About Us

Before The Pipe Band

Pipe Major Norman Gillies was a soldier serving in the Glasgow-based Light Infantry.  While there he earned the reputation of being one of Scotland's leading pipers. In April 1975 he was appointed as the first instructor for the schools of North West Ross-shire. It did not take long before he had dozens of pupils learning the chanter in Ullapool, Achiltibuie, Badcaul, Poolewe, Aultbea and Gairloch with a high number of the children graduating to play full-sized adult bagpipes.

How It All Started

On 3rd October 1977 a public meeting, chaired by James Lavelle,was held in the village hall.  Due to the amount of pipers that were then in Ullapool and Coigeach, it was decided to form a pipe band and “Ullapool & District Junior Pipe Band” was formed.  The first duty on the committee's list was to raise enough money to equip the pipers and drummers with instruments and uniforms. Committee member Willie Macrae made an appeal to already established pipe bands and got a great response from the Ardgay/Bonar Bridge Pipe Band, the Dingwall Royal British Legion Pipe Band and the 51st Highland Division Territorial Pipe Band.  Their donations of drums were used for tuition. Drums were then purchased from the Isle of Skye Pipe Band for £80 and 7 good drums costing £200 were bought from the Leyland (Scottish) Pipe Band, Liverpool.

Getting The Drummers

Even in pre-World War II years Ullapool had always had a good number of pipers such as the late Donald Ross and the late Lewis-born Donald Macleod. Drumming was something that had never been a practised skill in Ullapool or any of the Highland area. While serving in the 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders during the 2nd World War, Kenneth Mackenzie had been taught snare-drumming and became the tutor in basic snare, tenor and bass drumming for potential members of the Ullapool & District Junior Pipe Band. James Urquhart and Alex Strutt succeeded him.

The Uniforms

An appeal letter was sent to organisations and individuals from all over. This resulted in a total sum of £2000 being rasied which was quite a lot of money back then. The pipe band committee could now buy uniforms.

  • Mackenzie (Seaforth Highlands) Kilts
  • Green Barathea Jackets
  • Dress Mackenzie tartan ties, waistbelts, hose flashes, Glengarries
  • Seaforth Highlanders Glengarry Badges
  • Inverness Capes.

All the pairs of hose were knitted by committee members and locals like Mrs. Chrissie Macdougall, and Mrs. Mary Morrison!

Mackenzie Tartan.

Seaforth Highlanders Glengarry Badge.

First Public Performances

With no publicity the Ullapool & District Junior Pipe Band with 9 pipers and 6 drummers made the first appearance parading on the Ullapool Pier on Saturday 27th July 1979.

Due to the success of there debut invitations flooded in from Lochinver and Maryburgh to perform there. Another performance was given on the Ullapool Pier only this time the pipe band were accompanied by 4 dancers from the “Ben Wyvis” School of Highland Dancing. There tutor being Mrs Dorothy Gollan.

During the summer months of 1980 there were 18 performances but not only in Ullapool, they also attended the Dunbeath Highland Games, the Ardgay/Bonar Bridge Gala Day, Inchnadamph, Lochinver and their debut in Achiltibuie.

Up To The Present Day

Since the “early years” of the Ullapool & District Junior Pipe Band they have gone from strength to strength in all areas, more pipers and drummers, more and better equipment, and with the annual support from the Ullapool and Coigeach committees their finances have improved . As well as the local committees the North British Hotels Trust have provided great financial aid, and not to forget the generosity of tourists and locals alike who attend the performances through out the summer months.

The Pipe band and Highland Dancers for many years have also played and danced for the much loved Queen Mother at her annual “Highland Games” at the Castle of Mey. In 2013 the band played to HRH Princess Anne at the opening of the World Skiff Championships in Ullapool, and we also perform at Loopallu - Ullapool's annual music festival.

Please look around our site for more information about us and what we do