The Royal High School of Edinburgh Pipe Band 1966-1967

R.H.S. Pipe Band – 1967 – winners of the St. Andrew’s Society of East Lothian Shield – best Juvenile Band

Stan Young sent this photo of the school Pipes and Drums in 2006. Sadly, Stan died in 2008 in an accident while motorcycling in the mountains in Italy.

Chris Crossley (seated front left) has been in touch and shares the memories below. He was a member of the committee of the Edinburgh FP club until recently. Neil Seegar is a regular at our London Club events.


Pipe Band leading a procession 1953


This photo appears on the Edinburgh RHS FP website. It looks like it could date from around 1953 -1954 (See Alistair Montgomery’s comment below) . Do you know anything about it? Are you in it? Please leave a comment.

Royal Edinburgh Hospital’s Gala Day 1965

By Chris Crossley

There are many fond and sometimes curious memories of my days with the School Pipe Band and one remains uppermost in my mind but set against a rather sad background really. This relates to the Band being invited to play in the late Spring of 1965 at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital’s Gala Day.

As our hire coach approached the Hospital, we were made aware that we might encounter some harrowing sights as the residents were mentally impaired to one degree or another but none of us at our age could really envisage what this meant and certainly not in respect of performing to our best on the day.

Our Drum Major, Val Tudball, was both popular and respected by all the Band so prior to our initial appearance on the Hospital’s playing field he re-enforced the necessity to keep our discipline and literally ‘hold our ranks’ no matter what the distraction.

Before we formed up, we had witnessed several peculiar incidents such as the stall for challengers to throw darts for prizes – the darts were not always aimed at the dartboard. Then there was an obstacle race where the first obstacle was a large solid kitchen table. ‘Take your marks – go!’ and a female patient sprinted athletically ahead of her rivals but in attempting to negotiate herself under the table with a flying slide she banged her head off the underside of it, knocked herself unconscious and the rest of the competitors simply trampled over her in their eagerness to win – stretcher bearer!

Fortunately we noticed several carer stewards on hand to deal with incidents and accidents of this nature as the Gala Day progressed.

‘By the centre quick march’ Val ordered and we were off swaying along confidently to our first tune. All was going well as we followed the Drum Major’s lead, marked step and turned back into our own rank and file.

As you probably know, the drummer ranks are to the rear of band formations and that day our bass drummer of my year was Jonathan Grubb who was on the small side for a bass drummer as the top arc of the large drum obscured his view. Nonetheless Jonathan, bedecked in his leopard skin uniform, was well versed in the art of ceremoniously throwing his pom-pom drum sticks and he always kept an immaculate march beat.

On about the third turnaround with Val heading past us the other way, a female patient suddenly appeared amongst the drummer ranks and started stroking the leopardskin head draped down Jonathan’s back. His suggestion to the lady to stop interfering with his leopard fell on deaf ears so Jonathan, mindful of his Drum Major’s command to hold rank and ignore distraction, calmly waited his chance to use his sleight of hand and dealt her a swift blow to the head with one of his pom-poms. It almost looked part of his drumstick routine but this produced an immediate anguished screech and elicited a handful of assistants who rushed across and led the chastised lady away.

I’m not sure to this day whether Val was aware of the incident as he may not have heard the screech above the skirl of the pipes and may only have seen someone being escorted off the field!

You had to see this to believe it!

p.s. Val was the last Drum Major and I the last Pipe Major of the School Pipe Band as it was discontinued at the new Barnton premises.


  1. The photo of the Pipe Band was taken in 1953-54 not 1966-67 as we all battle dress uniforms.

  2. I took part in this march around Arthur’s Seat and back in 1953. I was a member of the Sea Cadets section of the CCF. It was a painful for me as I had a large blister on my heel when we returned to the school. The Pipe major was McMillan and the piper in the middle was my class mate Leroy Thomson.
    I left school in 1954. Joined Shell Tankers an an Engineer Cadet and sailed with them until 1970 ending up as Chief Engineer on my last three Tankers.

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