Review: Dagenham Girl Pipers – an 80th anniversary celebration by Linda Rhodes

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Before reading this book I was totally unaware of the amazing history of the Dagenham Girl Pipers, though I had heard of the name before and that’s all. This book by Linda Rhodes guides us through their 80 year history, starting with their unlikely beginnings - the brainchild of the non-piping Rev. J.W.Graves who thought a highland pipe band was just the thing for the girls of his sunday school in the newly developing town of Dagenham in the early 30’s.

The band not only thrived but became a part professional, part community organisation, performing regularly all round the world as well as throughout Great Britain, and very much involved in the world of show business. Part of their legacy is the number of other girl bands round the world which were inspired by the DGPs. The book covers the years

of the bands hey-

day very thoroughly but rather less so the years of decline when they reverted to becoming a purely local community group. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating story

That the author has no other interest in piping beyond the pure phenomenon of the DGPs is evinced by the total lack of information regarding the pipes the girls play and details of everyday maintenance of their instruments, which detracts a little from the book from a piper’s perspective. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it - enough so in fact that I’ve since managed to get a copy of the 1957 book ‘The Dagenham Girl Pipers Entertain the World’ from Ebay for the princely sum of 99p! And it’s a signed copy by Pipe Major Peggy Iris.

You can get the current volume from Amazon for £15. ISBN 978 0 95664 5104.

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