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KCPB to recreate inaugural parade this Saturday

An early photo of Kirkwall City Pipe Band, which formed for the first ever remembrance parade in 1919. The modern-day band aim to recreate this march on Saturday at 11am.

Kirkwall City Pipe Band is set to recreate its first ever parade this Saturday — a day earlier than was printed in today’s edition of The Orcadian — exactly 100 years on from when the band took its inaugural march up Broad Street.

The band will set of this Saturday for a parade through Kirkwall at 11am, before the launch of their new album, Rocks and Salty Water, from 12pm in Kirkwall Town Hall.

The Orcadian of Thursday, November 27, 1919, described Orkney’s first remembrance parade 100 years ago as “an impressive ceremony,” involving around 200 veterans of both First World War and other conflicts, headed by pipers. 

That first ever performance saw drum major Archie Forsyth, pipers James Annal, James Cumming, Archie Johnston, David Laughton, David Gorn and Arthur Sinclair, bass drummer Edgar Gibson, and side drummers Hugh Harrold and Izat Gullion lead the 1919 Armistice Day Parade as the Kirkwall City Pipe Band — a tradition which has continued throughout the band’s 100 year history. 

Now, in the climax of its centenary celebrations, KCPB will follow in the footsteps of those first band members. 

Pipe major Laurence Tait explained: “We are going to recreate the march that took place 100 years earlier, setting off from what was then the drill hall, now K2’s furniture shop on Junction Road and march up to the cathedral. 

“After that (weather permitting) the band will play on the kirk green.”

According to Laurence, during that inaugural march, the band were not kitted with quite the same iconic regalia as they are nowadays.

“The band paraded in civilian clothes,” he said.  

“Drum major Forsyth had no mace until Edgar Gibson made one later, so for the first parades Mr Forsyth directed the band with a walking stick. 

“Mr Annal is believed to have taken on the role of pipe major for the day, but James Cumming is recognised as being the Kirkwall City’s first formal pipe major.”

During this centenary year, the band has performed for a crowd of 50,000 in New York for the city’s Tartan Day parade. In June, members past and present joined in a reunion parade on Broad Street, and in August performed as massed band with Stromness, Thurso and Rendall.

After this Saturday’s parade the band will be launching their newest album.

“This is our third album,” said Laurence.

“It has been recorded over the last few months by Stewart Shearer, who also performs many of the instrumental parts on the album.

“It’s 12 tracks, and a 50:50 mix of traditional piping and drumming, and songs and concert sets that the band plays, including the title track, which no one has ever heard the band play. “Duncan Hill returns as vocalist for four songs, with backing vocals mainly by Eddie Nicolson and George Rendall, as well as many other band members. As with previous albums, Andy Cant appears on fiddle and more!”

This will be the final centenary event for the band — save the launch of a book on its history, planned for next spring. Laurence has expressed his gratitude to all who have supported the band during this special year of celebration. 

“I’d like to thank everyone for supporting us so well in our centenary year,” he said. 

“The feeling of marching on to Broad Street in the rain on our reunion parade on June 1, and seeing so many faces in the crowd, was something quite special, and that moment was probably my personal highlight of the year.”

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