History, as compiled in 2002.
The Derwent Scottish was formed at a meeting held at the Carlton Club, Hobart on Thursday 31st January 1952. The meeting was attended by former members and followers of an existing Hobart based Pipe Band.
The name ‘Derwent Scottish’ resulted from an earlier meeting of interested parties. As the story goes, the meeting invited suggestions for a suitable name for the proposed new band. At the height of deliberations, someone, to this day unknown, commented that the band would be a Scottish Pipe Band based in Hobart on the banks of the Derwent River, why not the Derwent Scottish Pipe Band? Hence the current name.
Parades are the lifeblood of the Band. They are an opportunity to show off the musical and marching skills of the players, as well as allowing the Band a source of income. All parades large or small, are important to the Band and know one parade is approached any more or less enthusiastically than the other.
However, there are two parades on the Band’s calendar that hold particular significance. They are ANZAC Day and New Year’s Eve. Since its inception, the Band has marched on ANZAC Day, both in the main parade in Hobart and at the Lindisfarne Dawn Service. Pipers from the Derwent Scottish have also been involved on many occasions over the years in playing the Lament during wreath laying at the Hobart Cenotaph.
New Year’s Eve has always been a busy night for the Band, being engaged to play at numerous venues around the city. Traditionally the first call of the night has been Calvary Hospital.
The Band usually seeks and accepts about thirty parades a year, revolving around civic and cultural events including ANZAC Day, Hogmanay, Caledonian Society functions, competitions and the like.
The Band relies on ‘paying parades’, donations and subscriptions as its major source of fund raising. In that regard the Band performs once a month, generally on the first Saturday, at the Salamanca Market.
To read more about the Band’s History select from the links below:
Inaugural Band Committee
The inaugural Band Committee of Management included: A Ladies Committee was also formed, primarily to raise funds to help wiht the purchase of uniforms and equipment. Inaugural members included – Florence Bucirde (President), Rita MacMilan (Secretary), Mrs C.Findlay (Treasurer), Bertha (Dolly) Glover and Jessie Spaulding.
The First Parade
There were sufficient pipers and drummers to allow the Band to be more or less up and running from its inception. Under Pipe Major Norman (Barney) Donovan and Drum Major Norm Duffy, founder-playing members paraded for the first time at the Glenorchy Primary School Fair, 8th March 1952. Members wore white shirts, green blazers and grey trousers.
The Band’s progress over the first two years was rapid both in terms of membership and the number of engagements undertaken. By the end of the second year, membership had risen to forty including learners and the parade list for the second year alone totalled ninety-nine.
Many of the founder members played with the Band over the next twenty years. However, Bob Milligan was the only founder member still playing with the Band at the time of its 25th Anniversary in 1977.
An outstanding effort in fund-raising during the first year enabled the Band to purchase some basic items of uniform and equipment.
After obtaining permission from the Scottish Clan Chief, Sir Hector MacLean, the Band adopted the MacLean of Duart tartan. Kilts were purchased and worn for the first time, along with spats, hose-tops, sporrans, waist belts, glengarries, white shirts and green blazers, at the Band’s first fair at the Hobart Town Hall, on 1st November 1952.
By the end of its second year, enough money had been raised to equip the Band with full highland uniform. The Band was further able to acquire feather bonnets and wore them for the first time on parade when Queen Elizabeth the second visited Hobart in 1954.
After extensive fund-raising by members during the early 1970s the ‘full uniform’ was renewed in its entirety. Over the years this uniform has also been adapted for ‘summer dress’ by using, with the kilt – shirts with ties or cravats, blazers, cardigans, glengarries, balmorals, leather sporrans, cream hose and ghillie brogues.
The Crest was originally designed by Founder Member Max Webb and later modified to its more familiar present form by Max’s father Viv Webb. The modern crest features the Band’s name printed on two royal blue and gold-trimmed ribbon scrolls, located above and below a red Tasmanian Lion, which stands on a red & white-stripped horizontal bar. Immediately beneath this bar are two flowering waratahs with a Scottish thistle located on either side of the lion. The vertical centerpiece of the crest is a drum major’s mace. Depending on the application, the crest can either appear as ‘free-standing’ or set within a white, yellow or green shield.
The Crest is used for membership and uniform badges, certificates and plaques awarded within the Band and correspondence. It is also reproduced in pewter for cap badges.
The Reel Party
The Band was initially supported by one or two highland dancing Reel Parties, comprising four young ladies who would accompany the Band on many of its parades, marching in a line behind the last row of drummers and dancing as part of the Bands performance. From time to time male members from the Band would partner in some of the traditional highland dances.
Members of the Reel Parties over the years included;
Post-war Australia was receiving a quarter of a million European migrants a year. Tasmania was accepting large numbers of Scottish migrants for settlement and work in government-sponsored industries such as the HEC, Electrolytic Zinc Company, ANM, Mount Lyell mine, APPM and Comalco.
By 1960, there were six Caledonian Societies around Tasmania under the umbrella of an active Caledonian Council. These organizations provided both recruiting grounds and supporter bases for the state’s growing number of pipe bands. The Band has always supported and been supported by the two Caledonian Societies in Hobart.
The sixties was a time when record numbers of pipers and drummers were joining and supporting pipe bands around the state. Entering and doing well in competitions was a matter of pride.
The Tasmanian bands during this period were –
- Burnie Highland Pipe Band
- Devonport Caledonian Society Pipe Band
- Derwent Scottish Pipe Band
- (The) Friends School Pipe Band
- Hobart Highland Pipe Band
- Huon Valley Pipe Band
- Launceston Ladies Pipe Band
- Northern Highlanders Pipe Band
- Queenstown Highland Pipe Band
- Scotch College Pipe Band
- St. Andrews Caledonian Pipe Band
- Stuart Scots Pipe Band
- Tasmanian Irish Pipe Band
- Tasmania Police Pipe Band
The Band and the Royal Australian Artillery Association Tasmanian Branch (RAA), formerly the Artillery League of Tasmania, have been kindred organisations for over sixty years. This is probably due in part to some older members having served with the Artillery. As a result of this association the RAA prefers to march immediately behind the Band in the Hobart RSLA ANZAC Day March and many a parade marshal has found that wherever the Band is positioned in the March, the RAA will do its best to fall in behind.
In the eighties, the Band was made an honorary member of the League and Max Webb composed a tune in honour of the League’s then Patron, Brigadier Horace Strutt. In more recent years two Band members were awarded honorary life membership of the League.
Since 1952 the Band has used, rented and enjoyed several ‘Homes’ for practice and social purposes, including:
- Elizabeth Street School Gymnasium
- Scots Church Hall
- Congregational Hall, Harrington Street
- 10th Hobart Scout Group Hall, Sandy Bay
- RSLA Hall, Macquarie Street
- Masonic Club
The most memorable of the Band’s practice venues was without doubt the Masonic Club Hobart. When the rooms under the ‘Club’ were taken over by the Band in 1965, they were renovated by Band members and opened in 1966 and for thirty-eight years the walls and shelves in the rooms provided a visual history of the Band and its members through photographs, trophies and other memorabilia.
Tasmanian Pipe Band Competitions
In earlier years, pipe bands performed as part of the Tasmanian Bands League’s Brass Band Festivals that were held in Launceston. In 1958, the Tasmanian Pipe Band Association was formed, primarily to run competitions at the Tasmanian Caledonian Council (TCC) Highland Games in Campbell Town. The Band is a founder member of the TPBA and since the foundation of the Association has provided many office bearers, as well as supporting its pipe band, mini-band and solo competitions and other events.
The first real success was when the Band won all pipe band competition events at the second TCC Highland Games at Campbell Town in 1959 and collected the First Prize of £100 donated by a local Scottish grazier. Since that time, the Band has competed successfully at Tasmanian and regional competitions and highland games in various locations, including Launceston, Campbell Town, Glenorchy, New Norfolk, Ross, Port Cygnet, Deloraine, Latrobe, Richmond and Devonport.
Following its early success, the Band set about improving its standard in piping and drumming to compete both locally and nationally. This is probably the period when the Band set long-term goals for both its playing and social commitments, regarding each as being equally important.
Importing A Scottish Tutor
In 1963, the Band made a bold move by sponsoring Donald MacLean, a well-known and talented Scottish piper, to come to Tasmania to act as tutor to the pipe corps. Donald stayed in Tasmania for several years, tutoring the Band and others around the state.
Australian Pipe Band Competitions
In 1965, the Band travelled to Melbourne to compete for the first time in the Australian Pipe Band Championships at Grade 2 level. The Drum Corps was placed second in its first appearance at a national competition and the Band sixth overall.
The Band travelled to Adelaide in 1966 and again competed successfully at Grade 2 level. The Drum Corps was Australian Champion and the Band was runner-up overall.
In 1967, the Band travelled to Sydney and again met with success, with the Drum Corps gaining second place in Grade 2.
In 1968, the Band travelled to Adelaide for the second time to compete nationally at Grade 2 level. The Drum Corps was again Australian Champion and Drum Major Brian Banks of the Derwent Scottish was crowned Australian Champion Drum Major.
From 1968 to the year 2000, the national championships were staged biennially. The Band did not compete in Brisbane in 1970, nor in Hobart in 1972, but did travel to Melbourne to compete in Grade 3 at the 1974 championships. Unfortunately, any hopes of competition success that the Band might have had, were well and truly dashed when an absolute deluge hit the field just as the Band was about to commence the first of its two competition elements. The steady rain persisted for much of the Band’s performance, ruining items of uniform and equipment and disappointing the Band’s hope of demonstrating their drumming prowess to visiting drumming luminary Alex Duthart and showcasing their new tune ‘Harlingford Downs’, a march composed by then Pipe Sergeant Ian Cornelius.
However, with characteristic enthusiasm, Band members made the most of the weekend, taking the opportunity to learn from the international judges present and enjoying the social atmosphere and interaction with other bands.
In the ensuing years, the Band has experienced periodic restructuring and rebuilding and has competed only once at a national level since 1974 – in Hobart in 1992. Nonetheless, during that period, key members of the Band have been involved with administrative and judging duties, particularly on each occasion the Championships have been staged in Hobart – 1972, 1984 & 1992. Some members have also performed as guest players with other pipe bands in major competition, from the senior grade through to grade 4.
The Banner & Sash
A Banner was presented to the Band in 1966 and has been carried by the Pipe Major on ceremonial occasions since that time. The Banner records early competition achievements in the Tasmanian Pipe Band Championship and Australian Pipe Band Championship events and also displays the badge of the Royal Australian Artillery.
A Drum Major’s Sash was presented to the Band in the early eighties by Patron Dr W. McLaren Thompson. As with the Banner, the Sash is sometimes worn by the Drum Major on ceremonial occasions. It records the Australian and Tasmanian Championship Drum Corps successes from 1966 to 1982.
In 1956, two ceremonial swords were presented to the Band by His Excellency The Governor, Sir Ronald Cross. The swords were put to practical use for many years by various Reel Parties performing with the Band.
A New Era In Drill
As part of the Band’s pursuit of excellence, Richard (Dick) Riley, a marching girl drill instructor, was recruited as Band Drill Instructor in 1973. An adaptation of marching girl drill was adopted by the Band. Over the following twelve months, players learnt all about check paces and precision drill. The resultant dramatic improvement in marching allowed the Band to win most of the dress and drill competitions it entered over the next decade. This position is no longer held.
Adapting to the Times
Since the Band’s inception, members have learned to enjoy the good times as well as endure the bad. During competitions, members have received victory in the same manner as they have accepted defeat.
The stability of the Band over the years can be attributed to the kinship that develops among members and their pride in being part of a team. This has been fostered by shared social and recreational activities – family weekends, hunting and fishing trips and, in the early days, even a hockey team called ‘The All Scots’ which competed in the local hockey association roster.
There have been only three distinct phases of membership since its formation, i.e.
- the fifties and sixties
- the seventies and eighties
- the nineties to date
The fifties and sixties provided the competition era when the Band became established and flourished, having success in both state and national championships. The Band competed successfully in all Tasmanian Pipe Band Championships held between 1958 and 1966.
Band trips to other state centres were also a feature of this period – to Queenstown, Burnie and Launceston, where members joined in activities with local bands. During Easter 1964, the Band travelled to Geelong, where they not only entertained with the customary pipe band playing and marching displays, but surprised audiences with their general depth of talent and versatility in other forms of music. The many months of hard but inspirational work involved with renovating the Band Rooms at the Masonic Club, were of particular significance during this period.
The seventies and eighties were a time of rebuilding both playing and committee membership. By 1972, interest had waned and the pipe corps was down to five players. New players were recruited, taught and brought into the Band and intensive fund-raising allowed the uniform and equipment to be completely renewed.
During that time the Band was involved in two international events, the 1976 & 1977 Tasmania Military Tattoos, where they formed part of the Massed Pipe & Drums, alongside legendary international performers.
In 1975, individual Band members were invited to join with the Tasmania Police Pipe Band for their performances in the UK, which included the Royal Tournament at Earls Court, the Colchester Search Light Tattoo and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. In 1984 and 1989 individual members of the Band were again invited to join the Tasmania Police Pipe Band in performances at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The nineties saw an influx of players, including many young men and women. With renewed vigour, the Band consolidated and has competed locally as well as travelling to Victoria on several occasions to compete at Grade 4 level in competitions at Daylesford and Geelong.
One common thread through these three phases of the Band’s life has been the continual success of the Drum Corps that has won most of the local, interstate and national competitions it has entered since 1958. Gary Webb is the only member from the fifties still playing with the Band.