While browsing through the LBPS archive for thirty years ago I came across a cutting from Piping Today. It has no date, unfortunately, but is in the form of an interview with Mike Rowan, founder of the Society. It opens with this paragraph:
“The flourishing revival of the Lowland Scottish pipes, and the establishment of the Lowland and Border Pipers Society, can be said to date from the afternoon of Sunday, 29 March 1981. That was when a meeting was held at The Folk Festival Club, Teviot Row House, Edinburgh, with the express aim of regenerating interest in the Lowland pipes.”
Later in the article Mike Rowan explains how it started. Having explained that it was his creation of ‘Big Rory’ that had led him to learn the pipes. ‘My piping is atrocious. Duncan Johnstone had a go at me and made no headway at all’ he commented;
“But I was excited by the pipes in the first place. I’d go to museums quite a lot and I noticed these Lowland pipes which were quite different from anything you could hear at the time in Scotland. The only Lowland pipes were in museums. Because I’m pushy, I asked to see the curator and thus met Hugh Cheape. He told me about Gordon Mooney who’d made a set of aluminium Lowland pipes.”
Mike had attended Northumberland Piping Society (sic)  which had provided him with an example of organised commitment to a particular instrument, his own motivation to act was a strong, personally-felt frustration that a unique Scottish tradition seemed to have totally died out. So he called the meeting of 29 march 1981 to test the interest in launching a revival of the Lowland pipes;
“People turned up…The connecting factor was that they were all really excited about the prospect of seeing for the first time a Scottish tradition which had all but gone. It was very exciting.”
This, of course, was the meeting that is reported in the article form The International Piper, reproduced on page 2.. The piping Today piece however, went on to say something about the consequences. Having acknowledged the role played by Jimmy Wilson in providing some kind of link with a pre-WWII tradition, Mike reflected on the way things developed.
“... it’s the smallpipes which have really taken off… I think the major reason is that they fitted into a totally up and running folk music repertoire and scene.”
The Lowland Pipers’ Society that emerged from that meeting, then, was conceived very much as the revival of a Scottish tradition. In a future issue I hope to follow the path that led to the ‘B’ being introduced, and to consider the way the ‘tradition’ has reached its current condition.