January 11, 2024

George “Geordie” Lumsden, 1926-2024

George Lumsden in 2010 [Photo pipes|drums]
The renowned solo piper, pipe bandsman, and adjudicator George Lumsden died on January 9, 2024, in his ninety-eighth year.

Known as “Geordie” to his many friends, Lumsden was a popular and jovial personality across the piping and drumming world. His memory will be forever associated with the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band, of which he was a member for more than 30 years, including several as pipe-major when the band was known as the Lothian & Borders Police.

Born in Dysart, Fife, Scotland, his tenure as a police officer and band member started in 1955. George Lumsden was with the band for more than 30 years, including the band’s glory years when they won five World Pipe Band Championships, the last of which was in 1975 at Corby, England. With a pipe section of superstars and a drum corps led by the late Bob Montgomery, the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band travelled the world as ambassadors for not simply pipe bands but Edinburgh and Scotland and the sound of the pipes and drums.

Lumsden started his career with the band in the mid-1950s under Pipe-Major Donald Shaw Ramsay, and then in 1958 with Pipe-Major John D. Burgess, who appointed Lumsden as his pipe-sergeant.

When Iain McLeod was made pipe-major in 1959, he appointed John “Jock” Perceval pipe-sergeant. When McLeod retired from the force in 1976 at age 55, he was succeeded by Harry McNulty, who passed the reins to Forbes, who, after two years, transitioned the job to Lumsden in 1984, a man who many felt could have taken the leadership post initially with no argument. Lumsden led the group until 1988 when Duncan Smith took over.

Lumsden competed successfully as a solo piper, regularly picking up prizes in piobaireachd and light music at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting, among countless other events. He won the marches at Oban and was second in the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal at Inverness in 1967, the great Hugh MacCallum winning the prize.

The band on a visit to a distillery in Perth in 1964. Front row L-R: P-M Iain McLeod, P-S John Percival, unknown, Jimmy Hermiston, Jack Abbott, George Lumsden, Ronnie Ackroyd. Middle row: Tam Ritchie, Neil Summors, Willie Easton, Harry McNulty, Colin Forbes, Chris Anderson. Back row: Martin Wilson, L-D Bob Montgomery, Laurie Gillespie, Gordon Brown, Alex Shand, unknown.

The cane drone reeds he made for decades at his home on Braid Crescent in Edinburgh were celebrated and sought-after by top bands and soloists, and he had close ties with the late reedmaker Sandy Hain and the bagpipe maker Gerry Gibson, both of Ohio. Lumsden assisted in the design of a successful pipe chanter with Gibson, and worked occasionally with Wm. Sinclair & Son Bagpipe Makers in Edinburgh.

He taught many pipers over the years; Stuart Cassells and Chris Gibb were among the most prominent.

Renowned for his dry, quick and, at times, unintentional wit, Geordie Lumsden unfailingly had an excellent story to tell and a kind word to say, building his regard as one of the most pleasant people in the piping and drumming world.

We extend our condolences to George Lumsden’s family and many friends at this sad time.





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