William Sinclair started making bagpipes commercially around 1931 although Allistair recalls his father telling him that the business opened in 1933.
He had a close relationship with the MacAllisters of Shotts and Dykehead fame. He also had a close relationship with Hugh MacPherson, actually selling the business to him and then buying it back a couple of years later.
Sinclair is known for their famous chanter, which has been a favorite among top competing bands for over thirty years.
William Sinclair Sr. (1875 - 1955)
William Sinclair Jr. (1906 - 1990)
Prior to 1957, the chanter was stamped "Sinclair Leith" at the top and "Wm Sinclair" in script (his actual signature) and "Scotland," just below the signature, at the bottom. In 1957, William Sinclair Jr. sold the business to Hugh MacPherson and had nothing to do with pipemaking until 1959 when he went to work at the Hugh MacPherson office from 1959 - 1962.
In 1962, William Sinclair and Hugh MacPherson parted company. From 1962 onwards, chanters were stamped "W. Sinclair & Son."
There were four turners in the office between 1946 and 1957:
J. Tweedie was released from a German POW camp after the war and came to Sinclair in 1946, staying until 1957 when he left to work at MacPherson. He returned to Sinclair in 1964 or 1965 and stayed until starting Inveran House.
W. Bryson started at Sinclair in ???? and stayed until 1957 when he left to become superintendant at MacPherson.
Jimmy Frame came to Sinclair in 1954 or 1955 and stayed until 1957 when he went to MacPherson. Jimmy would later immigrate to Strathroy Ontario Canada where he would lead the Strathroy Legion pipe band there for many years.
Allistair assures me that when his father and MacPherson parted company in 1962, that was the end of it. Wm. Sinclair Jr. worked as a turner only in the MacPherson office from 1959 to 1962. No Sinclair pipes were produced from ???? 1957 - ???? 1959. When MacPherson bought the company in 1957, J. Tweedie, W. Bryson, and J. Frame went to MacPherson. J. Tweedie returned to Sinclair in 1964 or 1965. The other two did not. J. Tweedie remained at Sinclair until starting his own company, Inveran House, in a year unknown to me.
In 1962, Allistair, now age 16, joined his father in restarting the business. All new tooling was made and this is the time Allistair thinks that the narrower bores became standard on Sinclair pipes.
An early 2000's Sinclair bagpipe. Still unwavering commitment to quality.
The Sinclair chanter from the 70's through the 90's was preferred by bands worldwide. The top hand was strong and clean. The ground shook. We played them in Clan MacFarlane and again with Niagara Police with great success. The combination of Sinclair chanters and MacAllister reeds was simply outstanding.