Banbury and District Caledonian Pipe Band was formed in 1961 by John ‘Jock’ Laidlaw, an ex-piper of The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, and holder of the Burma Star medal. John is documented as the last piper of World War II to play into action in the Burma campaign.
John was also the nephew of the famous World War 1 piper, Daniel Laidlaw VC, the Piper of Loos, of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Daniel won his VC for: “London Gazette, 18 November, 1915. For most conspicuous bravery prior to an assault on German trenches near Loos and Hill 70 on 25th September 1915. During the worst of the bombardment, when the attack was about to commence, Piper Laidlaw, seeing that his company was somewhat shaken from the effects of gas, with absolute coolness and disregard of danger, mounted the parapet, marched up and down and played the company out of the trench. The effect of his splendid example was immediate, and the company dashed out to the assault. Piper Laidlaw continued playing his pipes till he was wounded.”
Throughout the 1960s John, with his wife Margaret, built the band to be quite a force, encouraging youngsters into the band producing a true community pipe band. The band played at many galas and shows and competed in many pipe band competitions including the Worlds Pipe Band Championships in Nottingham in 1979.
In the early 1980s John retired as Pipe Major and handed over leadership to long time members Ian Allen (ex Scots Guards) and Bob Shakespear. Through the 1990s Richrd Jasper and Steve Duffy (ex Scots Guards) took over the leadership, winning many competitions and performing at many prestigious engagements, including Blenheim Palace, Warwick castle, Highclere Castle, with trips to Germany, France, Italy, and The Philippines.
At the start of the noughties, the band decided to merge with The Scots Guards Association Pipe Band in Windsor in order to progress through the RSPBA grading structure. The Banbury Pipe Band therefore went into suspended animation.
After a meeting at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2022 Richard Jasper and Dr. Ian Graham decided to ‘reboot’ the Banbury Band. Together with a few pipers from the previous incarnation of the band, Richard’s long-time friend drummer and piper Mark McLaughlan, a few pounds still in a bank account, and some kit in Richard’s garage they decided to get the band back together. Both Richard and Ian have experience of piping in Grade 1 and 2.
The band is now called Banbury and District – Laidlaw Memorial Pipes and Drums and wears the Royal Stewart tartan in memory of both John and Daniel as both wore this tartan in their respective pipe corps within their regiments.
We are now recruiting both pipers and drummers to join the band. Pipers and drummers should be of at least RSPBA Grade 3 standards. However, we have a ‘development’ section for those pipers and drummers who aspire to compete. If interested, please contact Richard on 07801 631 735 or Ian on 07810 175 210. Alternatively contact us on our FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM accounts.