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Robert U. Brown


From the CD Booklet " Masters of Piobaireachd Vol.1 "

Robert Urquhart Brown was born on the first of May 1906 at Burnside Cottage, Strachan on Deeside. His father was head gamekeeper on Blackhall Castle Estate.Bob Brown started piping instruction aged 10 years with William fraser, a pupil of the famous G.S. MacLennan. His first piobaireachd instruction was from George Allan. Allan took Brown to Oban in 1926 where he ( Brown ) won the junior piobaireachd. That same year he entered royal service and moved to Balmoral where he stayed at Invergelder Bothy with Nicol. He went first to John MacDonald in 1927 - Nicol had already been the previous year - and Brown's instruction continued until 1939.

In 1929 he married and, as there was no married man's position at Balmoral, took a job at Blackhall as fishing ghillie. He later moved to Fairburn Estate, Easter Ross as ghille on the River Connon, but returned to Balmoral in 1932. By this time he had already won the Gold Medal at Inverness ( 1928 ) and Oban ( 1931 )

Upon his return to Balmoral he stayed at Conachat Cottage, Ballochbuie. His main occupation was as a fishing ghillie but also worked on the hill. At the outbreak of the Second World War R.U.Brown was pipe major of the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders, originally a territorial battalion. Bob Nicol was his pipe-sergeant.Pipe corporal in the same band was James MacGregor, later to become a gold medallist himself. Brown saw action at the famous Battle of El Alamein in 1942. He returned to the UK in 1944 as pipe-major of the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders with MacGregor taking over as pipe-major of the 5/7th. Nicol had earlier become pipe-major of the 2nd Battalion.
After the war Brown won the Clasp at Inverness on two occasions, 1947 and 1951. Later he moved to Garbh Allt Shiel where his occupation was stalker and fishing ghillie. He retired in 1971.

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