February 19, 2020

Nicholson returns as Glasgow Police pipe-major

Duncan Nicholson, playing the whistle at the 2014 Glasgow Police Ceolry concert. [Photo pipes|drums]
With less than three months before the Scottish competition begins, the Grade 1 Glasgow Police have appointed Duncan Nicholson as pipe-major, returning to the role he held from 2010 to 2015.

Nicholson replaces Alisdair McLaren, who left the post before he really began, electing to return to his native Australia three months after accepting the pipe-major job.

McLaren had replaced Iain MacPherson, who held the band’s position in Grade 1 for three seasons before having to leave the band due to private family matters.

“Coming in at this time of the season I hope to stabilize the band and hopefully put out some good performances on the park,” Nicholson said. “It’s a big task ahead, but I suppose I have been here before. Looking forward to get back at it.”

During Nicholson’s tenure, the band is best known for staging its “Ceolry” pre-World’s show at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, from which a successful recording was made.

The move is the latest in a multitude of changes for the band over the last 10 years. In addition to numerous leadership changes, the band endured a period of uncertainty when the Scottish police forces amalgamated to create Police Scotland. The band went through a series of name changes, eventually returning to its most well known and straightforward Glasgow Police Pipe Band title.

Established in 1883 as the Burgh of Govan Police Pipe Band, it’s the the oldest civilian pipe band in existence, and has amassed dozens of championships. It’s most successful competition period was from 1981 to 1991 when the band won 10 out of 11 World Championship titles under the Strathclyde Police mantle.

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 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 Angus J. MacLellan, Ronnie Lawrie, John MacDonald, Angus Lawrie, Iain Plunkett, Eric Ward, John Wilson, Alex Connell and Willie Grey.

A Highlander with roots in the isle of Barra, Nicholson is also an accomplished whistle player and has been a member of various Celtic folk groups.



Glasgow Police again issue APB for new pipe-major


McLaren ready to rev up Glasgow Police
September 4, 2019


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


Duncan Nicholson appointed Strathclyde Police P-M after multiple meetings
November 30, 2010


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


Glasgow Police to start rebuilding with Henderson
September 29, 2016


Strathclyde Police Pipe Band now “Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band”
February 28, 2013


Strathclyde P-M resigns; end of band ‘likely’
October 31, 2009


Strathclyde Police Pipe Band: “it’s over”
October 31, 2009


Strathclyde Police force to pull plug on competition band: sources
February 28, 2009



  1. This is possibly the best news that the piping world could hear in respect of the Glasgow Police PB, in my opinion. P/M Nicholson is a man steeped in the music and culture of the Scottish Gaelic tradition. If anyone is in any doubt about that, let them listen to ‘Ceolry’, which is one of the best examples in recent times of how to celebrate a whole tradition: nods in all kinds of directions – the Gàidhlig song and traditional music scene, the sense of feeling towards significant centenaries as demonstrated by the WW1 set, pushing the boundaries of the piping idiom in the way the various sets were presented, not to mention the clarity and calibre of the piping sound itself. Fair play to the man for taking on the mantle of leadership once more. Gach dùrachd dha na h-oidhirpean aige!



Forgotten Password?