The Glasgow Highland Club’s Early Years
The Club was founded in 1882 by Andrew Penn, a native of Glasgow and an insurance agent by profession. On its establishment the main object of the Club, which had 20 founding members, was “the preservation of the Highland garb, etc.” It was also the Club’s aim to meet in a social manner, once or twice a year, and in those early years the Club met in the Albany Hotel and later, at the Bath Hotel.
The Club’s first formal set of rules emerged at its Annual General Meeting in 1884, and the objects of The Club were somewhat amplified to include “the promotion of highland music and dancing” as well as wearing of the kilt.
By 1886, meetings seem to have been happening on a monthly basis, and to have featured a talk on a Highland subject. For example, on 5th January 1886, a member JM Clavering gave a talk about the bagpipes, and the following month on 2nd February, Mr C McDonald Williamson spoke on the subject of Highland crofters.
In 1886, at the Annual Meeting, the design for the Club badge and motto “Dìleas d’a chèile” [Faithful to Each Other] were decided on, as was the Club Tune: “The Glendaruel Highlanders”. In the same year, the first Club Honorary President, later to be known as the Chief, was chosen. This was Mr Colin Campbell, described in the early transcript history of the Club as “a true Highland gentleman who was not only esteemed, but revered by the members”.
Further change in the aims occurred at the Annual Business Meeting of 1887, when they were set down as:
- The encouragement of Highland dress
- The preservation and practice of Highland music and dancing
- The study of the language, literature, history and antiquities of the Highlands
The first “At Home” was held in 1894, and this was an annual occurrence until the outbreak of the First World War.
The Pipe band was established in 1898, the year after the appointment of John MacDougall Gillies, (in honour of whose family the Club Tune was composed), in succession to Farquhar MacRae who had resigned his post as the first Club Piper, in 1897.
The Club encouraged junior piping through awarding a silver shield to be competed for by the Pipe Bands of the Boys’ Brigade’s Glasgow Battalion, as well as solo playing by the members of the OTCs of The High School of Glasgow, The Glasgow Academy, Kelvinside Academy, and Hillhead High School.
By 1914 the Club was flourishing with talks being given at the monthly meetings, a pipe band with drummers, support for junior piping, and a membership closed at 120. When the First World War broke out in that year, wartime conditions circumscribed the Club’s activities and 88 current and former members of the Club served their country, some losing their lives in the conflict. By 1920 however, the Club had resumed its normal meetings and was looking forward to peacetime once again.
In 2018 the Constitution was amended to permit the admission of Ladies to the Membership.
Since the Club was founded in 1882, there have been five Club Pipers: Farquhar MacRae; John MacDougall Gillies; Robert Reid; Donald MacLeod; and John Wilson.