|Welcome to the Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band|
The band was first formed
on 20th March 1913 and has been in continuous existence since then though the name has changed a couple of times. In 2014 at the conclusion of the
centenary year, the band was delighted to re-establish links with the Clan Colquhoun and the Colquhoun family. To mark this the band has changed the name from Helensburgh and District to the Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band.
The band has always had strong connections with the town of Helensburgh and enjoyed the support of various prominent figures in the town council. A founding member was Benjamin B MacKinnon J.P. , a member of the town council and amongst other things a Secretary of Helensburgh Bowling Club, Clan Colquhoun Society, Helensburgh Highland Games and Sons of Temperance. He was a Printer with Macneur & Bryden in the town and had a Newsagents on East Clyde Street. As a politician he was originally a Liberal but switched allegiance to Labour, becoming chairman of Dumbartonshire Divisional Labour party.
Another founding member and noted patron of the band was Sir Iain
Colquhoun, Bart., DSO who retained strong links with the band throughout his life. The band, founded as the Helensburgh Pipe Band, changed it’s name to Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Band when Sir Iain presented them with a set of new uniforms. The band played at Sir Iain’s funeral on a wet and blustery day in November 1948.
Another founding member and noted patron of the band was Sir Iain Colquhoun, Bart., DSO who retained strong links with the band throughout his life. The band, founded as the Helensburgh Pipe Band, changed it’s name to Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Band when Sir Iain presented them with a set of new uniforms. The band played at Sir Iain’s funeral on a wet and blustery day in November 1948.
Minutes of a meeting from 1916 showed that 14 members of the band were at that time overseas on active service. The duties of the band included leading recruiting parades in the area, these being fulfilled by the bands youngsters, some of whom went to the war themselves eventually. The band also played at the unveiling of the towns war memorial in 1922.
In these early years of the band the patronage and support from various local luminaries was very apparent, in the minutes of the 1927 AGM for instance there were amongst the various office bearers in the band Sir Iain Colquhoun as Honorary President, Twelve Honorary Vice Presidents including Provost RR Herbertson and ex Provost JF Duncan two Reverends, a Lt Colonel a Captain and other noted residents of the town including W.J. Richey of Clarendon and T.F Campbell of Lonsdale. The band were also asked to play at the 1938 Empire Exhibition in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow and took a leading role in the main ceremonies for that event. The strong links with the town of Helensburgh are evident in the number of engagements received from the Town Council to play on the Helensburgh seafront and for Hogmanay midnight parades through the town.
After a hiatus from 1939 till 1946 for the Second World War, the band resumed with a committee comprised mainly of players or ex players from the band holding the various posts rather than the local politicians and other luminaries of the early years with the notable exception of Ex Provost Billie Petrie. Billy was appointed Honorary Vice President in 1974 and while no longer directly involved has been a long term advocate of the band and has often complimented us on our turnout at the Rhu Gala and other events in the area.
In the mid 1970’s, after the demise of Helensburgh Town council during local government re-organisation and to reflect the band’s membership catchment area, the name was changed to Helensburgh and District Pipe Band.
A significant proportion of the membership now come from Helensburgh and all around the local area; namely Arrochar and Tarbet, Rosneath
Peninsula, Luss and the Vale of Leven. In recent years however, stronger links have been re-established between the band and Sir Malcolm Colquhoun of Luss and also with local
councillors and the band are expected to play a strong role in the promotion of new developments in the Town as well as the village of
For the band, the time of most regular competition success was through the 1940’s and early 1950’s under Pipe Major Tommy Campbell with this success being carried over into the 1960’s by Pipe Major Archie McNicol of Rhu. During this period a number of prizes were won in major competitions at Grade 2 and 3. Some further success was achieved under Pipe Major Jimmy McKenzie of Helensburgh and also Pipe Major Bill McDonald, a well known local architect and long served band member. The band has competed intermittently since then and still aim to do well at this while remaining primarily a community asset with teaching and promotion of piping and drumming being the priority. Over the years, a number of former learners or young players have gone on to play with other bands competing at a very high standard.
After starting up a teaching class at Lomond School with initial help from Paul Warren of Lomond and Clyde Pipe Band (himself a former juvenile player in the Helensburgh Band) a number of years ago, the band continue to enjoy the use of the school in Helensburgh for practice nights. Currently the numbers of under 18’s being taught in the band outnumber the adult players and this bodes well for the future.
The band performs in and around the Helensburgh and Lomond area at highland Games, gala days, parades and some competitions. The band can often be seen practicing on the seafront in Helensburgh during the summer months. They wear Ancient Colquhoun tartan and their cap badges carry the Clan Colquhoun Crest and motto.
The current and 14th Pipe Major is John Low. Longest serving members are Malcom Gilmour who joined in 1948 and Jim Gunn who has been playing or teaching with the band since the 1950’s.