250 years of Lodge Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge No. 114

Origins in the Seventeen Hundreds

Freemasonry had been practised in the Cambuslang area and within the town itself for many years before the formation of Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge. Operative Freemasonry was around and a charter issued by The Mother lodge (Kilwinning) in 1735 named the lodge as the “Cambuslang and Blantyre Lodge”.  For reasons now lost, in 1737 those Masons involved applied to Kilwinning for a new charter. The charter was granted in 1738. Known as the “East Kilbride” Charter it covered East Kilbride, Cambuslang, Carmunnock and Blantyre.

Lode meetings were held in various dwellings and the charter held at Hallside House. A minute of a meeting held in 1767 under the old charter is recorded in the history of the first 200 years.

Cambuslang Royal Arch Lodge emerged from this ancestry in 1769 when the existing lodge charter was granted by The Grand Lodge of Scotland on the 17th of February. The original lodge number was 146. The familiar 114 number was issued when Grand Lodge renumbered all the lodges within their jurisdiction.

The first meeting of the Lodge under the new charter was held on the 23rd. February with Bro. Ingram Whyte as RWM. Brother Whyte had travelled to Edinburgh to request issue of the Charter from Grand Lodge. Brother Whyte had been Junior Warden in the Kilwinning chartered lodge.

The Lodge operated using the bye laws from the Kilwinning charter until 1799 when new bye laws were agreed. The principle difference was the change of Annual Festival date from St John’s day 7th. January to the 27th. December.

At this time the Lodge Master had to be an Operative Freemason and Operative and Non-Operative Masons paid different initiation fees.

Old minutes refer to the lodge chest in which jewels, money and minutes were held secured by three keys (Master and Wardens). I assume this refers to the chest lost in the basement flood of the mid-eighties.

1777 and the first Non-Operative Mason, Brother John Hamilton, was elected as RWM. Brother Hamilton granted the Lodge land in Kirkhill to build a meeting place for the lodge.

Each member of the lodge agreed to give work of his own hands or to pay for the work of another for the same period (6 days) to erect the building.

The site chosen was in what is now known as Cadoc Street almost directly across from where the Kirkhill Bar now stands. Until recently some of the foundations could still be seen.

The building consisted of two storeys and an attic which provided home for shops and a Lodge room. Total cost was £162.10 and 3/4d. For younger readers the 162 is Pounds the 10 is Shillings and the ¾ is 75% of a Penny.

The first meeting in the building was on July of 1778

A picture of the building is in the Appendices.   

Office Bearers of the Lodge at this time comprised of only the Master and his Wardens, the Clerk (Secretary), the Collector (Treasurer), the Stewards and the Tyler.

Lodge records state that the Lodge from 1775 was in the jurisdiction of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lanark, Renfrew and Ayr. From 1795 we were then in the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Western District.

Early eighteen Hundreds

In this period the Lodge by comparison to the earlier period enjoyed a quiet time settling in to the new home.

Much discussion took place however on the subject of penalties for absence and non- payment of fees. The most serious penalty being expulsion after non-payment for 3 years if the culprit lived within 20 miles of Cambuslang Kirk.

The lodge commissioned a Lodge Banner in 1810 which was used at the laying of the foundation stone of the new Lodge in Hamilton.

The original banner was replaced in 1835 and the new banner was prominent at the laying of the foundation stone of Jamaica Bridge in Glasgow.

We do not know for sure which of these banners is in the display cabinet in the lodge room but the restoration by Colin Hunter McQueen points to the older of the banners.

The origin of Cambuslang Royal arch lodge being from the older Kilwinning Charter are averred in the minute of the celebration of the centenary in 1835.

The Lodge was in the Province of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire at this time. When the new Province of “Lanarkshire Middle Ward” was formed the Lodge moved to the new Province under its original Lodge number of 146.

When you look at the names of the Masters at this time it is striking how many served multiple times.  Bro. john Glen appears to have served as RWM for two separate four year terms, two separate two year terms and one single term.

The Lodge building was upgraded at this time converting the ground floor from shops to domestic accommodation. The cost was just over £500.

The Mark Master Key stones (still in use) were acquired at this time. The minute states that they were gifted by the Encampment No. 3 of Glasgow which ceased operation. Encampments were eventually absorbed into The Great Priory of Scotland.

This was also the time when Cambuslang Royal Arch started conferring the Mark ceremony. Up to this point the Lodge had only conferred the 3 degrees.

Little mention is made of Provincial Grand Lodge until 1866 when lodge Hamilton Kilwinning No.7 convened a meeting to re-awaken the Province from its slumbers. Our Lodge attended the meeting and the Middle Ward returned to active service.

In 1866 the Lodge decided that it should be represented directly in Grand Lodge by the Master and Wardens. Until this time, to avoid travelling to Edinburgh, the Lodge had been represented by Proxy Masters.  One Proxy, John Henderson, represented the lodge for 27 years.

The “Burns” stained glass window (currently in the stair window) was commissioned in 1876.

The first Masonic Divine Service held by 114 is recoded as being on the 22nd. September 1889. The minute states that attendance was in excess of 200 in the West Parish Church. This date is in contrast to the present practise of holding the Divine Service close to our charter date.

Some other records show that what we consider to be old traditions are not quite correct. The treasurers books show a record of the purchase of Office Bearers Sashes, which Brethren of our generation assumed we had never worn and there is also a brief mention of Deacons Rods which have never been used in recent times.

The Twentieth Century 1900 to 1969. Moving to present hall.

This period starts with the RWM Bro. John Wallace leading discussions on the suitability of the Lodge premises for the growing numbers of Lodge members.

The Lodge had been resident in Kirkhill for 125 years so the decision to move further into the town and build larger premises was not taken lightly. However as we now know the lodge agreed to acquire the land in Tabernacle Lane and erect the existing premises.

The old Lodge was sold for the sum of only £600 and the new building opened in 1904.

The cost of the new lodge was met by fund raising and generous gifts by lodge members.

The RWM read an obituary for Past Master John Glen Dunn who had been installed as RWM in 1897 and served the Lodge faithfully until his passing at the age of 101.

Unfortunately Brethren involved in erection of the new lodge were lost in the Great War of 1914 to 1918. The plaque in the west wall commemorates those lost.

1922 arrives and a notable person in the Lodge history is installed as RWM.  Bro. Lt. Col. John Dodds JP. Our installation ritual states Bro. Dodds gifted the Lodge the magnificent gold chain which has been worn by the lodge Masters since Bro. Dodds was IPM.

The photograph in the appendices shows what believe to be Bro. Dodds modelling the chain he would never have worn as Master.

The Second World War once again saw many young Masons enlisting to serve their country. The Lodge business continued during the war but you read in the minutes the thanks to brethren from all around who performed ritual work for the  initiation of new Masons while our own Brethren served in the war.

A prominent Freemason of this time was Bro. Frank Elliot Dobbie who became a Provincial Grand Commissioned office Bearer in Glasgow and Substitute Grand Master Mason.

Brother Dobbie never neglected his Mother Lodge and regularly attended especially at our annual installation.

Other Brethren of note at this time are our three Past Provincial Senior Wardens. Brother James Buchanan (1925), Brother Ralph Sillars (1939) and Brother William Kennedy (1960). Brother Kennedy also served on the Board of Grand Stewards.

These stalwarts of Provincial Grand Lodge were later followed in PGL by PM Robert Russell (PGL Secretary) PM Frank Moug (Almoner), PM Angus Ross (SPGM) and PM laird McDonald (SPGM) PM Gordon Hope and PM William Spencer who is a current member of Grand lodge Stewards.

Present day

As we approach the installation in 2023 which will end the second term in the chair of Brother James Richardson and the arrival of Brother John Chambers as our new RWM. We are grateful that our old lodge had survived the pandemic and is now seeking to return to normal.