Piping in London – part 13


1895 – 1896


In 1895 the Scottish Gathering at Stamford Bridge was on Saturday, June 29. There was a large crowd and reports stated that fortunately the weather was not quite so oppressive as it had been earlier in the week. The proceedings, which lasted as long as there was sufficient light, were enlivened by the band and pipers of the Seaforth Highlanders, led by PM W. Ross, and the boy pipers of the Royal Caledonian Asylum. The judges were Major General Roderick MacKenzie, Colonel E. L. Fraser, Messrs. H.M. Cumming, H.T. Munro, James Gow, and H.B. Kirkwood.

The results were: Pipe Music (Army Pipers):
1. PM W. Ross, 1st Seaforth Highlanders: 2. PM C. Thomson, 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; 3. Piper W. Robb, 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Pipe Music (Amateurs only). Marches:
1. C.N. Macdonald, Dunach, near Oban; 2. G.S. MacLennan, Edinburgh; 3. K. Reith, London Highland A.A.C. Strathspeys and Reels: 1. G.S. MacLennan, Edinburgh; 2. C.H. Grant, London Highland A.A.C.; 3. C.N. MacDonald, Dunach, near Oban.

Pipe Music for all comers. Piobaireachd:
1. Angus Macrae, Callander; 2. John Macpherson, Drummond Castle; 3. Piper N.T. MacKenzie, 1st Scots Guards. One paper had Pipe Major D. Laing*, 2nd Scots Guards, in third place.

Marches, Strathspeys and Reels:
1. Pipe Major C. Thomson, 2. John MacColl, Oban; 3. Pipe Major Fraser, 1st Scots Guards.

*David L. Laing (1865-1919) was PM 2nd Bt. Scots Guards 1891-1899 and PM 1st Bt. 1899-1906.

Pipe Music for Boy Pipers of Royal Caledonian Asylum:
1. H. Proudfoot, 2. E.J. Kennedy.

Dancing – Invitation. Highland Fling: D.J. MacLennan, Edinburgh. Gillie Callum: D. J. MacLennan, Edinburgh. Strathspey and Reel: John MacColl, Oban.

Dancing (Amateur). Gillie Callum:
1. K.A. MacDonald, London Highland A.A.C.; R. Reith, London Highland A.A.C.; 3. R. Robertson, London. Highland Fling: 1. G.S. MacLennan, Edinburgh; 2. R. Reith, London Highland A.A.C.; 3. A. MacDonald, London Highland A.A.C. Strathspeys and Reels: 1. A. MacDonald, London Highland A.A.C.; 2. A. Wilson, London Highland A.A.C.; 3. A. MacDonald,  London Highland A.A.C.

One paper added: “The Scottish Gathering Challenge Medal for the best player in the piping competitions was won by G.S. MacLennan, a little boy of more than average ability, both at piping and dancing. D.G. MacLennan, an uncle of G.S. won the Invitation Highland Fling Competition and the Gillie Callum Competition, whilst John MacColl was first when it came to the strathspey and reel.” Several papers had a sketch of a dancer but the Penny Illustrated Paper had two photographs.

•William Ross (1865-1930) enlisted in the Black Watch in then in 1894 became Pipe Major 1st Seaforth. In 1900 he was on the  permanent staff 4th Militia Batt HLI. He was discharged on pension 1912 then from 1914-16 was Pipe Major Royal Scots (Queens Edinburgh Rifles) at home in Edinburgh. He won the Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering in 1902.

•George Stewart MacLennan (1883-1929) enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders in 1899 and was appointed Pipe Major in 1905. He served through the First World War and was discharged in 1922, after which he had a bagpipe and reed making business in Aberdeen. He won the Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering in 1904 and at the Northern Meeting he won the Gold Medal in 1905 and Clasps in 1909, 1920 and 1921.

At the annual business meeting of the London Highland Athletic Club in April 1895 it was decided that the tartan of the club would be Royal Stuart and the running and athletic costume would be dark blue material trimmed with the Stuart tartan. A new rule was introduced which allowed professional pipers and dancers to become associated with the club for purpose of practice and the committee would included in the programme of events at the annual games one or more competitions specially for their benefit. A new president, the Marquis of Tullibardine, was appointed and Mr Donald MacGillivray was elected as treasurer and secretary. The second annual gathering would be held on Saturday, July 27, at the Caledonian Park, Upper Holloway, with the annual dinner at the Holborn restaurant in the evening. At the Gathering two piping competitions were open to professional associates and there were amateur competitions for piping and dancing.

•Donald MacGillivray was born at Highfield, Ross-shire in 1871 and had trained as an architect and surveyor in Inverness. After working in Lancashire for two years he arrived in London in 1892 and immediately became involved in Highland activities, including the founding of the London Highland Athletic Club.

The results were Piping. Professional associates only. Marches:
1. John Macpherson, Drummond Castle; 2. John MacKenzie, 2nd Scots Guards; 3. Hector Macphee, London. Strathspeys and Reels: 1 John Macpherson, 2. Piper N.T. MacKenzie, 1st Scots Guards; 3. PM Harry Fraser, 1st Scots Guards.

Amateur piping. Piobaireachd. Six competed.
1. A. MacDonald, 2. C.H. Grant of Rothiemurchus; 3. Donald MacKay. Marches: 1. R. Reith, 2. A. MacDonald, 3. C.H. Grant. Strathspeys and Reels: 1. C.H. Grant, 2. A. MacDonald, 3. R. Reith.

The boy pipers of the Royal Caledonian Asylum played at intervals during the afternoon and Mr. William McPherson gave an exhibition with Indian Clubs.

•John MacKenzie (1861-1946) enlisted with the Royal Scots in 1885 then transferred to the Scots Guards in 1892 and served during the South African War. During World War One he was Pipe Major of the Seaforth Highlanders.


In 1896 the Grand Highland Gathering organised by the London Highland Athletic Club, took place on Whit Monday, May 25, at the Stamford Bridge Grounds. The L.H.A.C. had been formed three years previously with a dozen members, and by 1896 had upwards of 200 members and this was their third annual gathering. The Garb of Old Gaul was much in evidence, and many members were attired in the Royal Blue and Royal Stuart tartan, the colours of the club. The band of the London Scottish Rifle Volunteers and the pipe band of the L.H.A.C. played during the day. The President of the L.H.A.C. was the Marquis of Tullibardine, personally refereed the Highland competitions and in the evening presided at the annual dinner of the Club in the Holborn restaurant. Admission was 1s., enclosure 2s., grandstand 4s. The Hon. Sec. was Don. MacGillivray, 9 Queen Victoria Street, E.C.

In reporting the event the Dundee Courier said: “Entrants were forward from all parts of Scotland, the Northern Counties being strongly represented. One of the features of the gathering was the large number of piping competitions, some of the best pipers in the country attending the games. The young lad, G.S. Maclennan, of Edinburgh, surprised both the visitors and the judges by his performances, his mastery of the Highland instrument equalling, if not surpassing, that of his professional rivals.”

The results were: Piping Competitions (Professional Associates). Piobaireachd:
1. PM Colin Thomson, 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; 2. Angus MacPherson, Edinburgh; 3. PM Fraser, 1st Scots Guards.
Marches, Strathspeys and Reels: 1. Hector MacPhee, London; 2. 2. Angus MacPherson, 3. Piper Ross, 1st Scots Guards.

Piping Competitions (For Members) – Piobaireachd:
1. G.S. Maclennan, Edinburgh; 2. D. MacKay, Edinburgh; 3. A. MacDonald, Portree.
Marches: 1. G.S. Maclennan, 2. D. MacKay, London; 3. A. MacDonald.
Strathspeys and Reels: 1. G.S. Maclennan, 2. D. MacKay, 3. A. MacDonald.

Dancing (Professional Associates). Highland Fling:
1. Angus MacPherson, 2. D.G. Maclennan, Edinburgh; 3. W.C. Garden, Aberdeen.
Gillie Callum: 1. D.G. Maclennan, 2. Angus MacPherson, 3. G.J. Melvin, Aberdeen.

Dancing (Members). Highland Fling: 1. A. MacDonald, 2. A. Dawson, Ullapool; 3. R. Robertson, Aberdeen.

•Angus MacPherson (1877-1976) was the son of Calum Piobair MacPherson and youngest brother of John Macpherson. He was piper to Cluny part time, then spent three years in London 1894-97 teaching dancing. He was piper to C Murray, Lochcarron in 1897, then piper to Andrew Carnegie, Skibo Castle 1898-1905. He was an Estate Agent in Newtonmore then kept a hotel at Inveran, Invershin, Sutherland from 1914 until it burnt down in 1949. He won the Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in 1923.

•William Ross (1878-1966) joined the Scots Guards in 1896 and served during the South African war. He became Pipe Major in 1905. He served during the 1914-18 war and was invalided out on pension 1919. He was Pipe Major of the Lovat Scouts 1919-1933 and was employed by the Piobaireachd Society as the Army School Instructor 1920-1957. At the Northern Meeting he won the Gold Medal in 1904 and the Clasp in 1905, 1907, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1919, 1923 and 1928. At the Argyllshire Gathering he won the Gold Medal in 1907 and the Open in 1902, 1907, 1912, 1925.

The annual Scottish Gathering in aid of the Scottish charities in London was held at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, June 20, and was advertised as the seventeenth year. The weather was described as glorious and there were 4,000 spectators present. The pipers of the 1st Seaforth Highlanders and the boy pipers of the Caledonian Asylum played during the day. The Dundee Courier reported: “G.S. MacLennan, Edinburgh, a young boy who last year figured prominently at the Scottish meeting, was again to the fore, and carried off quite a number of prizes in the piping section, among them the amateur challenge medal. John MacColl, Oban, beat all comers for march and piobaireachd playing, but he found strong rivals in Angus MacRae, of Callander, and one or two members of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.”

The results were: Pipe Music. All comers. Piobaireachd:
1. John MacColl, Oban: 2. PM Colin Thomson, 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; 3. Angus MacRae, Callander. 
Marches, Strathspeys and Reels: 1. John MacColl, 2. Angus MacRae, 3. Piper W. Robb, 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Army Pipers: 1. Piper W. Robb, 2. PM Colin Thomson, 3. PM A. Mathieson, 1st Royal Scots.

Amateurs only. Marches: 1. G.S. MacLennan, Edinburgh; 2. A. MacDonald, L.H.A.C.; 3. C.W. Cumming, London.
Strathspeys and Reels: 1. G.S. MacLennan, 2. A. MacDonald, 3. C.H. Grant, L.H.A.C.

Extra Event – Marches, Strathspeys and Reels, Boy Pipers of the Royal Caledonian Asylum: 1. C.C. Sutherland, 2. D.B. Hume.

Dancing. Highland Fling:
1. Angus MacRae, Callander. Gillie Callum: 1. D.C. Mather, Lochcarron.
Strathspeys and Reels: Tied D.C. Mather, Lochcarron and Angus MacPherson, Badenoch.

Amateurs. Gillie Callum: 1. A. MacDonald, L.H.A.C.; 2. D. MacLeod, L.H.A.C.; 3. C.N. MacDonald, L.H.A.C.
Highland Fling: 1. A. Matheson, 2. A. MacDonald, 3. A. Dawson, L.H.A.C. Strathspey and Reel: 1. A. MacDonald, 2. A. Matheson, 3. G.S. MacLennan. The Duchess of Buccleuch presented the prizes.

•David Charles Mather (1870-1943) was born in London and educated at the Caledonian Asylum where he was taught by John MacKenzie. He was piper to MacDougall of Lunga then to Admiral Campbell, Craignish then to the Murrays of Lochcarron. He had a hotel in Perthshire then emigrated to the USA in 1901 and was a prospector in Montana. He won The Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal in 1891 and the Northern Meeting Gold Medal in 1899.

•Colin Thomson (1869-1933) served with the Seaforth Militia then enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders in 1889. He transferred to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as Pipe Major 1894-1904 and served during the South African War.  He was then Pipe Major 3rd Militia Batt Seaforth Highlanders 1904-08, then Pipe Major 5th Batt Seaforth Highlanders to 1918 and was discharged to the reserve in 1919. At the Northern Meeting he won the Gold Medal in 1891.

•Alexander Matheson (1867-1940) became piper to Duke of Sutherland aged 17 and toured the world. He served with the Royal Scots and was Pipe Major 1889 to 1914. After leaving the army he was piper to Captain Sandys, late Royal Scots at Windermere. On retirement he moved to the Isle of Wight.

• Part 1
• Part 2
• Part 3
• Part 4
• Part 5
• Part 6
• Part 7
• Part 8
• Part 8-2

• Part 9
• Part 10

• Part 11
• Part 12