This is one of my favourite old photos, and it has stirred no small amount of controversy. To anyone who knows piping history, it appears to show the great G. S. McLennan (1883-1929) “on the boards” at what may well be the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban. Though the lack of colour makes it impossible to know the tartan worn, the Gordon Highlanders’ kilt pin appears high on the kilt apron as G. S. typically wears it in other photos. However, history has it that the original photo was brought into the College of Piping by the widow of Pipe Major William (Willie) Gray (1885-1962), a remarkable solo player during the early part of the last century and an early pipe major of the Glasgow Police. She claimed it was Willie, and she would know, wouldn’t she? The small photo above right shows Willie Gray as the Police pipe major in the 1920s. I once took some measurements from the photo (right), using as a baseline the estimated length of G. S.’s pipe chanter. I extrapolated that over the whole photo and came up with a man much shorter than Willie Gray would have had to be to achieve the minimum height requirement for a Glasgow police constable. You can see more photos of G. S. McLennan at my pipetunes.ca biography of him here. Have an opinion? Email me at email@example.com.
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