Dougie Auld, an ex-Cameron Highlander and at that time Pipe Major of Warrington Pipe Band, wrote to the Secretary of the SPBA in 1959 to request the founding of a branch. On Sunday Jan 16th 1960, Dougie convened the inaugural meeting in a pub in Warrington (name unknown at present but it's on the right hand side of Winnick Rd going into Warrington). It was here that the branch was formed.
Also present at that meeting apart from Dougie himself, was Danny Fitzgibbon, one of the founder members of Mount Carmel Pipe Band, his son Brian Fitzgibbon, and Bob Black, among others. Bob Black was of great help to Dougie in going through the procedure as he had had experience of it with his own branch. Bob was at the time the National Council Representative for the NE England Branch, and later became Chairman of the SPBA.
Dougie became the first Chairman of the Branch. Brian Fitzgibbon was the first Secretary from 1960-62, followed by Nick Fagan who served as Secretary from 1962 until 1991, handing over then to Keith Wilkinson who served until his retirement in 2004. David Brown then served from one year in 2005 followed by Andrew Paton in 2006. In 1992 Nick Fagan was made an Honourary Member of the SPBA for services rendered. Keith Wilkinson received the same award in 1998.
Two years later, in 1962, Willie Sloan, then Secretary of the SPBA and George Teasdale, the SPBA Treasurer, travelled down to attend a branch meeting to tender their official welcome to the Branch. This meeting was held in the Antelope pub in Little Hulton on a Sunday afternoon and was attended by over 80 branch members.
But this occasion was made even more memorable by what happened afterwards. The meeting was held in the pub after it had officially closed at 3pm. Licensing laws at that time forbad any drinking after 3pm, but after the meeting it was announced that a round of drinks would be served. Shortly after the police arrived and arrested those with a pint in their hands. As it happened, only 8 pints had been pulled. If they had only waited a little longer they would have been able to arrest about 80. As it was, one prominent member of the Committee was caught with an order in his hand for forty pints of bitter. But he hadn't yet been served so was charged instead with 'aiding and abetting the landlord', a crime which did not in fact exist. The case did eventually come to court but in the end he was fined a mere 10 shillings.
The principal bands in the branch at that time were Chorley, Warrington and Mount Carmel. Earlier bands of good standing in the area had been the Clan MacLeod from Liverpool and Prince Charles Edward from Manchester.
In later years Dougie left Warrington Pipe Band to join Mount Carmel during their famous period in Grade 1, before leaving to go to Little Hulton Pipe Band in Grade 4 along with Terry Blake who became his P/Sgt there. The band changed its name to Hodgkisson Bennis and Dougie then took them up through Grade 3 to Grade 2. When he retired from the band in the 1980's Terry Blake took over as Pipe Major.
Chorley were promoted to grade 2 in 1976 where they stayed for several years. In the early 1980's they came back down to Grade 3 but went back up into Grade 2 around 1988 where they stayed for several more years.
Warrington went up into Grade 2 in 1976 where they stayed for two or three years.
1976 was the high point for the Branch, which then had Mount Carmel in Grade 1, St George's and Warrington in Grade 2, City of Manchester in Grade 3 and several other Grade 4 bands. We also had two excellent Novice Juvenile bands, Warrington Juveniles and St George's C.L.B. Juveniles, both of which were at this time being placed regularly in contests throughout the country and appeared several times in the prize lists at the Major Championships.