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Pipe-Major Hector MacLean

Peter R. MacLeod
Strathspey
4
12
Intermediate

Hector MacLean was born in Oban into a piping family. His great-great grandfather Neil MacLean won the first prize at the Falkirk competition in 1783 and became piper to the Highland Society of London, who commissioned a now famous painting of him. His great grandfather Allan MacLean, son of Neil, won first prize at the Edinburgh competition in 1810. Hector himself was piper to the Captain of Dunstaggnage.

He was taught by Willie MacLean of Kilcreggan and John MacDonald of Inverness.

During WW1 he served with the Scottish Horse and the Black Watch. In WW2 he was a member of the Dunbartonshire Home Guard Pipe Band. In 1950 he was Pipe Major of the Babcock and Wilcox Pipe Band.

A soft-spoken and dapper man, he judged piping competitions during the 1950s and 1960s. He was a member of the Scottish Pipers’ Association for many years, and served as Secretary.

He was well known as a composer. His tune The Knightswood Highlanders won first prize in a composing competition in which Donald MacLeod’s Knightswood Ceilidh was third. His piobaireachd The MacLean’s Salute placed second in a composing contest won by Angus MacPherson’s Salute to the MacCrimmon Cairn at Boreraig.

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7 Comments

  • Was this P/M Hector MacLean the P/M of the Dunbartonshire Battalion of the Home Guard during WW2?
    Do you have more information about him?

    • I have information on Hector at home, and I’ll post it here when I get back in a couple of days. I know for sure he was in the Great War and was a long-time Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society member. Coincidentally, I own his Donald MacPhee bagpipe. More in a couple of days…. JM

    • Jim McGillivray

      Haven’t had time to get a bio of Hector up here, but I did want you to know that this is the same Hector MacLean. Wasn’t the RSPS he was involved in, but the Scottish Pipers’ Association. He judged quite a bit in Scotland in the 1960s and 1970s. He wrote a tune called “The Knightswood Highlanders” that won a composing contest in which Donald MacLeod’s “Knightswood Ceilidh” placed third, but the tune is unpublished and has disappeared from view. I’d love to get a copy of it. I am going to publish a couple of his other tunes here soon and will get a bio up. Jim

  • Jim,
    Could you let me know when you have more information about P/M Hector MacLean or his bio; I am interested!
    Aad

    • I had a small amount of info on him but I seem to have lost it I’m afraid. I know he was in the Great War and judged quite a bit maybe in the 1950s and 1960s. Passed away in the 1970s. I suspect there is an obit on him in the Piping Times somewhere. JM

      • Here we go. I just found this. I knew I had something:

        Hector MacLean was born in Oban into a piping family. His great-great grandfather Neil MacLean won the first prize at the Falkirk competition in 1783 and became piper to the Highland Society of London, who commissioned a now famous painting of him. His great grandfather Allan MacLean, son of Neil, won first prize at the Edinburgh competition in 1810. Hector himself was piper to the Captain of Dunstaggnage.

        He was taught by Willie MacLean of Kilcreggan and John MacDonald of Inverness.

        During WW1 he served with the Scottish Horse and the Black Watch. In WW2 he was a member of the Dunbartonshire Home Guard Pipe Band. In 1950 he was Pipe Major of the Babcock and Wilcox Pipe Band.

        A soft-spoken and dapper man, he judged piping competitions during the 1950s and 1960s. He was a member of the Scottish Pipers’ Association for many years, and served as Secretary.

        He was well known as a composer. His tune The Knightswood Highlanders won first prize in a composing competition in which Donald MacLeod’s Knightswood Ceilidh was third. His piobaireachd The MacLean’s Salute placed second in a composing contest won by Angus MacPherson’s Salute to the MacCrimmon Cairn at Boreraig.

  • Hector MacLean died in 1978; I am still searching for his year of birth!

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