We are a new band which started in October 2016 with around 50 players signed up. We partner with the University of Bedfordshire band (PM Cameron Doherty, LD Luke Broadberry), with the intention of using it as a feeder system for the City of London. Bedfordshire currently have a small number of players who are new to the competition arena, or have not competed for a few years and are enjoying the challenge of getting back out. The organisation as a whole is working hard on educating young learners and we hope to start a juvenile band in future – Our ultimate goal is to develop youth players all over London and the rest of the country. We hope players can play with the band that’s right for them, not only for the City of London, or Bedfordshire, but all other bands in the area. Our members are committed to supporting the pipe band scene in England in any way we can.
We have over 35 pipers signed up, 12 snare drummers, a mid-section of 4 and 2 bass drummers across the organisation. We have a committee of 7, representing City of London and the Uni of Beds. Our chairman, Cliff Hall, teaches youngsters under the banner of the Pride of Murray (which we fully support) and will compete with City of London Pipe Band.
There is a good history of pipe bands in England and the corresponding number of excellent players has helped to foster a strong competitive element. The creation of our organisation was a conscious attempt to leverage and share resources for the benefit of the whole. Already we have seen the positives of this. Our work with the ATC (air cadets) in addition to attracting new learners means that it is feasible we will have a young quartet in competition for 2018. Also lookout for our first workshop named “Regeneration” which is set for Oct 7th 2017 in Reading. The day will offer something for bandsmen young and old who are keen to improve, but also for bandsmen who want to understand how to get better performances from their band.
It’s all been about trying to get the best out of very experienced players, to reflect on where things haven’t worked in the past and be open-minded about how we can do things right for the whole pipe band scene in England.
So it feels like in 2017 we are seeing a Regeneration of the pipe band scene in England. It will take some time, but the partnerships we have formed after many years of decline will prove successful at all levels we are sure. We hope to achieve the highest Grade possible, but more importantly to establish the future of pipe bands in England by instilling solid foundations via tuition and a willingness to work with those that are interested.
Weekly practices are held in Knightsbridge, London and at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton. All are welcome to attend
The City of London wear the Clan Stuart of Bute (Hunting) tartan.
The University of Bedforshire currently wear the Black Stewart tartan
Leadership of the band; Pipe Major is Iain Westgate and the Lead drummer is Conor Porter
Spotlight on Stow Caledonian Pipe Band
The Stow Caledonian Pipe Band was formed in 2011 and is based in Walthamstow. Over the years the band has branched out across most of north and east London by performing at different events. Stow Caledonian aims to share their knowledge and experience of pipes and drums to the public, with a goal to attract younger members of the community. The band currently practices in Chingford and are always looking to recruit new members, from experts to beginners. Stow provides tuition to ensure all members make the most out of their instrument. The band are currently under the direction of Pipe Major Gareth Utting and Pipe Sergeant Paul Burgess. Along with the experience of many other senior members, the band has advanced in such a short time. Stow Caledonian are registered with the RSPBA and compete at South East England Branch competitions, with the desire to continue to improve as a band.
Stow Caledonian have a close relationship with the SPSL and a number of their pipers compete in solo piping at both the SPSL and RSPBA competitions.
The band has an excellent web presence and you can find them on various social media:
If you would like to know more about Stow Caledonian then you can contact them via
Pipe Major Gareth Utting
T: 0208 801 4047
M: 0793 270 2493
Glorious sunshine and a very busy Highland Games with lots of different activities and events. Pipe Bands, vintage cars, dancers, birds of prey, rock bands and sprinting races amongst others! Possibly the most varied and entertaining Games on the circuit.
Piping was at the top of the hill away from any distracting noise and with a great view of the whole Gathering.
All 6 competing pipers were amateur status. It was great to see some new faces we haven’t seen before in London. The playing was of a very good standard with all pipers playing at a higher standard than I have heard them before.
An audience of about 15 listened to the piobaireachd in the morning and this grew to 20-25 for the light music in the afternoon.
All pipers showed significant levels of composure particularly in their piobaireachd taorluath and crunluath variations. Evidence of some hard work through the winter!
Overall Harpenden Champion Piper
1st Billy Wardrope
2nd David McRobb
3rd equal Iain Allen and Lachlan Macdonald
1st David McRobb (Corrienessan’s Salute)
2nd Billy Wardrope (Too Long in this Condition)
3rd Lachlan Macdonald (Glengarry’s Lament)
1st Tom Broderick
2nd David McRobb
3rd Lachlan Macdonald
Strathspey and Reel
1st Billy Wardrope
2nd Lachlan Macdonald
3rd Iain Allen
6/8 or Jig
1st Iain Allen
2nd Billy Wardrope
3rd David McRobb
Adjudicator Andrew Hall
There was also a large dancing competition and it was great to see and hear Steve Watterston playing for the dancers. While his work commitments restrict his solo playing these days readers will be pleased to know Steve is still playing at his usual very high standard.
Big thank you to Jonathan Cox and the Harpenden Lions for organising such a great event.
Notice for Entries to the Annual London Competition
Date Saturday November 4th 2017
Venue Kensington Conference Centre, London
Entries are currently being accepted via email or post now and the website entries will start in June.
Closing date for entries September 30th 2017. Late entries will not be accepted.
Entry fee of £40 to cover all events entered. Juvenile entry is free.
Payment of entry fees is required in advance by direct bank transfer or via paypal (details below). Please note that entries will not be accepted without payment of entry fee.
Tunes selected will be provided to pipers in final tuning
Premier grade events
Piobaireachd: Am Bratach Gorm (7 tunes to be submitted with entry)
Piobaireachd: William Gillies Cup (6 tunes to be submitted with entry) (NB: the Gillies Cup is also open to A grade pipers)
MSR: London Medallion & John MacFadyen Quaich (6 of each tune to be submitted with entry, TWO of each to be played) (NB: ref entry criteria 5 below)
March: PM JB Robertson Silver Rose Bowl (6 of each to be submitted with entry, selected tune to be played ONCE). (NB: the March competition result does NOT contribute to the overall prize).
Hornpipe & Jig: Mary Flora Beaton Cup (3 of each to be submitted with entry)
Piobaireachd: National Piping Centre Trophy (submit 3 tunes on the day)
MSR: PM Robert Crabb BEM Trophy (submit 3 of each on the day)
Hornpipe & Jig: Trophy (own choice)
Piobaireachd: (own choice)
MSR: British Airways Pipe Band Trophy (own choice)
Slow Air & Jig: Highlands & Islands Society Trophy (own choice)
Clasp events will all be administered via the CLASP website.
Follows the established grading system. E.g., those graded B for light music by the CPA will be expected to play in the B grade light music.
Formers winners of London eventssince 2009 will be expected to play in the next level event at London.
Winners from the 2017 events at the Argyllshire Gathering or Northern Meeting will be expected to play in the next level event at London.
The Bratach Gorm is open only to gold medal winners or previous winners of the Gillies Cup at London.
In the event of a large entry in the premier MSR event the SPSL committee may elect for the MSR to be played once through only. If this occurs pipers will be notified in advance).
In previous years the A grade event had a low entry compared to a much larger B grade. From 2017 all pipers graded B+ will be required to enter for the RG Lawrie Rams Horn Snuff Mull (where graded B+ for Piobaireachd), and the Strachan Memorial & Donald Forbes Medal (where graded B+ for light music).
Please contact the SPSL committee for any uncertainty on which events to enter.
Sort Code 16-00-15 Account 23119520 Account name Scottish Piping Society of London
Please include your name as payment reference and click on this link to enter online without Paypal.
Click on this linkto enter online and pay by Paypal
The SPSL have a negotiated a discounted room rate with the Copthorne Tara Hotel. Quote code BARC031117 to obtain the discounted rate (£100 per room per night for double/twin occupancy, £90 per room per night for single occupancy).
John Angus Smith and Andrew Hall split the top prizes at the SPSL Members Competition 2014, which took place at the London Welsh Centre on 22nd June.
John Angus Smith won the Open Piobaireachd with a wonderful rendition of Lament for the Only Son, with Andrew Hall and Allan Dunsmore taking second and third place respectively.
The same trio shared the prizes in the Open MSR, with Andrew Hall taking the top prize. John Angus came second prize, with Allan Dunsmore again taking third place.
John Angus Smith won the Open 6/8 March, while Allan Dunsmore had his chance to shine in the Open Jig, taking first place with a splendid run through The Handshaker.
The entry was strong and the three judges – guest judges Bill Wotherspoon and Glen Brown, alongside the SPSL’s Roddy Livingstone – were impressed with the overall standard of play, highlighting that piping continues to thrive in the South-East of England.
In the amateur grade, Len Durham won first prize in the Amateur Piobaireachd, playing Glengarry’s March. William Wardrope took the honours in the Amateur MSR and 6/8 March, playing Mrs MacDonald of Dunach, Dorrator Bridge and Lexie MacAskill in the former, and Jean Mauchline in the latter.
The amateur grade also provided me the chance to make my own competition debut, somewhat late in the day, but better late than never. Well, not quite. My real debut was premature and disastrous, somewhere to the north of Toronto in 1981. The members’ competition was my chance to face those demons more than 30 years later and put things right.
And facing those demons, glowering across at me from the other side of the judges table (sorry, Roddy), it turned out to be not quite as bad as I’d thought it would be. Could have been better, could have been a lot worse, with a silver in the Piobaireachd and a bronze in the MSR rounding off the day nicely.
In the Under-18 events, Kieran McAlea arrived just in the nick of time to sweep all prizes, playing an impressive set of King George V’s Army, Captain Colin Campbell and Lexie MacAskill in the MSR and Farewell to Port Askaig in the 6/8 March. Hunter Davis won the Under 15 Slow Air and 2/4 March events with Scot’s Whae Hae and Brown Haired Maiden.
Rolls were reversed in the evening, and it was the guest judges turn to take the stage for a recital, with the competing pipers retiring to the audience alongside other society members to enjoy a fantastic evening of piping.
Glenn Brown played a great set of tunes interspersed with piping anecdotes. He was followed by Bill Wotherspoon, whose set included a wonderful rendition of Maggie Cameron, a tune which I had made a slightly more hesitant attempt at earlier in the day.
A great day – and evening – was had by all!
Saturday 18th March 2017
On Saturday 18th March the SPSL held its annual Members’ Competition & Recital at The Caledonian Club in Central London. Callum Beaumont judged the competition during the day and delivered an excellent recital in the evening.
SPSL committee member Stephen Cussen was an excellent host for the day’s event. The event ran smoothly and Stephen announced the winners in plenty of time for the rugby fans to watch the England vs. Ireland match!
1st Lachlan Macdonald (Glengarry’s Lament)
2nd Len Durham (The Groat)
3rd Colin Taylor (Corrienessan’s Salute)
1st Jamie Forrester (MacDougall’s Gathering)
2nd Andrew Hall (Lament for Ronald Macdonald of Morar)
3rd Michael Fitzhenry (The King’s Taxes)
Amateur March, Strathspey & Reel
1st Len Durham
2nd Lachlan Macdonald
3rd Colin Taylor
1st Jamie Forrester
2nd Michael Fitzhenry
3rd Andrew Hall
Open Strathspey & Reel
1st Andrew Hall
2nd Michael Fitzhenry
3rd Jamie Forrester
1st Michael Fitzhenry
2nd Jamie Forrester
3rd Andrew Hall
4th Len Durham
The evening recital was a very enjoyable and friendly occasion. Guests were seated in the impressive Johnnie Walker function room where we were treated to a supper of haggis, neeps and tatties. It was a convivial atmosphere where society members and friends enjoyed a very pleasant meal listening to top quality piping.
Callum is at the top of his game after his recent successes at the Metro Cup and the Uist & Barra and he displayed his excellence and versatility with a wide range of tunes. His piobaireachd for the evening was Queen Elizabeth the Second’s Salute which was really quite appropriate given that we were next door to Buckingham Palace!
During the interval Stephen Cussen told us a little bit about the City of London Pipes and Drums. Stephen is a driving force in that organisation which is led by Pipe Major Iain Westgate. They are doing a significant amount of teaching across London and the South East area for both piping and drumming and deserve significant credit for this investment in learning and development.
As society president I was particularly pleased to see a number of new faces join our established members in making it a very enjoyable day. Enclosed is a photo taken at the prize giving in the Morrison Room. The portrait in the background is of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and he looks very satisfied with the day’s events!
A special mention is due for young piper James O’Connor. James started piping in the Air Cadets three years ago and is now piping with the City of London. At the end of the evening recital James addressed the gathering and on behalf of the SPSL thanked Callum for the excellent recital. James’s comments were warmly applauded by all present.
Thank you to everyone who supported the SPSL in this successful event.
The Society is also looking forward to the Annual London Competition in November and a number of additional volunteers have joined the team this winter. Preparations are well under way and being driven by a team which includes Mrs. Jackie Roberts, Mrs. Annie Broderick, Billy Wardrope, Callum Galleitch, Michael Fitzhenry, Stephen Cussen and myself. I expect to confirm details of this year’s London Competition in the next few weeks. One certainty this year is that acting on feedback from last year there will be bar and catering refreshments available throughout the day to ensure the social activities of the gathering are fully restored!
The SPSL are delighted to announce that we will be holding an indoor competition on Saturday 18th March 2017 at the Caledonian Club London.
Non-members are very welcome if they wish to compete.
There will be a mixture of Open, Amateur and Juvenile categories followed by a recital by Gold Medallist Callum Beaumont.
October 30, 2013
The Great Highland Bagpipe is a unique instrument which, to play properly, requires plenty of expert tuition.
The Scottish Piping Society of London is a charitable organisation and we offer the following classes.
Subject to the availability of tutors, our Members who are beginners are currently being offered weekly lessons in Central London. As pipers advance beyond this level the Society can guide the individuals towards appropriate tutors and bands who can help them progress.
Tuition at an advanced level is available by arrangement. It is expected this is targeted at experienced pipers seeking to progress at the professional standard (B and C levels). Places are limited.
For any further advice on lessons or how to improve your skills, please contact us via our Facebook and Twitter links.
SPSL Year Membership
SPSL Yearly Membership that will run from time of purchase until the following January. Please remember to include the details asked below so that we may send you your SPSL membership badges. Thanks.
July 2, 2016
The 77th Annual London Competition
This year marks the 77th event which will once again be held at the Kensington Conference & Events Centre in London. The date for this year’s event is Saturday 5th November 2016. We hope all the information you need as a spectator or competitor is below. How do I enter ? How do I get there ? How much is it to enter ? All of these questions will be answered below, but where you are unsure, please email us any time on firstname.lastname@example.org as we are here to help with whatever it is you need.
NB: please note that the format for the Bratach Gorm will revert to the usual playing requirements where competitors submit seven tunes of their own choice.
Please see the sections below regarding all you need to know about the event. We look forward to seeing competitors and spectators join us for what will be another fantastic event this year and we are hoping it will be bigger than ever!
Piping Competition Entry Details
Can I enter by post ?
Yes. Postal entries are perfectly fine. Find below the PDF printable versions. Please ensure you include all the details as layed out on the form :
Can I enter online ?
Yes. Click here to enter online.
Rules : Closing date for entries this year are on the 11th September 2016 but we will announce when the entry process opens. Entries will only be included in the draw once payment has been received and tunes have been submitted!
How much does it cost to enter ?
Entry fees will be £10 per event (Juveniles are Free!)
Nearest tube station – Kensington High Street
Circle or District Line to High Street Kensington, out through the arcade onto Kensington High Street, cross the High Street and walk straight up Hornton Street approximately 100 yards. The Town Hall Conference and Events Centre is on the left hand side.
Local Bus Routes
(Alight at Kensington High Street/Wrights Lane junction) numbers: 9, 10, 27, 28, 49, 328, C1. Alternatively 52 or 70 at Kensington Church Street.
There is a public car park immediately below the Town Hall. Enter Campden Hill Road from Kensington High Street. Turn first right into Phillimore Walk. Turn immediately left down the entrance ramp to the car park. Additional public car parks are also available at the Royal Garden Hotel (Kensington High Street) and in Young Street.