1907-1909

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To understand why we have a Lodge, we must look at the town the Lodge is in.

The various parishes and villages that are now part of Clydebank have been settled for many hundreds of years. For example, ruins of the Roman Antonine Wall were found on the hill of Golden Hill Park in Duntocher, and stone outcrops carved with druid-like symbols can be found north of the area that is now Faifley.

In medieval times Old Kilpatrick was the centre of religious worship for the earldom of Lennox - and Lennox is a name still associated with higher orders of Freemasonry in the area, and for many centuries it was reported to be the birthplace of St. Patrick, another name which would feature in local Freemasonry in years to come.

In 1871, J. & G. Thomson opened their first shipyard on the site known as the West Barns o'Clyde farm. The name of our town, Clydebank only came into being in the 1880s. The farm buildings, situated between the river Clyde and the Forth and Clyde Canal, which made up what became the town were originally known as the Barns o'Clyde farm buildings.

In 1886, the Thomson brothers moved their shipbuilding yard from Govan to a spare bit of green pasture on the riverside, which grew to become John Browns' shipyard, then UIE and Kvaerner. It was set up as the Clyde Bank Shipbuilding Yard. Over time this came to be known as the Clydebank Shipbuilding Yard, and the tenements built around it as The Clydebank Tenements, then finally over time it came to be known simply as Clydebank.

In 1886 Clydebank consisted of the land from Mountblow Road to Yoker Mill Road; from the River Clyde to the land bordered by what is now the "Singer" railway line. At the time of the forming of our Lodge, of all the districts in the town today, only Radnor, in 1906, had been added. Parkhall and Mountblow came into being in 1925, Whitecrook in 1937, Faifley in 1949 and finally Duntocher and Old Kilpatrick in 1975 becoming part of the Burgh. Although the land on which Drumry and Linnvale sat was within the town boundary, housing there only sprung up after the Blitz.

When the Burgh was formed, Clydebank had a population of just over 5,000. By 1914 this had risen dramatically to over 43,000. This population expansion was mainly due to the new Singer Sewing Machine factory, and the rapidly developing shipyards. The hard working men of these new factories and yards sought an interest for their leisure & recreational time. High on their list of demands was Freemasonry.

Clydebank was the home of one Lodge, St John Dalmuir No. 543, which had been granted its Charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland on the 28th November 1873.

When it was felt a second Masonic Lodge needed to open in the fast growing shipbuilding town to cope with the increasing demand for Freemasonry in the area, several meetings were held in the tea rooms adjoining the Singer factory by Brethren keen to create a new Lodge. Sponsor Lodges were sought and the Brethren looking to form the Lodge travelled to The Athole Lodge No. 384 in Kirkintilloch. At their Regular Meeting held on 8th September 1906, the Brethren sat as the Athole Lodge's Secretary read a letter from Lodge St. John Dalmuir No. 543 opposing the creation of another Lodge in Clydebank. The Brethren who had travelled were then invited to make a statement. On that fateful evening, the members of 384 voted overwhelmingly to support the application. Their Master Bro. Orr Thompson declared that his Lodge would be our first Sponsor Lodge. As fate would have it, Lodge Ellangowan No. 716 was visiting that evening to confer a Degree and their Master Bro. James Kyle Jr. took our request to his heart. Soon, we had the second name we needed.

Lodge St John Dalmuir's Past Master, Bro. George G. Miller objected to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Dunbartonshire about the granting of a Charter by Grand Lodge to the new Lodge despite P.G.L. supporting our application. Bro. Col. Henry Brock, P.G.M. and the Provincial Grand Lodge stood their ground and the objection was dismissed.

What better name to choose for our Lodge than the original name of the town? And so, was formed Lodge Barns o'Clyde, entered on the Grand Lodge Roll number 1018.

Our Lodge received its Charter on 7th February 1907 and the first Meeting was held in the Morison Memorial Church Hall on 14th March 1907. The Meeting was opened by P.G.M. Bro. Col. Henry Brock who consecrated the hall and, later that evening, was made 1018's first Honorary Member. The Installation took place of Bro. Nathaniel Nisbet, our first R.W.M. Bro. Nisbet had been a member of Lodge Glasgow No. 441. The Ceremonial was conducted by Bro. Thomas McNeil P.M. Lodge Dumbarton Kilwinning No. 18. Following the Meeting a banquet was held in the Municipal Buildings when 200 gentlemen attended.

The Morison Memorial Church, opened in 1897, is named after Rev. James Morison who, in 1843, founded the Evangelical United Church, now known as the United Reform Church. We were granted use of the "Great Hall" within the Church because our first Chaplain, and one of our Founders Members, Bro. Rev, Thomas McKendrick, originally of Member of Lodge St. John Dalmuir No. 543, was minister of that Church.

1018 started with 133 Founder Members, members affiliating from Lodges as far north as Montrose and Arbroath, as far south as Dumfrieshire, from Edinburgh in the east to our nearest neighbours at Dalmuir.

The rules governing Freemasonry must have been very different in the early part of the last century. Our second Meeting saw 42 gentlemen balloted then 37 of them initiated the same evening by Bro. Nesbit, Master. Due to the numbers going through, on 13th April 1907, 20 were passed F.C. Freemasons by the R.W.M. then 13 more passed F.C. Freemasons by Bro. Alexander Stevenson W.S.W. More and more gentlemen rushed to become members of this new Lodge and two degrees on the same evening were required on many occasions, simply to deal with the demand for membership. On 25th April 7 gentlemen were made E.A. by Bro. John Richmond S.D., followed by 11 passed F.C. by the R.W.M. The first M.M. Degree was on 27th April, when 30 F.C.s were raised by the Master.

From the very beginnings of our Lodge the 1018 tradition has been that one man confers the entire Degree, the Master, Wardens or a Past Master confer the Obligation, and the Wardens or a young Brother invests the Apron and presents the Tools. This tradition has been continued to the present day with some exceptions when the Instruction Class members conferred Degrees.

The Lodge held our first Divine Service on 8th September which was attended by over 300 Brethren. The first balance sheet, covering the first eight months in the life of the new Lodge and composed by Bro. Christopher Ford, Treasurer shows 133 Founder Members and 84 Intrants.

On the 26th September, our first affiliate joined the Lodge, the Founders being classed as Founder Affiliates. The Brother in question was Charles Sherwood who came from Lodge Greenock St. John No. 175.

In the second year of the Lodge's existence, in reality ten months after being constituted, the first "Children's Fete" was held on 31st December, when over 300 children of members were given "a splendid afternoon's entertainment".

On 3rd January 1908, the first Lodge dance was held in Clydebank Town Hall, when "upwards of 60 couples enjoyed a very happy evening was enjoyed". Then, unlike today, these social functions were recorded in the Minute Books.

11th January 1908 was an historic date which saw the Lodge invited to form a deputation and confer a Degree, the F.C., in another Lodge, Leven St. John No. 170. This was our first ever visitation to a Sister Lodge.

1908 witnessed the Lodge purchase the first Master's Chain, with 26 links, from James Muirhead of Stockwell Street, costing £12. That same year, the Lodge gave notice and sincere thanks to the Morison Memorial Church and moved meetings to the Co-Operative Halls.

Although prominent Freemasons from other Lodges had played important parts in our Installation Ceremonies, on 28th March 1908 Bro. James Campbell R.W.M. of Lodge St. John Dalmuir No. 543 became the first Brother from another Lodge to confer a Degree in 1018, a F.C. on seven E.A. Freemasons. Two weeks later, Bro. Alexander Gardiner P.M. Lodge Ellangowan No. 716 conferred the M.M. Degree on the same seven Brethren. It is interesting to note that neither of these Degrees were conferred by a deputation from either Lodge, rather Brethren of other Lodges being "guest" Degree workers. A few weeks after, on 11th June, Bro. Nesbit, Master, announced that the Degree that evening would be unique in that "for the first time in the history of the Lodge, an initiate member of Barns o'Clyde would work a Degree." Bro. William Duncan, Roll number 160, then conferred the E.A. Degree on William Houston. Bro. John Donaldson I.P.M. of The Bridgeton and Glasgow Shamrock and Thistle Lodge No. 275 was our third visiting Degree worker, conferring a M.M. Degree on three F.C. Freemasons on 28th May 1908.

Lodges conferring Degrees on behalf of other Lodges was much more commonplace and our Minute Book of 14th May 1908 shows that Bro. Harry Longfellow Taylor, Roll No. 251, received his F.C., M.M. and Mark Degrees from Lodge St. John Dalmuir No. 543, the last two on the same evening 28th April 1908.

Brethren today who enjoy a refreshment after a Meeting should note the date 13th August 1908. It was at that Regular Meeting a lengthy debate took place where Bro. Hugh Osborne W.J.W. moved that the harmony at the meeting of 25th August be conducted on temperance principles. Bro. Osborne was a P.M. of The Glasgow Star Lodge No. 219, had affiliated to and became a Founder Member of 1018. A counter proposal by Bro. George Russell Lockie that "we have liquors" won the vote. Bro. Lockie, another Founder Member was originally a member of Lodge Kenmuir No. 570. This latter date was a Special Meeting where the Provincial Grand Lodge of Dunbartonshire, headed by Bro. Col. Henry Brock, consecrated our new premises, the Co-Operative Halls in Hume Street. On that date, 500 Brethren attended.

Lodge excursions were the norm too, and on Monday 28th September, 500 members, their families and friends travelled to Rothesay for the day.

In October 1908, Bro. Nisbet declined the nomination to take the Chair for a third term, he had suffered the tragic loss of his son. After much debate, though, he agreed to continue in his Office.

While this history notes with pleasure the prominent part played by Bro. Thomas McNeil P.M. of Lodge Dumbarton Kilwinning No. 18, it was not until 4th May 1909 when that Lodge were invited to form a deputation into 1018, Bro. J. Richardson Yeates R.W.M. conferring a M.M. Degree on three F.C. Freemasons.

At a meeting in November 1909, a lengthy debate took place on whether or not to purchase our own Temple. McWhirter's Hall in Canal Street was available for the sum of £550. Of all 175 who attended, only 46 voted: 22 that we purchase the hall and 24 against. A new Halls Committee was formed and active search made for a suitable site.

Proof of the devotion of the early members was clear when a Meeting was held on Christmas Day 1909 for the purpose of initiation. Bro. Daniel McIntyre, Master, who had recently been installed presided as Bro. Nathaniel Nisbet I.P.M. conferred.

 

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