Peter Henderson is known to have started his bagpipe making business in 1880, having taken over the premises of Donald MacPhee.
Henderson advertising states that the family had been making bagpipes since 1868. I have seen one Henderson bagpipe with silver that is hallmarked 1865. It is believed that Peter's father, Donald, made those Henderson bagpipes that pre-date 1880, although there does not seem to be definitive proof of this.
The Henderson bagpipe is preferred by bands and solo players alike for its powerful rich sound. Many of the very early Henderson bagpipes are ebony or cocus wood.
As might be expected, the Henderson bagpipe changes over the years. I've divided this exhibit into four categories; 1. Pre-1900 - It is very difficult to put an exact age on any maker's bagpipe without strong evidence. As with identifying bagpipe I don't like guessing. Everytime we get it wrong we muddy the waters in trying to unravel the past. Notwithstanding from hallmarked silver, profiles, and specific details we can get close on many sets. It is not uncommon to find two-piece projecting mounts.
2. 1900 - 1920 - The Henderson bagpipes produced during this period were generally excellent, made of ebony, cocuswood, and African Blackwood. Silver is often without hallmarks however distinctive in style and design. Casien was introduced during these years as a substitute to ivory.
3. 1920 - 1950 - Although some changes took place in the exterior design the Henderson bagpipe continued to find favor among top pipers and pipe bands. African Blackwood was preferred by the turners for various reasons. Henderson craftsmen held to the very best of traditions in making bagpipes. The period from when WWII began and 1950 as this was a time of turmoil both within and outside the shop. Corners were cut in workmanship and materials. Turners left Henderson for other opportunities.
4. 1950 - 1970 - During this period we find good and not-so-good Henderson bagpipes. Greig Sharp took over as shop manager in 1961 and some of the very best Henderson bagpipes were produced under his supervision. When the end came in 1971 Henderson bagpipes were "Henderson" in name only. Orders were being jobbed out and you were never quite sure what you were buying.
Pictures from within the shop in the early 1960's. Not what you'd expect to see from the world's biggest (and best) name in bagpipes. Following WWII it was said that the family did not invest in the company and things deteriorated badly.
Peter Henderson Ltd. 1932 - Manager Archie Mcphedran