Northland Caledonian Pipe Band Tartan
By Barrie Tinsley, former Band Manager.
Proudly worn by the members since 1939. Previously members wore their own tartan, or civvies for any parades or play outs, if they did not possess their own kilt.
Many heated discussions ensued, as most members wished to parade in a kilt of their own tartan. Eventually when at a meeting of players and supporter members called for that purpose, on a notice of motion from Wallace Calder “That as Pipe Major Robert Fleming had his own Cameron of Erracht kilt and as Cameron Street is the main street of Whangarei,
that Cameron of Erracht tartan be the Bands colours” The motion was seconded by A K Young, who as like Robert Fleming the P.M. who had his own Cameron of Erracht kilt and as both were Canny Scots, it would mean one less uniform kilt to be purchased! Motion Passed.
The Whangarei and County Pipe Band, as the Band was then called, added the title of the Northland Regiment to its name, when it became part of the Army in 1946. Whangarei and County and Northland Regimental Pipe Band, a title that it retained until the “Countess of Ranfurly’s Own Northern Regiment” was disbanded and assimilated into 3rd Auckland/North Battalion of the Army RNZSC, in 1970. Playing Members of the Band were given the option of continuing as Territorials, but the majority of members decided not to.
In hindsight, it was perhaps not well thought through as a decision. The continued membership of the Army would have meant that members, while still being required to attend camp for 20 days, for which they (or the Band Organisation) would receive full Army pay for attendance. Three weekly two and a half hour practices would equal one days pay. The Band was to be required to complete seven days continuous camps per year, that could include a minimum of 5 days for a National contest. (One day each for travelling to and from the venue, 1 day each for the contest and a day at the beginning for practice). In 1963 (won B Grade) and 1965 (3rd in A grade), the band also spent a further 4 days in camp prior to attending the contests. Accommodation costs prior to, plus the actual contest and travel was all at the Army’s expense.
The Cameron of Erracht tartan was originally of the smaller Set (pattern repeat/size) than we presently wear. The change to the current tartan Set, was utilised, as the Army allowed that the Band was a member of one of the Kings (now the Queens), Own Regiments and was therefore able to wear the Kings Own Regiments tartan.
This increased size option was agreed to by the then King, George VI. The Warrant to this effect was issued and signed by the King and was supplied by the Band to the Kilt manufacturer, Thomas Gordon and Son, Renfrew Street, Glasgow, in the early 1960s. The uniform kilts and doublets were again replaced in 1985, when a copy of the Warrant was obtained from the previous keeper (the Band Secretary of the earlier time), and again supplied to Thomas Gordon and Son. Unfortunately a copy of the Warrant can not now be found, from neither the then Band Society records nor the uniform supplier Thomas Gordon and Son.