Century of tradition restored as Bradford bagpipers return to rehearsals again

A century of tradition was riven when the Bradford Pipe Band was silenced last spring, stilled for the first time in living memory.

Bradford Pipe Band practicing at Saltaire United Reformed Church. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Bradford Pipe Band practicing at Saltaire United Reformed Church. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Now, as the band is allowed to rehearse again, a piper’s skirl rings out in return.

This is one of only a few bagpipers and drummers bands across Yorkshire, accompanied by Highland dancers.

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After months of practice at home, to the sound of recorded music, band members are finally reunited.

Bradford Pipe Band practicing at Saltaire United Reformed Church. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“It’s like we’ve never been apart,” said the band’s secretary, Robert Batty. “It’s carried on as if we haven’t missed a week.

“It’s been quite hard for people to stay engaged. Playing alone, to recorded music, isn’t the same.

“It’s not all about the music, it’s about the friendship as well.”

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Bradford Pipe Band practicing at Saltaire United Reformed Church. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

The City of Bradford Pipe Band, with 20 members, was formed in 1914 and has never before had rehearsals silenced.

A tradition across generations, many of the members were first introduced as children.

The band usually performs at around 15 events each year such as the St George’s Day parade, Remembrance Day and local galas.

When rehearsals were first allowed, it was small groups, then at an industrial unit. Now they can practise at Saltaire United Reformed Church every Thursday.

Bradford Pipe Band practicing at Saltaire United Reformed Church. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“It feels wonderful,” said Mr Batty. “We know when we get it right and put on a good show.

“When it all comes together it’s great. It makes the hard work feel like it’s paid off.”

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