1889 Henderson bagpipe
This bagpipe has a fairly unique history and we are seeking additional information.
They were acquired by the present owner in 1973, who was then a junior solo piper deserving of a better instrument. This bagpipe was purchased by his parents on the recommendation of his instructor. The bagpipe was purchased from the widow of Lallie Donaldson, who was a well known bandsman and soloist in South Africa. He may have also had a Scottish Regimental background. He had used this set for solo competition, with a different set for his band work which his widow retained. The owner's tutor recommended them as being a good price for a quality set of pipes but that was all the information received. There was no mention of the manufacturer or age.
The owner attended a winter camp in 1975 by Cpt John Maclellan. It was he who first identified
them as being vintage Peter Henderson. He did this partly by doing a direct comparison with
his own pipes, which were his "official" pipes as Piper to the Queen Mum. John's offer to purchase the bagpipe was declined. He encouraged the owner to trace the history of the bagpipe.
The owner spoke with a number of people in the piping world in South Africa and the following information was brought forward. There is no paperwork or documentation of any form to back any of this up - it is purely by word of mouth from men who are now sadly all passed on.
The bagpipe is one of a set of 10 instruments that was a royal gift to the Battalion of the
Blackwatch regiment permanently based in South Africa. This was said to have happened around 1898, after the Anglo-Boer war. This was apparently to facilitate the establishment of the first Pipe Band in South Africa. This Regiment was to become the Transvaal Scottish Regiment and was formally established as such in 1902.
After the Second World War, the Jocks made a donation of instruments to the South African
Caledonian Society to establish the first civilian band in SA. This was to become the
Germiston Caledonian Society Pipe band. In the mid 1960's the bagpipe was just languishing in the band store.
They were/are considerably heavier than most, more modern pipes and as such were unpopular. Lallie Donaldson did a deal with the band by which he supplied a new set of lightweight modern pipes in exchange for the Hendersons which he played as his solo set until his death in 1973.
Sadly, the original pipe box was discarded as it was deemed "too small". It was a wooden box of dovetail construction and brass hinges, lock etc. It was lined with a green felt-like material and had a paper label inside the lid - P.Henderson, Glasgow on it plus some other details. Names of three, throught to be army pipers, was pained on the lid.
The pipes are played regularly by the owner, who now lives in Taynuilt, Argyll.
The silver projecting mounts appear to be cast as opposed to formed. Unfortunately one of the pins securing the cap on the base drone is missing and has been for a number of years now. This is very difficult to replace as the pin sits on the scribe line of the cap and has this line cut into the pin as well - almost like tiny screws but they line up perfectly with the scribe line.
There is no "Henderson" stamp to be found on the pipes. The silver is without hallmarks. Information is that Peter Henderson made these for military orders in batches of 10 and that he set up and played each set, the best set in his opinion going back to the silversmith for engraving and hallmarking. This is unverified to date.
Information indicates that Peter Henderson made some instruments in this era from ABW as opposed to ebony specifically for use in the hotter climates as it was less prone to cracking. This, along with the silver, would account for the weight of this instrument.
Pictures showing the detail of both the wood and the metalwork.