When you read the early Minutes of the Lodge it can be very deceptive as these records are constructed more or less the same way as the Minutes written today; they contain details of Openings, Minutes, Business, Degrees and closed in ”Due and Ancient Form”! It is only when you realise what was happening in the World of 1875 you realise how long ago this actually was.
Abraham Lincoln was still remembered fondly as President having been assassinated only 10 years earlier in 1865. Ulysses S Grant, the Civil war hero, was in his second and final term as President (although his government had just been rocked with a tax scandal involving Whisky!). The “Redskins” still posed a threat to the “Palefaces” (as General George Custer was about to find out at the battle of the Little Bighorn the following year) and on the sporting front 1875 saw the first Kentucky Derby (won by a horse called Aristides).
In Great Britain:
Queen Victoria was on the throne for the 38th of the 64 years she was to rule—still in mourning for Prince Albert who had died in 1861. Benjamin Disraeli was Prime Minister and leader of the Tories with William Gladstone leading the party of Opposition-The Liberals (formerly known as the Whigs). The British Empire was probably at its peak with the Homeland at its core churning out goods for all over the World. On the sporting front Captain Webb swam the English Channel for the first time in 1875.
The Factories Act had raised the minimum age of child workers to 10 and a 10-hour working day was established. The 1745 Monument for Bonnie Prince Charlie was erected at Glenfinnan while on the sporting front Queens Park won the Scottish Cup and Scotland drew with England at Rugby. This was only 2 years after the founding of Glasgow Rangers (probably why they didn’t win the cup that year!) and in that same year of 1873 David Livingstone died at Ujiji in Africa.
Springburn was probably the greatest locomotive building centre in the World and was described by John Thomas, the Springburn author, as “The Scottish Railway Metropolis”. Springburn thrived with many thousands employed at Cowlairs, St Rollox, Atlas and Hyde Park building locomotives for all over the world---many of which are still in working order today. The link from Bellgrove station to the new Springburn station was almost complete and would be opened on 16/8/1875—just 2 weeks after the Kenmuir Charter would be granted.
It was against this backdrop of a rapidly changing and evolving World that Lodge Kenmuir No 570 on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland first saw the light of day on 2nd August 1875 when its Charter was granted.
The Lodge was granted its Charter by The Grand Lodge of Scotland on Monday 2nd August 1875—Its name Lodge Kenmuir, Springburn, Glasgow No 570. On that same day Charters were also granted to Lodge Dramatic No 571 in Glasgow, Lodge St David Kincardineshire No 572 and Lodge Livingston St Andrew No 573 in Lanarkshire Middle Ward.
An extract from the Charter reads:
“To all and sundry to whose knowledge shall come, greeting to God everlasting.
Whereas, upon the second day of August, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Five Years, a petition was presented to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, in the name of John Law, John Rennie,John Gemmell,Robert Aikman,William Reid,John Wark,John R Fulton,John Sharp,John Hislop,Richard Thomson,John McKell, and others. Praying the said Grand Lodge to grant a CHARTER of Constitution and Erection in the usual form for holding a Lodge under the name and title of KENMUIR, SPRINGBURN, GLASGOW, No 570 and proposing the persons aforementioned to be the first Office-Bearers thereof -viz. John Law RW Master, John Rennie W Depute Master, John Gemmell W Substitute Master, Robert Aikman Senior Warden, William Reid Junior Warden, John Wark Senior Deacon, John R Fulton W Junior Deacon, John Sharp Treasurer, John Hislop Inner Guard,Richard Thomson,John McKell, Tyler…………………the initiation shall not be under the sum of One Pound Twelve Shillings and Sixpence Sterling”
It is interesting to note the proper title of the Lodge is “KENMUIR, SPRINGBURN, GLASGOW” and not the shortened version we use today of “Lodge “Kenmuir”, Springburn”. Similarly there are no apostrophes around the Kenmuir as this has obviously crept in over the years.
I feel at this point it would be appropriate to explain where the title of the Lodge derives from.
However first let us take a step back to consider the way in which Lodges are given their names. Lodges are given their names by various means;
- AREA OR DISTRICT. Lodges Springburn and Possilpark have been named in this manner, which obviously reflect the area in which they were formed and drew members from.
- CONCEPT. Lodge Progress and Lodge Shalom being examples of this naming convention
- AN EVENT OR FEATURE. Lodge Southern Cross is probably an example of this
- A PERSON. Lodges Anderson McMillan and Sir William Wallace are obvious examples of this.
So where would Lodge Kenmuir fit into these naming conventions?
AN AREA? There was a Kenmure quarry in the Bishopbriggs area—However both the spelling of the name and the area would be both incorrect and inappropriate to name a Lodge to be formed in the in “The Scottish Railway Metropolis”!. There was also a Kenmuir Coal pit within the Kenmuir Estate in the East end of Glasgow on the way to Hamilton in which several miners were killed in the early nineteenth century following a gas explosion. Again this would seem an unlikely naming source for a Masonic Lodge in Springburn, although the Kenmuir name lives on as a Kenmuir Road as well as a Kenmuir Hill and Kenmuir Wood in the East end just south of Sandyhills Golf Club in the approximate area of the old Kenmuir Estate.
It is safe to say then that Kenmuir was not named after an area.
A CONCEPT? I am sure that Lodge Kenmuir could be accused of many things, however being a concept is not one of them!
AN EVENT OR FEATURE? Once again this obviously does not apply.
A PERSON? Kenmuir is such an unusual name—who could possibly have such a name to give the Lodge its name?
Lodge Kenmuir was to run for only five years – until 1880—before it was declared dormant. Of this period the minutes of only 23 meetings exist from 9/1/1879 till 5/2/1880.These minutes do not tell us everything about the Lodge at that difficult time but provide us with a snapshot over a 13 month period from which we can draw certain conclusions.
We know from the Roll Book that the first Candidate to be initiated into the Lodge on 26/8/1875 was a James Miller, 21, a Miner residing at Colston and that until the Lodge became dormant in 1880 that 81 Candidates were initiated.
There is nothing known of the first four years of the Lodge other than the information recorded in the Roll book which goes back to 1875 and is indeed signed by the first Master, the Charter Master, Bro. John Law.
However the earliest surviving minute dates from 9th January 1879; -
“ Springburn 9th January 1879 Lodge Kenmuir No 570
The Lodge met on the above date for the transaction of business. Bro. Currie RWM in the Chair. Bro. Miller and Marchbanks in the Senior and Junior Wardens Chairs. The Lodge being opened in due and ancient form in the First Degree, the minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved of. Bro. McCallum read a report about the funds of the Lodge for the past year, which was approved by the Lodge. The Lodge was brought from labour to refreshment and refreshment to labour. No other business being brought up the lodge was closed in due and ancient form
Signed Reddie Currie RWM ”
It is interesting to note that no meeting place address other than Springburn is mentioned – The exact venue where the earliest meetings took place will probably always remain a mystery.
The earliest recorded Affiliation in the Lodge was Brother Annan who was proposed and affiliated in the same evening on 23/1/1879.This is an interesting historical date as on this day the battle of Rorkes Drift in the African Zulu War was concluded. The next time you watch Michael Caine in Zulu fighting this battle you will think “The Lodge held a Meeting that day!”
The Lodge was obviously unhappy with their current meeting place as Bro. George Miller, Bro. Thomas Miller and Bro. Alexander were appointed to act as a committee on 13/2/1879 to investigate a hall in Possilpark and report back at its next meeting on its suitability as a Masonic Hall. The Lodge was also experiencing financial difficulties as the master at that time, Bro. Reddie Currie, advanced the sums of £3-10-10 and 8/4 to pay the lodges fees and purchase calendars respectively.
The Committee duly reported back to the Lodge on 27/2/1879 with its findings and the Secretary was instructed to “Summon A full Meeting” for 13/3/1879 to decide about the hall. The meeting was duly held on 13/3/1879 and the Brethren voted on the proposal to relocate to Possilpark (which was considered to be a “much better field for Masonry “) and this motion was carried by only 2 votes .The move to Possilpark was to take place in May 1879. There has always been a close affinity and friendship between Lodge Kenmuir and Lodge Possilpark-Indeed Kenmuir was a Sponsor Lodge of Possilpark. However if history had been different we have been the same Lodge!
At the following meeting on 27/3/1879 there was an outcry as not all the Members had been summoned by the Secretary and the vote to move was declared null and void! It was decided that the proposal would be reconsidered at the next meeting on 10/4/1879. Interestingly enough there was no further mention made of the relocation proposal at the meeting on 10/4/1879 or any subsequent meeting – One can only assume that there was an overwhelming consensus against the move. At the same meeting is the earliest recording in the Minute book of a First Degree on Bro. Samuel Fleming, 34, a Bookbinder residing at 145 Argyle Street who also received his Second degree at the same meeting.
On 12/5/1879 the first recording of the Lodge “Bie” laws were read and duly approved on 26/6/1879.
The financial problems of the Lodge were still rumbling on and on 9/10/1879 auditors were appointed to try to meet with the former Treasurer, Bro. Dempster, and the current Treasurer, Bro. Chapman, to resolve the audit and any disputes. This was duly done and the books were resolved up till the 1878 audit.
13/11/1879 was a significant date as two important facts are recorded. It is the first mention the lodges meeting place as “Masonic Hall, Springburn “—Perhaps the Lodge had moved premises. More worrying was a letter from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow instructing the Lodge to pay all dues and have books properly written up or the Charter would be withdrawn. The Lodges response to this was to put a levy on all Members of “5/- more or less” to enable the Lodge to clear its debts.
A Nomination meeting was held on 27/11/1879 at which Bro. Currie was nominated to continue to serve as Master. It was also agreed to move to monthly meetings.
8/1/1880 is an important date as the Lodge meeting was held in”their Hall, Balgrayhill” which perhaps gives credit to the belief that, for at least one meeting, it was held in the “Wee room underneath the stairs”!
The last surviving minute from this time is;
“Springburn Feb 5th 1880
The Regular Meeting of Lodge Kenmuir No 570 was held in their Hall, Balgrayhill. Br. Millar DM acting RWM, Bros Morrison & Fulton acting S & J Wardens. The Minutes of Jan 22nd were read and approved of. There being no other business the Lodge was then closed in due and ancient form all being satisfied.”
The last Candidate initiated into the Lodge on 18/3/1880, before it was declared dormant was a James Jardine, 37, who was the Janitor at Kelvinside Academy.
So why did the Lodge become dormant after these 5 short years? I believe there are clues within these 23 minutes that survive.
- Candidates seemed to be in short supply. There were only 6 during this 13-month period and it was not unusual to confer 2 Degrees on the same night. This was probably the reason that the Lodge moved to Monthly meetings.
- The Lodge seemed to have possibly 3 meeting venues in the space of 13 months (and indeed voted to move to another). This would hardly create stability.
- Financial reasons. The Lodge suffered greatly from a lack of finance, which presented great problems with the payment of fees to Provincial Grand Lodge.
I believe that these were the major influences as to why the Lodge was forced to become dormant.