First name Pipe Major Robert Urquhart
Second name Brown MBE
YOB 1906
YOD 1972

Native Area

County - Kincardineshire

Parish - Strachan

Village/Place - Strachan

Person ID 5732


Pipe Major Robert Urquhart Brown MBE was born in Strachan in Kincardineshire in 1906 and started playing the pipes when he was ten years old, under the instruction of William Fraser. From 1926, he worked as a ghillie and piper to the royal family on the Balmoral Estate and in 1928 he was sent to John MacDonald MBE for piping tuition, along with Bob Nicol. The pair came to be known in the piping world as the 'Bobs of Balmoral'.

Robert won all the major piping competitions in Scotland, including the Gillies Cup for piobaireachd which he won nine times in a row. He was a pipe major in the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders and fought at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942 during World War II. He was sent back to Britain in 1944 for the invasion of France and was Pipe Major of the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders by this time.

His reputation as a piper continued to grow and by the 1960s he was tutoring pipers. Many of his pupils went on to become leading pipers in Scotland and beyond. Robert also travelled abroad, both as a piping instructor and a judge, to countries such as the USA, Canada and Australia.

While visiting Australia in 1972 to judge at the Australian Championships in Tasmania, Robert took ill and had to return to Scotland early. He passed away a few days later.

The RU Brown Piobaireachd Society of South Australia was established in the same year in honour of Robert. The RU Brown Gold Medal competition is held annually by the society and is regarded as one of the leading piping events in the Southern Hemisphere.