Courses and new music from Perthshire duo / Henry Forsyth / “Nondescript” photo mystery

Moore. Stewart.

Our hearty congratulations go to Perthshire-based pipe maker, Fin Moore, who has just become a father. Mother (Sarah Hoy) and baby are doing well.

Fin, of Dunkeld, tells us he has been busy during lockdown particularly with teaching on online bellows piping workshops and sessions. He has two more at the end of this month as well as a composing course in April. More information here.

Meanwhile, still in Perthshire, Mark Stewart of Crieff, has launched a new social media page to promote his original compositions and arrangements. The pipe band stalwart (Vale of Atholl, Fife Police, Atholl Highlanders) has had quite a few of his compositions and arrangements played by leading pipe bands for a number of years.

The multi-instrumentalist – he also plays the whistle, smallpipes and uillean pipes – tells us he hopes to add tunes to the page – Mark Stewart Music – on a weekly basis. Stewart published The Crieff Collection in 1998.

Tony Langford of London, England sent us this type-written extract from the Talking Machine News of February 1908 which he found by chance. Talking Machine News was a UK trade publication dedicated to gramophones and gramophone records. It ran from the early 1900s until the 1930s.

Evidently, this is part of an interview with Pipe Major H. Forsyth who, as it states, “enjoys the distinction of being the official piper to the Prince of Wales.” The individual is Henry Forsyth, who was indeed piper to the Prince of Wales in 1904. Despite later being the fourth piper to be appointed Sovereign’s Piper, and despite holding that position for a long time – 1910–1941 – Henry Forsyth remains largely overlooked.

Forsyth was born in Edinburgh in 1872 and joined the Scots Guards in 1887. He was appointed Pipe Major in 1895 and served in the South African War from 1899-1902. He was Pipe Major of the 14th Batt. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the First World War. Forsyth remained as piper to the Prince of Wales when he became the King – as well as piper to subsequent monarchs until 1941.

The Balmoral pipers photographed in 1938. Left to right: Jimmy MacGregor, William Collie, William Robertson, Henry Forsyth, Robert U. Brown, Robert B. Nicol, William MacGregor.

The Duke of Windsor, son of King George V and who was briefly King Edward VIII until he abdicated, wrote fondly of Forsyth in his memoirs, A King’s Story (1951): “My grandfather [King Edward VII] had had a kilted valet as well as a piper who awakened him in the morning with the skirl of the pipes and who soetimes, if there were guests, marched around the table playing Highland tunes. Now that my father had in his turn become Prince of Wales he carried on this tradition by engaging two veterans of the Boer War recently discharged from the Army.

Christmas Day, 1935 at Sandringham. King George V remained there and died a few weeks later, on January 20, 1936 (aged 70). Forsyth piped at the funeral.

“Forsyth had been a Pipe Major in the Scots Guards … He had been born in Edinburgh in humble circumstances, and I recall my surprise when he told me one day that when he was my age he had never worn shoes even in winter.

“Every morning just before eight, carrying his pipes, the kilted Forsyth appeared in the garden under my father’s window. On the stroke of the hour the morning silence would be rent by the skirl of a Scottish march while the piper strode back and forth playing under my father’s window.

“My father took this reveille for granted, but I always thought that it was a trial to my mother, who no doubt felt that there were gentler ways of being roused to the day’s obligations.”

In the early 1930s, Forsyth [pictured] gave the Prince of Wales bagpipe lessons and encouraged his composing efforts. The Prince composed at least one decent tune, the slow march Mallorca.

Henry Forsyth died aged 74 in 1946 in a nursing home in Essex, England.

Thank you, Tony. Our thanks also go to Jeannie Campbell for information and photographs.

Regular readers of Bagpipe.News may recall a post that appeared last December.

Click on the image to enlarge.

The post contained an old photograph of a piper along with an appeal for his identity. We received a few suggestions that proved incorrect. We make another appeal due to the fact that another version of the photograph has surfaced via Cambridge University. This version, pictured, is considerably colour-washed.

The team at Bagpipe.News has taken another look at the image and we think it dates from 1900. The setting is interesting in that it is nondescript. With photography emerging in the 19th century, naturally, images of pipers tend to show them in full highland dress. For the contemporary audience, these were the type of images they expected and many photographs did not identify the individuals. Basic details like this – also place and date – were of little interest at the time yet today this is the type of information we find necessary and, indeed, expect these days. Who is it? When was it? Where were they? What was going on?

This particular photograph is curious in that the piper is in a featureless and undistinguished setting. There are no mountains, heather or Highland cattle nor any other pipers/people. He does not appear to be wearing any medals so presumably, therefore, he isn’t a military piper.

If we can re-awaken some significance in this among the global piping community, the owner would be happy to return the original photograph to Scotland. Please contact us in the usual way if you have any thoughts as to who this chap was.

From the archives: The New Zealand Pipe Band Championships, 1963:

A Grade – 1. City of Wellington; 2. Hamilton Caledonian; 3. Auckland & District.
B Grade – 1. Whangarei and County*; 2. Hawke’s Bay Scottish; 3. Wairarapa Caledonian.
C Grade – 1. City of Palmerston North; 2. Fern and Thistle, Masterton; 3. Te Awamutu District.

B Grade Test Selection – 1. Whangarei County and Northland Regimental Pipe Band; 2. Hawke’s Bay Scottish Pipe Band; 3. Wairarapa Caledonian Society Pipe Band.

* The Pipe Major of Whangarei and County was Angus MacAulay of South Uist. After many years in London Angus settled in New Zealand in 1952. He can be seen in the photograph, below, of the March to the Field at the 1937 Argyllshire Gathering. Front rank: possibly PM Willie Logie (Seaforth), Owen MacNiven, Angus MacAulay, Archie MacNab, Charlie Scott. Behind Charlie is Robert Nicol, and then Louis Beaton and then Philip Melville all on that outside flank. Behind Archie MacNab is Duncan MacIntyre then Hector MacLean.