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Center, John

John Center made bagpipes in Edinburgh, Scotland from 1869 until 1908. when John along with his son James emigrated to Australia. They continued to make bagpipes there until John’s death in 1913.

James Robertson took over the Center’s shop on Grove Street in 1908.

Another interesting note is that Robert Gillanders Sr. worked for the Centers and married John’s oldest daughter Jane in 1893.

The pictures below are of a pre 1900 Cocuswood set that belongs to PM Roger McGuire of Victoria, BC.

"J Center, Edindburgh" stamped on the chanter.

Great comparison shot of Center vs. Lawrie tops. This set has a replacement ebony Lawrie tenor top. Note the color difference of ebony vs. Cocuswood, and note the differences in profiles - particularly the width and shape of cords bead, and the fountains/bells.

Bass top - bell, fountain and cord beads

Ringcaps. Slightly raised bushes were not very common among early Edinburgh makers, Oddly, all three Center sets shown here have it. Other sets have flat tops.

Profile of the stocks

Flat bottomed stocks were a Center trait.

Detail of projecting mount

Some lovely yellowed ivory - the middle top is not a Center(a Lawrie replacement)

Bottom section projecting mounts

Another good comparison of the ebony Lawrie top(middle) with cocuswood

This next set comes to us from John Whidden of Nova Scotia. They have been in his family since 1928 when his grandmother bought them for his uncle who attended Loretto School in Edinburgh. They have since been restored by Thomas Doucet.

A great profile of the bass top


These rincaps and bushes on John's set are made of celluloid.

Post restoration....they look great!

Next is a Cocuswood set I had the privilege of playing(had a hard time putting them down!)

Ivory ringcaps on the cocus set...raised bushes again.

The next pictures come to us from Yann Le Lan of France.

Cocus set with nickel ferrules and ivory mounts and caps

These two Cocuswood Center sets have a very "chic" button mount.

This next set is owned and played by Kyle Barrie of Duncan, BC

Large cut bead on the projecting mount

The light grain looks classy!

A very "Center" looking top

6 Responses to “Center, John”

  1. Cool pics. The Cocuswood set…and details of the other sets…look a lot like my set of cocuswood pipes. Other than on the chanter, would the maker’s name be stamped anywhere else? The set came with a Robertson chanter but the drones, stockls, etc. are definitely not Robertsons.

  2. Almost forgot…the projecting mounts and ring caps on my set are celluloid.

    • Gord MacDonald

      Paul, would like to send some pictures?



  3. Though I’ve sold it, I had a set of cocuswood 3/4 Centers mounted in celluloid, so he certainly used the material. The 2 sets at the bottom look oddly familiar, so I think the pipes I mentioned may also be owned now by the same person as those two sets. Regardless, you’re welcome to pictures here:
    There are high res versions if you click on the small ones and with a little crop here and there may be usable.

  4. Erwann Le Sommier

    Some pictures of two refurbished 3/4 Center (Patricks’ former set), really fine with cane reeds.



  5. Hi, I am now 77 years of age . My father purchased my set of John Center Silver Plated an Ivory Pipes made in Edinburgh in 1898,, from the widow of P.M. Peter McCorkindale in the year 1948.They have been a magnificent set of Center’s and still are. looking much better than ever. I had the silver plated mounts replaced by David Marshall Toronto Canada, in the year 2008 with Sterling Silver Runic Design mounts leaving the old ivory mounts intact. If you would like photographs of these old pipes I can provide same. I have in the past 50-60 years won many piping prizes here in Australia playing my John Center bagpipe

    Peter Burrows

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