Lodge St. John No. 187, Carluke.

The First 200 Years - Part Three

 

                    Part Three of Three.

 

      LODGE ST. JOHN NO. 187,

                      CARLUKE.

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 The Consecration

Bro. Joseph Dunlop, S.P.G.M. of Lanarkshire Upper Ward, supported by a
large deputation from the Provincial Grand Lodge and some Grand Lodge Office
Bearers, carried out the consecration ceremony according to ancient custom and
the formula of the craft. This was all symbolised by the pouring out of the corn,
wine and oil. The ceremony was very impressive and was carried through before
an attendance of the Brethren which completely filled the Temple.

After the ceremony, the Brethren then sat down to dinner in what we now
call the adjacent. The toasts were "The King, the Queen, the Prince of Wales and
members of the Royal Family", "The Provincial Grand Lodge", "The Army and
Navy," "The Building and Temple Committee", "The Health of Bro. Lord
Newlands", "Sister Lodges", "The Architect and Tradesmen", "The R.W.M. and
Office Bearers". After the singing of Auld Lang Syne, the meeting was closed.

Description Of The Building

The new Temple occupied an important site in the Market Place, and
consisted of dwelling houses on the ground floor with the entrance to the Temple
in the centre. The entrance hall or vestibule, which was finely decorated on the
upper walls and ceiling with Egyptian ornament, gives access to the staircase at
the foot of which was a reserve Lodge-room for special installations and could
be used as a reception or cloak room. The winding stair consisting of three, five
and more than seven steps, was decorated in red Duresco with white squares in
the freeze, and a special feature was made of the newel post, which is of stone,
and supported a beautiful lamp draped with a fringe of glittering beads of white,
red and green colour. At the head of the stair there are two doors having stained
glass representing moonlight views of the Great Pyramid, the Sacred Isle and the
Temple of Philea, suggesting that the entrance to Masonry is through the wisdom
of the Egyptians.

The cloak room, lavatories and clothing room were placed here
and were of good dimensions, the glass door of the lavatory having a
representation of the water of the Nile, and the screen in the clothing room,
dividing it from the stair, had the arms of the Freemasons, the Eagle the Symbol
of St. John, and Masonic diagrams taken from the Temple of King Solomon.
Passing inwards was a magnificent room, forty feet long by eighteen feet wide
and about seventeen feet high, which forms the assembling room of the brethren
prior to the Lodge meeting, and it is here that the deputations and the visiting
brethren from other Lodges would be received and marshalled before entering
the Lodge-room. This splendid room now provided for this purpose in the new
Temple, was probably unrivalled in Scotland, and it marked a progressive step
in the planning of Masonic buildings. In regard to lighting it was very fine,
having the three windows grouped in the front gable at one end, and two windows
at the other end, and flooded with yellow glass from the roof in the centre.
 
A room of such large dimensions requires some commanding feature which would
naturally be placed at the wall opposite the entrance end. This consisted of an
imposing fireplace rising from the floor to the ceiling and surrounded by a
projecting canopy with a gilded dome, its projected part having the square and
compasses in gold on a blue ground, and the others representing the sun, the
moon, and the seven stars also in blue and gold. In the centre is a space intended
for the Masons Coat-of-Arms carved and picked out in old gold and colours
while in the lower part surrounding a gas fire of Moorish design were most
exquisite lustre tiles, each reflecting the blue, orange and purple of sunsets, divided
into two parts by a sliding partition, when the Lodge was at work, part of this
room would be used as a preparation room. The Lodge proper is correctly oriental,
being due East and West, is 32 feet by 24 feet, and is seated for over 100 brethren.
It is lined throughout with cedar and other rare woods. The floors of the Wardens
chairs and dais are oak, while the raised part round the walls and other parts are
of mahogany. All the woods are left in their natural state so that the odour of the
cedar escapes and fills the room. In decoration the Lodge was restrained but
refined, the colours of the walls being a dull yellow. The ceiling was in blue and
studded with stars, while in the centre was the sacred letter from which radiated
lines representing golden rays of light.

The Architect was Bro. James Chalmers of Glasgow, whose design in
competition was selected on behalf of the Lodge by the Grand Architect of
Scotland, and strongly recommended for adoption. The wisdom of this selection
was unanimously approved and amply justified by the praise bestowed upon it
by all the brethren who took part in the proceedings.

The final account for the new building works was £1520:14:6 and with the
addition of the wash and coal houses plus the furniture, came to the grand total
of £1714:2:4. The Lodge agreed to take out a £400 loan from the Bank of Scotland
to settle all its accounts in this respect.

A special presentation for the benefit of two Office Bearers was made on
the 5th June, 1913, to Bro. R. Lightbody, Treasurer and Bro. T. B. Peat, Secretary,
as tokens of esteem and gratitude for their long labours on behalf of the Craft,
and more particularly for their work in connection with the building of the new
Temple. Bro. Lightbody was given a P.M. Jewel and a gold brooch for Mrs
Lightbody with a purse of sovereigns, while Bro. Peat received a Masonic Sash
and gold watch, a ring for Mrs Peat and a similar purse of sovereigns.

The first of many wedding receptions to be held in the new building, was
that of the L.P.M. Bro. R. H. Cowden on 24th September, 1913.

In the Auditors report in 1913, which included the inventory of Lodge
fitments and furniture, only two main items in the report are no longer in the
possession of the Lodge. These are 20 spittoons and one flag.

March 1914 was the date when the first request was made by the Eastern
Star to hold a meeting in the Temple. The matter was referred back to the Grand
Lodge for their opinion in the matter. The Grand Lodge subsequently advised St.
John 187 to refuse the request on the grounds that they were not a Masonic Body.

The death of a member of the Lodge, Bro. Alfred Hall, antiquarian and
dealer in gold and silver plate, and residing in London, was a sad loss to his
friends in Carluke, and in his will, the late Brother made a bequest of £100 to be
disbursed to those brethren of the Lodge who were in poor circumstances but
still clear in the books. There were further bequests of £50 to the Building Fund,
and £50 to certain individuals who had helped him in his Masonic sojourns.

Throughout the difficult years around the turn of the century, many of our
members emigrated to far off lands. Very few ever forgot their ties with the
brethren in Carluke. One Brother who continued in his Masonic career, was Bro.
James S. Cromb who was initiated in St. John 187 on the 17th August, 1887, and
after being Master five times in America, six years Secretary, Grand Patron of
Eastern Star for ten years, became P.G. Master in Clifton Arizona. On his return
to Carluke in 1915, he was warmly received and enjoyed again the company of
his Brothers at St. Johns.

At around the same period, the chance meeting of two of our far flung
brethren on a steamer sailing from Penang to Rangoon, resulted in a donation of
£10 being sent by them to help the Brethren of 187 who they felt might be
"feeling the pinch".

Another Brother, L. McLean then resident in India, sent a gift of £25 to his
Mother Lodge. These were considerable sums in those times and were very
much appreciated.

Among the many fund raising ventures for the Red Cross and the young
soldiers at the onset of the First World War, were whist drives, flag days, concerts
and lectures. In 1915 the adjacent was used by the ladies to collect and pack
vegetables and provisions for the soldiers at the front.

May 1916 was the year when our tracing board was introduced into the
degree work. It was presented to the Lodge by Bro. John Broadhead of Lodge
No. 203. This tracing board had been in his family's possession for 49 years prior
to this date.

In February 1917, the members set up a War Bursary scheme to be preferably
applied to the deserving child or children of a Brother Mason associated with
Lodge St. John 187 Carluke, who had lost his life or had been disabled directly
owing to the war. The Bursary would be applied in the interest of the child's
education or towards the help of maintenance in a trade apprenticeship.
The fund was to be known as "Lodge St. John 187 Carluke War Bursary".
In 1923 this War Bursary was incorporated into the Benevolent Fund.

One of the last medal winners of the war, was a Lodge St. John No. 187
member, Sergeant Thomas Caldwell. Bro. Caldwell won his Victoria Crass on
31st October, 1918, ten days before the war ended, by capturing single-handed
an enemy machine gun position and taking eighteen prisoners. The machine-
gunners had been holding up the British advance at Audenarde until Sergeant
Caldwell performed his heroic deed. A presentation ceremony was held for Bro.
Caldwell in January, 1919, in the Town Hall.

Despite the many additional demands on the members for assistance during
the war years, the Lodge was as well as meeting these challenges, still managing
to continue with its aid and contributions to all of the other deserving causes to
which it had been giving for decades. An example of the Lodge's continued
services of a charitable manner would be a typical list of regular recipients:

 Royal and Victoria Infirmary

 Dunoon Convalescent Seaside Homes

 Western Infirmary

 St. Dunstanes for Blinded Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen

 Scottish National Institute for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors

 Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow.

These excellent and worthy institutions would continue (some for another
40 years), to get financial support fram St. John 187.

During the year 1918, the Lodge held many special meetings specifically
to entertain wounded soldiers. In January of that year it is recorded that the
Brethren entertained 35 soldiers with a sumptuous meal then a harmony with
singing, recitation, piano and violin music. 

Special Meeting of 5th April, 1919

On this date, a unique meeting of the Lodge took place. Lord Newlands,
Past Grand Master of Scotland and Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire Upper
Ward, was in attendance in an unofficial capacity. The circumstances under which
the meeting took place, were the result of many soldiers returning home who
had applied for entry into Freemasonry while on leave, but had not until now
had the opportunity to be together. There were Sixteen candidates and all were
Carluke natives. The meeting was conducted in a military manner with the soldiers 
in their uniforms and wearing their military honours. The young brethren
represented the Lanarkshire Yoemanry. Royal Engineers, Scottish Rifles, H.L.I.,
Machine Gun Corps, Royal Field Artillery, Transport Division and the 36th Bat.
Australian Forces. Of the many young soldiers initiated that day, perhaps the  
best known was Bro. Thomas Caldwell, V.C. Lord Newlands then addressed the
meeting and noted that the Role of Honour for the Lodge had 130 names inscribed
to date.

Over the next few meetings, the Charity Fund was renamed the Benevolent
Fund, and the caretaker's salary being increased to £16 per year on the grounds
that inflation had gone up by 140% since the outbreak of the war.

By the end of 1920 the Lodge funds were sufficient to allow the brethren
to clear the last of the monies due by the Bond taken out in connection with the
New Property.

Late 1921 was when the framed Role of Honour was presented to the
Lodge by Lord Newlands. The ceremony of unveiling was conducted by the
Chaplain, Bro. Rev. F. M. Hauxwell. The Rev. Hauxwell had been Chaplain of
the Lodge since 1902, and was still in this office at the time of his sad demise in
1929, having served the Lodge for a very commendable 27 uninterrupted years. 

In February, 1924, in recognition for his services as Secretary of the Lodge
for 25 years, Bro. Thomas B. Peat was guest of honour at a special evening with
some 140 members plus their wives in attendance. He was presented with a
suitably inscribed Roll Top Writing Desk as a token of the Lodge's appreciation
of his services. The praises for Bro. Peat were considerable and sincere. Some
eight years later, Bro. Peat was elected to Master of the Lodge having completed
33 years as Secretary. Sadly within months of his fulfilling an excellent year on
the chair, Bro. Peat passed away.

When it was moved in 1926 that the Lodge should investigate the benefits
of having electricity for heat and light, a majority of the members decided that
the cost outweighed the benefits, and the matter be left meantime.

The Ashlars

The rough and perfect ashlars which sit on the Masters table, and also a
trestle or tracing board of the second degree, were presented to the Lodge by Bro.
James Buchanan (Sculptor), and Junior Deacon of 187 in the year 1927.

When holding the Office of Senior Warden, Bro. Buchanan was nominated
as the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire representative in the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
On the death of S.P.G.M. Bro. James F. Struthers, the office was appointed to
another 187 Past Master, namely Bro. Buchanan. He was later installed in 1940
as the Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire Upperward. Bro. Buchanan held
this office unti1.1948, when he sadly passed away following a period of ill health.
Despite the fact that 187 had for many years provided a goodly number of
Provincial Commissioned Office Bearers, Bro. James N. Buchanan has been the
only Provincial Grand Master in the Lodge's long history to have had 187 as his
Mother Lodge.

The regalia of P.P.G.M. Bro. Buchanan, was presented to the Lodge by Mrs
Buchanan. and mounted in a display cabinet by P.M. Bro. James Graham and set
up in the Temple in the year 1950.

In December 1927, a Bro. John Smellie who had been initiated in the Black
Bull Inn in 1867, was presented with a suitable gift in recognition of his being 60
years a Freemason.

 The Musical Ritual

 Clydebank is famous for its ships                                

 Carluke for fruit and jam                                                                                                               

 But 187 and 1018  

 For friendship hold the palm                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 w.s.s.s. 1929

The phenomenal success of the Barns 0' Clyde Lodge No. 1018 and their
special degree work, was extended to Carluke when a deputation which filled
two of the largest motor buses, arrived at 187 on the 2nd March, 1929. Owing to
the great numbers present, the deputations were admitted in two portions. The
first was headed by Piper Norman McPherson and the second by Pipe-Major
David Marshal!. Both pipers were in full Highland costume. It was said at the
time that it was the largest gathering of brethren ever present at a Third Degree
ceremony in Carluke. Other Lodges represented on that day were 18, 20, 21, 27,
103, 114, 124, 166, 178, 204, 347, 375, 406, 427, 465, 543, 551, 866, 1018, 1141,                              1234, 1254 and 1304. K.W.M. Bro. Shields reflected that such a magnificent exposition
had never been heard in 187 and constituted and marked an event that would
become historical in the annals of Lodge St. John No. 187. The male voice choir
had added greatly to the occasion and deservedly earned the appreciation of
everyone present.                                                                                                                     

At the next regular meeting of the Lodge, it was agreed that a quartet be
set up to sing at the Lodge Degrees. Musical embellishment has been part of the
187 degree work since that date.

In November 1929, Bro. James Fleming was presented with a purse and notes
from the Lodge on the occasion of his being now 60 years a Freemason.

The predominance of 187 members in Provincial Grand Lodge of
Lanarkshire Upperward in the 1930's was illustrated by the list of Office Bearers
at that time, which included Bro. James F. Struthers, S.P.G.M., Bro. Rev. Weild    
Anderson, P.G.C., Bro. Thomas H. Harris, P.G., Sec., and many others in the
progressive offices.

The thirties could also be recorded as the years of the whist drives. These
social events were organised with the help and assistance of the members' ladies,
and contributed greatly to the financial stability of our organisation when the
normal sources of income were becoming less and less predictable. A motion that
Life Members be asked to make a one off contribution to Lodge Funds of 10/-
was passed in 1933. It was also a period in the Lodge's history when the plentiful
supply of vastly experienced Freemasons in 187, resulted in the members being
often entertained by special and even impromptu lectures on all sorts of Masonic
matters, whether it be origins, symbols, meanings or even historical synopsis of
Freemasonry. These lectures were in the main delivered by Bro. James N.
Buchanan, Rev. Bro. Weild Anderson or Bro. Donald Munro.

The economic problems of this era are reflected in the number of candidates
who presented themselves before the Lodge. The year 1935 had only four entrants.
In this same year, the first instruction class was set up, whereby the more
experienced ritual workers would assist the younger members in preparing degree
work.

At the fifth attempt and on May 1936, our members finally agreed to allow
the Order of the Eastern Star, Carluke Violet Chapter No. 66, the use of our
premises to hold their meetings.

The installation of electric light into the Lodge, was eventually passed and
put into practical use, on November, 1937, following many complaints by the
members on the quality of the gas lighting. One year later, electric heating was
installed for a cost of £38, the monies for this 'additional work being raised and
gifted to the Lodge by the O.E.S. Carluke Violet Chapter No. 66.

World War Two

The first effects the war had on the working of the Lodge, was that the
Sergeant of Police informed the Secretary that the meetings would have to finish
by 10 p.m. to comply with the blackout regulations and Provincial Grand Lodge
called a halt to all inter Lodge visitations until further notice. The request from
Provincial to hold their meetings in our Temple for the duration of the war was
agreed and granted free of charge.

In its support for the Masonic War Hospitals scheme, the Lodge set up the
first of its many fund raising ventures by organising charity dances. The monies
collected on these occasions was complemented by having auctions for gifts which  
had been donated for that purpose. These dances were a tremendous success and
raised a great deal of money throughout the war torn years.

It was always with a specially warm reception that the soldiers, sailors and
airmen were received when they returned to a meeting when on leave. In the
autumn of 1944, Bro. E. Brownlie was awarded the Military Medal. Bro. Brownlie
was the Senior Warden of 187 when he was called to H.M. Forces.

An invitation from St. Servanus No. 771 Alva, was received at the first
meeting of February, 1946, inviting a deputation to confer the third degree on
23rd February. The offer was accepted and a bus and accommodation arranged
for the overnight stay. This was the first visitation and the start of a special
relationship which has continued between the two Lodges ever since.

A very prominent member of the Lodge in the 1940's was Bro. James
Barclay. He was a Past Master of 187, and Substitute Master from 1937 to 1950.
It is noted that throughout the 1940's, he was the principle degree worker of the
Lodge, whether it be regular, specials, visitations or installations. The quality of
his work was such that he was asked to assist or conduct ceremonial works in
many far flung Lodges. The Brethren of 187 supported Bro. Barclay on most of
his travels, and on one such occasion as his visit to Lodge Georgetown Cardonald
No. 1170 in May 1946, 70 members formed the visiting deputation. Bro. Barclay
was elected to the office of Substitute Provincial Grand Master in the year 1950.

The increase of entrants, now about 50 per year, and the active participation
in social events such as dances and bus outings, resulted in a Social Fund being
set up in 1946. This fund would be used to monitor the financial independence
of these events and not create any burden on the other Lodge funds.

Another very popular inter visitation which the members of today still
enjoy, is the association with Dumbarton Kilwinning No. 18 which first took
place in an official capacity in 1947. Members of No. 18 had been visiting 187
since the turn of the Century.

Two years after the War ended, the Welcome Home Fund, which had been
set up during the hostilities for the benefit of our members that had served in
H.M. Forces, was (under the rules of the fund), divided equally between 63
members of the Lodge. Each received an equal share of the £86:15:7d which was
the monies accrued in the fund.

Shortly after the election and installation of the P.G.M. Bro. Charles Burrows,
P.M. of Services Lodge No. 1291, Edinburgh, a letter was received from the
Provincial Grand Master, requesting affiliation to 187. His petition was considered
and approved by the members, and on 2nd June, 1949, he was made an affiliate
member and later became a life member of 187. Bro. Burrows as well as being the
Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire Upper Ward for 9 years, was the Grand
Director of Ceremonies in Grand Lodge and accompanied the Most Worshipful
Grand Master on many of his trips throughout the world. He was a founder member                          
of Ault Wharrie, and his sudden death in 1957 was a great loss to Freemasonry.

Following the success of our March Ball in 1950, it was agreed to purchase
a new chequered carpet for the sum of £27 from the proceeds. On the return of
the Brethren to their meetings. after the recess, the Temple had a fresh appearance
with the new carpet, newly stained floor, and the new Volume of the Sacred Law
and cushion donated to the Lodge by R.W.M. Bro. E. W. Cunningham all properly
positioned and prepared.

At a special meeting of the Lodge in 1953, the ceremony of dedicating a re-
modelled set of Regalia with Jewels, was carried out by Bro. J. R Thomson,
Provincial Grand Chaplain and affiliate member of 187. The acquisition of this
regalia had been discussed as far back as 1949, and a regalia fund was then
formed from the proceeds of the very successful dances and donations of the
Brethren. It was now the proud boast that 187 had a full set of dress regalia and
jewels for every Office Bearer in the Lodge.

The large square and compasses, coloured gold on a black background
and which has an electric light at each point, was made for the Lodge by Bro.
John G. McLean for the purpose of displaying it at our annual dances. After some
discussion, it was decided to move the lesser lights from their present position
on the wall behind the East of the Temple, and install separate lights at the
Wardens and Masters chairs. This would then allow the large illuminated emblems
to be set on the wall, this balancing with the P.G. Master's regalia case.

Senior Members' Treat

The now customary annual outing and treat run by the Lodge for our
senior members, wives and widows, was started in the year 1955, when on that
occasion the bus run took them to Alva, where they later gathered at St. Servanus
Masonic Hall for an appropriate purvey and thereafter enjoyed a short get together
with our friends and Brethren from 771.

A few years later, this treat was extended, and in 1958, an additional bus
was organised to collect 25 residents from Ault Wharrie in Dunblane. The convoy
then continued on its trip to Callander. These very popular excursions have, over
the years, travelled to many different parts of the countryside, and have even
included sailing up Loch Lomond or a visit to the theatre.

The floor covering to the Temple, was carried out in 1959 using rubber
squares in lieu of the cheaper suggestion from some quarters to use linoleum
tiles. This covering has stood the test of time, and their colour and design has,
over the years, added to the character of the room.

The Lodge Licence

The usual practice of partaking of a refreshment after a meeting, initiated
a notice of motion that the Lodge should apply for its own licence and have a bar
for the use of the members after meetings and other Masonic functions. On its
first attempt in 1959, the motion was rejected by the narrowest of margins (The
Master's casting vote). A year later, the motion having again been raised, was
carried by a majority and the licence obtained.

It was decided in 1962, to prepare and produce a record of the Lodge Past
Masters. This list was to take the form of Past Masters boards to be displayed in
the Lodge Room, but due to a mix up in the reporting of the General Committee
recommendations, the boards were not commissioned until the year 1963.

Discussions on extensions to the dwelling houses which were the property
of the Lodge, took place in June, 1963. This was to add a bathroom to each house.
The work would entail the construction of a two storey extension at the rear of
our premises. The estimate to carry out the work amounting to £800, was
considered beyond the Lodge's means, and the whole matter was postponed for
at least a year to allow fund raising to continue. Many avenues were explored in
this respect, including a request to each clear member to donate 10/- toward the
fund. The O.E.S. and the Royal Arch each assisted in the fund raising. When the
Lodge thereafter made arrangements with an architect to prepare plans for the
work, they were dismayed when they discovered through meetings with the
County Council, that the Market Place was under a Redevelopment Programme,
and that the Lodge Rooms themselves may come under this redevelopment. All
the plans were put on hold, and the monies which had been accrued for this
purpose were deposited into a new fund to be called "The Building Fund". This
fund then standing at £500, was invested in a long term account.

Our Annual inter-lodge bowling match with Alva, was started in 1964, but
after a few years, it was generally felt that the match was not being taken seriously
enough on the sports field. P.M. George Young from 771 and P.M. John G.
McLean from 187, jointly donated a shield, to be known as the "Robert Thomson
Trophy", which would be played for on an annual basis.

Continuing on the subject of gifts to the Lodge around this time, we could
include the Bible presented by Bro. H. Wigston and dedicated by Chaplain P.M.
Alex Morrison; a framed painting as a mark of the long association between the
two Lodges from P.M. George Young 771 and Bro. C. Wyse 771; to mark 21 years
of friendship, St. Servanus presented the Lodge with a D.O.C. Baton; and following
his visit to the Middle East in 1967, Bro. Albert Zieglar presented to the Lodge
the framed picture of the site on which stood King Solomon's Temple. (This
picture now hangs in the lounge bar).

And When They Got There - The Cupboard Was Bare

20th January, 1966, was a red letter day for 187. On following up certain
irregularities in respect to unpaid accounts, it was subsequently discovered that
the Lodge was in financial difficulties. Hurried meetings were arranged with' our
bankers and accountants on the discovery that the funds had been misappropriated
to the sum of £1856:14:4. The immediate problems were that apart from there
being very little money in our bank accounts, considerable and sizeable unpaid
bills were brought to the fore. These debts had to be met with haste, and the
Brethren rallied to the cause as best they could. One Brother made a gift of £300
to clear the immediate debt, and raffles, coffee mornings, dances, tattie and herring
nights, domino tournaments, whist drives and social evenings were arranged. A
general appeal went out to all our members for their support. In an effort to
defray costs at our dances, P.M. John G. McLean took on the task, assisted by the
caretaker's wife, Mrs Yule, of providing the meal. (This particular venture was
so successful that P.M. McLean some twenty eight years later is still providing
this service to the Lodge). The Lodge was assisted in its fund raising by both the
R.A. Chapter and the O.E.S. Such was the enthusiasm and hard work of some of
the members, that in a relatively short period, the Lodge was back to a positive
financial status.

On his retirement as Lodge Secretary at the end of 1967, P.M. Bro. Robert
Thomson was presented with a suitable gift from the Brethren to mark his 20
years as secretary. At the presentation it was noted that during his long term in
office Bro. Thomson had a near perfect attendance. A few months later, at the
P.G.L. visitation, it was confirmed that the rank of Honorary Grand Marshal of
the Grand Lodge of Scotland had been announced at the last Grand Lodge meeting,
and he was duly presented with his Diploma to that effect.

When the County Council finally unveiled their plans for the redevelopment
of the Market Place in 1969, the Lodge's worst fears were realised when it became
apparent that the Lodge Buildings were earmarked for demolition. The continual
objections lodged against the plans perhaps had some effect, as a year later it was
confirmed that our building would not be interfered with.

Master's Chain of Office

In 1970 it was decided to purchase a chain of office for the Master. A small
committee was formed to look at samples and make suggestions to the Lodge,
and on their recommendation a chain was purchased for the sum of £108:10:0.

The Downstairs Lounge

In August, 1972, it was agreed to appoint an architect to prepare sketches for
a proposed extension to the Lodge premises, namely the conversion of the
unoccupied house downstairs into a lounge. When the members failed to acquire
a suitable loan from the brewers for this work, a modified scheme was drawn up
in 1973. These plans were given planning permission in October of that year and
working parties were formed from within the Lodge's own members. By the end
of November, 1973, steady progress was being made, and it was not until late
1974 that the work was completed. The addition of carpeting and furnishings
resulted in a total cost to the Lodge for all the work of £5500. This sum was well
within the original estimate, and to celebrate the opening of the new extension,
all those who had contributed to the works, had a special evening together at the
Lodge's expense in February, 1975.

 A most unusual gift to the Lodge was made in March, 1975, by Bro. F.Sommerville,                       
and was a sculptured Bible which derived its origins from the quarries in Jerusalem. 
This small artefact sits on the Master's table in the East of the Temple.

At the Installation of the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason in 1975,
it was intimated that P.M. Alex Morrison was awarded the Grand Rank of
Honorary Grand Senior Deacon.

More Building Extensions and Improvements

Late 1975 saw the continuation of the building and improvement
programme, one which has in many ways never really halted to the present time.
The first of these many works, was the removal of the partition in the adjacent.
A new suspended ceiling was erected, and a year later, wall heating was installed.
The large attendances at the meetings in the mid 70's instigated a feasibility
study for the enlargement of the Temple. This would accommodate in some
comfort the large numbers (well in excess of the designed 100) which regularly
came to the Lodge on meeting nights. A Tote Double promotion in aid of the
Building Fund, was started in April, 1978. These proposals, which were to extend
the Temple externally, were submitted and subsequently refused planning
permission in 1978, and a new scheme whereby the Temple would be extended
into the adjacent, with a replacement function room built at the rear of the
premises, was prepared. At the Special Meeting of 13th September, 1979, it was
decided to get quotations from builders for the new function hall extension. 

When the final estimates were received in the summer of 1980, the Brethren
decided that a traditional building be built, even though the cost was twice that
of a precast system. Subsequent meetings with our Bankers and the brewers
resulted in the Lodge being unable to raise sufficient finance. Further discussions
at later meetings within the Lodge effected some changes to the plans, and the
go ahead was finally given to proceed with the cheaper option which was now
quoted at £56,751.00. 

The completed extension, at a cost of £79,352.22 (including all furnishings,
new bar, car park, security systems, etc.), was officially opened at a special evening
on 11th September, 1981. The eventual sale of part of the adjacent ground owned
by the. Lodge a year later, financed the modernisation of the caretaker's house.

By mid 1983 it was planned to further improve the premises, by the addition
of new toilets and a fire escape. When the Lodge again failed to secure the
appropriate loan to carry out these works, they decided to go ahead on a partial
basis, commissioning work to the value of £15,000 which was the monies available
in the Building Fund at that time. Through the sterling work of certain individuals,
the additional funds were soon acquired and all the planned improvements were
consequently completed.

Following the death of P.M. Charles H. Atwell in 1981, his Past Master's
Jewel was presented to the Lodge. This Jewel has been worn by every Master
since that date, and now forms an integral part of the Master's regalia.

With the prospect of the Bi-Centenary approaching in a few years time,
and not wishing to find themselves in the same financial circumstances that
prevailed on the occasion of their Centenary, a Bi-Centenary fund was established
in 1983 which would run until the celebrations were completed at the end of
1994.

To mark the distinguished Masonic services of two of the Lodge's Past
Masters, in 1984 diplomas were presented to Past Masters James Shields and
John Pyper, both of whom had been Past Masters of Lodge St. John No. 187 for
50 years.

In September, 1985, a new Lodge chequered carpet was dedicated and
consecrated by P.M. Colin Forrest, Chaplain, and later that year an indoor bowling
carpet and bowls were purchased for the use of the members. 1986 saw the
adjacent improved by the addition of wall panelling, carpeting, and museum
display cabinets, the Temple finally got its Past Masters' boards for display, while
externally a garage was built for the caretaker's car. An appeal to all the Office
Bearers, past and present, to supply photographs of Past Office Bearers for
exhibiting on the walls of the adjacent, was very successful, and has greatly
enhanced the appearance of that splendid room.

At the Installation of the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason in 1988,
another distinguished P.M. of the Lodge and a Past Substitute Provincial Grand
Master, namely P.M. Sam Kerr, was awarded the grand rank of Honorary Grand
Jeweller.

Despite the apparent strides forward in the material and outward fabric of
the Lodge throughout the eighties, the end of that decade was marred by two
unfortunate and unrelated incidents. The first was the untimely and tragic deaths
of two of the Lodge's Past Masters. P.M. William Thomson was the Provincial
Grand Junior Deacon and P.M. Colin Forrest was the Lodge Chaplain, the
Provincial Grand Chaplain, and a Grand Steward in the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
The Demise of these Brethren was a sad loss to the Lodge and Freemasonry in
general, and was recorded on the 19th October, 1989, when a new Lodge V.S.L.
was dedicated to their memory by P.M.J. Watson and consecrated by P.P.G.M.
James T. E. Riley. The other matter was the discovery that an employee of the
Lodge had misappropriated a considerable sum of money, which had resulted in
the Lodge being plunged into a serious financial crisis. Drastic proposals were
quickly approved by the Brethren, and by donations, some changes in the Bye
Laws, and more particularly the untiring and unselfish labours of some spirited
individuals, once again in the space of a few years, the Lodge was restored to a
stable financial position.

 On the occasion of our Sister Lodge St. Servanus No. 771 celebrating its
centenary year in 1990, a suitably inscribed wall clock was presented to mark the
event. Our friends from 771 in turn presented to 187 an engraved silver jersey jug
in memory of P.M. Colin Forrest who had been an Honorary Member of St.
Servanus.

It was a great honour to Lodge St. John No. 187 when the R.W.M. Bro.Stuart  
Gregory was invited by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason,
Brigadier Sir Gregor McGregor of McGregor, to reply to the toast given to the
Daughter Lodges at the Festival of St. Andrew on the 29th November, 1990,    
following the Installation of Grand Lodge Office Bearers. K.W.M. Bro. Gregory's
reply was warmly received and a standing ovation was given by the assembly
who represented Lodges from every corner of the globe.

It might well now be appropriate to consider such a momentous event, as
heralding the end of an era that has spanned 200 years. However, to those that
come behind us, and for all that lies ahead, it would be better to consider the
strengths from which we almost end this period in our history. Major
refurbishment to the Lodge lounges, bar, function hall, kitchen and roof in the
final year of this period, was undoubtedly pre-empted by the forthcoming
celebrations in the Bi-Centenary year, but what better than use this inheritance
from our forefathers as a platform from which to launch ourselves into the future,
thereby continuing to promote the great traditions and heritage for which we can
justly be proud.

Although this record is only a shadowy picture of the achievements of its
builders, it is a record which the members can survey with a justifiable pride. It
offers, moreover, as all good records do, an in-escapable challenge.

As we look forward to our next 200 years, let us simply be grateful to those
Brethren who, by their determination over the past two centuries, have made this
Bi-Centenary possible.

 

 Here endeth the Bi-Centenary Story