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Condensed History of Borthwick District Pipe Band

Borthwick Pipe Band, or as it was originally called, Fushie pipeband, is known as “The Biscuit Tin Band”, because it was founded in 1922 after Mrs MacRobbie, who owned the only shop in Fushiebridge, gave an old biscuit tin to three of the village’s young lads, Alex Hennesey, Willie Duncan and Peter Toole.

Since both Alex and Duncan were Pipers, Peter became the drummer with the tin serving as his drum. The three boys marched up and down the village giving the very first performance of what evolved into one of Midlothian’s foremost pipe bands.

The band’s membership quickly grew and, after a year, the “biscuit tin” was replaced with a real drum! Pipe-Major
Halliday of the K.O.S.B. had been taking an interest in the developing pipe band and politely asked to become itspipe-major. Alex Hennesey, who had been in charge up till then, was delighted to accept the offer.

Shortly thereafter a committee of local people all from Fushiebridge village (destroyed in 1956) was formed to run the band’s affairs. When membership increased to 8 pipers and 5 drummers funds were raised to purchase drums and uniforms.

During 1923 and the early part of 1924,dances, concerts, whist drives and sales of work were organised and donations given, in pennies and half pennies, to raise the huge sum for those days of around £700.

Eventually, however, on a bright summer’s day in 1924, the band paraded in Gorebridge in their splendid new
uniforms of Royal Stewart tartan and with percussion supplied by a set of real drums (Rope Tension) at £2.10/6each.

Originally band practices were held during the summer in the March Field below Fushie Wood and in the winter in the curling hut beside Fushie pond. In 1940 the band got the use of Newbyres Hall. In 1949 the Youth Piping and Drumming Section started in Gorebridge Primary School and since then Tuesday evenings have seen chanter learning and drum tuition in the school, while on Thursdays pipe band practice has been held in the Brown Building in Gorebridge.

Nowadays, the band plays at Gala Days, Sales of Work, Fetes, Open Days, Parades, Receptions, Church and
Armistice Services, Rallies, Cattle Shows, Weddings and Funerals, etc. They have played in theatres aroundScotland,
and have formed a firm bond with the Trommler Pfeifer und FanfarenCorps from Hoengen in Germany.The two bands have been enjoying exchange visitson a regular basis since 1981, adding up to
a total of 12 exchanges.{mospagebreak}

Borthwick Pipe Band at present has a membership which never falls below 50, with the strong Youth Section ensuring a steady stream of recruits for the senior band. They are self-supporting, accepting no sponsorship and raising all their funds by their own efforts. Since it now costs considerably more to rig out even one band member than it did to equip a full band back in1924, this means a lot of hard work and ingenuity by all concerned (one full dress No.1 £1000, Kilt and Jacket only No.2 £500).

The Borthwick Pipe Band is proud of its history and proud of its status, and with all this pride allied to commitment and hard work, its future looks assured.


This information was supplied by Drew Hennesey, son of Alex Hennesey, one of the three lads whose impromtu parade in the old village of Fushiebridge, all those years ago, inspired the bands foundation.The present day Pipe-Major of the band is P/M David B. B. Hennesey brother of Drew and son of the late Alex.

 

 

 

 

Epilogue

This year in June (1999) we will again visit our friends in Hongen Village Germany.There are many new faces going over and it is encouraging to see hat there are several youth members among them. So that in addition to old friendships being renewed, these young people will help to carry on the firm partnership we have established.

It would indeed be a better peaceful world today if these countries that are at war with each other, followed by example the exchange friendships that we in Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland and the Community of Hongen,Heinsberg, Germany, started 20 odd years ago.
Hopefully our young people will keep it going.

Drew Hennesey, Sect, youth leader/instructor.