In 2022, the City of Maitland Pipes and Drums will turn 75 and celebrations for the anniversary are well in hand. The band began as the Maitland District Pipe Band with nothing more than courage and enthusiasm.
A public meeting called for the evening of Thursday, 28 August, 1947, proposed the formation of a Maitland pipe band. The meeting was initiated by Ron Kiem and Ken McLeod and supported by Albert Finney, president of the Maitland branch of National Fitness. Mr Finney convened the meeting in the National Fitness rooms and was encouraged by the public response and interest shown. On the night, six potential pipers and two drummers put their names forward.
Only one of the six had his own bagpipes. A call went out for any pipes in the community that people no longer wanted.
- Dimmocks, from small start to family dynasty
- Lady Nelson's journey of discovery up the Hunter
- The macabre world of phrenologist Archibald Hamilton
- Deep river port gave Maitland the edge
- Convict John Smith, one of the first settlers who made good
- Part 1: Molly Morgan's amazing journey
- Part 2: Molly goes from prisoner to wealthy land owner
- Lost rail link from Morpeth to East Maitland
- When rowing attracted huge crowds in Maitland
- The plan to move Maitland higher to beat floods once and for all
- Ferocious thunderstorms with hail 'the size of pullets eggs'
At this time there were no funds to purchase instruments, so most members purchased their own, to be reimbursed later by the band.
Three women enrolled in the band and women have been represented ever since. The Maitland Mercury of 19 September listed the enrolled members as: Pipers Ms Fay McDonald, Ms M Forshaw, Ms M McKenzie, Ken McLeod, H D Sayers, Ron Kiem, Robert Bowman, W O'Connor, Ron Garner, Roy Cheetham, R Eckford, F Withington and D Flanagan; and Drummers W McMinn, O Parmentor, R Eddy, N Parker, John McCare and W Furness. The office-bearers elected were: President Arthur Finney, Vice Presidents Rev J Gaudie, H Sayers and J Harvey, Secretary Ms Fay McDonald, Treasurer Mrs R Bowman, Committee Mrs J Reynolds, Ron Kiem, D Stephens, Robert Bowman, W O'Connor, R Eddy, G Deans and Ken McLeod.
The band took part in many activities around Maitland and elsewhere, but by 1965 membership had fallen to five pipers and five drummers and there was a fear the band might cease to exist. In 1972 it went into recess. It had taken part in every Anzac Day service in Maitland since 1948. The band reformed in 1975 and continued on a reduced basis.
The band wore the McKenzie tartan until 1984, when a decision was made to wear the Maitland tartan. Permission for this change had been granted by Patrick Maitland, Earl of Lauderdale and Chief of Clan Maitland. The Earl visited Australia in November that year and spent a few days in Maitland, meeting dignitaries, band members and debutantes at a ball organised by the Hunter Valley Scots Club.
On 30 October, 1985, the band was re-named the City of Maitland Pipes and Drums, creating new enthusiasm and attracting new members.
On 15 and 16 March, 1997, the band celebrated 50 years of service to the community with 11 invited pipe bands, the Maitland City Brass Band, the Maitland City Choir and other organisations. In the 24 years since, the band has remained active and is a worthy ambassador for Maitland throughout New South Wales.
The 75th anniversary will be quite a celebration. A book on the band's history will be available early in 2022.
Maitland and District Historical Society