The pipe band was founded in October 1960 by a small group of former members of the Scottish Regimental Association of Yorkshire Pipe Band (“The Yorkshire Jocks”), during a meeting at a well known Public House in Leeds.
Formed as a self-supporting, non-profitmaking organisation with the aim of encouraging interest in the music and culture of Scotland, they quickly formed an association with the Leeds Scottish Country Dance Club and were able to provide an added attraction with the performances of the dancers.
The Band was invited to provide a group of pipers to lead a Scottish Wrestling team into the ring when touring in Yorkshire, Lancashire and the North of England. These engagements provided the firm base from which the Band gained publicity and thence finance for the provision of equipment.
The pipe band now started to attract the support of many, and various organisations and engagements began to roll in. During 1961, no less than 30 engagements were fulfilled, and by 1962 there were 16 playing members and repeat engagements were being requested.
Uniform and Equipment
Various items of uniform were purchased in addition to an entirely new set of drums and 12 matched Hardie chanters, which were necessary to allow the Band to realise its ambitions of not only being a group of entertainers, but also a successful competing band.
Affiliation and Competition
During 1964, the pipe band gained membership of the Scottish Pipe Band Association (now Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association) and entered their first competition, organised by the NW England Branch at Chorley. Engagements were plentiful and varied and by 1965 membership had increased to a total of 25 and the Band had started to reach the prize list in competition.
Between 1965 and 1975 the Band were regularly in the prize lists at competitions in Grade 4 with the Band being upgraded to Grade 3 in 1970.
The next target was to improve the appearance of the Band, and to this end, new kilts, plaids, tunics and feather bonnets were purchased, with badges designed and made by our leading drummer Bob Webster.
The pipe band wears kilts and plaids of Royal Stewart tartan, dark green tunics with silver piping, feather bonnets with red hackles and white buttoned highland spats. Pipers wear black cross and waist belts with red and green diced hose, and the drummers wear white slings and waist belts with red and white diced hose.
The reputation of the Band continued to spread and appearances on TV programmes such as “Opportunity Knocks” and “The Good Old Days” which was broadcast from the City Varieties Theatre in Leeds, together with continued engagements to support the Scottish Wrestling team helped to provide good publicity.
At the end of 1969, the Band lost the services of Pipe Sergeant William Bell, who moved to become the Pipe Major of Pontefract Pipe Band. A former member of the Glasgow Shepherds Pipe Band, Bill was one of the driving forces behind the Band’s progress in competition, the highlight of which was achieving 1st place in Grade 4 at the Cowal Highland Gathering, one of the five major competitions for Pipe Bands.
Sounds of the 70’s
The Band continued to flourish and the learners class, held in conjunction to the then Leeds Education Committee, and which has started in the early days of the Band, was providing a constant source to replace leavers. There are band members from this period still playing today.
The learners’ group is still in existence but is now run entirely by the pipe band each Monday evening. You can get in touch using the contact form on our website.
1972 saw Leeds United return from Wembley with the FA Cup and the Band was there to greet them. In subsequent years the Band has played at Elland Road Stadium for benefit matches arranged for former Leeds United greats Jack Charlton, Billy Bremner and Peter Lorimer.
The Band took part in the Lord Mayor’s Parade over the next few years and also participated in a variety of new event including fundraisers for the Variety Club of Great Britain and the Northern Horse Show. A visit to Dortmund twinned with Leeds, to join their 1100 years celebration was a great success (as was a visit to one of their local breweries!). Shortly after our return to Leeds the Band were afforded a Civic Reception by the Lord Mayor.
In more recent years, we have concentrated on being an entertainment band and have continued strong demand for our appearances at many Carnivals and Galas throughout the county of Yorkshire.
In addition, we have been lucky enough to have been involved in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. We were invited to play at the venues for all Scotland’s group games, Gloucester Kingsholm for the match against Japan, Elland Road against the USA and St James’ Park Newcastle for the games against South Africa and Samoa.
We have also played at Otley for “Le Tour” de France and various locations for the Tour de Yorkshire. The Band has also on two occasions played at the World Triathlon Series Event in Leeds.
In 2016, when the athletes returned from a very successful Rio Olympics the Band was involved in the parade through Leeds. In 2017, we had a trip to Pitlochry in Scotland, where we were invited to play at Blair Castle and to take part in a Highland night as guests of the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band. This was a great success, and a return invitation was sent for “The Vale” to visit Leeds to play with us and attend our first Highland Night. This took place at the Leeds City Hall and was attended by the Lord Mayor of Leeds (who enjoyed showing off her dancing skills). The following day was the St Patrick’s Day Parade where Vale of Atholl Pipe Band joined us in leading the parade through the city centre.
One of our current pipers is the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria’s first Sovereign Piper. As a result, the Band playing as guests at Windsor Castle and being invited to play at Balmoral Castle for the 200th birthday celebration for Queen Victoria in 2019.
Many of our pipers were also involved in the ‘Battle’s O’er‘ celebrations, the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, at 0600 on 11/11/2018 with the pipes being sounded at Cenotaph and War memorials around Yorkshire.
We are proud of our past achievements and are determined to continue creating opportunities for learners to achieve their ambitions. Current membership stands at over 25 playing members with a very active beginner’s class.
In 2020, we celebrate our 60th anniversary and look forward to being able to continue to fulfil the objectives of our founding members so many years ago.