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Kilgour, George

The pictures below are courtesy of PM Michael Hubbard of the Clan Macleay Pipe Band in Portland, Oregon.

This set of Kilgour's from late 1984 shows many similarities to Robertson pipes. The mounts are flat on one side compared to the full elliptical look of a Robertson mount.

The bass drone top profile is almost identical to Robertson. Maker's name stamped below cord bead - "G.Kilgour, Strathspey"

Below is an great account of George Kilgour’s pipemaking career by Charley Kron -

George started work at Robertson’s on his 14th birthday in 1941. Most of the turners had been called up, bagpipe making not having been a protected trade. He worked there until he joined the Guards in ’45.

When George left the Guards around ’53 he stayed in and around London, working as a printer, “swanning aboot”, and no doubt doing other things. He married for the fist time during this period. His first wife was most interesting. I gather she was quite headstrong, and they were not suited to each other. When the marriage broke up George came back north and re-settled in Edinburgh. I can’t remember when this happened.

He sold insurance for the Co-op, doing his rounds regularly. His personality made him successful: chatty, friendly, organized, and competent. Unofficially I was probably his last sale. When I bought my first car he steered me to his brother-in-law, still at the Co-op, for my insurance. I’ve used only them since.

During this time, for at least some if not all of the sixties and early seventies he led what was the closest he would ever come to a normal domestic life. He had a wife named Dorothy and they lived in a cottage somewhere off Milton Road on the east side. She was either his second or third wife. Certainly his last. She was the only woman (aside from his mother and sister) about whom he ever talked with even a trace of wistfulness. When they broke up he used his share of the profits from the sale of the cottage to set himself up again as a bagpipe maker (with “Brother Bob”), buying the shop at 44 Montrose Terrace, and a small flat nearby. He got the shop at a very good price. It had been a pet shop. There was lots of pet food still strewn around the place, which resulted in “The first time I went there with the agent, when we walked in the floor was covered in mice. When they saw us it was like a brown carpet melted into the walls.” This was sometime around ’73-’75. He was certainly well established in June or July of ’76 when I first met him. He and Bob traded there until at least ’79, which was around when Bob emigrated to Denmark.

George was so plagued by his admirers, including myself, that he sold the shop and moved up to Marypark, Banffshire, and continued to make. This was around ’80. He met a Danish girl and bought a house in Denmark with her, moving some of his machinery there. This also did not work out, and he returned to the house and shop in Marypark, which he had wisely not sold.

In ’84 he bought a tiny shop, 17 Grove Street, in Edinburgh. In ’85 he and I moved him down from Marypark, the expense of keeping the place there being too great. He stored most of his non-bagpipe-making stuff in a friend’s barn. The shop in Grove St. was ideal for several reasons, but the most important was that it was zoned for residential and commercial. He could live there, legally. He made pipes there from ’85 to late ’87

He came to the U.S. in late February of ’88, both of us having settled our affairs in Edinburgh. George did not sell his shop on Grove St., always intending to return. The new company’s name here was Kilgour and Kron, but technically I was his boss, and responsible for his pay. It was a weird arrangement – we were each other’s boss. I was an apprentice tied to my own employee! George left in August of ’95. He would have left earlier, but had trouble selling the house he’d bought in Peekskill. Prior to that house, he’d never lost money in any ordinary real estate deal. His prior real estate experiences gave him false optimism about the market here. Being tied down by that house was the chief reason for his unhappiness here. He had no flexibility with all his capital tied up.

During the time I knew him there were three men who were true, close friends of his. Until he went to Marypark he had loads of friends, but while in Marypark his best friend was Johnny Munro, a worker at the Glenfarclas Distillery. When he returned to Edinburgh in ’85 his best friend was Bill Kenyon, a shepherd in the Pentland Hills and PM of a band in Penicuik. Whilst here in the U.S. his friendship with Joe Brady Sr. took some of the edge off his misery. Joe lived near him in Peekskill and George spent many holidays, including Christmas, at his house. __________________
~~Charley Kron

One Response to “Kilgour, George”

  1. lars erik norstedt

    My pipes are made in Mary Park in -81and
    I collected them at Georges at easter.
    Nice but cold place!
    Met him a few times,first in 79
    in the first Edinburgh shop together with
    Bob. and also a few times in Denmark

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