This history of the Society is largely a reproduction of the booklet
which accompanied the Society's gramophone record which was issued in 1988.
The first section (up to 1976) was written by Ida Davison and published
in Northumbriana and is used by permission The later part was written by
Steve Barwick. This history will be updated when time allows.
The present Society is the successor to the 'Northumbrian Small Pipes
Society' which was started in December 1893, - "to encourage the art of
playing the Northumbrian Small Pipes; to preserve the melodies peculiar
to the English border, and to exhibit the musical pastimes of Sword Dancing,
and the other traditional accompaniments of our Folk Music". They published
their proceedings until 1897, and continued competitions till 1899, but
soon afterwards dissolved.
Interest in Northumbrian pipe playing had waxed and waned for at least
a hundred and fifty years before this. Thomas Bewick, the engraver, at
the end of the eighteenth century, wrote to a friend: "At one time I was
afraid that these old tunes, and this ancient instrument, might from neglect
of encouragement get out of use, and I did everything in my power to prevent
this and to revive it, by urging Peacock to teach pupils to become masters
of this kind of music; and I flatter myself my efforts were not lost."
John Peacock was a small pipes player, and the last of the Newcastle waits.
It was he who persuaded the pipmaker John Dunn to make a set with four
keys to it. He also produced a tune book.
The early part of the nineteenth century was dominated by the Reids
of North Shields, (father and son) who were making beautiful sets of pipes
with increasing number of keys, up to seventeen. These are still much sought
after. However the number of players declined throughout the century.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century Dr. J. Collingwood Bruce,
the antiquarian, gave a series of lectures on the pipes and pipe music,
because of the fear that they would die out completely. He also (with John
Stokoe) compiled the 'Northumbrian Minstrelsy', published by the Society
of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1882.
After the break-up of the 'Northumbrian Small Pipes Society', piping
was kept alive by the Duke of Northumberland, who still retained a piper
in his service, and by families in which small pipe playing was a traditional
art, e.g. the Cloughs of Newsham, and by players in districts where the
love of pipe music had not given way to the attractions of more modern
tunes and instruments.
About 1920, G.V.B. Charlton of the Hesleyside family, who had been
a member of the previous Society, wrote many articles for the press, chiefly
about the half-long pipes, which were then his main concern and particular
interest. He also kept lists of pipers, and where sets of pipes were known
to be. W.A. Cocks of Ryton also wrote articles and started a collection
of bagpipes. He also made pipes.
These two, together with Edward Merrick, revived competitions; in Newcastle
at the North of England Musical Tournament, and at agricultural and other
shows in the county. James Spencer gave a silver cup to be competed for
at the Bellingham Show (1921), and dies from which medals could be produced
were given by many leading Northumbrian families.
The first meeting of the present Society was held on 5th October 1928.
There were five people present, viz., Basil Alderson, William Miller, Vivian
Fairbairn, William Kirton and Gilbert Askew. They had received three encouraging
letters, from A. Shield, J.T. Dunn and J. Armstrong, and two apologies
for absence, from J.K. Stanger and R. Douglas. This resolution was put
before the meeting and accepted:
'Resolved that a Society be here and now formed for the purpose of
encouraging pipe playing, and the composition and collection of pipe music,
with particular reference to the Northumbrian pipes; the policy of the
Society to be directed on such lines as to be most encouraging and stimulating
to the younger generation of pipers and beginners in pipe playing.'
A set of rules was drawn up, and officers appointed. It was decided
to ask the Duke of Northumberland to be Patron, and G. V. B. Charlton to
be President. Both accepted. W.A. Cocks (small pipes) and James Robertson
(half-longs) were elected technical advisers. J.K. Stanger- who was pipe-major
for the Medical School OTC band of half-long pipes, became chairman, G.H.
Askew secretary, B. Alderson assistant secretary, and the committee consisted
of W. Kirton, W. Miller, V. Fairbairn and A. Shield.
They were an active group, led by G.H. Askew and meeting in each other's
houses every fortnight. They distributed circulars to all known pipers
and those interested in pipes, and enlisted the help of the Society of
Antiquaries, who agreed to insert a notice in their proceedings. All the
well-known names of pipers began to appear in the minutes of the Society;
Tom Clough, W.A. Cocks, Jack Armstrong and many others.
Within six months, membership had grown considerably, arrangements
had been made to hold meetings in the castle, and classes had been arranged
for tuition on the half-long pipes for Grammar School OTC and Scout groups.
These classes started at the castle in May 1929, with twenty pupils, but
were discontinued in December 1930 because numbers had sadly deteriorated.
Mr. Robertson presented a silver cup for the half-long class at competitions
The Society also started a collection of music for a new tune book.
Meetings started at the castle in April 1929, by kind permission of the
Society of Antiquaries, and the first annual competition was held there
in November. There were four classes: small pipes junior, small pipes senior,
half-longs and Highland pipes. There were few entrants. The first Annual
General Meeting was held there in January 1930, and the following Vice-Presidents
were appointed: Miss Grace Gray (of Wark), James Hall (piper to the Duke),
Anthony Charlton and T.W. Pigg. There were now 58 members. Fees were 2s.
6d (12.5p) for playing members, and 5s. (25p) for non-playing. There was
a small surplus at the bank of £1 5s 6d. It was decided to send round
a monthly circular of all piping news.
The President (G.V.B. Charlton) expressed great disappointment at the
number of entrants to competitions both in Newcastle and at the country
shows, and urged members to do something about it. This had some effect
for at the second Newcastle competition there were six small pipes players
and twelve on the half-longs. The Margaret Askew (mother of G. Askew) cup
was presented for the senior small pipes competition. At the second annual
meeting, K. Stanger resigned and R. R. Armstrong (father of Jack Armstrong)
became chairman. There were now 90 members. Meetings were then held monthly.
It was decided to reprint the 'Instruction book for the Northumbrian
Small-Pipes by J. W. Fenwick' first published by the earlier society. It
was revised by W.A. Cooks and G. H. Askew. Mrs. Fenwick-Clennell provided
the major portion of the funds required for this publication with a donation
of £7.7.0d. One doesn't know how many copies this procured but, a
little later, the Society bought the printer's remainders of 260 copies
for £3! At the annual competitions in 1931, three members of the
Clough family were prominent, Tom Clough being judge, Tom Clough junior
winning the small pipes senior competition, and Henry (Tom's father) with
his son and grandson giving a demonstration afterwards.
In 1932 the papers of Joseph Crawhall were given to the Society, and
were then handed to W.A. Cocks for safe keeping in his collection. They
are now in the Bagpipe Museum. It was felt that there was not sufficient
room at the castle for the annual competitions, so this year and until
1937 they took place at the Old Assembly Rooms, outside caterers providing
refreshments. Also this year the Society published 'A Bibliography of the
Bagpipe' by Gilbert Askew. Miss Joan Sharp, secretary of the English Folk
Dance and Song Society, asked for pipers for a public demonstration to
be given in Newcastle in January 1933. R. Mowat and G. Storey played the
smallpipes and J. Dunn and G. Askew the half-long pipes. R.R. Armstrong
resigned, and the new chairman was R.N. Mowat, who had been a prominent
member of the old society, being then one of their best players. The Rev.
J.P. Thornton presented a silver cup, and it was agreed that this should
be competed for in the beginners small pipes class.
At the fifth annual meeting, membership stood at one hundred and twenty-one,
seventy-one being playing members. During the year, the Society had published
a monograph on 'The Northumbrian Bagpipes; their development and makers',
by W.A. Cocks. The first of several radio broadcasts took place. Nine members
performed and it was relayed from the castle.
It was the practice in these early years always to have a demonstration
of pipe playing after the competitions. In 1935, after playing by T.W.
Pigg, R.N. Mowat, and M. Hodgson, a demonstration of the playing of a 'shepherd's
pipe' was given by Miss Gladys Page Wood of the Pipers Guild. This was
a simple pipe, and her playing was much appreciated.
'The Northumbrian Pipers Society Tune Book', edited by Gilbert Askew,
was published in 1936. Mr. Mowat died this year and Jack Armstrong was
elected to the Chair at the Annual Meeting in 1937. This was quite an eventful
year, the Society obtaining permanent headquarters in the Morden Tower.
A piano for it was provided by Esther McCracken, and the President supplied
the furniture. The first meeting was rather a disaster because of a smoking
chimney, but this difficulty was overcome, and all meetings, competitions,
Annual Meetings etc. were held there, for many years to come. Members soon
made themselves at home, for there were facilities for providing refreshments,
and most meetings ended with dancing to the pipes.
In 1938 the Society published another booklet by Gilbert Askew, 'The
Medals of the Northumbrian Bagpipe.' He left the district this year, and
so resigned from the secretaryship, having occupied this position from
the very beginning. W.A. Cocks also resigned from being technical adviser
and treasurer, and became a Vice-President. L. Robson became secretary
for one year, after which his son, L.G. Robson succeeded him. L. Robson
senior did much work for the Society, serving as Vice-Chairman, or on the
committee for many years. He paid the rent of the Morden Tower out of his
own pocket. The Alnwick Branch of the Society was formed this year.
From this point and until the beginning of the war in September 1939,
the Society organised many functions such as concerts and dances, at Bellingham,
Cambo and Bolton. Members entertained the Lord Mayor (Ald. G Oliver) to
a demonstration of the small pipes, half-longs and Highland pipes at the
Morden Tower. There were reedmaking sessions. It was decided to start piping
competitions at the Caistron (near Rothbury) sports. Lady Armstrong presented
a silver cup for this, and it was well attended. At the last Annual General
Meeting before the war, it was reported to have been a record year with
membership up (though no numbers are recorded), meetings better attended,
and finances more healthy than ever before. The concerts had proved very
popular and lucrative.
During the war this prosperity naturally declined, many members serving
in the armed forces. L.G. Robson joined the R.A.F and Miss Margery Bell
became secretary (1941). The monthly meetings were continued, but competitions
and other outside activities were suspended, petrol rationing and other
war time austerities making travelling difficult. Apart from a few social
evenings and reed making sessions, little could be done. Fees from members
in the forces were suspended, and collections were made for them. The Alnwick
Branch organized Troop and Red Cross concerts and dances.
At the June meeting in 1943 the death of the president G.V.B. Charlton,
was announced. The chairman, (Jack Armstrong) played a lament, 'The Flowers
of the Forest' in his memory. Discussions took place about a suitable memorial
and it was finally decided to issue a new tune book. Subscriptions were
collected for this and it was published as 'The Charlton Memorial Tune
Book', edited by Alan Hall and W. J. Stafford, in 1957. Captain W.H. Charlton
of Hesleyside became the second president.
After the war was over, a series of concerts was organised in order
to boost the Charlton Memorial Fund. Esther McCracken wrote a play entitled
'Cash or Kind', which she gave to the Society. It was first performed by
the Bellingham Women's Institute where, it was reported, it was very good,
but would have been improved with more piping. It was later performed at
the Society's concert in Newcastle, which proved very successful, and netted
over £30 for the Fund. Competitions were resumed. Jack Armstrong
resigned in 1946 due to pressure of work, though he continued to help the
Society, giving talks and demonstrations, and providing music for the dances
with his country dance band for many years to come. He was one of the best
pipers of his day, and produced many sets of pipes, which are much prized
today. He was made a Vice-President and Alan Hall became chairman.
Lady Trevelyan was unanimously elected president in 1947. She had been
a very active member of the Society, attending many meetings, and was made
a senior Vice-President after the death of G.V.B Charlton, being nominated
as his successor. She led the 'ad hoc' committee for raising money for
the Charlton Memorial Fund, and organized many concerts for this purpose.
Mrs. Sample of Bothal presented a silver cup to the Society in 1949,
in memory of her son who was killed in the war. This is known as the John
Sample Cup, and is competed for at the Alnwick competition in the open
small pipes class. This year the Alnwick Branch organised a highly successful
concert, which was the forerunner of the present annual "Alnwick Gathering",
for a long time one of the highlights of the piping year. A concert was
held at Bellingham also, which proved very popular, and a branch was opened
there, called The North Tyne and Redesdale Branch of the Northumbrian Pipers
By the time the Society came of age (October 1949), it had recovered
from the war. Membership now stood at ninety-eight members. The president
started an annual outing to Wallington, and socials, dances and concerts
featured in the programmes. The Christmas party had by now become a regular
event. Ordinary meetings also became more interesting. The Annual General
Meeting report for 1949 mentions 'Mr. Jack Armstrong's demonstration of
reed making; Mr. Pagan from Glanton and friends demonstration on recorders;
Mr. P. Kennedy's talk and gramophone records of folk music; and Mr. T.
Clough's talk on traditional music and his masterly renderings of old airs.
The rules were amended by W. Stafford. Jack Armstrong was congratulated
on becoming Piper to the Duke.
After the war, there was a spell when the Morden tower fell into disrepair,
and meetings were held in different rooms in the city. After repairs had
been dealt with and a gas stove installed, a great cleaning and decorating
programme was carried out by Ed. Robb, and his team (all members) in 1951.
This was repeated in 1956 by Mr. and Mrs. Ord and friends. It appears to
have been a combination of a series of break-ins, the cold, and difficulty
in getting cleaners, which led the Society to relinquish the tenancy in
Alan Hall retired in 1951 and became a member of the Committee. W.B.(Basil)
Clough took the chair. Social events continued to be very popular, and
the president remarked in 1952 that 'she had never been so conscious of
the vitality of any society as this.' A particularly popular event was
the Ceilidh at the Crow's Nest Hotel that year. However, interest in the
ordinary monthly meetings was felt to be on the wane again, pipers not
playing as much as they should. Professor Fisher Cassie gave an interesting
talk on Sword Dancing, followed by demonstrations, at one of these meetings.
Wilfred Hall left his set of pipes to the Society. These were put into
playing order by F. Ord, and are now loaned to prospective pipers for six
monthly periods. HMV re-produced the record of Tom Clough playing the small
pipes. They were soon all sold.
W.J. Stafford became chairman in 1955. The financial situation was
becoming increasingly disturbing, partly because the tune book was proving
much more expensive than had been anticipated, so that the memorial fund
would not cover it, and partly because the society was still paying rent
for the Morden Tower and also renting rooms at the British Legion Club
for ordinary meetings, while repairs to the Tower were carried out. Several
members gave donations, and subscriptions were raised to 7s. 6d. (37.5p)
for all members. The Bellingham branch closed this year (1955). There had
been great difficulty in keeping it going so long.
It is interesting to note that there were still half-long players at
this time. They held some of their own meetings in the Morden Tower and
occasionally accompanied the dances. A half-long pipe band of four players
was started in 1958 by Wallsend Boy Scouts. At the Annual General meeting
in 1957, there was a reshuffle of officers. R.A.S. Cowper became chairman,
Alan Hall secretary, and W.J. Stafford treasurer. Mrs. Margery McMitchell
(Margery Bell) the retiring secretary, had held this office for sixteen
years, and was warmly thanked for all the work she had done. She was presented
with a specially bound copy of the Charlton Memorial Tune Book, signed
by many members, and was made a Vice-President. P. Foreman, the retiring
treasurer, resigned because of ill health. He had held the post for seven
years and had been a very good friend of the Society, paying the insurance
for cups etc. out of his own pocket. He continued his interest in the Society
until his death in 1965.
The next year Colin Caisley became chairman for one year, after which
R.A.S. Cowper resumed this office. J. Bryan became treasurer, also for
one year, after which H. Oates held this position. The Morden Tower was
again in bad repair, and there had been frequent break-ins of late. The
Society felt a great need for a new meeting place. At the last meeting
there, they had Francis McPeake as a guest, who played to them on his Uillean
Meetings were held in the library at the Black Gate from July 1959,
and the annual concert was performed at the King's Hall, University of
Newcastle upon Tyne. Competitions were held in the University music department
(later the gymnasium) until 1971, and the Annual General Meeting in a committee
room at the Literary and Philosophical Society from 1963 to 1969. The Christmas
party was still a regular occurrence as was the summer visit to Wallington
Hall. The Society also arranged two yearly functions, dances or ceilidhs,
at various halls in the city and sometimes a buffet supper or other refreshments
and ceilidhs at different inns in the district.
Alan Hall resigned in 1959. He had done much for the Society, having
served on the committee, or as chairman, vice-chairman or secretary, continuously
since 1941. Forster Charlton became secretary.
An exhibition of bagpipes was shown in the Black Gate Museum in April
1961, most of the sets being from the collection of W.A. Cocks. It was
arranged by R.A.S. Cowper. The centenary celebrations of the Blaydon Races
were held this year. Pipers were represented by F. Charlton and C. Caisley
at the concert. H. Oates resigned and E.Young was elected treasurer in
1962 for one year, after which Colin Caisley took over. The booklet on
'The Ducal Pipers at Alnwick Castle' by R.A.S. Cowper was produced by the
Society of Antiquaries in 1963, being the result of a talk given by him
to that society. The Northumbrian Pipers' Society bought copies for its
At the annual meeting in 1964 it was reported that members had played
the pipes on radio and television at home and abroad and the pipes had
been used as an accompaniment to folk song on gramophone records. Tape
recordings had also been made available, to aid distant members. R.A.S.
Cowper resigned and J. Bryan became chairman. Tom Clough died this year.
He had been a Vice-President for many years and was an important member
of the Society, being a most competent piper, and having judged the competitions
in the early days of the Society. The first gramophone record of a small
pipes player was one produced by Tom Clough. At this annual meeting it
was learnt that Mr. J. Gibson of Gosforth had left the Society £105
in his will.
The death of the President, Mary, Lady Trevelyan, in 1966, was deeply
regretted. It was reported that it would be difficult, if not impossible,
to find another who would be so actively interested in the Society, and
so genuinely fond of the smallpipes. She had indeed done a great deal for
the Society in its younger days and, until a few years before her death,
had attended many ordinary and committee meetings. Her daughter, Patricia
Jennings, plays the smallpipes and has served a term on the committee,
and also as vice-chairman. The Rt. Hon. the Earl of Tankerville became
the fourth President. He held this position until his death in 1971. During
this time he entertained the Society on three different occasions at Chillingham,
where we were taken to see the wild white cattle and spent delightful informal
afternoons piping and dancing on the lawns beside the castle. Refreshments
were provided and we were fortunate in having perfect weather for each
The pipe-making instruction book 'The Northumbrian Bagpipes', by W.A.
Cocks and J.F. Bryan was published in 1967. This contributed to an upsurge
of interest in the pipes. Pipemaking classes were initiated by J. Bryan
at Alnwick and others were started later, e.g. at Ponteland, Newcastle
and Durham, as many more people started making their own sets. J. Bryan
resigned from the chair in 1968 and was elected a Vice-President, while
Colin Ross became the new chairman. A team of pipers and folk dancers,
led by Forster Charlton, visited Czechoslovakia this year to perform at
the Strakonice International Bagpipe Festival, and lantern slides of it
were shown at one of the monthly meetings.
Another annual event was now introduced into the folk calendar. The
Morpeth Gathering Committee asked for a representative from the Northumbrian
Pipers' Society, and it was agreed to send one, W.S. Butler being the first.
Among other things there are piping competitions, and there is always some
piping in the concert. T.W. (Billy) Pigg died in 1968. He had been a Vice-President
of the Society since 1930, and had judged many of the competitions in both
Alnwick and Newcastle. He was one of the best pipers of his day, and it
was decided to present a silver cup in his memory. This is now competed
for in the intermediate class competitions in Newcastle. A record of his
playing was produced.
Colin Caisley resigned in 1969, having served on the committee continuously
since 1948, and as chairman for one year. He was elected a Vice-President.
He and his family, most of whom play the smallpipes have performed at many
functions. He has done much to help beginners. J. Byrne became the new
treasurer, and in the following year he was able to announce that the balance
at the bank was better than ever before, over £600. 1970 seems to
have been a turning point in our financial affairs, when income exceeded
expenditure for the first time in many years. This was due largely to the
sale of society publications and gramophone records.
In spite of this healthy state of affairs, attendance at the monthly
meetings was falling off badly. It was felt that this was due to the coldness
of the present quarters, with no facilities for providing refreshments.
Meetings were held temporarily at the Friends Meeting House in Jesmond.
Since 1969, the Society had been cooperating with the Newcastle Festival
Committee. The ordinary meeting in October coincides with this event and
is made an Open House day, when anyone interested in the pipes is welcomed.
Usually a concert is arranged in the Guildhall, and one year the Lord Mayor
asked for an official piper for the occasion. G. Atkinson, one of our best
players, carried out this duty.
Forster Charlton resigned as secretary in 1970. He had done a great
deal of work for the Society and continued to do so. He served on the committee
from 1951, and as secretary from 1959. He was offered a vice- presidency,
but refused, preferring more active work on the committee. He is now the
vice-chairman. Mrs. C. Ross became the new secretary, and a new post, that
of assistant secretary, was created and filled by Mrs. Alison Dickie. This
year the Society was able to hire the Sallyport Tower for its monthly meetings.
This proved most successful, attendances at ordinary meetings being greatly
improved, and other functions were also held there, i.e. the Annual General
Meeting, the Christmas party, and the competitions. This year, too, Mrs.
McMitchell (Margery Bell who had been secretary for many years) died. Her
husband presented a silver cup in her memory, to be known as the Margery
Bell Cup. It is now competed for in the small-pipes duet class at the Newcastle
The 'Northumbrian Pipers' Tune Book' was published in 1970, edited
by Forster Charlton, Colin Ross and Roland Wright. J. Byrne retired in
1971, when A. Davison became treasurer for two years, after which W. Dickie
took this office. Esther McCracken died this year. She had attended many
meetings in the early days of the Society and was a Vice-President from
1954. Following the death of Lord Tankerville, Professor Fisher-Cassie
was elected president in 1972, and invited members each year to a garden
party at his house, first at Ponteland and then at Warkworth.
In 1973 the Bagpipe Museum at the Black Gate, Newcastle upon Tyne was
opened, the basis of it being the collection of W. A. Cocks. It was arranged
by R A S Cowper, who became the first curator of the Museum, and was made
a Vice-President of the Society. Classes for beginners were started here
at the end of 1973. Under the guidance of Colin Ross, the second Curator
of the Museum, those who had made their own instruments were able to tune
them and learn to play.
In 1974 Mr. Dickie became treasurer of the Society, and Bill Hedworth
who had for many years provided reasonably priced sets of pipes was elected
an honorary member. This year also saw the release of a record called 'The
Wild Hills of Wannie'. This was produced by Topic Records in conjunction
with the Society using recordings which had been made over the previous
few years. Forster Charlton's sterling efforts on behalf of the Society
in the production of the record were much praised. Various makers donated
components for a set of pipes for the Society. These were assembled and
the set was to be loaned to beginners.
1975 saw the republication of the Charlton Memorial Tune Book. David
Burleigh presented a chanter for the Society Open Solo Class Winner. The
Society began an association with the Red Cross Garden visits, in particular
with Slaley Hall, whose water garden provided a lovely setting for playing
for many years after. 'The Northumbrian Bagpipes' pipemaking book was republished
in 1976. Anthony Robb became secretary of the Society and his wife Carole
joined the Committee. Bill Hume presented a book known as the Sunderland
Trophy for the winner of the Competition Class for Original variations
on a Tune. Entries for the annual competitions were well up on previous
years, and were heard by a capacity audience, which was most heartening.
The Society rounded off the year by playing Christmas carols at the Central
station for the Tyne Rail Music Festival.
In 1977 Roland Bibby was elected President, after the retirement of
Professor W Fisher-Cassie from the post. In honour of his long years of
service to the Society Professor Cassie was elected a vice-president. After
much work by Forster Charlton, a new constitution was drafted and agreed,
together with new rules. 1977 also saw the decision to republish the Peacock
Collection of Tunes in facsimile form.
In 1978 the Alnwick Branch decided to form a new organisation 'The
Alnwick Pipers' Society'. This has been a most successful Society, meeting
in Alnwick once a month, and publishing its own books. Groups of players
in Manchester and London began to hold regular meetings and this year also
saw the election of four more honorary members: Jim Pallister, Josef Rezny,
Alan Brown and David Burleigh. As this was the Society's Golden Jubilee
Year, a special concert was arranged in Newcastle Polytechnic. Jack Armstrong
died this year; - his ill health had prevented him from playing for some
years but he had maintained a keen and supportive interest in the instrument
and its traditions.
1979 began with the founder members of the Society, Mr. K Stanger,
Mr. W Kirton, Mr. V Fairbairn, and Grace Gray being elected honorary members.
They were presented with gold-plated Society badges and illuminated certificates.
Tom Matthews, now the Duke of Northumberland's piper, was also made an
honorary member. Mr. K Stanger agreed to present the plaid and brooch which
are now competed for at the Society competitions for the winner of the
Junior class. Mike Tickell and Richard Butler initiated a Pipers' Night
at Morpeth on the second Sunday of the month. A Merry Neet was also held
after the Bellingham Show competitions, and later in the year a joint meeting
between the Alnwick Pipers Society and the Northumbrian Pipers' Society
was very successful. The Charlton Memorial Tune Book was again reprinted
and the Reed Making Pamphlet by George Wallace was distributed.
In 1980 Joe Hutton, Archie Dagg and Colin Ross were elected honorary
members and Dave McQuade undertook a review of the membership list. The
Society's first Chairman, Kenneth Stanger died suddenly, sadly before he
was able to present his trophy. In the last few years of his life he had
re-established his connection with the Society and had attended many meetings.
At the Annual General Meeting of 1980 Colin Ross, Forster Charlton, Jim
Hall and Bill Dickie resigned as Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and
Treasurer respectively. All continued to maintain an active interest in
the Society, Colin Ross in particular continues his sterling work and advice
in making, tuning and maintaining the instrument. Forster Charlton steered
the Society through the difficult years of the 1950s to its present healthy
state, in particular drafting the Constitution and organising many Society
A new committee was elected with Ida Davison as Chairman, Richard Butler
as Vice-Chairman, Mike Tickell as Administrative Secretary, Bill Roberts
as Membership Secretary, Steve Barwick as Minute Secretary and Malcolm
Binns as Treasurer.
In 1981, after much hard work by Bill Hume and Richard Butler, the
Second Northumbrian Pipers' Tune Book was published. A concert for the
disabled was held in St. James and St. Basil's Church in Newcastle. It
was organised by Forster Charlton and Bob Reid in conjunction with the
Red Cross. Later in the year the Society provided entertainment at a Craft
Fair at the Guildhall and Bob Reid manned the publicity desk for the Society.
The Society this year made Alan Hall and Eric Young honorary members.
The Society was invited to put on a concert at the Edinburgh Folk Festival
at the end of March 1982, and this took place in the Bedlam Hall, and was
a great success. Merry neets were arranged in Stamfordham, Durham and Traquair
Fair. Dave McQuade. who was teaching pipemaking at Norton near Stockton
on Tees, got a meeting going at Sedgefield, which later became Cleveland
Branch. The Branch opened with Chris Almond as its Chairman, and regular
meetings were held, on the second Wednesday of each month at the Golden
Lion Inn, Sedgefield.
At the 1983 Annual General Meeting the death was announced of Mr. Ian
Dickson. A Society member, and Secretary of the Alnwick Pipers' Society,
he had done much to foster good relations between the two Societies. Bill
Hume was elected Vice-Chairman following Richard Butler's resignation from
the post. Denis Dunn and Brian Ward were elected honorary members.
Work on producing a duet book was begun, with a general request to
Society members for duets. George Wallace's reed making pamphlet was expanded
to include contributions from Colin Ross and Dave Bailey and published
as the Reedmaking Booklet. In 1984 the membership had risen to 349, meetings
were well attended and Morpeth Pipers' Nights and Ashington classes continued
successfully. There were various classes for children started using a further
12 sets of simple pipes which had been assembled from components donated
by many makers. The Cleveland Branch had been very active in its area and
even outside it. Also in 1984, Kathryn Tickell became Piper to the Lord
Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne, the first person to hold this office for
150 years. Ida Davison retired as Chairman, leaving the Society in a better
administrative state than it had been for some time, and she continued
as Vice-chairman. Jim Todd became Chairman in her place. Mr. Somerford
wrote offering a donation for a trophy 'For pipers in Yorkshire'. A silver
plated cup was bought and engraved with local views of Yorkshire and was
to be competed for by 'those born within or resident within the three old
Ridings of Yorkshire'. This cup was competed for at Whitby Folk Festival
and subsequently at Redcar and Holmfirth Folk festivals.
Jim Todd retired as Chairman at the 1985 AGM. Retirement away from
the area prevented his continuing in the post and Dave Bailey was elected
Chairman in his place. Ida Davison also retired away from the area and
Bill Jones was elected Vice-Chairman in her place. Ann Sessoms became Secretary,
and Geoff Carter, Treasurer. For their distinguished services Dave McQuade
and Richard Butler were elected Vice-Presidents and Diana Blackett-Ord
as an honorary member. It was with sadness that we heard of the death of
Professor W Fisher-Cassie.
At the 1986 Annual General Meeting it was decided to start work on
a new record. Jane Robson, together with pipers and other instrumentalists,
had busked in the Tyneside Metro Monument Station during the Christmas
period of 1985. This was most successful and a great deal of money had
been earned for charity. For the efforts involved hearty congratulations
were recorded at the 1986 AGM. Later in the year the annual concert was
organized and compered by Neil Smith, and recorded by Radio Newcastle.
The concert was broadcast a few weeks later on local radio. The Society
published its Duet Book. Its quality is a credit to the editor, Neil Smith.
A reprint of the First Tune Book was also necessary. During 1986 the Society
of Antiquaries, to whom W A Cocks had left his collection of bagpipes,
found itself unable to sustain the Bagpipe Museum at the Black Gate in
Newcastle upon Tyne.
In 1987 Chris Calver took over as Chairman, and Steve Barwick became
Vice-chairman. Negotiations between the Society of Antiquaries and Castle
Morpeth Borough Council meant that a new Bagpipe Museum opened during the
year at the Chantry. With much hard work and effort Ms Gillian Crawley
and Anne Moore re-arranged and displayed the collection in time for the
Museum to be opened by Princess Margaret in July 1987. The Society now
holds a monthly maintenance class at the Museum. The Society concert this
year was organised by Jane Robson who did a very professional job, providing
a varied program which was well received by the capacity audience.
At the 1988 AGM Volker Heidemann was elected an honorary member and
it was announced that an affiliation to the Literary and Philosophical
Society of Newcastle upon Tyne meant that we could store our books, paper
work, records and other Society artifacts in a safe and secure place. It
would also be possible to hold committee meetings at their premises.
1988 was the Diamond Jubilee of the Society, celebration of this important
year taking the form of a special concert after the Society competitions
in October, the release of the record 'New Horizons', presentation of special
prizes at the competitions, and a Jubilee issue of the magazine.