|Has been a feature on the English pipe band scene since City of Manchester Pipe Band took on a new name in 1998, however the origins of the band go back much further than that.|
The band started life as a church band in Salford called St.Sebastian's Pipe Band. After twenty one years in existence this band disbanded in November 1971. After a couple of months the bandsmen reformed, and renamed the band City of Manchester Pipe Band. They applied to the then Manchester Corporation for the right to wear the civic emblem of the city and were granted the right to wear the Manchester Eagle. This coat of arms is described officially as an eagle displayed, wings inverted, tail feathers enfiled by a mural crown argent, the claws grasping the said crown and charged upon the breast with a fesse dancetty of two point's gules within an amulet of the same. The band wore this badge with pride, along side Macbean tartan kilts and Macbean cap badges, for twenty six years until, in answer to a request from us for sponsorship, the Greater Manchester County Fire Service offered us new practice premises and help with transport. In return for this we became Greater Manchester County Fire Service Pipe Band.
At the 1999 AGM the band suffered a major schism, and the membership was reduced to single figures. At that time Alex Hunter took over as Pipe Major and the band was more or less rebuilt from scratch, in no small part thanks to Alex's (and various others) enthusiasm and commitment. In 2002 Alex lead the band to arguably it's most successful season ever, when the band took 5th at the Scottish, 6th at the British and 4th at the Cowal championships in grade 3b. At the 2005 AGM Alex announced his decision to stand down as Pipe Major, passing the baton on to a new generation in the form of our new Pipe Major, Martin Bryan.
Having recognised that new members are essential for the long term health of any band, and that many successful bands have feeder bands, a second development band was added to the GMC Fire Service Pipe Band organisation in 2003. The aim of this band is to provide an environment in which learners, returners, or pipers and drummers who simply want to move from playing in parades to playing in competitions too, can develop their playing with a view to progressing into the main competition band. The development band plays in grade 4, and took it's first steps onto the competition field at Chatsworth in September 2004.