Sydney Thistle is one of the oldest civilian pipe bands in Australia. The Band has always been independent and self-funding, supporting itself from paid engagements and competition prize money.
Sydney Thistle was formed in September 1918 as the amalgamation of the Sydney Scottish Pipe Band and the Rozelle-Leichhardt Pipe Band, whose ranks had been depleted by enlistment for the war. The original members deliberated long and hard in selecting Sydney Thistle Highland Pipe Band as the name for the new band. They considered the name so important that they included a special rule in the Band’s constitution which requires the Band to be wound up if the name is ever changed. Fortunately, no-one has ever made that radical suggestion!
The Band took part in the Victory March at the end of the Great War, with band members each wearing their own tartan. Over the next few years the Band’s ranks were bolstered by returned servicemen. By 1923 the Band had raised sufficient funds to purchase band uniforms. The Band elected to wear the Farquharson tartan, which we wear to this day.
Over the years Sydney Thistle has come to be recognised as one of Sydney's most iconic, respected and well known pipe bands. The Band has the distinction of participating in the annual Sydney Anzac Day march every year it has been held since 1918. Yes, 100+ years, and counting!
Sydney Thistle also has a long and proud record on the competition field, competing as an A Grade, and subsequently Grade 1, band from the time of its formation until the early 1990s. Sydney Thistle was the Australian Champion band in 1955 and 1956 (PM Kevin Metcalfe) and 1965 (PM Arthur Hinson).
While Sydney Thistle no longer competes at the elite level, we continue to be an enthusiastic competition band, competing in Grades 3 and 4.
Just as importantly, Sydney Thistle has always participated in a wide range of community and cultural events - from playing for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 to performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House in 2017.