RSPBA Makes Regradings
In what must be one of the most sweeping demotions in pipe band history, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has decided to demote four Grade 1 bands to Grade 2.
Polkemmet, Lothian & Borders Police, Ravara, and Grampian Police have all been relegated to Grade 2, while City of Washington, winners of the Grade 2 event at the 1999 World’s, has been promoted to Grade 1.
Of those demoted, Polkemmet and Lothian & Borders Police are the bands with the most nostalgia behind them. Until the mid-1990s, Polkemmet has had a long tradition of success in Grade 1, stemming from the days of P/M John Barnes, to P/M Robert Mathieson, to P/M David Barnes. The band won several major titles under the direction of David Barnes.
The move of Lothian & Borders Police to Grade 2 brings an end to one of the pipe band world’s most illustrious runs in Grade 1. One of the world’s oldest bands, the Edinburgh City Police enjoyed glorious years of success – including seven World Championships — from 1955 to 1975. Since the 1980s, the band has suffered numerous leadership changes and a dramatic reduction in sponsorship.
In the last month, however, Lothian & Borders Police has gained a new Pipe Major in Colin MacLellan and a new Lead Drummer in Arthur Cook. This and the addition of several fine players to the pipe section are likely to force the RSPBA to reconsider the relegation.
There is considerable speculation that Iain and Gregor Speirs will soon join MacLellan’s new band.
Washington, DC’s City of Washington moves to Grade 1 after many very successful years in Grade 2. Similarly, three years ago the L.A. Scots were promoted to Grade 1 and have made an extremely successful transition.
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