PRESTONLINKS PIPE BAND - ANDREW MUIR
The Band was formed in 1922. not long after the 1921 Miners'
Strike, by Pipe Major Robert Johnstone. better known as Bob. He
was assisted by Pipe Sergeant Hugh Muir and Leading Drummer Davie
Young, Sr. The Committee comprised the President. Walter Muir
my father. Treasurer. David Donaldson and Secretary. Bob Shepherd.
The Band had to be taught from scratch and the practice hall was
situated opposite Lorimer Place in Cockenzie. In later years we
had a hut in the grounds of Mary Murray's, then we used the Infant
School for a while and latterly, Prestongrange Bowling Club.
But in the beginning, money was needed for instruments and this
was subscribed by the miners at the rate of two old pennies (lp)
a week from their pay and the uniforms with kilts in the Royal
Stewart tartan were purchased at a later date.
The first Prestonlinks Pipe Band in their new uniforms with
pipers. In rear row, from left to right, Bob Johnston. Kenny Skinner,
Joe Christie, Peter Hay, Jock Donaldson, ?, Tommy Orr, Jackie
Stewart, Tony Edmond, H Cruikshank, Hugh Muir.
In front row, Walter Muir Sr., then drummers Willie Godfrey, Willie
Storrie. Sandy Boyd, Davie Young Sr., Davie Young Jr., Davie (Jazzer)
Smith, W Blaikley, and then Davie Donaldson, sitting.
The Band consisted of eleven pipers and seven Drummers. I joined
in 1937 and my brother. Hugh. taught me to play the pipes. My
brother. John, had been a member long before me. and much later,
my nephews, Robert and Walter, both played.
WWII found me at Ingliston, then an Army training camp. and I
had taken my pipes with me for my own amusement. However, an officer
heard me and enrolled me in the regimental band of K..O.S.B. 7th
Battalion and we saw service in France and Arnhem and later in
Norway. Members of the band were stretcher-bearers when required.
In peace time, things slowly got back to normal. The Band came
together again and played at all the Gala Days held in and around
Prestonpans, the Miners Gala in Holyrood Park and also in the
Fisherman's Walk at the Box Meeting in Port Seton. The fee for
the band on these occasions was never very much but the men usually
got a good tea. After one particular Gala we saw the Committee
served with boiled ham, salad and cakes etc, and then there was
a jar of jam and a plate of bread put on the table for us. It
was pointed out to the catering lady that our younger inembers
were all growing lads and needed something more substantial than
a jeely piece after playing so long. On hearing that, a few tins
of meat appeared and were opened and added to the table - and
it was much appreciated!
Over the years there were changes in the Band. After Davie Young,
Sr. retired, leading Drummer Tommy Blair took charge of the Drummers
and he trained up a lot of youngsters. Pipe Major Robert Johnstone
passed away after a record forty years service with the Band.
With the closure of Prestonlinks Colliery, Monktonhall Colliery
took responsibility for the Band and Hugh Muir was appointed Pipe
Major until he retired in 1969. Pipe Major Willie McBrydc then
took over in 1970 when it went from strength to strength in the
competitions under his leadership. We were invited to Toronto.
Canada in 1976, to Conflens Folklore in 1977 and to L'Orient Celtic
Festival in Brittany in 1978 and had a tremendous reception at
all the venues. And then the Band was upgraded to Grade 2 and
won the World Championship held at Nottingham in 1979 - a great
Another "first" for the band was the making of a cassette
of all kinds of pipe band music, and its sales had moderate success
in national and international terms. Our public performances started
to be a little more high key. We still enjoyed playing at the
local affairs but now also played at Galas further afield, at
football Internationals at Hampden and in the Cavalcade Parade
which opens the Edinburgh International Festival every year.
But it wasn't always work as we used to have an annual outing
and one year we arrived in CalIander to find the local Pipe Band
playing for the tourists. We got talking, soon persuaded them
to let us try their instruments and, of course, ended up giving
a display of our talents. It must have looked a bit odd to the
foreigners as we were all in casual wear, not a uniform between
After Tommy Blair retired. Leading Drummer Alex Dudgeon took over
but is now Leading Drummer with Drambuie Pipe Band.
When Monktonhall Colliery closed, Prestonpans Royal British Legion
became sponsors for the Band. When Pipe Major McBryde retired,
his son, Donald, took over and he eventually became Pipe Major
of Lothians Pipe Band. Now the Royal British Legion Pipe Band
is under the leadership of Pipe Major A Graham.
For my own part, I always loved playing in the Band and at Burns
Suppers and St Andrew's Nights but I also had the privilege of
playing at a sendee in St Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle, when
Tyne Tees television contacted me to play in a programme being
made about the WWII Norwegian connection. It was a great honour
and a wonderful experience.
Everyone loves a Pipe Band but they don't always realise the practice
and work that goes on before the Band appears in public. And that's
the one thing that the present day Pipers and Drummers have in
common with those of the 1922 Band - the dedication to make it
a success. I wish the Band 'All the Best' for the future!