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    Visit The National Piping Centre

    Visit to learn more about our work, the history of the bagpipes, and to try them yourself.

The National Piping Centre exists to promote the study of the music and history of the Highland Bagpipe.
Patron HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, KG, KT, GCB.
Founders: Sir Brian Ivory, CBE, FRSE - Lady Ivory, DL - Sandy Grant Gordon, CBE.    Read More

  • Visit

Meet the Piper

All our visitors can now have a the truly authentic Scottish experience of playing the bagpipes!

Visit the Museum of Piping to try the pipes as you take a tour around the museum, which charts the history of piping through the collection on display. This is part of the National Museums Scotland's collection of piping artefacts. Then with our bagpiper host, you can try the pipes yourself! 

Regular Tours 

Tours for 2017 will take place from Saturday 1st April - Friday 31st August, at 11am and 2pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Mondays each week (11am only on Saturdays). 

EXTENDED FOR SEPTEMBER! 
Due to the high demand for these tours, our Piper will be continuing with the tours on Friday's only in September. So if you are in Glasgow this September, join us on a Friday at 11am and 2pm to take part in our Meet the Piper tour. These tours will be available until Friday 29th September. 

 

These tours are included with the cost of entrance to the museum. So come along and try your hand at piping! 

Entrance is £4.50 adults /£2.50 and includes an audio guide. 

We are delighted to be working with Young Scot to offer a discount to all card holders. Get £1 off your entrance fee by showing your card when you buy your ticket. (Entry fee £1.50 U16 / £3.50 16+). 

Tours for groups are welcome, with a tour from a piper and opportunity to try to play and to hear the bagpipes available by arrangement. To organise an tour, please see our Try the Bagpipes page for full details.

Stained Glass

Overview of the windows

The Windows – Behind the Glass

A Pibroch or Piobaireachd also known as Ceol-Mor is a classical form of bagpipe music unique to Scotland.

These special windows can be found above the main entrance to The National Piping Centre. This work was commissioned by The National Piping Centre to accentuate its commitment to the classical form of bagpipe music called Piobaireachd, pronounced Pibroch. It is based specifically on the oral form called Canntaireachd which was used before music was written down as a way of preserving and passing on both the melody and fingering of tunes. It is made up of vocables, which have no meaning as words but express the music when sung. There are standardised forms of Canntaireachd, one of which is used here but pipers often have their own system.

The purpose of these windows is to give an indication of the formal yet poetic nature of Piobaireachd and to illustrate the complexity and multi-layered quality of this music.

There are three windows describing three different Piobaireachds. The design for the windows are based on a proportional grid. Into this grid is written part of a Canntaireachd starting from the beginning. The use of the continuous base colour of blue from which the themes seem to materialise and then fade is reminiscent of the melody of the chanter arising from the background sound created by the drones.

The imagery used in the windows reflects the different types of Piobaireachd; the Salute, Lament and March. Also included are elements which are suggested by the titles of the music and elements which have a special resonance in Scottish history.

The stained glass windows were designed by John K Clark. More information and photographs of this project can be found on John’s website at: www.glasspainter.com/piping

Window 1

Piobaireachd – Glengarry’s March

This window contains a reference to a favourite tune and concept of the artist, the “Flowers of the forest”, in this instance bluebells. In other sections are oak, alder, apple, and rowan leaves, all of which have a special place in Scottish folklore. There is also the reflective quality of still water which carries a sense of lament.

Window 2

Piobaireachd – The Battle of Waternish

Refers to the military use in the history of Bagpipe music. The symbolism, Jacobites against the Union represented by; the Jacobite flag, a claymore and thistles, the first Union flag, a broadsword and a rose. The “fiery cross”, used as a signal to summon the clans. The Saltire seen as a cloud formation.

Window 3

Piobaireachd – The Sound of the Waves against the Castle of Duntroon

Mostly a seascape which refers to the sound of the waves, specifically bringing to mind the Piobaireachd. It also has sections alluding to fishing, seabirds and small glimpses of the Scottish landscape.
 

The Building

From 1872 to 2000 and beyond…

Built in 1872 by the architects Douglas and Sellers, the Old Cowcaddens Church terminates in the vista of Hope Street as it rises dramatically from the Clyde to Cowcaddens ridge.

Regarded as an Italianate church with a decidedly Tuscan tower, it also has a mixture of Greek elements with a simple pedimented facade onto what is now Cowcaddens Road. To the sides, the clerestory glazing is referred to as “a la” Alexander Thomson and some think the Church has design echoes of Thomsons work at the Caledonian Road Church built in 1856 and also St Vincent Street Free Church which Thomson built in 1858. This comparison is not so much a matter of scale and vigour, but instead the presence of temple frontage coupled to a side campanile.

The three stained glass windows that can be seen above the main entrance of the building were commissioned by the National Piping Centre from John K. Clark.

  • Our Patron meeting a member of the NYPBoS

    Our Patron meeting a member of the NYPBoS

  • A Frosty Piping Centre

    A Frosty Piping Centre

  • Our building

    Our building

  • Welcome

    Welcome

  • The view from the Theatre Royal

    The view from the Theatre Royal

  • The Stained Glass Windows

    The Stained Glass Windows

  • Our beautiful building

    Our beautiful building

  • Our Patron meeting a member of the NYPBoS
  • A Frosty Piping Centre
  • Our building
  • Welcome
  • The view from the Theatre Royal
  • The Stained Glass Windows
  • Our beautiful building

In 1843, the main event of the 19th century took place in the form of the disruption of 1843, from which about a third of the Church of Scotland left to form the Free Church, followed in 1847 by the formation of the United Presbyterians by those previously seceded from the Established Church. This brought an era of rapid building as each of the three Churches provided for itself, often in competition with the others.

The Free Church was the most restrained architecturally, by the 1870’s, however, French Gothic had become the popular style in Glasgow and it was Sellers who kept most literally to the French model, particularly in the Belmont “saint chapelle”. His adoption of the quite severe simplicity of McPhater Street with its Florentine Classicism may have been created by the restraints of placing the building in an already developed area. Galleries, as shown on this church on three sides, were favoured by the Free Church and in this building were most elegantly handled. When built, the church had seating for over 1,000. It was designed specifically for its time as accommodating a congregation to whom preaching was the main function. The layout reflects this with its lack of significant form in any chancel and the predominance of the pulpit and the gospel lecturn over any specific provision of an altar. This is a church in which communion was not a significant and as dominant a part of the service as the sermon.

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A Frosty Piping Centre
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The Stained Glass Windows
Piping Centre Rain

The building is built of a cream sandstone laid in ashlar. It looks refreshingly sharp now cleaned. The campanile is rather squat, it would have had greater impact if a truly Tuscan tower had been built in this location. The main front is delicately handled, its pedemented entablature holds firmly the composition with a strong central door and side doors set in channeled pilastered quoins. Though Greek in proportion, the pedement is supported by Tuscan columns and pilasters, to give the illusion of a classic temple sitting on a strong rusticated base. It is from this design motif that the squatness of the tower is probably derived rather than from any overriding desire to dominate what was then a dense tenemantal inner city. The main roof of the church is slated, the tower has deeply consoled eaves and a Roman styled piend roof.

The Museum of Piping

See and Hear the Heritage of the Great Highland Bagpipe at the National Piping Centre.

The Museum of Piping at The National Piping Centre holds three hundred years of piping heritage. Consisting of artefacts from the rich collections of National Museums of Scotland, this is the most authoritative display of its kind anywhere in the world.

An outstanding item is the chanter of Iain Dall (Blind John) MacKay (fl 1650-1740), the oldest surviving chanter of the Highland bagpipe anywhere in the world. The exhibition also shows bagpipes from Lowland Scotland and other parts of the British Isles, as well as from mainland Europe. The exhibition also features displays on bagpipe manufacture and the printing of pipe music. A fascinating film on the history, culture and music of the bagpipe completes the exhibition.

As well as all this, there is the opportunity for you to try out the bagpipes as part of your visit. 

Opening Hours

Monday-Thursday: 9am - 7pm

Friday: 9am - 5pm

Saturday: 9am - noon

Sunday: closed

Admission Charges

Adults £4.50

Concessions (Senior Citizens, U16 and Students)  £2.50

If you would like to tour the Museum of Piping as a journalist, or use it for filming, please see our Media Enquiries information. 

Visiting the Museum

Whilst visiting the Museum of Piping, you can take the opportunity to play the bagpipes for yourself. We have chanters and pipes available so as part of your visit, you can have a truly Scottish experience. To find out more go to our Meet the Piper page

If you want to bring a larger, organised group, we would be delighted to organise a bespoke event. Please see more information on our Try the Bagpipes page. 

Noting the Tradition 

The National Piping Centre has received support from the Heritage Lottery Fund to undertake an oral history project called “Noting The Tradition”. This will involve undertaking oral history interviews with people who have been involved in piping at all levels and all over Scotland in the past 50 years.

The National Piping Centre Principal, Roddy MacLeod, commented, “This is an exciting project which will add to the historical and heritage resources available to researchers and members of the public interested in the history of piping. It also offers the opportunity to become involved in the creation of an important and lasting resource telling the story of Scotland’s iconic instrument, the Great Highland Bagpipe. We hope that you will be inspired to join us in this vital heritage work.”

The project was managed by James Beaton at the National Piping Centre, and he can be contacted by telephone on 0141 353 0220, or by email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr Flora MacAulay’s Photographs

Dr Flora MacAulay was brought up and educated in Wales to a Welsh mother and Hebridean father whose family were from the Islands of Benbecula and Lewis. Named after her paternal grandmother, Flora MacEachen, she came from a family of doctors and was one of the first female orthopaedic surgeons ever to qualify in the 1940’s. After some time practicing in Truro, she spent most of her life practicing as a GP in Carradale, Kintyre and on locum in the Western Isles. Her hobbies included tennis and photography but her passion was the Great Highland Bagpipe. She was a well known and loved figure around the Highland Games circuit and took many photographs of the great players of the day and the beautiful settings in which they competed. She attended the Northern Meetings and Argyllshire Gathering every year since the Second World War missing them only once in her later years when she was too ill to attend. She died in Campbeltown, Argyll in 1994 and was immortalized in the Jig written by Allan MacDonald, Dr Flora MacAulay of Carradale.

Lorne Cousin

with thanks to Allan MacDonald and Angela MacEachen for background information.

Thanks are also due to John and Freena Carmichael, Janet MacFadyen and Iain and Eleanor MacFadyen, for information about the photographs in which they appear. The National Piping Centre is also grateful to John Wilson, Colin MacLellan, Iain MacFadyen and Joe Noble in identifying many of the individuals in the photographs. If you are able to identify any of the unnamed individuals in the photographs, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

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The National Piping Centre exists to promote the study of the music and history of the Highland Bagpipe.
Patron HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, KG, KT, GCB.
Founders: Sir Brian Ivory, CBE, FRSE - Lady Ivory, DL - Sandy Grant Gordon, CBE

Read More

HRH The Prince Charles,
Duke of Rothesay, Patron

with Founders, Sir Brian and Lady Ivory and the Lord Provost Bob Winter on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Opening of The National Piping Centre.

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