RAF Halton Pipes and Drums

RAF Halton History

RAF Halton - History of the Band

By around 1880 plans were being made for the construction of Halton House. In July of 1883 the Halton House was completed, although it was not formally opened until 15th January 1884. During the second half of the nineteenth century the Rothschild family acquired and constructed seven grand houses in the Vale of Aylesbury. Of these seven, the house at Aston Clinton is no longer standing, Mentmore Towers and Eyethrope Pavillion are in private hands, Tring Manor House is home to the Tring Arts Educational School, Waddesdon Manor and Ascot House are held by the National Trust and Halton House is the Officers’ Mess here at RAF Halton. Our Station Crest still shows the Rothschild coat of arms at its' centre, surmounted by a propeller.

RAF Halton was first used as a military base before the First World War when the Army set up a large tented camp and used the surrounding land (which was given by the Rothschild family) to train soldiers in the art of trench warfare. The Royal Flying Corps used the camp during the First World War when wooden barrack blocks were built. In July 1919 the RAF obtained Halton Camp and formed RAF Area Command and No1 School of Technical Training on 23 December 1919. This was Lord Trenchard's far sighted vision of training technicians in-house to work on the new aircraft of the Royal Air Force.

The School lasted until 1993 when it was moved to RAF Cosford. RAF Halton took over the Basic Airmen Recruit Training and established Administrative, RAF Police and Supply trade training schools in the Old Workshops. With the Airman's Command School and various lodger units, RAF Halton remains a very busy station within Personnel and Training Command.

To the best of our knowledge there have been pipers at Halton since servicemen were first based here. The band grew out of the School of Apprentices: ever since Halton was No.1 School of Technical Training in the RAF, each of the three wings of aircraft apprentices had their own Pipe Band to march them to and from the workshops each day. It is this tradition that has kept a pipe band going at RAF Halton today. There was even a Halton tune: the Halton Bear was a mix of one part Highland Laddie followed by one part of the Black Bear! This was the old favourite for marching the Apprentices to work.

The uniforms of the bands were regular uniforms from stores, later adorned with (shoulder) shells, dress cords, and coloured cap bands denoting which Wing the band was from. Highland Dress, in any form, was not introduced to RAF Halton until quite late on. The band's tartan, until recently, was Douglas. King George V granted permission for the Royal Air Force to wear Grey Douglas in 1937, and RAF Halton finally adopted Green Douglas in 1968. The band was kitted out in time for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 but plain green socks were still being worn as the Douglas hose had not arrived! Grey Douglas can be seen in the National War Museum display at Edinburgh Castle and is still being used by 2622 Sqn Pipes and Drums at RAF Lossiemouth.

For the Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2004, bandsmen from the five RAF pipe bands were issued with the RAF Tartan for the first time (blue tartan). Up until 2004, the various RAF pipe bands each had their own style and even colour of tunic, and their own tartan. The current version of No1 Ceremonial Dress is approved by the RAF Uniform Board as is our Working Dress as used for rehearsals. RAF Halton have adopted the standard RAF blue shirt for use in Day Dress, along with a blue jacket and RAF blue socks. The other RAF Pipe Bands are gradually adopting the same uniform as funds allow.

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