Bessie Watson was born on 13 July 1900 to parents Agnes Newton and Horatio Watson, who raised her in their small house on the Vennel in the heart of Edinburgh. As a young girl, Bessie was described as small, frail and “bandy-legged”, but of good nature.
When she turned seven, Bessie’s aunt Margaret contracted tuberculosis – an incident which would change the youngster’s life forever. Margaret lived with the family, and Bessie’s parents, worried that she might fall ill to the contagious disease, encouraged her to take up the bagpipes in a bid to strengthen her weak lungs. Her first set of pipes was specially-produced according to her diminutive stature as she was too small to properly inflate an adult-sized bag [ . . . ]