The Heath Piper ~
On several occasions, the author has been aware of the distant sound of bagpipes, emanating from around the Parliament Hill Fields area.
Researching the subject, he has found the following fascinating story:
In 1996, Dave Brooks was fined for playing his bagpipes on Hampstead Heath!
The actual prosecution, brought by the Corporation Of London, was for playing a musical instrument on Hampstead Heath.
The case provided some humour as it was stated in court that one, Jimmy Reid, had been hanged in 1746, after the Battle of Culloden, for "playing an instrument of war and insurrection".
Dave's solicitor maintained that, as his pipes were thus "an instrument of war and insurrection", they could not be classified as a musical instrument.
The judge, seeing the humerous side of the case, threatened to have Dave Brooks charged with "bearing arms on Hampstead Heath" and asked the bailiff of the court if he was "ready to take Dave Brooks Highland bagpiper to the cells below the court never more for his bagpipes to be heard".
In summing up, the Judge maintained that the original hanging of Jimmy Reid had been "a gross miscarriage of justice" and that the bagpipes ARE a musical instrument in peace time.
Dave Brooks was found guilty on "three counts of playing a musical instrument" i.e. the bagpipes and fined £15 on each count a total of £45 plus £50 costs, despite a 1500 signatures petition by Hampstead people.
The Corporation of London as a token gesture gave consent for Mr. Brooks to play his bagpipes for one hour, three mornings a week on the bandstand at Parliament Hill fields, which to this day he still does.