Restoring a set of Uilleann pipes by Thomas Scott around 1810
The set can be heard on https://youtu.be/g8p-LNUREOU
Before it came to me, this set belonged to the late Hans-Jörg Podworny, a German professional piper and pipemaker. He started pipemaking in the eighties and is noted for having constructed his own multidrone set in the nineties with two drone groups with separate switches, giving Ddd‘ and ee‘.
I had seen the Scott set on one of my visits at his home, and I showed great interest as I was working on music of its period at the time. (ending up in my CD „Music of the Gentlemen Pipers“, together with Hubert Arnold, harpsichord and pianoforte) After his death I was allowed to put it into playable order, which I started to do in September 2021.
Before, the set was owned by Alan Ginsberg. He put it on auction in 2004 on ebay, from where Podworny procured it.
The name of the maker is printed on the main stock:
The chanter, bass regulator and baritone drone also carry the name SCOTT.
The Scott in question, so I learned from Prof. Christoph Heyl, University Duisburg, is Thomas Scott, who worked between 1806 and 1810 in 17 Holborn Bars. He indeed worked on several innovations on woodwind instruments concerning their key systems, as the double flageolet, flute, clarinet and oboe. He aimed to make wind instruments playable in a polyphonic style. So his note „inventor“ is not mere boasting, as he kept several patents, but there has no one turned up covering uilleann pipes construction.
There is a Latin inscription on the main stock, hidden below the bass separator, reading:
SCOTVS FECIT + RUSOVIVS REFECIT
which means: Scott made the set and a „Rusovius“ repaired it in 1973.
Who is Rusovius ? Could it be Rowsome ? Then it might be Leon Rowsome, as Leo had died in 1970.
Kevin Rowsome, his son, cannot remember his father having used Latin language or digits, nor did he remember the set. The additional parts – bass regulator cap, bass drone ferrule and u-shaped terminal piece – do not look like Leon’s style, but rather Leo’s. By close examination it is possible that the roman figure reads MCMLXVIII, thus 1968 ? This would speak for Leo, and some replacements - mounts and ferrules - show a style of his. He was a highly esteemed restaurator of classic sets. Perhaps we’ll never know.
The state in which I received it
The set is made of boxwood and brass, mounted with ivory, and the craftsmanship is excellent, as is the state of preservation of the original parts.
There are almost no traces of use or extensive playing, which is very unusual after 200 years. It seems as if it never has been played in a serious way, only as if one had a go now and then. There is a faint stain at the spot where the right thumb would touch the chanter. The keys shine as never having been touched.
There was a bag coming with the set which Podworny had started to make. He had tied in the cup and blowpipe stock before sewing. Maybe he had planned to ask someone to have the sewing done. The blowpipe stock carried a brass tube, sawn off in oblique form, to take up the valve.
There was no bellows.
When I first assembled the parts without much consideration, it looked like a withered bunch of flowers, with its short bass drone, which protruded in a wrong angle from the other pipes, and its terminal part entangling in the bass regulator extension.