Seeing out the auld year

Cumbernauld Gala Day.'Kilsyth Thistle Pipe Band. Procession along North Carbrain Road.'Pic by Alan Murray 14-07-12
Cumbernauld Gala Day.'Kilsyth Thistle Pipe Band. Procession along North Carbrain Road.'Pic by Alan Murray 14-07-12

It is one of the area’s most longstanding traditions - dating back to the very first year of Queen Victoria’s reign – and is as popular as ever.

But stalwarts of Kilsyth Thistle Pipe Band are the first to admit that not everyone shares their enthusiasm for the annual Drums and Whistles “warm up” for Hogmanay.

For some reason the skirl of the pipes, starting at 15 minutes after midnight, has never been – for some people – the ideal way to start December 31.

But since 1838 the parade has been a staunchly-held annual tradition that generations have come to see as an essential element of the end-of-year celebrations.

Coming as a sort of advanced warning of the revelry to come on Hogmanay it’s the band’s farewell to the old year, and will generally attract a small crowd of 60 or so wellwishers.

Once upon a time “hundreds of women” who worked at the Banton Mill would follow the band “screeching like anything”.

It also featured a flute band rather than pipers, explaining why in 1914 – hearing drums, flutes, and the thud of tackety boots marching in time – one woman who had recently moved to the town feared the German Army had invaded Kilsyth.

The exact sequence of tunes performed has clearly changed through the years, since while some favourites are very old and traditional – for example Hielan’ Laddie – the parade now finishes off with the relatively modern anthem Flower of Scotland.

Another “new” tune which features is Scotland the Brave, alongside older standards such as Rowan Tree.

This year’s parade begins (12.15am) outside the old police station opposite the Coachman Hotel, and the route will be on the Barrwood side of town.