A wide choice of topics covered from the dawn of history right up to present days . Many of these have a wider relevance than purely within the context of Strathearn . The author's viewpoint often is at variance with the accepted opinions espoused elsewhere eg The Jacobite Uprisings and The Reformation .
Crieff Silver Band- MacRosty Park 1949 Back Row: D Scott; A McCabe; D Copland; R Boag; W Suttie; Mid Row: K Blair; C Duncan; D Shepherd; J Oliphant; J Hutchison; C Wilson; F Turner; Front Row: A Duncan; B Gudmunsson, J Watters; R Dickson (Conductor); G Pluckrose; J Duncan; G Watters.
My old friend Alex McCabe is a Crieffman through and through – a member of a well
respected and known family who havebeen around the Strath for more than a few generations. Alexkindly gave me a typed
articlewhich had come into his
possession and believedto havebeen written in theearly 1950s . Itstitlewassimply “The Crieff Burgh Band
“ and the author was unknown . As someonewho spends a disproportionate part of his lifetrawling the local archives I havenot stumbled across this in more than a few
decades .It is interesting and informative . To many the namesmentionedtherein willring a familiar
chord – Arnott, Roy , Campbell , Ritchie , Tainsh . McOmish and Cuthbert are
still around in Crieff and the Strath . ‘Nuff said – letme proceed !
The exact origin of the Town Band is difficult to pin
pointbut the love of “ following the
band “ is age long andsomewhere in the
early years of lastcentury, the “ processional musicians “ of Crieff
grew to an organised body five – three fife players and two drummersThis was probably the first CrieffTown Band .
At any ratethis
ensemblebecame the nucleus of the 1st
Western ( Perthshire ) or Crieff Band , which won a wager for its officers’ at
a ceremonial paradeon the North
Inchof Perth . The Crieff Bandeasily provided thebest pacefora march past .
By 1825 , a few of the Crieff notablesorganised a Crieff Town Band. The Lady Willoughby d’Eresby and Sir
Patrick Murray , by their patronage,
gave considerable assistanceand under
Bandmaster Thomas Gaunt, the first
municipal bandcame into being , The
first to wear the blue jacketsfaced
with whiteand the DrummondTartan trews were : James Gow , William
Tainsh , William McInnes , Peter Roy , Robert Arnott , John Seaton , clarinet
players ; John Stewart and John Rose,
flute players ; Peter Arnott played the keyed bugle ; Alick Rose , the serpent
; Donald McOmishand Peter Matthew ,
thebass trombones ; William Roy and
William Campbell , the bassoons ; Duncan Campbell and Thomas Matthew, theFrench horns and Angus Berry and Thomas Edington , the bass horns ; the
tambourine, the cymbals and the bass
drumwere playedrespectively byAlexander McDougall, John Ritchie and Anthony
Cuthbert . Most of these surnames are familiar to day in Strathearn .
These were the days when musicled and enlivenedall proceedingsgrave and gay , politicalor historical . The Crieff Bandattendedsuch ceremonial occasionsas the
foundation of Muthill Church , the Sir David Baird monumentand the new bridge at Stirling .
Round about 1832 were stirringtimes in Parliamentary Reform and in
thisconnectiona meetingof some 4 000 peoplewas held in
the Squareat Crieff .
From a paragraphin
the Stirling Herald of May 24th 1832, we read :
“On Thursday last , a numerous and respectablemeeting of the inhabitantsof the town and parish of Crieff was held in
the Market Park . The different districts of the town , under the
superintendents o their various committees , walked to James Square , where the
whole met and proceeded thence to the general meeting, headed by the instrumental band belonging
to the town “.
Why the Sirling Herald required toinclude“ respectablemeeting “ is
betterleft unanswered .
The records show that this bandwas in existenceuntil 1864when Alexander Roy was the leader . Buta Rifle Bandwas the formedand the local brass bandwas notre – formed until 1878when for a
while the town enjoyedthe luxury of two
bands . Until the beginning of the present century , the Crieff Brass Bandhad the usual “ ups and downs “ of all
bandsand there is no authentic
recordof what happened in these
yearsbut in 1907 , there was
constituted , a Crieff Brass Band which , in many respects is the parent of the
present day silver band . The Secretary then was John Guthrie now janitor of
Crieff Public School . The bandconvener
wasMr MD Stewart , the band’s most stalwart
supporter at any time in its history , father of the famous screen star Miss
Sophie Stewart and of J Henderson StewartMP . J Henderson Stewart himself at one time figured in the junior
sectionof the band. New instrumentsand new uniforms were required . Withoutapenny at the timeto pay for them
MD Stewart placedan order and then set
about raising funds for the band’s needs .
Such enthusiasm cannotbe denied and before the Bandappeared in allits newsplendour, all accounts were paid
It was the Crieff Gamesof 1910 that the new outfit appeared for the first timewhen the Band playedfor th performanceprovided by the Border Yeomanry . This Band
played the volunteers off to the First World War , as its predecessors had done
at the time of theBoer War and
remainedan activeorganisationuntil 1918whn most of itsmembers had either enlistedor been called to the colours .
The playing off was done by the Junior Band as seven of
their Seniorswere among those marching
off to service . The seven included Sandy Duncanwho still plays in the Crieff Band and W
Bissett who later won the VC .
1920 saw the band in being oncemore in the Old Weavers Hall . This Band met
and played regularly until 1931 when a dispute with the Town Council over the
salary paid to the Bandmaster causedan
interruptionwhich lasted into the
SecondWorld War . The Bandresumed practice again in1946 and from that date has made steady and
satisfactory progress . It is interesting to note that a John Duncan still
plays in the Band ; he it waswho “ ran
the tape “ round the bandsmen in the Old Weavers Hall in 1907 and again in 1930
when new uniforms were being ordered .John has upwards o 50 years service to
his credit .
The present Band is recruitedfrom local lads ( and lassies of late )
entirely ; it plays regularly in the local MacRosty Park and is beginning to
enjoy a reputation outside its native town . To the present personnel , the
best known names areJohn Watters and
Bandmaster Robert Dickson . Both havebeen loyal , enthusiasticplayers
and leadersduring many years . John has
a good story of how the Band suffered at one time from the usual critics . One
daythe Bandliterally shonein its newuniform when giving a performancein the MacRosty Park . One of the collectorsapproached a well known lady who had been
rather severe in hercriticism . To his
concern she asked “ What’na band’s that playing today? “ Appreciating the situation the
collectorat once replied“ Oh that’s that Clydebank Band “ . “ Of
course it is “ replied the lady ,” I knew it couldn’t be that local lot ! “ But
good uniformsdo makegood Bands and it has been the zeal of John
Wattersand Robert Dicksonthat has carriedthe grand oldmen who have ralliedround the
enthusiastic young playersto the
satisfactory status that the Band enjoystoday , the Crieff Silver Band enjoys great good will on the part of the
localTown Council . Salaries, retaining
feesand musicare provided by the Counciland soonthe citizenswill hear their own
Band, not onlyin the well known MacRosty Park but in the
other districts of the Burgh .
As a footnotewe
would add that recently , the CrieffBand has not onlystruck up a
particularly warm friendshipwith
thefamed ClydebankBand . When the Clydeside players make their
annual visit to Crieff they are entertained , overnight if need be , by their
friends in Crieff . This is just typicalof the spirit of harmony facing Scottish Bandsmen inour time .