The People of Boghall and Bathgate
Neil Cranston was known throughout the pipe band world as a very talented snare drummer in the Boghall & Bathgate organization where he played for a total of 33 years and was also renowned for his abilities as a drummer on the ceilidh scene with The Pentlands Ceilidh Band. Everyone within the Boghall family was deeply saddened by his unexpected death from a brain haemorrhage in May 2010.
Neil started drumming with Boghall in the mid 1970s through the famous Tuesday night classes where he attended with current Boghall & Bathgate Lead-Drummer Gordon Brown. Both Neil and Gordon moved from the junior to the adult band at just 14 and it was not long before Neil won the Juvenile World Solo Drumming Championships two years running in 1977 and 1978.
He went on to become an integral part of the band as a flank drummer with the Grade 1 corps and contributed hugely to the extensive teaching programme within the organisation. He made multiple World Solo Drumming finals and his abilities will live on through his contributions to the many Boghall recordings he was part of, his ceilidh band album, “Just for Ewe’s” and his performance on the Band Room Masters Solo Drumming Championship recording.
Neil was not only a well liked member of our organisation, but also married into the band family, tying the knot with Heather Franks in 2008. He was a loving husband and acted as a caring father to Heather’s two children, Jamie and Islay. His personality and talent are greatly missed by the whole band, but his memory will live on through the organisation for years to come.
Ian MacLean was known throughout the pipe band world for his influential performances as bass drummer of Boghall & Bathgate. He sadly passed away in June 2011 at Stirling Royal Infirmary after a long illness. Ian joined the Boghall organization in 1977 after playing with the BP Grangemouth Pipe Band under P/M Colin Drummond and quickly established a reputation for delivering an improved quality of sound from the bass drum.
In those early days, Ian formed the experienced backbone of a young Boghall band alongside P/M Bob Martin and L/D Tom Brown. During that time, Ian pioneered many of the techniques used in today’s bass sections, manufacturing his own sticks and developing new ways to dampen the drum, bringing a rich bass drum sound to the band that had never been heard before.
Recalling a conversation with Ian, Tom Brown said ‘I asked Ian one time how he knew when his drum was in tune. Ian replied that he could tell by the vibrations on his chest. It was becoming apparent that he was a bit special when one day I discovered he had cut up sheepskin rugs to put in the drum, just to get the sound he was looking for’.
The success of the band during those early years in Grade 1 was mirrored by Ian’s achievements, winning the first World Championship prize for best bass in 1980, the first of his 3 titles. Ian also took great pride in his contribution to some memorable and pioneering Drum Fanfares with the young Boghall Corps, that were traditionally performed by the defending Grade Drumming Champions as part of the March Past Ceremonies at the World Pipe Band Championships in the early 1980s.
He played with the band until his retirement in 1993, handing over his sticks to Darren Owenson. Ian did come out of retirement briefly at the British Pipe Band Championship at Banbridge, Northern Ireland in 2001 to cover for Darren, which was a real joy for the band and Ian alike and spoke volumes for his commitment to the cause.
Ian was well known for his energetic and friendly personality. In addition his generosity was always reflected in the ability to share his knowledge with anyone who asked. He was instrumental in teaching all the Boghall bass drummers who followed in his footsteps over the years. In remembering him, Darren Owenson remarked ‘Ian was a real character, full of fun and loved his bass like he loved his wife Agnes’.
Ian’s memory will live on in the band and with everyone who met him and heard him play. It will also live on through the famous Boghall hornpipe that was named in his honour and his role in the mining industry. There was only ever one “Big Road Brusher” and the pipe band world is just that little bit less colourful for his passing.