Bro. Robert Gibson was one of the most influential figures in the History of Lodge Kenmuir.
He was a Past Master of Lodge Thistle No 87, aged 51 (when he joined Kenmuir), a Tailor/Clothier to trade and resided at 497 Springburn Road and was to be Master for 9 times over the period 1885-1895. He was to be the main driving force of the Lodge during this period. Even when he was not Master he was always involved by being the chief Degree Worker carrying out normally 2 Degrees per meeting and would take over the chair in the absence of the Master.
From the Minutes it appears he was a very strong-willed Brother who was not afraid of controversy – he would knowingly break Grand Lodge or Provincial Grand Lodge Laws if he considered it was to the benefit of the Lodge. He also had several disputes and heated debates with his own Brethren.
Bro. Robert Gibson nursed Kenmuir through its formative years and when he stood down as Master in1895, the Lodge was healthy and prosperous—All of which was down to the dedication and work of Bro. Gibson and his team of Office-Bearers.
The earliest recorded Minute of the resuscitated Lodge Kenmuir comes from 26/9/1884:
At a Meeting of several Gentlemen connected with the Masonic Order was held in Springburn on the above date - “Mr Gibson in the Chair”. It was thought the time had now arrived when a Masonic Lodge should be opened in this rising and populous district which would not in any way be detrimental to any of the Lodge held in the city. –A Committee having been formed to inquire into the matter, the Meeting was formally closed.”
The same Committee again met on 1/10/1884 when it was felt that the “Old Lodge Kenmure” be resuscitated. It is interesting to note that this spelling of “Kenmure” continues until the return of Brother John Law PM –The first Master of 570. The Committee were so confident that the Lodge would restart that they had already arranged a hall for that purpose and gave instructions for it to be fitted out in readiness.
Work progressed during October 1884 and when the Nomination meeting was held on 22/10/1884 Bro. Robert Gibson was proposed as Master.
On 1st November 1884 the following Petition was sent to The Provincial Grand Secretary;
“Unto the Most Worshipful The Provincial Grand Master Mason, The Office-Bearers and Members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow.
The Petition of the undersigned Master Masons of the Lodges mentioned against our respective names
That the Petitioners having the Good
Of Masonry at heart are desirous of the “resuscitation” of the late Lodge “Kenmure” to be held in Springburn and the Petitioners humbly promise to discharge the duties of Masonry in a Constitutional manner according to the Forms of the Order and the Laws of Grand Lodge.
Robt Gibson RWM 87 Thistle
Robt Davison SW 3 ½ St John
Robt Aitchison JW 465 St Andrew
T Halliday SM 465 St Andrew
W Clark DM 332 Union
Robt Robertson SEC 465 St Andrew
Wm Flint TR 413 Athole
A Gilmour SD 465 St Andrew
Jas Wood JD 465 St Andrew
Thos Miller ARCH 28 Kirkintilloch
Jas Geddes MAR 333 St George
Mr Tennant SS 116 Royal Arch
Mr Weir DOM 413 Athole
I Calder PGS(Steward for PGL?) 465 St Andrew
Mr McIlwam IG 796 (See note below)
Mr Wolstenholme SB 465 St Andrew
Mr Walker SB(again ?) 465 St Andrew
Mr McKell TYL 28 Kirkintilloch.”
Lodge 796 is obviously a mistake in the Minutes as this Lodge ( Lodge Caledonia (Eastern Province of The Cape of Good Hope)) only had its charter granted on 2nd November 1893—Some nine years later.
It is interesting to think that virtually all Members of Lodge Kenmuir are descended Masonically from these Brethren—All of these Brethren proposed someone who proposed someone who proposed someone and so on until that someone proposed you.
At this point, after only 3 months, ”the money in the Treasurers hands was £23-0-0”. The expected number of candidates for the first year was 10 initiates and 20 affiliates, with fees set at £2-10-0 for entry and 10/- for affiliation. The Lodge Test fee was set at 3/- per year with life membership £2-0-0 and the Lodge colour was selected as light blue.
The hall, which the Lodge had rented, was located at 27 Cowlairs Road and owned by a Mr. McPherson. The rental figure was agreed at £19-10-0 per year on a 7-year lease. This lease gave Lodge Kenmuir complete use of the premises for this period and as such were able to sub-let the hall for rent –which turned out to be a very shrewd piece of business.
An example of the rents charged for this period was;
MEETING 7.00PM----11.00PM 10/-
EACH HOUR THEREAFTER 2/6
WEEKLY MEETING 2 HOURS £7-10-0 PER YEAR
FORTNIGHTLY MEETING 2 HOURS £6-0-0 PER YEAR
MONTHLY MEETING 2 HOURS £3-10-0 PER YEAR
The Tyler (who was also the hallkeeper) was paid £7-0-0 per year.
This proved to be a particularly good earner for the Lodge as this rental profit underpinned the Lodge finance in its formative years.
By 11/2/1885 The Lodge had cleared the outstanding debts owed by the earlier version of the Lodge and a working letter was sent from Grand Lodge enabling Kenmuir to meet. The Lodge held a meeting the following day on 12/2/1885 which Bro. James Annan PM 354 chaired as acting Master. Two Brethren were proposed and initiated that night—Bro. James Gibb and Bro. John Wood. The meeting must have been very well attended as the Benevolent Fund Collection that night raised £2-7-8 ½. There was no general fund collection—We can only assume that the lodge finances were very secure.
On 17/2/1885 Lodge Kenmuir held its 2nd meeting. The Lodge had reverted to its original spelling of Kenmuir, most likely due to the fact That Bro. John Law, the First Master, was installed as Chaplain.(and no doubt informed the of its real name—Which he certainly knew!). All the “newer” Brethren were affiliated and then installed. Lodge Kenmuir now had its Office Bearers under the leadership of Bro. Robert Gibson.
Following on from the Installation the Lodge held a meeting the following day at which an affiliation was carried out followed by a 1st Degree, a 2nd Degree and a 3rd Degree –so much for a quiet start to the year! For the candidate who had completed his 1st degree 2 instructors were appointed.
At the meeting on 23/2/1885 the Lodge agreed that from then on the Lodge would meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each Month. It was also reported that further applications had been received for the use of the hall.
Byelaws were the next order of business and at the meeting on 11/3/1885 this matter was discussed with the option of now meeting every alternative Wednesday instead of 1st and 3rd. This proposal was passed at the next meeting on 18/3/1885. Also passed was the Master would be awarded Life Membership after serving 3 consecutive years in the Chair! These proposals were all sent to Provincial Grand Lodge for approval.
At this point the Lodge decided to check the whereabouts of the original Charter (1875) and the Secretary was instructed to write to Provincial Grand Secretary to see if the Charter was in his possession. At the next meeting the Secretary was again instructed to write –This time to Grand Secretary—“to see if he cannot find the old Charter and if not to try his efforts to give a duplicate”. The Lodge was obviously under the impression that the Charter had been returned to Grand Lodge. There could be two options as to how it got there; either returned when the Lodge became dormant or Provincial Grand Lodge withdrew the Charter from the Lodge as per their ultimatum regarding their debts. The latter is probably the more likely as the debts still existed until cleared in 1884/85 by the Brethren wishing to resuscitate the Lodge.
The Lodge was already active on the social activities by taking part in the Provincial Grand Lodge bowling competition (no report of the outcome!) and by organising a “Pic Nic” to take place at Hamilton Palace on 27/06/1885.Indeed Bro. Davidson presented a portrait group (I assume it was a photo) to the Lodge on 8/7/1885. This picnic also made the sum of 1/6, which was presented, to the Benevolent Fund. On this same subject, it was reported at this meeting that a Benevolence Grant had been received from Grand Lodge on behalf of a Brother—The first recorded incident of such an event.
Provincial Grand Lodge had considered the meeting night proposed by the Lodge and had decided to refuse permission to meet on alternative Wednesdays. The Lodge discussed the matter further and opted for the 2ND and 4th Wednesdays of the month—Which still remains unchanged to this day.
At the meeting on 26/8/1885 a letter was read from Lodge Athole No. 413 inviting the RWM to head a Deputation to attend a harmony meeting on 8/9/1885—The First Visitation recorded.
The Nomination meeting for Office-Bearers was held on 22/10/1885 .In these days the process of selecting Office-Bearers was done over 3 meetings—Nomination meeting, Election meeting and Installation meeting.
By 28/10/1885 Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge confirmed that the original Charter could not be found—Its location will probably always remain a mystery (Although I suspect it is probably in the cellars of Grand Lodge somewhere). However the Secretary, Bro. Kenny Reekie immediately applied for a duplicate and Grand Committee on 10/11/1885 granted this.
On 11/11/1885 two Brethren, Bros. Black and Robertson, moved that the Lodge “be run on strict temperance principles” and a warm discussion ensued! Eventually Bro. Gibson, Master, ruled that Lodge remain status quo and the Brethren who did not agree immediately removed themselves from the Lodge!
The Installation was held on 25/11/1885 at which Bro. Gibson continued as Master.
The Lodge planned its first major social event, which was a “Grand Supper and Ball to be held on 8/1/1886.” The venue was Hydepark Hall and the cost of a ticket would be 7/6 per couple with “supper on the table at 8.00 O’clock”. 3 Fiddlers were to be hired at a cost not to exceed 30/- and Office Bearers were to wear Jewels and sashes. Obviously sashes formed part of the regalia at this time.
Provincial Grand Lodge visited the Lodge on 14/1/1886 and reported that there were 26 intrants (the estimate had only been 10) in this first year. At this Provincial Grand Lodge Visitation, all 12 members of the Deputation including Substitute Provincial Grand Master Bro. John Graham were given Honorary Membership.
The first recorded Mark Degree was carried out on 24/2/1886 at which 27, including the RWM Bro. Gibson, were conferred.
Arrangements were made for the Consecration of the Hall and a Deputation of Provincial Grand Lodge headed by Bro. W Easton Depute Provincial Grand Master carried this out. Bro. Easton in his address to the Lodge said “ I am sure that in the hands of the present RWM and of his successors the Lodge would ever stand as one of the antient landmarks of the Order and maintain in their integrity all things that true Masons prize,” This meeting commenced at 8.00 PM and concluded at 12.15 AM. However the meeting concluded after the harmony; in these days the Lodge went from “labour to refreshment” to join in harmony, and at the completion of the harmony went from “refreshment to labour” to close the meeting. The Junior Warden would be in charge of the harmony part of the meeting, a tradition that still exists today.
The first reported sporting success for the Lodge occurred in 1886 when the bowling rink won 1/6, which the donated to the Benevolent Fund.
The success of the hall mirrored that of the Lodge and further alterations were required to the premises. The Lodge moved the sum of £12 to carry out the work, with Mr. McPherson, the owner also donating £2.A new gas light was installed at the foot of the stairs—so the hall must have been on the 1st floor probably accessed by external stairs. In addition the Tyler was awarded a further 2/6 per month in recognition of the additional required due to increased lets.
The Lodge appointed its first Benevolent Committee on 10/11/1886 to take care of all cases of Benevolence for the Lodge as up till this point all cases of Benevolence were discussed in open Lodge.
The Lodge decided at its meeting on 10/11/1886 to reduce its Life Membership fee from £3-3-0 to £1-1-0 (This would never happen today!) and it was subsequently approved by Provincial Grand Lodge.
In this its second year the Lodge had 11 intrants and it was interesting to note that Bro. John Law PM conducted a 2nd Degree on 10/2/1887.
The Lodge, at this time, was very worried about the health of Bro. Robert Gibson RWM –the Master and his wife had been struck down by one of the many epidemics, which ravaged the country at this time (possibly Cholera, Typhoid or Flu) and were both seriously ill. Bro. Robert Gibson was absent from the Lodge from 26/1/1887 till 9/3/1887.When he returned he thanked the Brethren for their sympathy in respect of his late wife and made a request of the Lodge—That when he passes to the Grand Lodge above that the Lodge grant him Masonic Honours. Sadly I do not believe that this was ever done.
On 22/4/1887 it was recorded that a Bro. J Wolstenholme made application to the Lodge, was balloted and received his 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degrees all on the same night. Bro. Gibson RWM did the 1st and 3rd Degrees while Bro. Tenant SW did the 2nd. This Meeting (which was an emergency meeting) commenced at 7.20PM and concluded at 10.30PM—Not bad for all that work!
On 19/10/87 Bro. David Tenant was nominated as RWM (proposed by Bro. Gibson) and duly installed on 23/11/1887 by Bro. Gibson. Bro. David Tenant RWM then presented Bro. Gibson with his Life Membership for completing 3 consecutive terms as RWM to become the first Life Member of Kenmuir. He was also thanked for his valuable services in the Lodge and was presented with “a marble timepiece and a gold medallion”
At the Provincial Grand Lodge Visit 25/1/1888 it was reported that the Lodge had 39 initiates. At the meeting on 14/3/1888 it became clear that many 570 Members had become scattered over the globe; letters was read from Bro. Watson in Venezuela and Bro. McCallish in Melbourne and 6 Brethren were wished Bon Voyage on their trip to Chile!
The Lodge held its first recorded Lodge of Instruction 21/3/1888 with the Instruction masters of Gibson and Law. These 2 Brethren formed the basis of “Kenmuir Tradition”XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXOne gave the Lodge its direction while the other xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
The Lodge then considered the question of new aprons (the current colour being light blue). As they were considered essential for Office-Bearers to wear at visitations. Bro. John Law, seconded by Bro.William Wilson (Not my father I might add), moved that the Lodge purchase white aprons, while Bro. Grant moved an amendment that ”we get aprons trimmed with blue” .The amendment was carried. Could it be that white was the original colour of aprons and Bro. John Law was trying to reinstate this? I think this could probably the case.
On 25/7/1888 the Lodge considered finance matters and it was agreed that only one cashbook be kept! That would certainly make life easier for the auditors(maybe)!
At the meeting held on 8/8/1888 it was decided that the next regular meeting be changed to the Tuesday due to Queen Victoria’s visit to the City to visit the International Festival based in Kelvingrove Park. This exhibition made sufficient money to fund the construction of the Kelvingrove Art Galleries.
On 17/10/1888 Bro. Tenant was put forward at the Nomination Meeting, by Committee recommendation, to continue as RWM and Bro. Law decided not to continue as Chaplain but allowed himself to be also nominated as RWM. It should be noted, however, that when it came to the election meeting there were 3 candidates—Tenant, Law and Gibson! When it came to the vote Bro. Gibson prevailed and was duly installed as Master on 28/11/1888 and the meeting did not conclude till 1.50AM, although PGL left quite early “to catch a tram”.
The Lodge took cognisance of the Tyler’s increased workload in respect of the number of hall lets and unanimously agreed to increase his wages to £12 per year. At this same meeting on12/12/1888 it was confirmed that the social events of the “Supper and Ball” and the “Pic Nic” would be annual events.
One of the more unusual Provincial Grand Lodge events to which the Lodge was invited to enter a team was the Masonic shooting trophy. Alas the Lodge had to decline, as there were “no good shots in the Lodge”!
Candidates were still numerous as the Provincial Grand Lodge reported at the visitation on 13/2/1889 with 21 candidates recorded for that year. It was also interesting to note that The Senior Warden (and not a Master) headed the Deputation.
By 17/4/1889 it was reported that the new Lodge regalia, “The aprons trimmed with blue”, had arrived and were much admired throughout the Province.
The Lodge continued in the competitive events in the form of the annual Bowling Competition, and by a vote of 4 to 2 it was agreed to pay the entry fee of 8/- per rink. At this same meeting on 28/8/1889 the lodge sent a donation of £10 to Grand Lodge Benevolence –A huge sum of money in these days. The Lodge also attended the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Camlachie Institute with the Ceremony being carried out by Bro. John Graham PGM
The Lodge held a meeting on Christmas day 1889 to dispense 2/6 benevolence to a worthy Brother. The first recorded incident of the Lodge meeting on 25th December.
A major controversy arose at the Meeting on 22/1/1890, which was chaired by Bro. John Law PM.First of all the Junior Warden, Bro. T Richardson tendered a letter of resignation, which was then withdrawn. Following this a letter of resignation was read from Bro. Robert Gibson RWM. citing the reason as being “the unfaithfulness of some two Brothers”.The Lodge discussed the matter and by a majority of 1 decided to send a deputation to Bro. Gibson (comprising Bros. Richardson, Flint and Forsyth) to investigate the contents of his letter and the meeting was adjourned. This meeting resumed one-week later on 29/1/1890 and by a vote of 19 to 5 it was decided not to accept the resignation. It also transpired that Bro. Richardson had destroyed the Bro. Gibsons letter and was censured.
This problem rumbled on, as the Brethren were definitely unhappy with the conduct of the Master as the Minute of 5/2/1890 demonstrates
“ Masonic Hall, 27 Cowlairs Road,
Springburn.5th February 1890.
Lodge Kenmuir No 570.
Owing to obstruction amongst the Members of the Lodge, The Lodge was not opened.
Robert Gibson RWM
John Ferguson Secretary.”
To resolve the matter Provincial Grand Lodge, who were due to visit at the next meeting on 12/2/1890, ruled on the matter and decided that a new Nomination and Election take place which Bro. Gibson agreed to. The Nomination meeting was held on 26/2/1890 at which 2 candidates were put forward Bro. Gibson and Bro. Law. At the meeting on 12/3/1890 the most controversial election for the Office of Master took place in the history of Lodge Kenmuir. Bro. Gibson chairing the meeting decided there should be a secret ballot. The Deacons went round the hall with a selection of black and white balls and the Brethren were to select one
Black ball Bro. Robert Gibson
White ball Bro. John Law
The Ballot was taken and the result
Bro. Robert Gibson 22
Bro. John Law 22
It was noted by Bro. Gibson that the attendance was 45 and one Brother had not voted and while the Brother had the option to abstain, he felt it necessary to make sure that no mistake had been made. For the second time the Deacons came round with balls and the Brethren were instructed to select a ball to indicate they had exercised their right. The balls were counted –45 were present to indicate that 1 Brother had abstained. A further vote was then taken for Master with the result
Bro. Robert Gibson 22
Bro. John Law 22
Bro. Gibson then ruled on the matter and explained that “with all due respect to Bro. John Law, he would exercise his casting vote and retain the chair”.
This appeared to have concluded this whole sorry episode, although it did appear very close to splitting the Lodge right down the middle, which could have caused irreparable damage.
During this time it was reported that the Benevolent Fund stood at £17 and the Tyler (who was severely overworked) asked for an advance of salary as the Hall “was let 7 days a week including Sundays.” Not a lot is known about the tenants of the hall at this time, however we do know that the tenants included Knights Templar (Glasgow Early East Encampment.), the Salvation Army (who played the drum too loud!) and Cowlairs Football Club (who were expelled for non-payment of rent!).
By 21/5/1890 the Master decided that it was time that the Lodge had an official photograph taken of the Office-Bearers, and McClure, McDougal and Co were employed for this task.
The Lodge continued to alter the premises for themselves and the benefit of tenants and further major works were proposed on 13/8/1890.
A bit of a mystery presented itself in the minutes of the meeting held on 22/10/1890 as the Lodge passed an account for 6/- for the yacht account and it was hoped the Brethren would soon see it ! There is no further mention of this.
Bro. Gibson stood down at the next election and Bro. J Bryan came forward to take the chair and was duly installed on 26/11/1890 by Bro. R Gibson and Bro. J Law. For whatever reason Bro. J Bryan only attended 4 out of 19 meetings in that year and as such Bro. R Gibson, by and large, continued to chair the Lodge. Although on 2 occasions that year the Lodge was chaired by Bro. William Wilson SM.
It came as no surprise therefore when Bro. Gibson was nominated as Master on 11/11/1891 and the Lodge continued business as usual!
A complaint was made in the Lodge on 13/1/1892 that the Hall was too cold! Some things never change!
The renovation was now complete and the Consecration of the hall
co-incided with the annual PGL Visit which was headed by Bro. John Graham who commented favourably on the “commodious Hall”.
The photographs were now available at a price of £2-0-0 –in a frame—a really expensive price. Unfortunately, as far as I know, none survive. At this same meeting held on 23/11/1892 two Brethren, Forsyth and Reid, were nominated for Life Membership of the Lodge.
At this period Bro. J McKell who had been the Hallkeeper since 1885 retired and was thanked for his sterling service.
The Lodge had an innovation at their meeting on 17/1/1893 when Bro. Robert Somerville PM 384 Kirkintilloch St John. delivered a lecture entitled “The 3 sustaining Pillars of Craft Freemasonry”.
By 1/2/1893 a new Tyler, Bro. Rolis was appointed after 2 ballots! , At a salary of £12 per year with an incentive of 7 ½ % of all letting fees. Performance related pay for the Tyler!
At the meeting held on 29/3/1893 a Mark Degree was conferred by Bro. R Bradshaw of Cathedral Chapter No 67. At the same meeting, Bro. Gibson accepted on behalf of the Lodge 2 Mark Stones from Bro. J Flint and a pay wicket from Bro.T Wilson---Both of whom had been staunch supporters of Bro. Gibson and stalwarts of the Lodge since 1885.
On 26/4/1893 the Lodge decided that the Test Fee should reduce from 3/- to 2/-. I dread to think what the current Treasurer would say about that! It was also reported that a new lease had been agreed at £34 per annum. The lease was to run for 10 years.
The Lodge was fairly active in visits in 1893/1894 with attendances at the opening of new halls at Lodge Kilwinning No 0 and Lodge Scotia No 178.
Bro. Robert Gibson continued as Master in1893/1894 and Bro. J Flint continuing as Depute Master for the 7th time.
An interesting letter from Grand Lodge was read at the meeting on 13/6/1894 stating that no Annuity and Benevolence meeting would be held as no funds were available to disperse.
Numbers of Intrants (18 in1893, 15 in1894) were falling and attendances generally were on the decrease. Indeed in 25/7/1894 there is the only reported instance of the Lodge being unable to open due to lack of numbers.
The Secretary in 1894, Bro. Samuel Dunwoody recorded the financial state of the Lodge in the Minute book.
General Fund £17-9-8
Benevolent Fund £33-14-41/2
Lodge Property £70-10-6
Rent Due £3-6-3
The Lodge met with trustees of the Masonic Temple Share Holdings who asked the Lodge to contribute £25 to this Temple Building scheme. The Lodge gave this serious consideration and intended to use the Benevolent Fund for this---However they decided not to proceed. This did, however plant the seed in the mind of the Lodge that one day it might have its own premises.
On 13/11/1895 Bro. David Miller was proposed as Master and on the same evening it was decided that the Secretary should read out a list of Office-Bearers attendances prior to the election—This same practice is still carried 106 years later.
Bro. Robert Gibson installed his successor, Bro. D Miller as Master for year 1895/96 on 27/11/95. Bro. John Law PM was also installed as Chaplain at the same meeting. Bro. Gibson was thanked by Bro. Miller for the manner he had led the Lodge over the last 10 years and at the following meeting he was presented with a purse of sovereigns and a PM jewel.
For these last 10 years it was interesting to note some of the professions of the candidates who joined the Lodge, which in turn mirrored the society of Springburn over this period. Some of the Occupations were Coalminer, Ironman , Pit engineman, Miller ,Janitor, Carriage trimmer , Potato merchant ,Pudding manufacturer , Draper , Machine man , and (my own personal favourite!) Mechanical dentist !
This brought down the curtain on Bro. Gibsons “career “ as Master of the Lodge. No master has ever served as many terms as RWM as Bro. Gibson nor I suspect will they ever do.
From the minutes you can detect Bro. Gibson’s passion for Lodge Kenmuir, which sustained the Lodge in the early days and then, made it thrive. Certainly Bro. Gibsons illness and the death of his wife took a lot out of him and in the later years you get the impression his health was failing and he did not have the same energy for the Lodge.
What cannot be denied, however, is the great debt which 570 owes him, if it was not for Bro. Gibson the Lodge would not have been resuscitated and our number would have been consigned to the archives of Grand Lodge.