Alford Image Library

Famous Fiddlers
The Alford Image Library
Famous Fiddlers

L-R: John Forbes Snr, Hector McAndrew, Jimmy Cockburn (brother of John Cockburn, butcher in Huntly), John Forbes Jnr.
Picture added on 11 March 2010 at 14:23
I came across this interesting photograph whilst visiting Mrs Forbes of Huntly, whose husband, Sandi and whose father, John Forbes Jnr, both had dance bands in the Elgin area. There may well have been connections with the Strathbogie Fiddlers since John Cockburn was a leader of that group. Hector McAndrew was a leading composer and exponent of North East fiddling.
Added by Jim (editor) on 11 March 2010
Hi, Have had a look at your picture of Huntly fiddlers & would like to correct your text. I'm Keith Cockburn of Huntly & have a black & white version of the photo. Jimmy Cockburn was my father & he brought his friend Hector McAndrew from Aberdeen,to Huntly to meet the Forbes family. Jimmy used to stay in Huntly & knew the Forbes family well.There was no brother John Cockburn. It was John Forbes Jnr(Jake) who was leader of the Strathbogie Fiddlers & when he died he was succeeded by Dougie Raeburn who was a butcher. As you say Hector was one of the leading exponents of North East fiddling style.The Forbes dance bands were always based in the Huntly area & not Elgin as your text says. Regards Keith
Added by Keith Cockburn, on 08 April 2010
Hello Keith, many thanks for the corrections....I have left the original text unedited so that your interesting comments make sense when read alongside. A fascinating group photograph. Mrs Forbes did say that her recollection was not as good as it used to be (and combined with any mistakes I made, it's not surprising that there was a little confusion). Thanks once again for putting the story right.
Added by Jim (editor) on 08 April 2010
What a fantastic picture,I have not seen this picture before,John[Jake]Forbes jnr was my great uncle,[my dad Robert Thomson's uncle] and can remember quite well him playing the fiddle.I have been searching for a while now to see if there was any pictures of him on here.So thanks again,I will be showing dad too.
Added by Joanna Thomson on 20 February 2011
Hello Joanna, glad you have enjoyed seeing this one, it was provided by John's wife, from whom I purchased John's fiddle (which after a little work plays like a dream).
Added by Jim (editor) on 21 February 2011
Glad to hear the fiddle went to a good home,I persume when you say it was provided by his wife you mean Agnes.xx Take care.
Added by Joanna Thomson on 21 February 2011
I had the priveledge of appearing on stage with the Forbes brothers in the early 1980's at the Ex-Servicemans Club in Huntly,Saxophone and fiddle,magic....................,there is a street named after Jake in Huntly,doon aside the Bogie.
Added by Gordon Wackett on 04 January 2012
My dad has mentioned quite a few times
Jake used to play at the Ex-servicemans Club and also at the Robbie Burns night,i have heard Jake play a few times on the fiddle the most memorible time was when it was His and Agnes's silver wedding anniversary back in the 70's,each time i come up to Huntly i always walk down to Jakes Close and have a few quite moments to think of him,i don't know if you know but sadly Agnes passed away in October,it would be intresting to see if anyone has anymore photo's of him,my dad had a photo of Jake for Christmas from my aunt[dad's sister]of him playing at the burns night.
Added by Joanna Thomson on 08 January 2012
Hello Joanna, sorry to hear of Agnes' passing. I think it is Jake's fiddle that I now play as my main fiddle. It has a beautiful tone and, unusually, has a one piece poplar back, an attractive fiddle as well as sounding very nice.
Added by Jim (Editor) on 08 January 2012
My name is Nick Forbes, and John Snr was my Granda's brother, Jake is my dads cousin - my second cousin.

I would very much like to hear from anyone related. This year I must find out more about my family history.
Added by Nick Forbes on 17 January 2012
Hello, my name is Annie Cockburn (Keith's daughter, Jimmy's granddaughter although sadly Jimmy died before I was born). I was in the Strathbogie Fiddlers as a child and teenager and was given occasional lessons by Jake. He was a wonderful man, extremely funny and kind. I had the privilege of being allowed to play Jake's fiddle a few years after he passed as it was being kept at his sister's house. I was great friends with her Granddaughter. Perhaps it was a different fiddle from the one you have bought Jim. Jake had a few if I recall correctly. I will send this link to my friend as she may be able to provide some family history for you Nick.
Added by Annie McCluskey on 09 June 2012
I have a Scottish horn snuff mill dated 1827 which was given to John Forbes for "Reel Playing". There is a reel called John Forbes and i was wandering if it would have been for fiddle or bagpipe playing. It is definitely Scottish as it has a huge thistle on the lid.
Added by John Sinclair on 26 June 2013
Hi, Just want to clear up a few things here. John Forbes senior was was blood grandfather, Jake Forbes was my uncle and Sandy Forbes (saxphonist) was my father. It would be very interesting tohear about my late uncle fiddle and who is playing it. I also know for fact after talking to my aunt Beldie Bremner nee Anabella Forbes that it was her that went to Hector McAndrews door and asked him to come and play in person for her father birthday.It was Jimmy Cockburn that took Hector over to my aunts house where all the family was and when my grandad and Hector met they both wept. It was a great family occasion which I remember well. Sandra Fraser Bradley nee Forbes

Added by Sandra Fraser Bradley on 16 October 2014
Hi, I just want to clear this up after talking to my aunt today Beldie Bremner nee Annabella Forbes. It was my aunt that went to Hectors door and asked him to come and play for her fathers birthday. This was a momentous occasion for all the family as Hector was THEE fiddler. Jimmy Cockburn took him down to my aunts house and when Hector and my grandad met there was tears all round.My Blood Grandfather was John Forbes senior, Jake Forbes was my uncle and Sandy my father who played the saxophone. I would love to know about who is playing my uncles fiddle as I know my aunt has one that sits on top of the piano and it did in her parents house. Happy musical days were always had in the Forbes household. I also remember uncle Peter Nick and would love to know how your dad Micheal is keeping. Sandra Fraser Bradley nee Forbes
Added by Sandra Fraser Bradley on 16 October 2014

Music and Entertainment

Strathdon PlayersStrathdon PlayersStrathdon PlayersStrathdon DramaticStrathdon DramaticStrathdon DramaticAlford WRI in a one act play, Alford SWRI ChoirAlford SWRI BandPrincipal Characters of Cinderella