After some 130 years, including the last 20 in a relatively constant state of flux, the Grade 1 Lothian & Borders Police Band has disbanded
, according to sources close to the group. The decision was made at a band meeting on the night of November 29, 2012. It is not yet known if the resolution was made with the police force or solely by band members.
Scotland’s police forces are set to operate under a single Police Service of Scotland beginning officially on April 1, 2013, amalgamating Central Scotland Police, Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary, Fife Constabulary, Grampian Police, Lothian & Borders Police, Northern Constabulary, Strathclyde Police, and Tayside Police, five of which sponsor pipe bands.
Since the 1990s the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band had experienced fairly constant change at the leadership positions, mostly the pipe-major’s role, with no fewer than eight taking the front-right flank. Most recently, the band lost Pipe-Major Neil Hall, a captain with the British Army, due to work commitments, after he had been in the post for just a year. The band had said that it was actively looking for a replacement and had invited interested parties to apply, and had set a late-November deadline.
The band had brought in new leading-drummer Jake Jorgensen in 2011, replacing long-time section leader and former World Solo Drumming Champion, Arthur Cook, who subsequently joined the Denny & Dunipace Pipe Band, at the time in Grade 2, but promoted by the RSPBA to Grade 1 after the 2012 season.
Founded in 1882, the Edinburgh City / Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band was one of the oldest civilian pipe bands in the world. Through its glory years between 1950 and 1975, the band won seven World Championships, including five under its most famous pipe-major, Iain McLeod.
With the realignment of Scotland’s regions, the Edinburgh City Police became the Lothian & Borders Police in 1976, which coincided with McLeod’s retirement. Harry McNulty was elected pipe-major and managed to sustain the band’s success. But when McNulty left the police force and the band to become pipe-major of the Grade 1 British Caledonian Airways Pipe Band, the band started its demise and frequent change of leaders, with Colin Forbes, George Lumsden, Duncan Smith, Kenny McBride, Les Watson and Colin MacLellan taking command.
It was MacLellan who in 1999 took over the band just before it was relegated to Grade 2 for the first time in its history. After a season, MacLellan returned the band to Grade 1, and stayed until he resigned in 2004 when Keith Dawes subsequently took over.
Other famous pipe-majors of the band include Ian Duncan, John Burgess and Donald Shaw Ramsay.
In 2010, pipes|drums reunited eight former members of the Edinburgh City Police bands of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s – Jack Abbott, Chris Anderson, Alistair Aitken, Jim Hutton, George Lumsden, Harry McNulty Duncan Smith and Martin Wilson – for an an exclusive four-part interview.
Earlier in the year the Grade 3A Pipes & Drums of the Central Scotland Police became the Bannockburn & District Pipe Band, but said that the upcoming police amalgamation did not force the decision.
pipes|drums Magazine broke the story, which was picked up and subsequently reported by major news outlets, including the Scotsman newspaper, Scotland’s national daily
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Colin MacLellan, Edinburgh