Piping in London – part 9

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1884/85

BY JEANNIE CAMPBELL MBE

In March 1884 there was an announcement that the Scottish Gathering would change dates that year: “The annual Scottish Gathering, the proceeds of which are given to the Scottish charities in London, has been fixed to take place on Saturday 21st June at Stamford Bridge Grounds. The meeting has hitherto been held during the Whitsuntide holidays, but the later date has this year been fixed, and as over £200 is to be offered in prize money, a most successful gathering is anticipated. The Duke of Athole is president, and Lord Kintore, Lord Wemyss, Lord Caithness, Lord Lovat, and The Mackintosh of Mackintosh are included in the list of vice-presidents. A tug-of-war between eight Highland and eight Lowland members of the London Scottish is one of the chief events of the meeting.

On June 19 another paper reported: “We have received from London a handsome tartan bordered and lettered placard containing the programme of the Scottish Gathering on Saturday 21st at Stamford Bridge grounds. There will be competitions in pipe music, Highland dancing and all departments of athletics. The boy pipers of the Royal Caledonian Asylum are to be in attendance.”

Papers reported that on the day of the gathering the weather was all that could be desired. The band of the 2nd Black Watch played a pleasing selection of music and the boy pipers of the Royal Caledonian Society performed at intervals.

The results were Pipe music (all comers) Piobaireachds:
1. W MacLennan, Edinburgh; 2. John MacColl, Oban; 3. James M.P. Watt, Norwich.
Marches, Strathspeys and Reels:
1. John MacColl, Oban; 2. John MacKenzie, Pentonville; 3. Norman MacLeod, Black Watch.
Pipe Music (amateurs) Marches:
1. John MacLennan, London Inverness-shire C.C.: 2. A Leslie Reith, London Scottish.
Strathspeys and Reels:
1. S. Fraser Donaldson; 2. Alex F. Ferguson, London Scottish.
Dancing (all comers) Highland Fling:
1. W MacLennan, Edinburgh; 2. John MacColl, Oban; 3. John MacNeill, Edinburgh.
Ghillie Callum:
1. W MacLennan, Edinburgh; 2. James Forbes, Aberdeen; 3. John MacNeill, Edinburgh.
Strathspeys and Reels:
1. J MacColl, Oban; 2. W. MacLennan, Edinburgh; 3. John N. MacLeod, Kirkcaldy.
Dancing (Amateurs). Ghillie Callum:
1. Gordon North., Club of True Highlanders; 2. Alex. MacKay, London Inverness-shire C.C.; 3. A Leslie Reith, London Scottish.
Highland Fling:
1. W. Sutherland, London Inverness-shire C.C.; 2. C.N. MacIntyre North, Club of True Highlanders; 3. W. Hastie, London  Arbroath Association.
Strathspey and Reel:
1. W. Hastie, London Arbroath Association.; W. D. Meffan, Club of True Highlanders; 3. C.N. MacIntyre North, Club of True Highlanders;

The referees for pipe music were Mr Donald MacKay, piper to the Prince of Wales and Mr Colin Cameron, piper to Lord Fife. The prizes were presented by the Duchess of Athole. Lady Dorothea Murray was also present.

The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 28th June, had a drawing of the gathering pictured above.

Another gathering was advertised on August 23: “A grand Scottish gathering under the auspices of the Upper Norwood Robert Burns Scottish Association will take place this (Saturday) afternoon at the Wasps’ Cricket Ground, at Lower Norwood.”

The Norwood Association had been formed early in 1884 and met fortnightly at the Welcome Coffee Tavern for social intercourse. The Grand Scottish Gathering was their first major event. The gathering day commenced with the arrival of pipers and drummers of the Scots Guards at the High Level station. Under the leadership of Pipe Major MacKenzie they marched from the station to the ground. The judges for pipe music and dancing were Dr W. Sutherland, late 93rd Highlanders; Pipe Major MacKenzie, Scots Guards; and Mr William Fraser.

The results were Marches:
1. Cpl Fraser, Scots Guards; W. Milne, Piper to the Robert Burns Association; 3. Piper J Meldrum, Scots Guards. Piper A Ross and D. Sutherland, piper to the London Caithness Association, also competed.
Dancing. Ghillie Callum:
1. Piper C. Stewart, 2. Piper J Meldrum, Scots Guards; 3. W. Milne.
Highland Fling:
1. Piper C. Stewart, Cpl H. Fraser, Scots Guards; 3. Piper W. Milne. J. Cummings, J. Meldrum and R. Fraser also competed.

One newspaper was critical of the arrangements saying the locality was a bad one and the ground was patronized by a large number of the well-known Lower Norwood roughs and in the absence of a sufficient police force, the crowd could not be kept outside the ropes, which in several events hampered the competitors, and prevented those who had paid for seats from seeing anything that was going on. The whole of the work was left to the two secretaries and although they did their best, the work should have been shared by at least a dozen. The Beckenham Brass band attended and played several selections. The pipers and drummers of the Scots Guards gave the selections:  

March – The Highland; Strathspey – The Marquis of Huntly; Reel – Tail Toddle;
March – The Banks of the Kyle; Strathspey – The Haughs of Cromdale; Reel – The De’il Amang the Tailors;
March – Kilcoy Castle; Strathspey – Kessock Ferry; Reel – The Highway to Linton;
March – The Cameron Men; Strathspey and Reel – The Maid of Islay;
March – The Heights of Alma; Strathspey and Reel – The Highland Society of London;
March – Keith Stewart MacKenzie; Strathspey – The Braes of Tullymet; Reel – The Fair Brown Maid;
March – The Earl of Mansfield; Strathspey – Miss Drummond of Perth; Reel – Mrs MacLeod of Raasay;
Slow March – Lochaber No More.


The 1885 Scottish Gathering at Stamford Bridge was on June 27. The weather was glorious and among those present were the Duke and Duchess of Athole and the Maharajah of Johore. In the piping competitions for all comers the results were:

Piobaireachd:
1. J MacDougall Gillies, (£5); 2. John MacColl, (£2); 3. Donald MacDougall, (£1).
Marches, Strathspeys and Reels:
1. Angus MacRae, (£4); 2. Norman MacLeod, (£2); 3. John MacKenzie, (£1).
Pipe Music, Amateurs. Marches:
1. C. Jarvis, 2. A.L. Reith, 3. A MacKenzie Jnr.
Strathspeys and Reels:
1. A.F. Ferguson, 2. A.L. Reith, 3. Sydney W. Bishop.
Dancing. All comers. Highland Fling:
1. John MacNeill, 2. John MacLennan, 3. John MacColl. Gillie Callum: 1. John MacColl, 2. Farquhar MacRae, 3. W. MacLennan.
Strathspey and Reel:
1. John MacColl, 2. John MacLennan, 3. John MacNeill.
Amateurs. Gillie Callum:
1. R.K. Gunn, 2. A.L. Reith, 3. C.N. MacIntyre North.
Highland Fling:
1. Alexander Rose, 2. W. Hastie, 3. Andrew C. Whyte. Strathspey and Reel: 1. Alexander Rose, D.A. Reid, 3. Andrew C. Whyte.

The judges were Donald MacKay and Colin Cameron. The Duchess of Athole presented the prizes.

•John MacDougall Gillies was born in Aberdeen in 1855 although his father was from Kilmodan in Argyll. He enlisted in the 3rd VB Gordons Aberdeen 1872 under PM Fettes. He was a House Painter in Aberdeen then Piper to Lord Breadalbane 1886-1888 then a painter in Aberdeen until 1890 then a painter in Glasgow until 1903 when he became manager of Peter Henderson’s the bagpipe makers, where he remained until his death in 1925. In Glasgow he was PM 1st VB HLI 1891 which was re-numbered 5th PM 5th HLI Volunteers in 1908. At the Northern Meeting he won the Prize Pipe in 1882, the Former Winners’ Gold Medal in 1885 and the first Clasp in 1896. At the Argyllshie Gathering he won the Gold Medal in 1884 and the Open Piobaireachd in 1901. With the HLI band he won the first World Pipe Band Championships in 1906, with further wins in 1908, 1910, 1911 and 1912.

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• Part 6
• Part 7
• Part 8
• Part 8-2