Polkemmet struggling for survival after exodus of players
The future of the Grade 2 Polkemmet Pipe Band of Whitburn, Scotland, is reportedly in doubt after a mass-exit of players following the departure of the band’s Pipe-Major, David Barnes, in September when he left to take over the Grade 1 Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band.
Polkemmet, one of the world’s longest-running civilian bands dating back almost 100 years, will hold it annual general meeting on November 19 to assess the situation.
With Barnes also went “the majority of the pipe corps,” according to a source close to the band. There are reportedly only three stalwarts left in the pipe section.
Most of the Polkemmet bass-section also has joined Lothian & Borders Police, and Polkemmet’s Leading-Drummer, Ally McNab, has returned to his former band, Robert Wiseman Dairies-Vale of Atholl, and David Farquhar, Polkemmet’s flank drummer, joined the Grade 3A Linlithgow Pipe Band as Leading-Drummer.
Polkemmet is reportedly still actively recruiting a new Pipe-Major.
Through its various iterations, Polkemmet has been a staple in the Lothian pipe band scene. The band started as a miners’ pipe band for the community, connected with the Whitrig and Polkemmet collieries. When Polkemmet Colliery was closed after it was flooded during the 1984 British miners’ strike, the band continued under various pipe-majors.
Johnny Barnes led the band for most of the 1960s and all the ’70s. Robert Mathieson and Jim Kilpatrick took the band to consistent top-six in Grade 1 during the 1980s before departing for Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia. Polkemmet was led by Ronnie Lawrie in 1987 before handing the pipe-majorship to David Barnes who, together with Leading-Drummer Jim King, brought the band to its biggest success in Grade 1, winning several championships in the early 1990s.
After Barnes’s departure for Australia, Polkemmet slid to Grade 2 under Steven Young, and two years ago was essentially resurrected again by David Barnes.
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