The Police Pipe Band

In 1946 an application was made to the Commissioner of Police by a number of pipers and drummers currently serving in the Police Force to form a Police Pipe Band. The Commissioner at the time, Mr. W. J. Mackay, himself a Scot, approved of the suggestion and in deference to him, their patron, the unit adopted the Mackay tartan and Mackay crest and motto as the basis of their uniform.

After the Pipe Band was officially established, members of the unit decided to be financially independent of the Police Department, and since its foundation the Band was solely responsible for meeting all relevant costs in the upkeep of uniform and general equipment.

The complement of the Pipe Band comprised of 17 pipers, 4 side drummers, 3 tenor drummers, a bass drummer, and a Drum Major. The President of the Band was a Mr. N. T. W. Allan, the Commissioner of Police, who had taken a keen interest in the Band activities since its inception.
The Band made its initial public appearance at Newcastle in 1947 during the Centenary Celebrations at that centre. It made many public appearances after that at metropolitan, country, and interstate events. The Band was in very keen demand for State and Ceremonial occasions, city processions, social events, and functions for charitable purposes. The Commissioner of Police approved every function at which the Band attended, and no charge was made for its services.

During the Royal Tour in 1954 the Police Pipe Band appeared on two occasions before Her Majesty the Queen, a single honour. On the occasion of the Royal Tour by Her Majesty the Queen Mother in 1957 the Band performed in the grounds of Government House during the Royal Garden Party.

Despite a full programme of official, public, and charitable engagements annually members still found time to fulfil the ancient Scottish traditions of meeting members of other Pipe Bands in the field of open competition. In this regard, the Band enjoyed an enviable reputation. Their initial competitive appearance was at the NSW Highland Gathering Festival held at the Royal Agricultural Showground on the 1st January, 1948. On that occasion the Band annexed the coveted 1st Grade Pipe Band Open Championship and the Dewar Trophy – an auspicious debut.

The Band then went on to compete at 40 various competitions and festivals and annexed pride of place on no less than 35 occasions. On the 1st January, 1961, at Maryborough, Victoria, the Band succeeded in winning the Australian Pipe Band Championship from 21 contestants – a meritorious achievement.

The New South Wales Police Pipe Band, with their colourful and spectacular uniform, stirring music, and proud bearing, were immensely popular with the public of Sydney. The skirl of the bagpipes, the swagger of the kilts, and a gaily coloured tartan is a sight to surely gladden any heart, but the late eighties and early nineties, saw the greatest threat to the Band’s existence. Due to the economic climate, the Police Minister who came to power in 1988, placed all Police Music Units under the microscope. The Police Pipe Band was made redundant in July 1989.

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