Piping in London: the 1905 to 1908 Highland Gatherings

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• PART 17 •

BY JEANNIE CAMPBELL MBE.

The Highland Gathering 1905

On Whit Monday, June 12, 1905 the eleventh L.H.A.C. Highland Gathering took place at the new Stamford Bridge grounds with 6000 spectators. The weather was dull but the threatening showers kept off until the programme was almost completed. The ground was undergoing a transformation but the grandstand to accommodate 6000 people was not quite finished.

Again, the Royal Caledonian Asylum and the Royal Scottish Corporation shared the profits. “The boys of the Asylum once more established themselves first favourites by their clever display of marching, dancing and pipe playing. The prizes were distributed by the Countess of Mar and Kellie in the absence of the Marchioness of Tullibardine.”

The results were:

Marches: 1. Jas. Allan, 2. T. Sutherland.

Strathspeys and Reels: 1. Jas. Allan; 2. T. Sutherland.

Piobaireachd (for professionals): 1. PM W. Ross; 2. PM A. Matheson; 3. PM D.E. Macpherson; 4. Angus Macpherson.

Marches, Strathspeys and Reels: 1. PM A. Matheson; 2. J.A. Center; 3. D. MacKay.

Dancing. Highland Fling: 1. L.G. Horton Smith; 2. D.G. Macleod,; 3. J.W. Sutherland Leask.

Gillie Callum: 1. W.T. Greig; 2. L.G. Horton Smith.

Strathspey and Reel: 1. F.L. Narramore; 2. D.G. MacLeod.

Seann Triubhas: 1. Stewart Donaldson; 2. W. Ross, 3. T. Finlay.

Professionals. Highland Fling: 1. Chas. MacEwan; 2. D.G. MacLennan; 3. J. MacNeill; 4. Angus Macpherson.

Gillie Callum: 1. Chas. MacEwan; 2. J. MacKenzie; 3. J. MacNeill; 4. D.G. MacLennan.

Strathspey and Reel: 1. D.G. MacLennan; 2. Chas. MacEwan; 3. Sgt. G.D. Taylor; 4. J. MacKenzie.

•Donald Ewen Macpherson (1871-1951) was Pipe Major of the Royal Scots 1902 to 1907 and on discharge went to Canada.

The Highland Gathering 1906

In June 1906 the Aberdeen Journal had this: “Whit Monday has for many years been sacred to the festival of the London Highland Athletic Club, which provides a fine programme of athletic competitions, piping and Highland dancing at the Stamford Bridge Grounds. This year, however, the committee has departed from the time-honoured rule, and has fixed upon June 23 as the day for the gathering. There can be little doubt as to the wisdom of the change, for the attendance on former occasions was invariably depleted by the numerous other attractions arranged for the holiday. The grounds at Stamford Bridge have been much improved since last year, and, given fine weather, there should be a large attendance of Scotsmen and others interested in London’s only ‘Highland Games’.”

•The Marchioness of Tullibardine presenting the prizes in 1906.

Advertisements showed the prize money was: Piobaireachd 1st £4, 2nd £3, 3rd 30s. Marches, Strathspeys and Reels 1st £3, 2nd £2, 3rd £1. Open Dancing 1st in each event £3, 2nd £2, 3rd £1.

•Tossing the Caber in 1906.

The gathering, which was the twelfth, was attended by between 5000 and 6000 people and delightful weather prevailed. It was reported to be a success, but after the amount of work put in by the secretary, Gordon C. Innes, one would have liked to see another two or three thousand persons present, especially as the proceeds were being handed over to deserving charities. The Dark Blue and Royal Stuart tartan colours of the club were strongly in evidence and the bouquet which the Marchioness of Tullibardine received on distributing the prizes was thus adorned. According to one paper, in the piping for amateurs Archibald Mackay, Beauly, had first for marches and first for strathspeys and reels. He was also third and second respectively in the marches and strathspeys and reels for professionals.

Other papers gave these results:

Marches (Amateurs): 1. Archibald Mackay, Beauly; 2. A.R. Keith, Arbroath.

Strathspeys and Reels (Amateurs): 1. Archibald Mackay, Beauly; 2. A.R. Keith, Arbroath.

Piobaireachd (Professionals): 1. Pipe Major W. Ross; 2nd Scots Guards; 2. J.A. Center, Edinburgh; 3. Donald Mackay, Beauly.

Marches, Strathspeys and Reels (Professionals): 1. PM W. Ross; 2. Donald Mackay; 2. J.A. Center.

Dancing (Members). Highland Fling: W.F. Allan; 2. A.R. Keith; 3. G.L. Narramore.

Gillie Callum: 1. A.W.S. Leask; 2. A.R. Keith; 3. W.F. Allan.

Strathspey and Reel: 1. G.L. Forbes; 2. F.L. Narramore; 3. A.R. Keith.

Highland Fling (Juniors): C. Miller.

Strathspeys and Reels (Juniors): Stuart Donaldson.

Professionals. Highland Fling: 1. D.G. MacLennan, Edinburgh; 2. C. MacEwan, Fintray; 3. W.C. Garden, Aberdeen.

No gatherings were reported in 1907.

The Highland Gathering 1908

In June 1908 this announcement appeared: “The London Highland Gathering Association has been formed with the object of holding an annual Highland gathering in London. Stamford Bridge Grounds have been secured for the opening meeting on August Bank Holiday.”

In subsequent articles it was reported that a select company of champions from the north would take part. The programme would not be confined to the sports and pastimes as they are indulged in up north but would also embrace those sports popular with English athletes as well. There would be no charge for entry to any of the numerous events, while substantial cash prizes would be offered. The Duke of Argyll and Sir Thomas Lipton were among the patrons. There were three piping events, Piobaireachd, Marches, Reels and Strathspeys, with three prizes in each, of 30s, 20s, and 10s. There were five dancing events, Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Reel of Tulloch, Seann Triubhais and Irish Jig, with the prize money as in the piping. Thirty Scottish athletes, pipers and dancers travelled down to compete. They arrived at Euston the day before and as most of them were paying their first visit to London, the London Highland Gathering Association entertained the visitors to dinner at the Boulogne Restaurant that evening. Two of the athletes had a previous engagement but the others gathered round the ferstive board.

On the day of the gathering the weather was glorious and nearly 8,000 spectators attended. Events began at 1.30pm and continued until after 7pm.

The results were:

Dancing. Highland Fling: 1. Pipe Major Smith, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; 2. J. A. Center, Edinburgh; 3. Sidney A. Black, Edinburgh.

Sword Dance: 1. PM Smith; 2. Chas. MacEwan, Bonnybridge; 3. Ewen McD. Stewart, Inverness.

Reel of Tulloch: 1. Chas. MacEwan; 2. J.A. Gordon, Edinburgh; 3. J.A. Center.

Seann Triubhas: 1. Chas. MacEwan; 2. Ewen McD. Stewart; 3. J.A. Gordon.

Irish Jig: 1. D.G. Brown, Inverness; 2. C. MacEwan; 3. J.A.Gordon.

Piping. Piobaireachds: 1. John MacDonald, Inverness; 2. J. A. Center, Edinburgh; 3. Pipe Major Alex Matheson, Glencorse, Edinburgh.

Marches: 1. PM Alex Matheson; 2. PM Smith, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; 3. J.A. Center.

Reels and Strathspeys: 1. John MacDonald; 2. James Stewart, Partick; 3. PM Alex Matheson.

The judges for piping and dancing were Messrs. W. MacPherson and J. Fraser and Pipe Major R. Reith.

•John MacDonald (1865-1953) was the son of Alexander MacDonald, piper to Glentruim. He was Pipe Major of the 4th Camerons Volunteer Batt from February 1899. In 1914 he was mobilised but was invalided out prior to battalion leaving for France. He was employed as an instructor by the Piobaireachd Society and was the first instructor at the Army School of Piping. He was also employed as a traveller for George Younger and Son. At the Northern Meeting he won the Gold Medal in 1890 and Clasps in 1903, 1908, 1924, 1927, 1929, 1933 and 1934.

There were no gatherings reported in 1909 or 1910.

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• Part 8
• Part 8-2

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• Part 12
• Part 13
• Part 14
• Part 15
• Part 16
• Part 17