15th Century

Carving of a piper on a buttress at St Mary’s kirk.


Haddington town records include mention of a town piper.


First ‘official’ record of a town drummer.


Engraving by R Mabon of town piper James Livingstone, town drummer Andrew Simpson, and local ‘worthy’ Harrie Barrie.

June 1981

The story begins for the current band, which – kitted out in fancy dress, known as the Tyneside Tipplers and led by David Murray – plays at the Haddington Festival Parade.


David Leckie becomes pipe major.

July 1989

First visit of the band to Aubigny-sur-Nère, our twin town.

July 1990

Second visit to Aubigny-sur-Nère to play at the 14 July event and at the Comice Agricole festival in the neighbouring town of Gien.

July 1991

Back to Aubigny-sur-Nère – and a performance in a Paris club on the way.

July 1994

Visit to Aubigny-sur-Nère. Pipe major David Leckie inducted into an order of wine tasters in Buie, near Sancerre.

Summer 1994

Haddington piper Craig Clarkson spends the summer teaching chanter in Aubigny, leading to the formation of the pipe band there.

May 1995

First Beating Retreat in the High Street, Haddington.

May 1996

Beating Retreat held in Neilson Park.

July 1997

Visit to Aubigny-sur-Nère.

December 1997

The band plays at Bourges cathedral as part of the televised National Telethon campaign to raise money for French charities

May 1998

Beating Retreat held in the High Street.

July 1999

Visit to Aubigny-sur-Nère.

April 2001

Band plays at Murrayfield in support of Haddington RFC in the BT Shield final.

July 2001

Visit to Aubigny-sur-Nère.

May 2002

Ball held at Royal Musselburgh Golf Club to mark the band’s 21st anniversary.

June 2002

Beating Retreat held, including members of the Aubigny-sur-Nère band.

July 2003

Visit to Aubigny-sur-Nère.

July 2005

Band plays at EuroDisney, Paris – and in Aubigny-sur-Nère.

August 2005

We help to break a world record by taking part in Pipefest in Edinburgh, the biggest ever gathering of pipers and drummers (more than 9,000).

August 2006

Our 25th anniversary is marked with a Massed Bands parade and Beating Retreat in Haddington. Among the bands taking part are Aubigny, fellow East Lothian bands, and the De La Salle Band from Ireland. More than 100 musicians take part.

December 2006

Publication of ‘Chasing a Pipe Dream’ – reminiscences of the band from 1981 to 2006 by Bill Bradford and Martin Osler.

July 2007

Visit to Aubigny-sur-Nère.

March 2009

The band runs a competition to find a pipe ‘anthem’ for East Lothian. Entries come from all around the world. The top five are performed in a live play-off – Pipe Idol – in Haddington in front of a large audience. Bruce Thomson wins with The Haddington Turnpike.

April 2009

We organise a series of Massed Bands parades around the county to mark Tartan Week and launch the new anthem. The performances culminate at Athelstaneford where RAF jets create a perfect saltire in the blue sky.

May 2009

Our band youngsters collectively win the annual John Lockhart Award for young achievers in Haddington.

September 2009

For our combined Pipe Idol and Massed Bands events, we win the Scottish Events Awards title for the best medium-sized event in Scotland in 2009. We also take the runner-up spot in the traditional category.

November 2009

The band wins the Scottish Pipe Band of the Year title at the Scottish Trad Music Awards. David Leckie and Bill Bradford accept the award at the televised ceremony.

July 2010

Visit to Aubigny-sur-Nère, marking the 21st anniversary of our first visit. A special tune – Ça Marche – is commissioned from Bruce Thomson and presented to the town and to the Aubigny band

September 2010

Launch of band annual awards – Band Member of the Year, the Gail Wilkinson Award for the Most Improved Young Piper, and the Niall Fairgrieve Award for the Most Improved Young Drummer.

October 2010

Launch of our commemorative 2011 calendar, with an exhibition of the photographs on show at the Peter Potter Gallery.

November 2010

Members of the Aubigny-sur-Nère pipe band visit Haddington and join us in various Saltire events. Fierce weather results in them being snowed in here – and they make the BBC news.

August 2011

Aubigny-sur-Nère pipe band visit Haddington and join a Franco-Scottish celebration, including a Massed Bands and Beating Retreat event

September 2011

We launch a successful traditional music festival, Trad on the Tyne, in Haddington. Fred Morrison is the headline act.

October 2011

We open Greentrax Recording’s 25th anniversary concert at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. Among the acts on the night are Dick Gaughan, Barbara Dickson, and The Poozies.

November 2011

Launch of our CD, The Haddington Turnpike and Other Great Pipe Tunes, produced by Greentrax Recordings.

September 2012

Trad on the Tyne wins a commendation award at the Scottish Event Awards in the Best Small Festival in Scotland category

September 2012

Second Trad on the Tyne festival. Highlights include the star-studded Steele the Show concert celebrating the work of East Lothian musician and singer, Davy Steele, and the gig by Daimh.

October 2012

David Leckie retires as pipe major. Fraser Wilkinson takes on the mantle.

November 2012

Launch of our 2013 calendar and an exhibition of the photography at Peter Potter Gallery.

February 2013

We win a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship grant, one of only 19 arts organisations throughout the UK to achieve this honour. One of Scotland’s finest young composers, Ailie Robertson, will work with the band for a 12-month period.

July 2013

Trip to Aubigny-sur-Nère to participate in the annual Franco-Ecossaises festival. Pipe major Fraser Wilkinson given freedom of Aubigny award.

September 2013

Third Trad on the Tyne festival. Highlights include Donnie Munro, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Outside Track.

December 2013

Our first Boot Camp.

March 2014

The BBC Fellowship year is brought to an end with a concert, Striking Up, compered by Gary West.

April 2014

We organise a concert, Piping Up, in conjunction with Hamish Moore (Cairdeas nam Piobaerian), which features Roddy MacLeod, Seudan, Angus Mackenzie, Allan MacDonald and Griogair Labhruidh.

August 2014

Fourth Trad on the Tyne festival. Highlights include Karine Polwart, Blazin’ Fiddles, the Friel Sisters, and an African dance workshop.

September 2014

Another title for the band – we win the Let’s Dance for Haddington competition with an outstanding line-dance routine!

November 2014

Launch of our 2015 calendar and an exhibition of the photography at Peter Potter Gallery.

July 2015

Trip to Aubigny-sur-Nère to participate in the annual Franco-Ecossaises festival.

August 2015

The band is successful in its application to become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) and therefore achieves charitable status.

October 2015

Launch of our 2016 calendar.

February 2016

New Spirit concert staged in partnership with Knox Academy.

August 2016

Massed Pipes and Drums and Beating Retreat to mark the band’s 35th anniversary.

October 2016

Launch of our 2017 calendar and an exhibition of the photography at the Loft Cafe.

June 2017

Back to our roots (see June 1981) by playing at the closing Haddington Festival Parade in fancy dress.

July 2017

Trip to Aubigny-sur-Nère to participate in the annual Franco-Ecossaises festival.

July 2017

The band’s second Boot Camp.

October 2017

Launch of our 2018 calendar.

Through 2018

World War One Thistle Commemorations

We support the commemorative parades (more than 100) throughout the year.
The parades take place on the day that each soldier from Haddington was killed, proceeding from their home to the commemorative area specially created in Memorial Park.

January 2018

Band plays at Tynecastle Park for Foundation Day, run by Heart of Midlothian FC and the Foundation of Hearts.

August 2018

Our first Summer School, with youngsters and adults being introduced to piping and drumming.

August 2018

We lead the Haddington 700 festival’s Big Medieval Day parade, with two of our members dressed in replica costumes of the Haddington town piper and town drummer from the 1700s.

October 2018

Launch of our 2019 calendar and exhibition at The Loft, with photography again taken by Nick Callaghan.

November 2018

A poignant Armistice Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. A number of our pipers play at various locations at 6.00am (the exact time of the signing of the Armistice) and the day ends with the final Thistle Commemoration.

July 2019

To the Fêtes Franco-Ecossaises in Aubigny-sur-Nère, the 30th anniversary of the band’s first visit to our French twin town. Seen here, band member Caitlin Bruce raising the saltire to mark the start of the festival.

October 2019

The launch of our 2020 calendar, Haddington Pipe Band at the Movies, with photos – all featuring band members and based on iconic film posters – taken by Paul Bock.

December 2019

We support the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra in their sell-out Hogmanay Celebration concert at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.

Summer 2020

With all events cancelled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, we organise to play in our own gardens every Saturday at mid-day, using the ‘performances’ to raise funds for the local voluntary group, Our Community Kitchen, which provides meals to vulnerable people.

August 2020

We launch a ‘shop local’ initiative to encourage people to support Haddington shops and other businesses at this challenging time. The scheme is a thank you from the band to all the businesses who have supported us over the years.

August 2020

On 15 August, pipers from the band join pipers worldwide to play at 6.00am to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ (Victory over Japan) Day. We play in locations of our own choosing – this shot taken at Byres Hill, overlooking Haddington.

November 2020

Our 2021 calendar is launched. With 2021 being the tenth anniversary of our first calendar, this edition features a selection of the best shots from throughout the past decade.


The ongoing pandemic continues to prevent the band from performing. However, the practices keep going in weekly Zoom sessions organised by our pipe major, Fraser Wilkinson.

September 2021

Launch of our 2022 calendar and exhibition at The Loft. The band photographed here with East Lothian’s Provost, John McMillan, and Charlotte Kington, proprietor of The Loft. (Photo: Garry Menzies)

October 2022

With a theme of ‘More Than Just a Band’, our 2023 calendar and exhibition are launched at The Loft by Provost John McMillan. The photos feature band members taking part in their ‘other’ activities: for example, the RNLI, sports, sculpture, crafts, and hillwalking. (Photo: Garry Menzies)

December 2022

We again support the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity by playing for patients and their families at the Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh in the run-up to Christmas.