The history of the Argyllshire Gathering, part 18

The stewards leading the march to the field in 1935: the Captain of Dunstaffnage, Lt.Col. T. O. Lloyd of Minard Castle, Colonel Bruce Campbell of Arduaine, Captain Campbell of Succouth, and other notablities.


By Jeannie Campbell MBE

In 1935 the balls and games of the Gathering were held on September 11 and 12. The Duke of Argyll, chieftain of the gathering was not present to lead the picturesque march of the clansmen from the secretary’s office in Station Road to the Gathering field. Thousands of spectators lined the route of the procession in which almost every clan tartan was sported. It was headed by 60 famous pipers playing The Campbells are Coming. The stewards were the Captain of Dunstaffnage, Colonel Lloyd of Minard, Colonel Bruce Campbell of Arduaine, Campbell of Succoth, and Sir lan Malcolm of Poltalloch. The rules for the piping events were as before and the set tunes for each of the three ceòl mòr competitions were:

• For competition No. lThe MacDougall’s Gathering, Grain in Hides and Corn in Sacks, A Flame of Wrath  for  Patrick Caogach.
• For competition No. 2 (the Gold Medal) – Alist of six tunes were to be furnished to the Secretary by the competitor, any of which he may be called upon to play. “The names of the tunes to be given in Gaelic with English translation. No entry will be accepted unless accompanied by a List of Tunes.”
• For competition No. 3Name­less tune from Duncan Campbell’s MS, Lament for Mary MacLeod, The Pride of Barra.

The settings required were to be found in Books 4 and 5 of the Piobaireachd Society’s collection, which could be obtained from its Hon. Secretary at 3/6 each. However, any other “authoritative setting may be played, provided that the Judges may take into consideration the merits of such setting, if they are not satisfied with the authority quoted for it. Provided also that altogether different tunes known by the same or similar names will not be accepted as alternative settings.”

The results were as follows.

Bob Brown in his youth. He won the Gillies Cup on 11 occasions.
Bob Brown in his youth.

Ceòl Mòr, Open – 1. Pipe Major Robert U. Brown; 2. Malcolm R. MacPherson, 3. Pipe Major J. B. Robertson.
Ceòl Mòr, the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal – 1. Nicol MacCallum; 2. Peter Bain; 3. Roderick MacDonald; 4. Ian C. Cameron.
Ceòl Mòr, Prizes presented by the Piobaireachd Society and the Argyllshire Gathering – 1. G. A. Greenfield; 2. W. Logie; 3. Hance Gates.
Jigs – 1. John Wilson; 2. Robert B. Nicol; 3. Roderick MacDonald.

On the second day the results were:

Marches, Strathspeys & Reels – 1. J. B. Robertson; 2. John Wilson; 3. Peter Bain.
Marches, The Argyllshire Gathering Silver Medal – 1. Donald MacLean; 2. Duncan MacIntyre; 3. Richard Hepburn; 4. Nicol MacCallum; 5. R. B. Nicol.
Strathspeys & Reels, The Scottish Pipers’ Society Star – 1. Peter Bain; 2. Angus MacAulay; 3. G. A. Greenfield; 4. Owen MacNiven; 5. Nicol MacCallum.
Marches (Local) –  1. H. McGuinness (Portsonachan); 2. Kenneth Chisholm (Inverawe); 3. Owen Revie (Lochgilphead); 4. Donald Millar (Mull); 5. W. J. Simpson (Salen); 6. Hugh Campbell, 8th A & S. Hdrs.).
Strathspeys & Reels (Local) – 1. H. McGuinness; Kenneth Chisholm; 3. Owen Revie; 4. Donald Millar; 5. W. J. Simpson.

A bit about some of these pipers. William Logie was born about 1899 and served with the Seaforth Highlanders 1924 to 1946. Hance Gates was born in 1891 at Liberton in Midlothian. He served with the Edinburgh Police and was Pipe Major of the band from 1931. He taught many pupils in Edinburgh and was tutor to Merchiston Castle School CCF Pipe Band Royal High School CCF Pipe Band and George Heriot’s School CCF Pipe Band. He died in Edinburgh in 1979.

Richard Hepburn was born in 1910 at Bonhill in Dunbartonshire. From 1940 he served with the 5th Camerons for five years then was for two years at a training school on the west coast of Scotland.  He was Pipe Major of Bonhill Parish Pipe Band from 1930-40 and again from 1947-49. In 1949 he immigrated to Australia to take over the Whyalla Pipe Band then later taught many other bands. He died in 1984 in Australia.  

The balls and games of the 1936 Argyllshire Gathering were advertised for Wednesday and Thursday, September 9 and 10. On the first day there was a large attendance and the weather was fair but dull. The events were as in previous years. The Duke of Argyll, chieftain of the Gathering, was, once again, not present. The stewards of the gathering led the march, headed by 60 pipers playing The Campbells Are Coming. The stewards were Col. Bruce Campbell of Arduaine; Capt. G. Campbell, Yr. of Succoth; Lieut. Col. Lloyd of Minard; Capt. G. Malcolm. Yr. of Poltalloch: Maclachlan of Maclachlan, and Mr H. L. Macdonald of Dunach. The Captain of Dunstaffnage, Sir lan Malcolm, and Macdonald of Barguillean were also present.

A grainy photograph from 1936.

The piping results on the first day were:

Ceòl Mòr, Open (for prizes presented by the Piobaireachd Society) – 1. Pipe Major Robert Reid (7th H.L.1.); 2. Either Robert B. Nicol (Balmoral) according to the Dundee Courier or, as The Scotsman reported, John Wilson (Edinburgh); 3. Robert U. Brown (Balmoral).
Ceòl Mòr (the Gold Medal) – 1. Donald I. Mackenzie (Tongue); 2. Owen MacNiven (Paisley); 3. Pipe Major G. A. Greenfield (Royal Scots); 4. Pipe Major W. Logie (Seaforth Highlanders).
Ceòl Mòr (for prizes presented by the Piobaireachd Society and the Argyllshire Gathering) –1. R. M. Meldrum; 2. Donald Shaw Ramsay (Avonbridge); 3. Donald Stewart (Forth).
Jigs – l. John Wilson; 2. Donald Ross (Lochgilphead); 3. Robert B. Nicol.

Donald Mackenzie. He won the Gold Medal at Oban in 1936.

Giving a flavour of the Gathering was a reporter from The Scotsman who wrote on September 11 that the pavilion enclosure was, “rather deserted when the Argyllshire Gathering resumed this morning for its second and closing day of piping, dancing, and athletics. That was scarcely to be wondered at, for the first of the two balls held in connection with the Gathering had not been over so very many hours before people began to arrive at the games field. Later, however, there was again a large attendance of West Highland county families and their guests, amongst them many visitors from England.

“The second being the ‘popular’ day of the Gathering the unreserved parts of the ground accommodated crowds of onlookers both morning and afternoon, their size growing once dull weather had given place to warm sunshine. In addition to the piping, which touches a high level at all these Gatherings in Oban today’s contests for caber tossing, hammer throwing, and stone putting, with entries from some of Scotland’s leading ‘strong men’, were attractions which brought onlookers from far and near. Amongst those who listened to the pipers and watched the feats of strength and skill were passengers who had come by sea from places either inaccessible or difficult of approach by road and rail. They formed part of a truly Highland and knowledgeable crowd. Walking amongst them I heard many people conversing in Gaelic. Doubtless they were discussing the intricacies of march, strathspey and reel, or the niceties of ‘heavyweight’ skill.”

The results of the piping events on the second day were:

Marches, Strathspeys and Reels – 1. John Wilson; 2. Pipe Major John Macdonald (Glasgow Police); 3. Donald MacLean (Glasgow).
Marches, the Scottish Pipers Society Star – 1. Owen MacNiven; 2. Archie MacNab (Glasgow);  3. Pipe Major Greenfield; 4. John C. Johnston (Glasgow Police); 5. Pipe Major John B. MacLean (1st Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders).
Strathspeys and Reels – 1. Pipe Major Richard Hepburn; 2. Peter R. MacLeod (Partick); 3. Duncan MacIntyre (Ballochmyle); 4. Robert U. Brown: 5. Archie MacNab.
Marches (Local) – 1. H. McGuinness (Gourock); 2. Murdo MacKenzie (Glendaruel); 3. Donald Millar (Lochearnhead).
Strathspeys and Reels (Local) – l. Neil C. Maclean (Islay); 2. H. McGuinness; 3. Piper Ian F. Ferguson (Kilmichael Glassary).

John Bertram MacLean was born at Salen in 1907 and served as Pipe Major of the 1st Bt. Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders form 1934 to 1939. He died in 1940 while still serving.

Donald MacLean.

Donald MacLean was born in 1912 at Ballachulish but lived in Glasgow for much of his life.  He also lived at times in London, Inverness and Australia. Donald won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1931. From 1940 to 1945 he served with the Lovat Scouts. He died in Inverness in 1986.

Peter R. MacLeod junior was born in 1916 in Glasgow. He spent 17 years in Rhodesia then returned to Scotland in 1955 then settled in London where he died in 1972. He and his father Peter R. MacLeod senior were noted composers.

Donald Shaw Ramsay was born in 1919 at Muiravonside. In the years 1937 to 1939 he was Pipe Major of the Craigend Pipe Band in Falkirk then from 1939 to 1946 he was Pipe Major of the 10th H.L.I.  He was Piper to the Duke of Hamilton in 1946-7 before joining the Edinburgh Police where was Pipe Major from 1949 to 1958. Donald was shot and injured on police duty in 1957. He spent two years in San Francisco 1963-65 then was Pipe Major Invergordon Distillery 1965 to 1967. He died in Falkirk in 1998.

Henry MacGuinness won the SPA Veterans’ competition 11 times over the years 1972 to 1984.

Donald Shaw Ramsay.

• To be continued.

• Part 1
• Part 2
• Part 3
• Part 4
• Part 5
• Part 6
• Part 7
• Part 8
• Part 9
• Part 10
• Part 11
• Part 12
• Part 13
• Part 14
• Part 15
• Part 16
• Part 17