This is a date of great interest to yours truly, but it is obviously a time that will mark the rise of a sleeping giant. Okay, I exaggerate, but this is the date I was invited along to visit the band by it's ex Chairman, John Carlo Bellotti.
For some time now, this group of enthusiasts have centred the "band" in the village hall in Blackford, Perthshire, situated almost centrally in Scotland on the A9.
In November 2012, the committee of the band took what could be an enormous step in the future of the band. When you keep in mind that these folks have kept the band alive by actively starting a teaching programme of local youngsters in Bagpiping and Drumming.
By invitation, in November 2012, the band brought in an experienced Pipe Major in an effort to bring all these things together and forge it into an active unit, a Pipe Band.
February, 2013, and I arrive to pay a visit. It was most encouraging the see that on a Monday night, in the main hall, twelve actual Pipers of varying standards all sitting around the table working of tunes.
Two other young learners, who were possibly only available on a Monday, were receiving chanter tuition at the other end of the hall.
A visit to the kitchen and here I find a group of youngsters all working on drum pads in an early effort to put together a drum corps. A healthy sign for me was that all the work is being related from written drum scores, and led by a true enthusiast.
Okay, we have people working on instruments. Most importantly though, is the supporters who are all there working to make it all come together. These are the people, who may be retired playing members, who give encouragement at practice, who help with tuition and of course make the TEA!
Having dealt with Monday, I have to add that there is a good "engine room" in the band when it all comes together on a Thursday evening, dedicated to the novice learners in all departments. Without this, they would be wasting their time in the Long run.
All the best the John Carlo Bellotti in his new life in Melbourne.
Strathearn are on the move again!
After a while of "being in the doldrums" there are now signs that this once great band from the Crieff area are about to take a long hard look at themselves and try to rebuild.
This outfit, who previously won Grade Three World Championships and even made it to Champions of Champions, are now based in Blackford, Perthshire.
Although they are not presently registered with the R.S.P.B.A., this is about to change and they are actively working on teaching local juveniles as a feeder to their own ranks.
From my own experience of the pipe band world, I would imagine that they could do with help and new ideas from all quarters. If you are a Piper, Drummer, Tutor or Enthusiast and feel you have something to offer, I would suggest you contact me (email@example.com) and I will see that word reaches them.
Let's get to it!!!
Twelve years after the British Legion Pipe Band in Crieff folded, the idea of re-
A public meeting was held in November 1967 and sufficient interest was shown by the 20 people who attended that a band was formed and a committee elected. Jack Scott Millar was elected President, a position he would hold for the next 30 years, and Donald McLean, who went out to move his car, returned to the meeting found he had been appointed secretary.
A number of pipers and drummers joined and Archie Osborne, who had been a P/M in the RAF was appointed P/M and George Newlands was appointed L/D.
By December of that year it was decided to purchase a bass, a tenor and 3 side drums at a cost of £125 and at Hogmany the band played down the High Street to James Square. They had no uniforms but the seven pipers and four drummers played down the street with “ Leaving Port Askaig “
In their first year the band raised over £1000 which was spent on uniforms. New kilts of Drummond Earl of Perth tartan were bought along with a number of used tunics and belts from Forfar Burgh band and sporrans from Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band.
(My thanks to Hamish Lowe for this information)
(From the Editor....I well remember Pipe Major Archie Osborne and the times I visited him in his reed making workshop "Doon the Brae".)
The first picture is of Strathearn Pipe Band in new Kilts and tunics 1967
Bob Brown, George Newlands, Hugh Sinclair, Terry Wilson, Peter Cramb, Bill Bradley, Bob Simpson, Tom McLellan
Dave Ramsey, Davie Donaldson, Archie Osborne, Peter Lowe, Ronnie Steele
Received late August 2012
I stumbled across the site by chance and found a photograph of my Father , he is in the photograph back row far right of The Strathearn pipe band, named as Doug McLellan I can confirm that his name is Tom McLellan . He spoke often of the band and joined it having recently returned from Canada where he had spent some 10 yrs. Unfortunately my Father passed away last November 6th 2011. His sister Helen McDonald of Newbigging farm is the recently retired town councillor of Crieff.
Playing down King Street to Crieff Highland Gathering 1975 in white shirts
Members in rows from rear to front:
Peter DiMarco, Andrew McPherson, Bill Bradley
Hugh Sinclair, Scott Cramb,Louis DiMarco
David Donaldson, Jamie Thomson, Wilson Brown
Alistair Lowe, James Harris, John Leckie
Hamish Lowe, Billy McCraw
P/M Archie Osborne, Niel Bremner, P/S Peter Lowe
Andrew McPherson left school and joined the Black Watch, ending up as Drum Major, before retiring and joining Strathclyde Police, and playing with them as a tenor drummer
Same location, same event, but 1976 wearing black jackets.
Hugh Sinclair, Louis DiMarco, Andrew McPherson, Bill Bradley
John Millar, Tam Smith, Peter "Pedro" Brock
Jamie Thomson, Hamish Lowe, Niel Bremner, Billy McCraw
David Donaldson, Alistair Lowe, Wilson Brown, Peter Lowe
D/M Jim Shaw
Archie Osbourn retired as P/M in 1976 due to ill health, and his new thriving business, "Strathearn Reed".
Archie was succeeded as P/M by Jimmy Mortimer, who had joined the army as a boy soldier and retired as P/M of 1st Bn. K.O.S.B, then for 25 years, was piping and dancing instructor at Queen Victoria School Dunblane
At this time the band decided not to be a competition band and carried out numerous engagements, many at Dunblane Hydro Hotel. The band had a close relationship with Jim McLeod and his dance band, and appeared with them, the hotels resident band, on radio and television. Each year the band would provide entertainment in the hotel ballroom for one week, seven nights, performing in full dress under the spotlights. By the end of the week the tunics were so damp due to sweat that they would not dry out properly, and the band paid for all tunics to be dry cleaned.
In 1979 the band were invited to participate in the Isle of Man Millennium celebrations which involved the band touring the I.O.M. for a week playing twice daily at different towns and villages.
The photograph is a publicity shot, taken in front of Dunblane Hydro, to publicise the band
Rear: Billy McCraw, Hamish Lowe, Alistair Lowe, Fraser Smith, John Millar, Wilson Brown, Lawrence McLennan, John Liddle, Niel Bremner.
Front: D/M Jim Shaw, Charlie Allan, Bill Bradley, L/D. Hugh Sinclair, Tam Smith, Louis DiMarco, Peter Brock, P/S Peter Lowe, P/M Jimmy Mortimer
Sees the band on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade playing with the Royal British Legion Pipes during "Beating Retreat"
During a break in rehearsals
this group find time to record it on film
Standing L to R... ?, Gavin Brown, Stephen Boag, Stuart Davidson, John Irvine
Front.... Wilson Brown and Peter Lowe
We have the band in full dress marching down King Street, Crieff
The last three photos were courtesy of
seen here on tenor drum
In 1981 P/M Kenny Leask replaced P/M Jimmy Mortimer and prepared the band for competitions. At this time some of the older members of the band left the band joining the recently revived Comrie band. New members were brought in and Jimmy Mills, the L/D with MacKenzie Caledonian did an excellent job in tutoring a new drum corp. By 1984 the band had great success in the local grade 4 competitions, always having to fight it out with the Kirriemuir Jubilee band for the honours. honours were not far away with a 4th place at the British and a 6th place at the Scottish secured that year, before Kenny Leask had to give up the position due to work commitments.
Picture shows the first contest win, Branch minibands at Blairgowrie High School 1982
P/M Kenny Leask, Hamish Lowe, P/S Keith Leask, L/D John McWilliam. Alistair Lowe, James McWilliam, Alan Roger, Tam Smith