The 1902-founded Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band of Scotland will be sporting a new look for 2012, not only with a change of tartan and drum hardware, but with an influx of new players for the band's centenary year.
The group has decided to move from the blue Modern Skye tartan, which it has donned for 25 years, in favour of the purple and green Isle of Skye sett, a decision partly made because of the availability of the tartan with Scottish kilt rental companies, enabling the band to kit out guest players more easily.
"I've been involved with the band for two years now and changing the tartan was always high on our priority list," said Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe-Major Stuart Shedden. "We've decided to go for the Isle of Skye for two main reasons: firstly it still holds with the Skye theme and secondly, should any guest players wish to play with the band then it makes life a lot simpler as the tartan is available for hire in many kilt-makers."
Along with the new look kilts, the band will be adding "Ghost Chrome" metalwork to its Andante snare drums, courtesy of the drum-maker. The band says that it is one of the first to have access to the new design, which allows for custom metallic colours.
Shedden said that Torphichen, now in its third year in Grade 1, currently has 22 pipers, nine snares and a bass-section of eight – the most personnel the band has ever had. He said that, "The interest and players asking to join the band has been overwhelming since the end of the season."
Shedden added that the funding for the new equipment came as a result of "a lot of hard work and fundraising by the band and the committee. Indeed special mention must go to our Band Manager Derek McKie who has raised a lot of funds himself."
The band is also shifting practice location from Fauldhouse to Bathgate, a venue more accessible from the M8 motorway, thus cutting travel time for many members.
Torphichen & Bathgate has also struck a deal to use Protection Racket drum cases, becoming the first pipe band to use them.
While the Isle of Skye tartan is widespread, it is rarely worn by pipe bands. The Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band wore the tartan when it competed at the World Pipe Band Championships in 2008 and as a smaller group over the years, primarily because of the availability of rental kilts.