November 30, 2017

#TBT – a pipes|drums throwback pic

It’s that time of the week, so we continue our occasional #ThrowbackThursday series of images from the not-so-recent past, this time of an iconic band set for competition action.

Ready to pull the trigger at the trigger at the 1984 Cowal Pipe Band Championships are the now defunct Grade 1 Woolmet & Danderhall. Based in the mining community just outside of Edinburgh, the band enjoyed a solid run in the top grade under Pipe-Major Norman Summors, sneaking into top-six status on several occasions, though never picking off a championship. The day at Dunoon was a relative scorcher, continuing one of the hottest and driest summers in Scotland’s history.

Woolmet & Danderhall here turns out a dozen pipers – a solid number to remain competitive in those days. Readers will undoubtedly recognize many of the players, some of whom continue to be active today including a bearded Iain MacInnes in the second rank, who has enjoyed a fine career with BBC Scotland and as a famed musician and recording artist with folk groups such as Ossian, the Tannahill Weavers, and Smalltalk.

Sadly, Norrie Summors would die suddenly only a few years later, survived by his piping brother, George, who would have a long tenure as an RSPBA adjudicator.

Woolmet & Danderhall were part of the long-gone era of pipe bands supported by Scotland’s coal mining industry. A long strike by pit workers in 1984 resulted in the closure of many damaged or near-tapped-out mines, including eventually those in Danderhall, Whitburn (Polkemmet), Monktonhall, and Shotts, all of which were part of the support system for many top-tier bands. Each week, miners would put a few pence into the hands of collectors as they entered the pit to start their work day, and part or all of the money would go to support the local pipe band.

With Summors as pipe-major, the band progressed as one of the main top-grade alternatives to the Edinburgh City / Lothian & Borders Police until the Woolmet colliery closed, the sponsorship ceased and members of the band regrouped to form the Grade 1 Scottish Gas Pipe Band, also now defunct. The current City of Edinburgh Pipe Band emerged from what was left from the Scottish Gas roster and continues today.

Do you have an unseen photo that you’d like to share with the piping and drumming world? Feel free to fire it along to us for possible inclusion in our #TBT series.

Woolmet & Danderhall, Pipe-Major Norman Summors, at the starting line at the 1984 Cowal Pipe Band Championships. [Photo copyright pipes|drums]


  1. The coal mine did not close as a result of the strike; rather, the strike was carried out in opposition to the UK Government‘s plans to close it (and the rest of the UK‘s coal mining industry).



Forgotten Password?