About the company

Left: Thow Brothers workshop in September 1925 (45 Gellatly St., Dundee). Robert (Bert) Gillanders, founder of Robert Gillanders - Bagpipe Makers, is in front of cover picture sewing a bag and his grandfather is on the extreme right of the picture.

The first of the Gillanders family made bagpipes for Center in Edinburgh. When this firm closed, he moved to Aberfeldy where he worked for the famous MacDougal of Aberfeldy. He then moved to work for another well known bagpipe maker, Thow Brothers of Dundee and was later joined there by his two sons, John and Robert (Bert). The latter left Thow Brothers in 1926 to form his own company in the Cowgate in Dundee. Thus Robert Gillanders - Bagpipe Makers was first established.

Robert (Bert) was joined by his son Robert (Bob) who started to turn wood and make bagpipes at the tender age of ten years.After occupying various premises in Dundee, the firm eventually moved to Forfar in 1956/57 and the name was changed to R. Gillanders & Son. The factory at that time was located in Manor Works but moved to Osnaburg Street in Forfar in 1960.

In 1972 Pipe Major Iain McLeod, then a serving member of the Edinburgh City Police Force and Pipe Major of the world famous Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band bought over the company. The band, under his leadership, had by then won four World Pipe Band Championship Titles in addition to which Iain had acquired a reputation as a world class solo piper. Despite the fact that he was already a well known figure in the piping world, Iain was determined to maintain the link with the Gillanders tradition. He therefore continued to incorporate the name "Gillanders" in his company, in recognition of the family's long association with the craft of bagpipe making and his respect and admiration for the work of Robert (Bob) Gillanders, master bagpipe maker and silversmith, who continued to work with the company until his retirement.

In 1976, having taken the band to its 5th World Title and on completion of 25 years service with the Edinburgh Police, Iain retired from the police service and devoted his attention to the development of Gillanders & McLeod. He opened a retail outlet and head office in Edinburgh in 1977 and moved to new premises in 1999, from which the company operates today.

With over 30 years under Pipe Major McLeod's directorship, G&M has gone from strength to strength. As well as being "Contractors to HM Government" the company supplies countless bands and individuals in the UK. We export 75% of our products to Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia etc., and therefore have unparalled expertise in the export market.

Interest in the Great Highland Bagpipe never seems to diminish.

"Not only in Scotland, however, are bagpipe players to be seen and heard today. Scots have travelled far afield and have taken with them their national musical instrument. They have spread abroad an interest in and appreciation of bagpipe music, and in England, as far south as London, and in many foreign countries there are now well organised bands, with not a single Scot among them.

The complex bagpipe, although it may be a matter of great wonder to a novice, presents no serious difficulty to the experience maker. He knows, from long practice, how to tackle the rough work, has at his finger tips the exact measurements, and works with the fine precision which characterises an expert at his trade"

*Extracted from Evening Telegraph and Post - article (circa 1925) on Thow Brothers, Dundee

G&M bagpipes, as they are familiarly known, continue to be made by craftsmen taught directly by Bob Gillanders. They are proud to maintain the quality and standards to which they were trained by one of the finest bagpipe makers Scotland has ever produced.

There can be no finer tribute to Bob Gillanders and his forbears than Pipe Major McLeod's insistence that the reputation of Gillanders & McLeod remains constant.

Right: Pipe Major McLeod on the G&M stand at the Frankfurt Musik Messe