J & W Hutcheon, Edinburgh Bagpipe Makers

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about 1905

Postcard of J & W Hutcheon, Edinburgh Bagpipe Makers.
© National Museums Scotland

J & W Hutcheon, Edinburgh Bagpipe Makers

The firm of J and W Hutcheon, Bagpipe Makers, was founded by William Hutcheon (1861-1909), beginning in his own house at 153 High Street, Edinburgh, in a building that used to be known as Allan Ramsay House. He was in business with his brother James and the photograph shows them outside their premises in Niddry Street, Edinburgh. William Hutcheon died as a result of an accident when he was run down by a coach and horse and died three months later from the injuries received. Subsequently his widow emigrated to Australia and the business was bought by a man, Smith, who had worked for J and W Hutcheon.

J & W Hutcheon offered 'Great Highland or Military Bagpipes', 'Half Sized or Reel Pipes' and 'Miniature or Chamber Pipes' in their sales catalogue and price list. By the late 18th century, the Highland bagpipe had emerged in more of less fixed form with chanter and three drones, the style and embellishment becoming a matter of fashion as well as standardisation with a uniformity being required for band playing and competition. By the early 19th century professional bagpipe makers were offering different sizes of Highland bagpipe such as 'Full-size', 'Half-size', 'Reel' or 'Lovat Reel Pipe' and Miniature.

The Highland bagpipe may have been made from native hardwoods such as laburnum or elder, either in the Highlands or in the Lowland burghs. We know little of this trade until the 18th century; from the 1760s we learn about one or two professional makers in Edinburgh and Glasgow such as Hugh Robertson. Their businesses were well situated to obtain raw materials coming off ships trading into the Clyde and Forth, and tropical hardwoods from the Caribbean and African Continent, suitable for turning into musical instruments, came to be preferred for bagpipe making. The number of makers grew significantly in the second half of the 19th century, supplying particularly a demand from pipers in the army and pipe bands.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-605-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  Bagpipe Archive 4.11
Date: c.1905 (date of manufacture)
Who: J. and W. Hutcheon, Edinburgh Bagpipe Makers (depicted)
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh (depicted)
Description: J & W Hutcheon, Edinburgh Bagpipe Makers.
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