October 31, 2010

Updated: Bob Martin, 1939-2010

Robert “Bob” Martin, the renowned former pipe-major of the Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band, died on the afternoon of October 3, 2010, in Edinburgh, due to complications after surgery to repair a shattered knee following a fall on September 20th.

Bob Martin is synonymous with Boghall & Bathgate. After learning the pipes with the Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band, he joined Boghall & Bathgate in 1972, which at the time was in Grade 4. Success rapidly followed, winning the RSPBA Champion of Champions title in 1974 and progressing to Grade 3.

Born May 23, 1939,  Martin helped to implement an ambitious teaching program in 1976, starting with a Novice Juvenile band. The original program became a model that many bands around the world emulate, but perhaps none yet to the successful effect of Boghall’s. Bob Martin also recruited Tom Brown, a member of Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia to run the Boghall organization’s drumming instructional program, with the band progressing to Grade 2 in 1977, with an average member age of 13, not including Martin, Brown and two other players.

Under Martin, the band was Champion of Champions in Grade 2 in 1978 and ’79, and was promoted to Grade 1 for the 1980 season – only eight years after Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia was started. In its first year in Grade 1, the band placed fourth at the World Championships and gained second prize at the European Championship. Boghall would win the British Championship in 1982 and was second in at the World’s, losing to the Strathclyde Police by a half-point.

Bob Martin led the Grade 1 band and headed the organization overall until 1986 when he retired from competition, handing over the leadership to Craig Walker.

He remained an enthusiastic contributor to the Boghall organization and a regular at pipe band competitions, and took great pride in his sons competing with the band and, more recently, his granddaughter taking up the pipes, before moving to tenor drumming with Torphichen & Bathgate.

Bob Martin is survived by his wife, Jessie, and sons, Fraser and Douglas.  The family extends its thanks to those who have sent messages of support over the last two weeks.

Cremation will take place at 10:15  on  Tuesday, October 12, at West Lothian Crematorium, Cousland Wood, Starlaw Place, off of Starlaw Road, Livingston, Scotland.    The family welcomes all who wish to pay their respects and  request that bandsmen wear their uniform if they wish.

On behalf of the world’s piping and drumming community, we extend our condolences to Bob Martin’s family and friends at this sad time.

(Thanks to Graham Clark, secretary, Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band, for contributing information for this article.)


  1. This is really sad news for the Pipe Band world but even sadder for Jessie, Fraser and Douglas. Please accept our sincere condolences. Our thoughts are with each of you. Gordon & Susan Stafford

  2. Bob Martin will be will be sadly missed by many. I recall when I joined the band in 1984 how motivational Bob was and how his infectious personality inspired me to work harder for Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band and to this day. My wife Carol was a pupil of Bob’s and she still tells me how much she enjoyed and loved his classses. Our thoughts are with Jessie, Fraser and Douglas at this time. Stevie, Carol McQuillan & Family.

  3. Bob, or Robert, as we always knew him is a true Legend in the pipe band world. Robert was a big influence on myself as a young drummer when we played together with Torphichen and Bathgate and although a corps pipe at that time, was a real driving force, which was to come to real fruition when he took up the reigns at Boghall. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jessie, Fraser and Douglas at this sad time. Jim and Cecelia Baxter

  4. This is sad news Bob was a great friend and the biggest influence on my piping career. As a founding member of Boghall I remember the great leadership he had with the young members of the band and the great fellowship he encouraged . He will be sadly miss him. My condolences go to Jessie,Fraser and Douglas. Hugh and Liz Goldie



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