disppeared – e.g. was the Pride of Murray subsumed into the City of London? – but many that are still with us.

If anyone recognises the faces in the photographs please get in touch with us. It would be interesting to hear where they are now. This review of the 1978 Worlds was written by John A. MacLellan in the August 1978 edition of The International Piper:

By Captain John A. MacLellan

There were over 150 bands from nine countries; bands from Australia, Canada, Eire, Denmark, Holland, Ireland, England and Scotland all vying for their particular grade.

The Championships were held on 12th August at Flush Park, Lanark and in view of the continuous rain the park certainly did not belie its name! Nevertheless the bands were undaunted and despite the difficulties of upset tuning, cold hands and general miserable conditions they produced many good performances.

As the Gold Medal is to solo piping so the World Championship award which goes to the top band in Grade 1 is to pipe band circles. There is, of course, the Champion of Champions tag which is awarded to the pipe band gaining most points over five championships but that can be sometimes won by a succession of seconds and, as one leading Gold Medallist has said, ‘‘Who wants to be second?”

Certain bands have continuously featured in the championship lists. Three bands in particular have a record of which they may justifiably be proud. In the lead is the famous Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band who over the years, under the leadership of Tom MacAllister Sen. and his two sons John and now Tom Jnr. have gained the top award nine times and following hard on their heels is Muirhead & Sons who are but one place behind them. With seven wins is the Edinburgh Police Pipe Band (now known as the Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band).

In recent years one young band has consistently proved its worth and last year Dysart & Dundonald became for the first time the World Champions and this year, 1978, they repeated that success by retaining the championship in a difficult contest in which 19 other Grade 1 bands competed.

The title, World Championship, was taken into use in 1947 when the Scottish Pipe Band Association first organised their own championship contests. Prior to that date the famed Cowal Gathering was the venue for which an unofficial World’s Championship award was played for. The Cowal championships still goes on and is considered as always a highlight in the pipe band competition calendar.

Results:

Grade 1 – 1. Dysart and Dundonald; 2. Strathclyde Police; 3. Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia; 4. Red Hackle; 5. Lothian & Borders Police; 6. Ayr Society. 20 bands competed.

Grade 2 – 1. McNeillstown (Northern Ireland); 2. Boghall & Bathgate; 3. Eden (Northern Ireland); 4. Monktonhall Colliery; 5. 1st Bn. K.0.S.B.; 6. Tullylagan (Northern Ireland). 26 bands competed.

The 1st Denny & Dunipace BB Pipe Band pictured in 1978.
The 1st Denny & Dunipace BB Pipe Band pictured in 1978.

Grade 3 – 1. McDonald Memorial (Northern Ireland); 2. Pride of Murray; 3. Wallacestone & District; 4. Syerla (Northern Ireland); 5. Kilsyth Thistle; 6. 1st Denny & Dunipace B.B. 41 bands competed.

The south of England’s Pride of Murray Pipe Band in 1978.

Grade 4 – 1. Vale of Atholl; 2. 5th Ulster Defence Regiment; 3. Ballybriest (Northern Ireland); 4. Killen (Northern Ireland); 5. Strathendrick; 6. Port Glasgow B.B. 36 bands competed.

Craigmount High School Pipe Band pictured in 1978.
Craigmount High School Pipe Band pictured in 1978.

Juvenile – 1. Craigmount High School; 2. Boghall & Bathgate; 3. Ballingray School; 4. 1st. St. Andrew’s BB; 5. Knightswood Juvenile; 6. 1st Port Glasgow BB. 9 bands competed.

Novice Juvenile – 1. Mackenzie Caledonian; 2. St. George’s Club, Chorley; 3. 4th Paisley Coy BB; 4. Knighttswood Juvenile; 5. 1st St. Andrew’s BB; 6. Kinneil Colliery.