On this dreary winter morning in Scotland, we look back 12 years to the photos and a review of a day filled with warm sunshine at Dumbarton for the Scottish Pipe Band Championships in 2010. There are more than 70 photos with lots of youngsters who will all be adults now, and lots of well-known faces who will all be a wee bit older, and wiser, hopefully! If you would like to add a name to a photo, download it and email the photo and name to news@bagpipe.news and the page will be updated as they arrive. The photo gallery photos can be individually opened at a bigger size for viewing or downloading. Photos: JohnSlavin@designfolk.com/Bagpipe.news

Photos from the Scottish Pipe Band Championships, Dumbarton, 2010


If you have to spend a day listening to pipe bands then Levengrove Park in Dumbarton is the place to do it. With the imposing Dumbarton rock standing sentinel over the proceedings, and the glorious waters of the Firth of Clyde sparkling in the heat as the sunrays, unfettered by clouds, danced on its surface, this was a day to relax, sit back, and enjoy the music.

The layout for the band competitions and stalls is very compact at Levengrove, although surprisingly there wasn’t a lot of noise interference from bands competing at the same time in different corners of the field. This compactness means it is easy to move from one arena to the other to sample different competitions.

First up were the Juvenile bands. These are bands that consist of players under the age of 18. However don’t be fooled into thinking they are as raw as they are young — these boys and girls can play, and do so with a quality that would put many a Grade 3 band to shame.

On the day there were five bands in the Juvenile section: George Watson’s College, Johnstone, Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia, Robert Wiseman Dairies Vale of Atholl and Dollar Academy. All gave accomplished MSR performances with George Watson’s and Dollar being particularly impressive.  This was a great start to the day’s piping and leaving directly after this would still have given value for money for the £4 parking/entrance fee.

After the Juvenile contest there was time to stroll to the opposite corner of the park to catch a few of the Grade 4A bands. Here the quality was a little patchy with one or two bands struggling to get their tone right in the heat. However with the format now two marches, a strathspey and a reel there were some quality performances, with the best of those I heard undoubtedly Ballyboley, who gave an assured, confident and musical performance.

Photos from the Scottish Pipe Band Championships, Dumbarton, 2010

No time to dally at the grade four though as the Grade 3B competition kicked off at noon and the plan was to take in a few of their performances before lunch. The Grade 3B bands were playing a medley set which allows them to show a little of their creativity (within the bounds set). Here the tunes were by and large old favourites such as Raigmore, Paddy’s Leather Breeches and the Devil in the Kitchen. This does lend the Grade 3 competition a ‘foot tappin feel’ as the tunes you know and love come into earshot. I managed to catch West Midland Police, Beauly, Manor Cunningham, Badenoch & Strathspey, and Kircudbright & District before the rumble of my stomach started to drown out the bands. The sets were all very enjoyable but Manor Cunningham were well ahead of the others in tone and presentation. 

Lunch of a haggis burger and a quick pint set me up for the rest of the afternoon’s listening. First stop the Grade 2 competition. As has often been mentioned the jump from Grade 3 to 2 is large and that’s obvious the minute you listen to the Grade 2 competition.  They draw a lot at the line for which of their two MSR sets they will play and then the band are straight into the attack. The start needs to be right — this is the arena where early Es and poor starts can cost you the title. There were some problems with bands switching from the march into the strathspey and then into the reel and struggling to get sufficient differentiation between each tune. But on the whole those performances I caught were entertaining, and Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary and Williamwood were particularly enjoyable.

Photos from the Scottish Pipe Band Championships, Dumbarton, 2010

Unfortunately the logistics of the day meant that I couldn’t catch all of the Grade 2 competition as the Grade 1 started at 2pm. What can be said about Grade 1? This is where the big boys (and girls) come out to play, and it’s no place for the faint-hearted.

Photos from the Scottish Pipe Band Championships, Dumbarton, 2010
Photos from the Scottish Pipe Band Championships, Dumbarton, 2010

Shotts were first up and they set the benchmark high — very high. Band after band came on and played with style, panache and a precision that at times took the breath away. Old tunes, new tunes, all kinds of tunes were presented as each band tried to sway the judges their way. There were loads of highlights: Boghall were magnificent, SLOT and Scottish Power were terrific and the Grade 1 newbies Inveraray and District were simply delightful. FMM finished the day with style, class and that pneumatic precision that sweeps all before it.

All in all; fabulous entertainment, in a fabulous setting on a fabulous day — it doesn’t get any better than that.


Grade 1: 1 Field Marshal Montgomery, 2. Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia, 3. The House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead, 4. St Laurence O’Toole, 5. ScottishPower, 6. Strathclyde Police.

Grade 2: 1. Grampian Police, 2. Seven Towers, 3. Ravara, 4. Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, 5. Buchan, 6. Williamwood.

Grade 3A: 1. Deeside Caledonia, 2. Cullen, 3. Linlithgow and District, 4. Cottown, 5. MacDonald Energy City of Brechin, 6. Methil and District.

Grade 3B: 1. Quinn Memorial, 2. Manor
Cunningham, 3. Stockbridge, 4. Geoghan Memorial, 5. Rothesay & District, 6. Northumbrian Regiment R.A.

Grade 4A: 1. Ballyboley, 2. Stow, 3. Fraserburgh RBL, 4. Stamperland, 5. University of Bedfordshire, 6. Bready Ulster Scots.

Grade 4B: 1. Upper Crossgare, 2. Stromness RBL, 3. Portlethen and District,  4. Williamwood, 5. Glen Mor, 6. Bo’ness RBLS.

Juvenile: 1. Dollar Academy, 2. George Watson’s College, 3. Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia, 4. Robert Wiseman Dairies Vale of Atholl, 5. Johnstone.

Novice: 1. George Watson’s College, 2. Oban High School, 3. Inveraray and District, 4. George Heriot’s, 5. Lochgelly High School 6. Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia.