The City of Brisbane Pipe Band was formed in 1950,after a meeting at the YMCA in Edward St, Brisbane. Its first Patron was Alderman JR [later Sir John] Chandler. The Band’s Vice Patron was Sir Thomas Hiley, and first Pipe Major [and Secretary] was David McNeill.

History photo 1950s

President Elect was Sir William Glasgow, Chairman J.S. McNeill, and Treasurer D. Gillespie.  From the early days the McNeill family played a major part in the band both in the administration and ranks.

The Band has competed in Pipe Band Contests since 1958 when they took first place in the C grade competition at Wooroolin and later successes included first place in B grade [Warwick 1965] and first place Queensland B Grade competition in 1981. Later, in 1987 it took first place in grade 4 at the famous Maclean Highland Gathering in northern NSW. Recently  the Band has been   Grade 3 Queensland Champion, but is currently graded 4th Grade.

Over the years the Band has played at many important occasions, including the Grand Scottish Festival held in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens in 1954, during the Royal Tour. In the 1970’s the Lord Mayor’s Command Performance was a spectacular entertainment at the Festival Hall and the Band played there in 1972, ’73 and ’74, the last time in the presence of HRH Prince Charles. In 1982 the Band took part in a huge Massed Band Display at the opening of the Commonwealth Games, and in 1986 played at the opening of the Gateway Bridge. History photo late 1970s

In its early days the Band wore the Anderson tartan , choosing that initially because it was distinctively different from the tartan being worn by many of the other Brisbane bands, but in 1986 adopted the McNeill of Barra tartan to honour the McNeill family who had played such an important role in the life of the Band.

Ian McNeill took over as Pipe Major in 1961 and continued in that role till 1990 . He was greatly loved by the bandsmen . The attributes , among many, for which he was particularly remembered were his dedication to his band, his perseverance in difficulties, his patience, and the friendship and respect he accorded his bandsmen.

Other notable Pipe Majors and tutors of the band have been Donald Mackinnon, a former Pipe Major of the Scottish Regiment the “ King’s Own Scottish Borderers” , Don Mackie, Harry Treeby, and Hugh McLean. From 2009 to 2011 the Musical director of the band was Rod Smith. Following him as Pipe Major was Rod Richardson, and the position is currently held by Peter Hurwood.

Among the drum corps notable Drum Majors have been Andy Cunningham, Jim Hardy, Ashley Greenslade, John Grace and John Elliott, and Drum Sergeants Kevin Rookas, Stewart Nelson, Jeff Chandler and Barry Marshman. David Spotswood is now  Drum Sergeant and has taught most of the current snare corps himself.

History photo early 1980s

Since the early days the Band has always been fortunate to have eminent Brisbane figures as Patron, including Lord Mayors Sir John Chandler, Alderman Frank Roberts, Alderman Clem Jones, and Alderman Frank Sleeman. Lord Mayor Clem Jones gave permission for the Band to display the crest of the City of Brisbane on its drums and in 1976 the Band paraded in front of the City Hall, where Alderman Sleeman formally presented the drums. The Band’s current Patron is Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.

Since the 1990’s the Band has played regularly as part of the City Parks Programme, performing in Brisbane’s Parks on Sunday afternoons. It was also a fixture for many years at the Woodford Folk Festival. The biggest march of the year is always Anzac Day, and on Labor Day for a number of years the band played for the Maritime Union of Australia. The Band has performed at the Glen Innes Celtic Festival and the Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Festival in recent years.

Currently the band has 10 pipers and 8 drummers on its books and is active on both the competition circuit and playing for entertainment around Brisbane.

For many years the band enjoyed a good relationship with the Kedron-Wavell Sub-branch of the RSL, who offered their rooms for practice , and gave generous financial support. The Band in exchange played for Anzac Day , Australia Day, funerals and other RSL functions.This arrangement ceased around 2010 when the increasing population density of Chermside brought many noise complaints. Since that time “Churchie”, the Anglican Church Grammar School has been our practice venue.
The band has as its focus entertainment and is framing its music to fit that aim. The members look to gain satisfaction in bringing attractive music to Brisbane social events.

The Band is indebted for much of this information to Keith Beakey , a Piper who joined in 1969, and who in 1993 wrote “ An Anecdotal History 1950-1993”.