• PART 14 •


The Highland Gathering 1897

The fourth annual Highland Gathering of the London Highland Athletic Club was held at Stamford Bridge on Whit Monday, June 7, 1897 in favourable weather. There were two international events between teams from Ireland and Scotland, a hurling match and a tug-of-war. Both teams were marched on by their own pipers, the Scots to The Campbells are Coming and the Irish to The Wearing of the Green. The hurling was a draw but the Irish won the Tug-of-War. Also the Beauly shinty team, the current Scottish champions, had been invited to give an exhibition game against a team representing the L.H.A.C. The winners were Beauly by a score of six to one. Afterwards the Beauly team were the guests of the Club at the banquet in the evening.

The results of the piping and dancing competitions were:

Professional Associates. Piobaireachd:
1. John MacPherson, Drummond Castle; 2. Angus MacPherson, Badenoch; 3. Tied PM Charles Dunbar, 2nd Gordon Highlanders and Donald MacLeod, London.

Marches, Strathspeys and Reels:
1.  PM Charles Dunbar; 2. John MacPherson; 3. Tied. Donald MacLeod and Angus MacPherson.

Members. Marches:
1. A. Beattie; 2. C.W. Cummins; 3. Archibald MacKay.

Strathspeys and Reels:
1. A. Beattie; 2. C.W. Cummins; 3. Archibald MacKay.

Dancing. Professionals. Highland Fling:
1. A. MacPherson, Badenoch; 2. D.G. MacLennan, Edinburgh; 3. A. MacDonald, London.

Gillie Callum:
1. D.G. MacLennan, Edinburgh; 2. A. MacPherson, Badenoch; 3. A. MacDonald, London. In some papers the first and second places in this event were reversed.

Dancing. Members. Highland Fling:
1. Donald MacLeod; 2. S.G. MacDonell; 3. C.W. Cummins.

Gillie Callum:
1. Donald MacLeod; 2. S.G. MacDonell; 3. Allan Duncan.

Strathspey and Reel:
1. S.G. MacDonell; 2. Donald MacLeod; 3. Allan Duncan.

The judges for the Highland competitions were Messrs. Norman Hay Forbes of Forbes, W. Clifford Mellor, H.G.D. Dunbar, Douglas B. Hart, and Colin Cameron.

The young Marquis of Tullibardine, president of the Club, presented the prizes. Also present were Lord Archibald Campbell, his daughter Elspeth and a list of other notable people.

•Charles Dunbar (1871-1939) enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders 1886 then transferred to the Royal Scots 1894. He was Pipe Major 2nd Gordons 1895 and served during the South African war 1899-1902. He was discharged 1911 and went to Canada. Where he was Pipe Major 91st Highlanders of Canada serving 1914-18. He continued as Pipe Major after the war then in 1925 became Lieutenant and Pipe Major, a unique distinction.

The Scottish Gathering 1897

The eighteenth Scottish Gathering organised by the Scottish Corporation in aid of the Scottish charities in London took place on Saturday, June 19 at Stamford Bridge.

As usual the piping commenced at 10am with what some reporters called the ‘serious business’ of the races commencing in the afternoon. Many of the London newspapers gave the results of the athletics but not the results of the piping. Obviously some did not arrive until later in the day. One reporter went as far as to say that those interested in the piping could attend early while those interested in the athletics could later enjoy the sport without being subjected to having their senses assaulted by the bagpipes. Another commented on the extraordinary way in which the bagpipes were coaxed into ‘harmony?’ It was left to the Scottish papers such as Highland News or the Inverness Courier to give the results of the piping and dancing. Attendance was down on previous years, perhaps due to a clash with a procession of home and colonial troops held in connection with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. According to Highland News: “Excellent music was discoursed during the day by the pipers and band of the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders, assisted by the boy pipers of the Royal Caledonian Asylum.”

The result of the Pipe Music events were:

Piobaireachd. All Comers:
1. Sergeant N.T. Mackenzie, 2nd Seaforth Highlanders; 2. Angus MacPerson, Lochcarron; 3. Angus MacRae, Callander.

Marches Strathspeys and Reels:
1. John MacColl, Oban; 2. Sergeant N.T. MacKenzie; 3. J. MacDonald, Kingussie.

Army Pipers:
1. Pipe Major C. Dunbar, 2nd Gordon Highlanders; 2. Piper T. Scholes, 2nd Gordon Highlanders; 3. Sergeant G. Stevenson, 1st K.O.S.B. Special prize for marches – Pipe Major J. Balloch, 1st K.O.S.B.

Amateurs. Marches:
1. C.N. MacDonald, 91st Highlanders; 2. A.C.B. Mackinnon, London; 3. R. Reith, London Scottish.

Strathspeys and Reels:
1. R. Reith; 2. A.C.B. Mackinnon; 3. C.W. Cummins.

Boy Pipers of Caledonian Asylum:
1. D. Pryde; 2. Harry Brown.

Dancing. Invitation. Highland Fling. 1. D.C. Mather, Lochcarron.

Gillie Callum: 1. Angus MacPherson, Lochcarron.

Strathspet and Reel: 1. D.C. Mather.

Amateurs. Highland Fling: 1. Allan Duncan; 2. W. Love; 3. C.N. MacDonald.

Gillie Callum: 1. W. Love, 2. D. MacLeod, L.H.A.C.; 3. S.G. MacDonell, L.H.A.C.

Strathspey and Reel: 1. S.G. MacDonell; 2. Allan Duncan; 3. C.W. Cummins.

The judges for the Highland competitions were Major General Roderick MacKenzie, Colonel E.L. Fraser, L.A. Macpherson, H.T. Munro, James Gow and H. B. Kirkwood. The Duchess of Argyll presented the prizes.

•John Balloch (1860-1947) was from Grantown on Spey Morayshire. He joined 57th Bde (42nd and 79th Hldrs) in 1878 and later became Pipe Major of the 1st KOSB. In 1899 he retired aged 39 and became Pipe Major 5th A & SH (Greenock). In 1914 he rejoined and became Pipe Major 8th KOSB from 1915 to 1918 when he was invalided home and completed service with 9th Officers Cadet Battalion at Gailes. He tutored Greenock Police Pipe Band while living in Greenock where he had a tobacconist shop. Later he retired to Rothesay.


In 1897 the two London gatherings had been held in June, within the same two weeks. Early in April 1898 the London Highland Athletic Club held a fund raising concert. Speaking at the interval Dr Donald C. Fraser said that after the gathering last year the secretary of the Stamford Bridge Grounds had approached the Club’s secretary Mr Donald MacGillivray, to ascertain whether they would like to book for next year. He had said that although it was somewhat premature they would claim the first refusal.

Meantime the secretary of the Scottish Gathering Association had an interview with Mr MacGillivray to whom he made a statement that the meeting of the London Highland Athletic Club mitigated against the success of the Scottish Gathering usually held in June, and suggested that the Club should change the date of its meeting. Mr MacGillivray replied that they could not accede to so unreasonable a request. Immediately after his business was done for the day he went to Stamford Bridge, for the purpose of definitely engaging the grounds for Whit Monday of this year. When he arrived there, however, he found Captain Lyall Grant, the secretary of the Scottish Gathering Association, there before him, and learned, to his astonishment, that the latter had booked the ground not only for Whit Monday but also for the 18th of June. Captain Grant’s object was obviously to prevent the L.H.A. Club from holding its annual meeting there at all.

On April 25, 1898 at the annual general meeting of the London Highland Athletic Association the hon. secretary Mr. Donald MacGillivray said that their gathering in 1897 had been the largest and most successful yet held. “There was, however, one regrettable incident to which reference had to be made, viz., the misunderstanding which had arisen between the club and the Scottish Gathering Association. It would appear that the latter Society is of the opinion that the Athletic Club’s gathering on Whit Monday last year interfered to some extent with their meeting which took place a few weeks later, and that in order to prevent the same thing occurring again this year the Scottish Gathering booked the grounds at Stamford Bridge, where these meetings are held, for the coming Whit Monday, although their sports will not be held until a later date. This action was characterised by the chairman and other speakers as utterly unsportsmanlike, and much to be regretted. Instead of having the desired effect, however, it promises to do the Athletic Club more good than harm, judging from the loyal and sympathetic support which has been forthcoming from noblemen and gentlemen all over the Highlands, as well as in London. Although the old grounds are not this year available, the usual date – Whit Monday – is not to be departed from, and the Highland Gathering is to be held at the Richmond Athletic Grounds, which as the home of the London Scottish Football Club is well known to most Scotsmen in London.”

During May, the Highland Gathering of the London Highland Athletic Club was advertised for Monday May 30 at the Richmond Athletic Ground. The band and pipers of the 2nd Scottish Rifles (Cameronians) had been engaged.

The Scottish Gathering (nineteenth year) was advertised for Saturday, June 18 at Stamford Bridge.

The Highland Gathering 1898

The Ross-shire Journal reported on the first 1898 event: “London Highland Athletic Club. The fifth annual gathering of the London Highland Athletic Club was held on Monday at the Athletic Grounds, Richmond. The weather was charming, and the proceedings passed off with the greatest success. In the absence of Lord Tullibardine, the chief, who is presently in Egypt, the Duke of Hamilton presided. He was accompanied by his sisters, the Ladies Douglas Hamilton, and there was a large and fashionable attendance. Miss Elspeth Campbell, the pretty granddaughter of the Duke of Argyll, and a great favourite with all Highlanders, judged the pipe playing. The young lady had every capability of filling this office well, for she is the finest lady piper that Scotland can boast. She inherits all the family feeling for the Highlands, and everything pertaining to them and their people. She talks Gaelic as fluently as English, having learnt it in childhood. When the various competitors appeared to play the pipes, dance reels, strathspeys, or that graceful dance Seann Trubhais, her enthusiasm was quite unbounded. Pipe Major Charles Dunbar of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders was loudly applauded for his playing of the piobaireachd. Many handsome prizes were gracefully distributed at the close of the sports by Lady Helena Douglas Hamilton, who was presented with a beautiful bouquet of choice flowers.”

One of the London papers, The Queen, The Lady’s Newspaper, also reported on the event: “Miss Elspeth Campbell, who is the best lady piper in Scotland, acted as judge of the pipe playing at the fifth annual Highland Gathering of the London Highland Athletic Club, which took place recently in the Athletic Grounds at Richmond. Lady Eleanor Douglas Hamilton distributed the handsome prizes, and was presented with a beautiful bouquet.”

At the AGM the following March it was reported that: “The annual gathering at Richmond last Whit Monday was not a financial success for various reasons over which the Club had no control, but from an athletic point of view the meeting was the best that they had ever held. The competitors were more numerous and the performers better than any previous record.”

The Scottish Gathering 1898

The Dundee Courier reported on the second 1898 event: “Instituted eighteen years ago with the dual object of providing an opportunity for Scotsmen in London to foregather, and of aiding the deserving cause of the Metropolitan Scottish charities, the annual Highland Gathering at Stamford Bridge never fails to attract a large and representative assembly. Yesterday there was a great gathering of the clans, upwards of 4,000 spectators being within the grounds. Brilliant weather favoured the meeting, which proved of a highly enjoyable nature.”

Music during the day was provided by the band and pipers of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders.  At the close of the sports the prizes were presented by her Grace the Duchess of Buccleuch.

The results of the pipe music competitions were:

All comers. Piobaireachd:
1. John MacColl, Oban; 2. Angus MacRae, Callander; 3. Corporal Ross, 1st Scots Guards.

Marches, Strathspeys and Reels:
1. John MacColl, 2. John MacPherson, Drummond Castle; 3. D.C. Mather, Lochcarron.

Army Pipers:
1. Corporal Ross, 1st Scots Guards; 2. Pipe Major C. Dunbar, 2nd Gordon Highlanders; 3. Pipe Major J. Balloch, 1st K.O.S.B. Special prize. Pipe Major J. Smith, 2nd Scottish Rifles.

Boys of the Royal Caledonian Asylum: 1. James M. Stewart, 2. Alexander J. Mackie.

Dancing. Invitation. Highland Fling: D.C. Mather.

Gillie Callum: John MacColl.

Strathspey and Reel: D.C. Mather.

Amateurs. Gillie Callum: 1. J. Smith, 2nd Scottish Rifles; 2. W. Grant, 2nd Gordon Highlanders; 3. T. Scholes, 2nd Gordon Highlanders.

Highland Fling: 1. J. Smith, 2. W. Grant.

Strathspey and Reel: 1. W. Grant, 2. J. Smith.

The judges were: Major General R. MacKenzie, Colonel E.L. Fraser, H.T. Munro, and  H.B. Kirkwood.

Highland News reported the success of Corporal Ross: “Success of a young regimental piper. The friends in the neighbourhood of Beauly, as well as elsewhere, of William Ross, whose father is head keeper at Struy, will be glad to hear of his success as a piper in the army. He is now only twenty years of age, although he joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards as a piper two years ago, Since entering the army he has been promoted to the rank of corporal, and otherwise distinguished himself. From a copy of The Household Brigade Magazine, we learn that at a Scottish Gathering, held in London some time ago, in the competition for Pipe Music (Army Pipers), Corporal Ross won the first prize, and in the competition for Pipe Music (All-Comers) he came in for the third prize. Such a record in so short a time speaks well for the future of the young piper, and must be very gratifying to his friends.”

• 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
• Part 13
• Part 14