January 29, 2020

Glasgow Police again issue APB for new pipe-major

The Grade 1 Glasgow Police Pipe Band are once again looking for a leader after Alisdair McLaren decided to move back to his native Australia before ever taking the band into a competition.

McLaren, who had served as the band’s pipe-sergeant under Pipe-Major Iain MacPherson since 2017, was appointed to the role in September 2019. He had previously been a member of Grade 1 Field Marshal Montgomery for many years.

McLaren is also the leader of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, and that group is also looking for a new leader.

Glasgow Police have experienced much change over the last 20 years especially with numerous changes in both the pipe-major and lead-drummer positions.

Under MacPherson, who succeed Duncan Nicholson’s highly successful tenure during which the band staged its Pre-World’s Ceolry concert, Glasgow Police maintained its Grade 1 status, and in the last year climbed the rankings at the major championships, although not making a prize list.

The band was nearly rendered defunct when the Scottish police services amalgamated, with budgets closely reviewed and many costs deemed extraneous cut. It has been an important international ambassador for Glasgow and Scotland for more than 100 years.

Glasgow Police continued their legendary success since its greatest pipe-major, Iain MacLellan, retired in 1993, rising to take multiple championships under James Wark and later Donald Mackay. Mackay resigned in the middle of the 2008 season, Don Bradford taking over the top spot. Bradford, who is now pipe-major of Grade 1 Lomond & Clyde, successfully maintained the standard of the band for the remainder of the year.

In addition to MacLellan, Bradford and Mackay, the list of current and former members of the band is a virtual who’s who of pipe band and solo piping personalities, including Harry McAleer, Angus J. MacLellan, Ronnie Lawrie, John MacDonald, Angus Lawrie, Eric Ward, John Wilson, Alex Connell and Willie Grey.

McLaren was the latest ex-Field Marshal Montgomery piper to become pipe-major of a Grade 1 band, even though he never took the band into competition. Ryan Canning led Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia for six years, guiding the band to their 2015 World Championship victory. Emmett Conway is also a former member of Field Marshal Montgomery, and is the current pipe-major of Shotts.

Founded in 1883 as the Burgh of Govan Police, The Glasgow Police is the world’s oldest civilian pipe band and was for a century comprised all serving police officers. The band today reportedly has no serving police officers in its ranks and minimal sponsorship from the police force.

At publication time, the National Piping Centre had not responded to a request for comment on who will replace McLaren as leader of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, which  the organization manages.



McLaren ready to rev up Glasgow Police
September 4, 2019


McLaren joins Glasgow Police as co-P-S
August 20, 2017


No less great, now just Glasgow Police
October 6, 2016


Glasgow Police to start rebuilding with Henderson
September 29, 2016


Ward says he is still with Glasgow Police
September 15, 2016


Glasgow Police searching for L-D as Ward departs
September 15, 2016


Grossart joins Glasgow Police as co-pipe-sergeant
November 19, 2015


Glasgow Police: Nicholson steps down; MacPherson now P-M
September 30, 2015


Glasgow Police hitting home with Pre-World’s “Ceolry” Concert
November 23, 2013






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