Adversity and Prosperity
ADVERSITY & PROSPERITY
In his remarks to the Brethren on the occasion of the Lodge's 50th Anniversary on 29th December 1874 the R.W.M. Bro. George Watson observed that "The Lodge has had its years of adversity as well as its years of prosperity. The latter had fairly predominated and he hoped that its career in the future would show an equally fair balance on the prosperous side when summed up at the expiry of another fifty years".
One hundred and twenty five years later, with the Lodge now having realised its 175th Anniversary, the sentiments echoed by Bro. Watson on that occasion are as appropriate today as they were in 1874.
This section of the Lodge's history records various circumstances and events which map out the chequered history of our Lodge over these 175 years.
1835 From the strong beginnings of 1824, some nine years later the Lodge went into abeyance for a period of five years.
1841 The Past Masters re-commenced the meetings. No records exist for the period 1842 - 1850, suggesting that the Lodge once again went into abeyance though it is possible that the minutes were simply lost.
1850 The Lodge was once again resurrected with Bro. James Gillespie being installed as R.W.M. At the end of Bro. Gillespie's year, the Lodge once again had to go into abeyance.
1856 Meetings re-commenced once again with Bro. James Garrow, a Past Master of over 20 years standing (R.W.M. 1831-33) taking the chair for three years. The Lodge never again had to go into abeyance and must surely owe a great debt of gratitude to this brother.
1877 The proposal by the Grand Lodge of Scotland to raise fees was discussed within the Lodge at which time it was agreed that if carried "it would virtually prevent any candidates coming forward, the present fee being already sufficiently high". Whilst the minutes rarely make reference to the well-being of the Lodge in either monetary or attendance terms, it can be assumed that the latter period of the 1800's was a particularly lean period in terms of attendance.
1878 Bro. George Watson, who served six years as Master from 1871 - 1877, subsequently chaired every meeting of the Lodge during his year as I.P.M. signing the minute on each occasion as Acting R.W.M. Thereafter he was re-installed and served once again as Master during the period 1878 - 83. Bro. Watson effectively served the Lodge as Master for a period of 12 years, albeit one of those years was as "Acting Master".
1879 In October the Lodge discussed the option of meeting on a quarterly as opposed to a monthly basis. It was decided to continue the meetings on a monthly basis for a further twelve months in the hope that attendances might increase. This matter was not raised again, presumably due to an upturn in support.
1883 Bro. Watson's successor in the chair was Bro. James Currie who served as Master until 1894, a period of 11 years. These two brethren chaired the Lodge for a period of 23 years, one would presume as a result of poor attendances or lack of interest.
1896 Owing to a Grand Lodge Enactment, the minimum age of entry to the Craft was raised from 18 years to 21 years with the exception of the sons of Masons who could continue to join at 18 years of age. Whilst there are no records to suggest that this affected the intake of suitable gentlemen into the craft, it must be assumed it had a further bearing on what would appear to have been difficult times for the Lodge.
1914 The Lodge premises were taken over by the Military Authorities upon the outbreak of The Great War. The premises were required for use by the Territorial Army. The Lodge made arrangements to meet within a local hotel.
1918 In November a special meeting was held when the R.W.M. Bro. A. Rankine made a few remarks about "our happy position in having seen the end of the war". The Lodge was closed with the Brethren singing the first verse of the National Anthem.
1919 In the years after The Great War the Lodge, in common with all other Lodges, saw a great influx of candidates, many of whom were returning home from active service. During the meeting of 11th March, petitions for initiation were read out on behalf of 21 gentlemen.
1923 Looking towards the Lodge's Centenary Year, a full set of Office-Bearers regalia was purchased.
1939 In September the Lodge premises were once again taken over by the Military Authorities upon the outbreak of The Second World War. The premises were required for the accommodation of evacuees. The Lodge made arrangements to meet in Bannockburn Public School. This necessitated a change in the Lodge meeting nights from the second and last Tuesday of each month to the second and last Thursday - a change which stands to the present day.
1940 In the immediate years during and following the Second World War there were understandably many more candidates to join the Craft with men returning home after long absences from serving in the forces.
1944 During the Annual Visitation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire, it is recorded that "Grand Lodge are somewhat concerned about the large influx of members being admitted into Freemasonry, and ask that Lodges exercise great caution in admitting candidates". Greater visitation between Lodges, no doubt because of improved transport in the motor car era, was also a feature of the post War years.
1951 In March, due to the high number of applications for initiation being received, it was decided to close the application list forthwith.
1972 It was recognised that the condition of the Lodge Building was deteriorating and approaches were made to Stirling County Council. In December of that year a deputation from the Lodge met representatives of the Council with a view to having them repair and tidy the building containing the Masonic Hall. The alternative was to sell the building and grounds to the council if they gave the Lodge other accommodation in good order. These options were not progressed.
1975 During the summer months a number of meetings were held to consider the condition of the building, which was by that time giving grave cause for concern. Initially it was believed that the principal problem concerned the re-tiling of the roof, which would cost an estimated £3,000. Stirling County Council agreed to pay £2,000 towards the roof repairs. Discussions then took place regarding the Lodge borrowing £3,000 and in addition to the re-tiling of the roof to have the external walls re-pointed and the middle hall floor replaced.
Arrangements were put in hand to borrow the monies from either the Bank or the Brewers. The Bank employed a surveyor to inspect the building. The report detailed a number of faults, in particular extensive dry rot throughout the building. As a result they were not prepared to extend a loan. The Surveyor's report indicated the cost of necessary repairs would be approximately £11,000 - £12,000.
Letters were despatched to various bodies including Stirling District Council, Central Regional Council and the Historic Buildings Council seeking any financial assistance they could offer. It was agreed that a serious fund raising effort required to be undertaken.
1977 Due to the impoverished state of the Lodge funds, a hand delivered appeal was made to all Brethren for a contribution to allow the Lodge to fulfil its financial obligations. This appeal met with a 'modest' response.
1981 In February the Treasurer reported that both the Lodge and the Social Club funds were in the red, a situation that could not be allowed to continue. Eight months later, with the Lodge unable to pay the local council rates, it was decided to start a weekly tote and to install a gaming machine in order to generate income.
Such was the poor state of the Lodge's finances, that for the first time in recorded history it was decided to regrettably decline all external charitable appeals. The Lodge, however, continued to make its annual donations to the Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge Benevolent Funds as well as the Masonic Homes.
1982 The decision was taken to close the Bottom Hall in order to reduce the annual Council Rates Bill.
1983 The Senior Warden Bro. Alex Buchanan assisted by various brethren and their Ladies organised a number of events including sponsored walks, sales of work and raffles and succeeded in raising over £1,000 for Lodge Funds.
The Lodge was once again unable to pay the rates bill and the R.W.M. made an appeal in open Lodge for the Brethren to offer loans in order that the financial obligations might be met.
1984 After many years of running repairs, the roof of the building was completely re-tiled. This was a major undertaking and the Lodge's gratitude was expressed to all those who worked on this venture. In particular this appreciation was extended to Past Masters John A. Davidson and Andrew Craig. Without their expert skill and knowledge, these works could not have been undertaken.
1985 Whilst the Annual financial report for the Lodge was still in deficit, the Treasurer was pleased to report that the Social Club (after a £2,000 loss the previous year) was now showing a profit. The hope was expressed that this was a sign of better things to follow and a vote of thanks was proposed to all those who assisted and supported the Social Club for their efforts.
1992 Every weekend during the months of August, September and October, a team of volunteer workers led by Senior Warden Bro. Richard G. Buchanan worked unceasingly in the old social club on the third floor level. During this period all of the lintels, beams and joists which support the middle hall floor (the current social club) were replaced. This was a major project, the need for which had first been identified in the Surveyor's Report of 1975. Their efforts were greatly assisted by Bro. James Collington P.M. and Mrs. Collington who fed, watered and nourished the team on a diet of home made soup, scones and sandwiches.
1995 Bro. Alan Rodger, R.W.M. of Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No. 76, assisted by a number of '312' brethren, undertook the refurbishment of the kitchen. This was a project that had required to be done for some time and all at '312' were very appreciative of Bro. Alan's endeavours.
1999 As the Lodge enters its 175th year, it is pleasing to record that the Lodge finances are in a healthy state with the brethren and Office-Bearers continuing to be fully supportive in their role as Lodge Members.