Girl pipers star turn in TV visit to Valence House
PUBLISHED: 14:35 07 October 2014 | UPDATED: 14:44 07 October 2014
Baroness Oona King learned all about the Dagenham Girl Pipers during the filming of BBC Two’s Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.
The peer was paired up with expert David Harper for Monday’s show which saw them taking a break from picking out bargains with a whistlestop tour of Valence House.
Viewers saw the pair taught about the Becontree Estate, which was the largest housing estate ever built when it was created in 1930.
Pipe major Sheila Hatcher explained how the world’s first female pipe band was formed shortly after by the Rev Joseph Graves, who was trying to raise enough money to build a church.
At their peak, the band conducted 400 engagements a year, performing in front of Winston Churchill, Roger Moore and even Hitler – who said he wished he had a band just like them.
Sheila, who has been pipe major for about 53 years, said it was good to raise awareness of the historic group. “The girls are absolutely terrific and it’s like a family because they treat you so, so well,” she explained.
The 22-strong group gave a seamless performance for the cameras and Valence House was kept open a bit longer than usual for July’s shoot.
The crew enjoyed some food in the musuem café and curator Leeanne Westwood took them on a tour of the exhibition highlights.
Linda Rhodes, who works in the museum’s archives and local studies section, said: “Both David Harper and Baroness Oona King were very friendly and chatty and interested in the site and what was in the museum.” She added the spotlight on the pipers was well deserved.
“They’re something that Dagenham has been proud of for a long time,” Linda said. “When you speak to people about them, they’re really surprised that they are still going strong.”
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