At a time when many pipe bands around the world struggle to stay afloat from year to year, the fact that the Kirkintilloch Pipe Band of Kirkintilloch, Scotland, celebrated its 125th birthday on November 12, 2013, is an even more extraordinary achievement.
When the band was founded in 1888, Queen Victoria had only just decreed that the pipers shall always play at the front of the band, two world wars and an economic depression were still to occur. And, yet, the Kirkintilloch Pipe Band persevered through good times and bad.
The East Dunbartonshire-based Grade 4 band today competes infrequently and is in another period of rebuilding, but will nonetheless celebrate a century-and-a-quarter at a shindig on November 23rd in the village of approximately 20,000 people. The band also launched a Facebook page to celebrate its anniversary.
The world-class piper Simon McKerrell plans to attend the party to play a few tunes along with members of the band who go back as far as 1940. McKerrell described the band as “unsung heroes of local music-making.”
The Kirkintilloch Pipe Band is also hoping to raise funds. The band has reportedly received total of ?500 from East Dunbartonshire Council since 1888. In Scotland local authority funding is a topical issue for pipe bands that are based firmly in small communities, and many bands are struggling to survive.
Kirkintilloch is the oldest non-police pipe band in the world. The only band older is the Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band, which started in 1883 as the Govan Police and eventually became the Glasgow Police and then the Strathclyde Police before adopting its new name earlier this year.
Founded in 1882, the Edinburgh City / Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band was the world’s oldest until it collapsed and folded in the fall of 2012.