Stirling Royal Arch No.76

Bi-Centenary Report 1959

As Reported in the Stirling Observer May 12th 1959

      In the above group are (left to right); - Front row – Bro. William Geddes, R.W.M., Lodge 76; Bro. Provost W. MacFarlane Gray; Bro. The Earl of Eglinton and Winton, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of Scotland, and Bro. L. C. Sangster, Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master. Back Row – Bro. D. S. C. McNeill, Grand Jeweller; Bailie D. J. Walker; Mr. Charles W. Norman, Town Clerk; Bro. Alex F. Buchan, Grand Secretary; Dean of Guild M. Kelly; Bailie David Scott, and Bro. John A. McCormack, Senior Grand Warden.

In the year of the birth of our National Bard, there came into being, in Stirling, the town’s second Masonic lodge, Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No. 76, and last Thursday night its bi-centenary was celebrated in a manner befitting the importance of the occasion.

     The official civic seal was set on the proceedings at the outset when the Grand Master Mason of Scotland, Bro. The Right Hon. The Earl of Eglinton and Winton, T.D., D.L., B.B., Bro. L. C. Sangster, Right Worshipful Grand Master of Stirlingshire, and Bro. William Geddes, Right Worshipful Master of Lodge 76, and many of their principal office-bearers were given a reception at the Municipal Buildings by Provost W. Macfarlane Gray, a member of the Lodge. A deeply and impressive service of thanksgiving and rededication was held in the Masonic Temple in Upper Craigs, and thereafter a company of 240 attended a dinner in the Golden Lion Hotel. For all who were privileged to take part it was a most memorable occasion.

 

CAPACITY ATTENDANCE.

    

     The service in the Temple, packed to capacity, was as simple as it was impressive. The R.W.M., Bro. Geddes, presided at the outset and received a large deputation of Masters and Past-Masters, and deputations from Provincial Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge, thereafter inviting the Grand Master to take the chair.

     Prayers of thanksgiving and rededication were offered by the Very Worshipful Senior Grand Chaplain, Bro. The Rev. H. O. Wallace J. P., M.A., who also carried out the act of re-dedication with the solemn dignity following an inspiring address from the Grand Master Mason

     Congratulating the lodge on having completed 200 years, the Earl of Eglinton said they had reason to be proud of that achievement. Freemasonry, he said could never die because it had such a sure foundation. In Lodge 76 they were now setting out on their second 200 years with the knowledge that in the past they had built well and, he hoped, with the assurance that they would continue to build well.

 

LANDMARK OF ORDER.

 

     Saying that recently he had attended a conference of three Grand Lodges to discuss whether a certain Grand Lodge on the Continent should be recognised by them, he reminded the brethren that one of the landmarks of their Order was the Volume of the Sacred Law which they absolutely insisted be ever open in lodge. In the particular Grand Lodge they were discussing they had the Volume of the Sacred Law in their lodges but they merely considered it as a piece of lodge furniture.

     That expression “a piece of lodge furniture,” made him think and he wondered how many of them thought what the Bible really meant to them and how often they merely regarded it as a piece of lodge furniture.

     “I give you that thought to-night,” he said. “It made me think. I hope it will make you think, because we are re-dedicating this lodge and we must remember basic principles and the Volume of the Sacred Law is one of them.”

     One other thought he gave them was the importance of impressing candidates in the first degree, and he concluded by asking all to re-dedicate their hearts to the basic principles and aims of Freemasonry so that one day – and they prayed that it would come in their lifetime – they would have achieved their goal, the brotherhood of man in the Fatherhood of God.

 

BIGGEST FOR YEARS.

 

     At the dinner which followed in the Golden Lion Hotel was the biggest gathering of Freemasons the town of Stirling has seen for many years. In addition to the principal guests from Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge, most of the lodges in the Province of Stirlingshire were represented and there was also a good turnout of the brethren of Lodge 76.

     Bro. Geddes, the Right Worshipful Master, presided and at the outset gave everyone a very cordial welcome. At the principal table were the following.

     On the chairman’s right – Bro. The Earl of Eglinton and Winton : Bro. Thomas Pitcairn, Sub. Grand Master ; Bro. A. H. Syme, S.M., Lodge of Dunblane, No. IX ; Bro. John A. McCormack, Senior Grand Warden ; Bro. Alex. F. Buchan, Grand Secretary ; Bro. Thomas Robert, Depute Provincial Grand Master ; Bro. Robert Cohen, Senior Grand Deacon ; Bro. Lt.-Col. J. B. Jardine, Grand Director of Ceremonies ; Bro. John Skillin, P.M., Lodge 76 ; Bro. Daniel Duncan, Grand Architect ; Bro. F. Elliot Dobbie ; Bro. James Prentice, P.M., Depute Master of Lodge 76 ; and Bro. The Rev. James Waugh, Junior P. G. Chaplain.

     On the chairman’s left – Bro. Provost W. Macfarlane Gray ; Bro. Laurence C. Sangster, Provincial Grand Master ; Bro. Colonel A. R. Bain, M.C., Past Provincial Grand       Master ; Bro. Harry A. Barr, Junior Grand Warden ; Bro. D. McNeill Watson, Grand Treasurer ; Bro. The Rev. H. O. Wallace, Senior Grand Chaplain ; Bro. W. McKay Glegg, Substitute Provincial Grand Master ; Bro. C. S. Kennedy Provincial Grand Secretary ; Bro. D. S. C. McNeill, Grand Jeweller ; Bro. George McFadyen, P.M., Chaplain, Lodge 76 ; Bro. Alex. Menzies, Grand Sword Bearer ; Bro. E. Stewart Falconer, Assistant Grand Secretary ; Bro. W. Forrester, President of Grand Stewards ; and Bro. David Kennedy, Grand Steward.

 

FROM AULT WHARRIE.

 

There were also present as guests from the Masonic Home at Ault Wharrie, Dunblane, Bro. John L. McHattie, Lodge 713, Warden, Bro. John Dunn, Lodge 1015, and Bro. C. McDougall, Lodge 139.

     Bro. W. Scott, S.W., and Bro. D. Nelson J.W., were croupiers and the toastmaster was Bro. W. A. Thomson, P.M., Director of Ceremonies.

     Proposing the toast of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Bro. J. Prentice P.M., said Lodge 76 was greatly honoured that night by having present the Grand Master Mason of Scotland and such a distinguished representation of Grand Lodge office-bearers. All would remember that occasion and he felt it would encourage and inspire them to do their best in the coming years.

     Referring to a particular section of the work of Grand Lodge, the importance of which, he said, was not fully appreciated Bro. Prentice recalled that at the Festival of St. Andrew in 1955 he heard Bro. Sir John McPherson, former Governor General of Nigeria, allude to the racial relationship in British Africa and say how absolutely necessary it was to come to some form of agreement with the coloured people. At the time the racial relationships in Africa had not reached the tragic state of to-day, but the divisions between white and none-white had become so wide that it was evident to Sir John that things were far from well.

 

NO RETURN.

 

     Now they approached the point of no return, and that must find an answer soon to this difficult problem. To all right-thinking people there was only one answer. The day had come when the white people would have to accept the coloured people on a equal footing.

     For a number of years Grand Lodge of Scotland had sent deputations to all parts of the World and on many occasions these visits had been to Lodges in which coloured people predominated. All worked with that love and harmony they all wished to see and where mutual respect was uppermost and goodwill prevailed, how could colour be of any consequence?

     As Freemasons they should be proud of an Order which brought to the surface such leaders and they thanked in person that night their Grand Master for the duties he carried out and the many responsibilities he discharged with such distinction.

     In his reply, the Earl of Eglinton said not long before Sir John McPherson had made the speech, referred to by Bro. Prentice, the Grand Secretary and he had stayed with him in Nigeria. In Grand Lodge and in the whole Craft they took no cognisance of colour whatever.

     There was one place in the world, however, where there was this colour bar in Freemasonry and they had no lodges there under the Grand Lodge of Scotland. None of them liked that set-up, but one thing he was absolutely certain of was that if ever they got to the end of this colour bar Freemasonry would be one of the things that achieved it.

     In reference to the benevolent side of Freemasonry, the Grand Master evoked resounding applause when he said he had been able to announce to Grand Lodge that day that Her Majesty The Queen had been graciously pleased to grant the title “Royal” to their Masonic Homes.

     There must be something about Lodge 76, he continued, that had brought out 17 office-bearers of Grand Lodge, apart from himself, for these bi-centenary celebrations, and he had a shrewd suspicion it was because the Provost of Stirling was a member of the Lodge. He could not remember a bigger Grand Lodge deputation.

     But, he asked, in a town the size of Stirling was two lodges enough. Would they like to think about it? What about forming another lodge called Bi-centenary Lodge? He congratulated the Lodge most heartily on attaining its first 200 years and wished it every success in the future.

 

ROYAL AND ANCIENT BURGH.

 

     Bro. Syme, proposing “The Royal and Ancient Burgh of Stirling,” said it was a proud privilege and a great honour to do so on that important and historic occasion. It had been suggested by the Lodge secretary that he could speak as the Provost of Dunblane but it would be in order for him now to use the prefix “ex.”

     Nobody present that night was unaware of the important part played by Stirling in their national history. If it was not the most ancient town in Scotland it was one of the most ancient.

     Its origin was lost in obscurity and it possibly existed as a fort long before the year of Christianity. Much of the old town retained marks of antiquity and these fortunately, were being preserved.

     Stirling’s civic fathers, under the able leadership of Provost Gray, encouraged not only preservation of historic buildings but the development of modern industry, and the latest example of their praiseworthy Festival Fortnight.

     Provost Gray acknowledged the toast and said the road to the Castle, what was the old town, would be a shrine in Scotland’s history. As to the Festival it was being well supported by the people of the town. It was their way of adding to the colourful history of Stirling.

     As a lodge they had that night reached a milestone on which they must reflect and pay tribute to the men who had made such an event possible. It was also a time to look forward.

     A new set had been prepared and a new drama was about to be enacted. It was well that all members of the lodge should remember that each of them was a steward, a steward of the high ideals of Masonry, and they were expected of men of integrity who only thought of the good of others. It was with those high ideals that Lodge 76 entered upon another bright and new century.

     Bro. The Rev. H. O. Wallace Grand Chaplain, proposed “Lodge Stirling Royal Arch, No. 76” and said that was a very historic occasion in the history of the lodge and he was personally looking forward to their service on 17th May when he would have the opportunity of saying something about their bi-centenary from the spiritual point of view. In their 200 years they had had their ups and downs, their happy times and their trying times.

     There were several occasions when they suffered from a kind of inertia or inactivity but he was happy to see from their history that since 1890 it had been impossible to go back and that since then they had gone on from strength to strength.

     As to benevolence, he noticed that last year they had subscribed £45 to Grand Lodge. That might be a good sum but he suggested they might consider an endeavour this year to contribute £1 for each year of their existence towards Ault Wharrie Home.

     He did not favour the Grand Master’s suggestion about a third lodge in Stirling. He thought it was far better to have two strong lodges in Stirling rather than three or four who were only struggling along.

 

COULD BE PROUD.

 

     Their lodge, he said, had every reason to be proud of past achievements and while they could take pride and gratification in them, and while they might well rejoice in the present, he ventured to hope that they would so act and so live that when the time came for them to hand on the torch its flame would not in any way be diminished but rather that it would be heightened in lustre and glory and that the future of the lodge would be equal, if not superior, to the glory which had characterised it in the past.

     He congratulated them on what had been in the past and on the wonderful spirit which he knew animated the lodge at the present time.

     Bro. Geddes, in his reply, thanked the office-bearers and brethren of the lodge for the great honour they had bestowed on him Right Worshipful Master in the bi-centenary year. They were very proud of their lodge and they were prepared to work to secure its future. They had been left a heritage they deeply cherished and it would be their endeavour to hand it on unimpaired.

 

HAPPY RELATIONSHIP.

 

     Proposing the toast of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire, Bro. Skillin referred to the happy relationships which had existed between P.G.L. and the daughter lodges and paid tribute to the work undertaken by Bro. Sangster, the Provincial Grand Master, and his office-bearers.

     Speaking of the support Lodge 76 gave to Provincial, Bro. Skillin revealed that the lodge had provided P.G.L. with secretaries from 1872 until the present day. First there was Bro. James Brown who was secretary until 1902.

     Bro. T.W.R. Johnston was interim secretary for a few months until Bro. J.G. Murray took over and held office until 1919, when he was succeeded by Bro. George Agnew, 1919-1929. Then came BRO. Thomas Pitcairn, a member of Lodge 588 who was later made an honorary member of Lodge 76. Following him, Bro. John Campbell held office for 13 years and now they had Bro. C. Stewart Kennedy who was upholding the high standard set by his predecessors.

     Reply was made by Bro. Sangster who thanked the lodge for their continued support of P.G.L. and congratulated then on this important milestone in their history. After extending his personal thanks to his office-bearers for all their support and advice he counselled young members to cultivate the practice not only of attending their mother lodge but of visiting other lodges. They would always receive a warm welcome and he hoped Masters and Wardens would make a point of encouraging young masons to visit as much as possible.

 

VISITORS’ TOAST.

 

     The visitors toast was given in the traditional manner of Lodge 76 by the Master and Wardens, and a suitable acknowledgement was made by Bro. Glegg, Substitute P.G.M.

     A comprehensive vote of thanks was proposed at the close by the Right Worshipful Master. Among others it included Provost Gray for receiving and entertaining their principal guests ; Bro. W. Smith, the lodge secretary, for all his work in preparing for their celebrations that night ; Bro. George Greenhorn for his admirable history of the Lodge ; the artistes, Bro. R.D. Clark, P.M., Lodge 76, Bro. Andrew Rae, Lodge Carron No. 139, Bro. John D. Henderson, Lodge Bruce and Thistle No. 312, and Bro. G.C. Dickson IPM., Lodge 76; the accompanists, Bro. A. Neilson and Bro. J.D. Watt ; the toastmaster, Bro. Thomson ; and the trio who provided music during the dinner, Bro. J.D. Watt (piano), Bro. R. Walker, Lodge 30 (violin) and Bro. R. McGrouther, Lodge 139 (cello).

     Before departing the company gave three rousing cheers for the Right Worshipful Master on the call of Bro. Sangster.

  The above article first appeared in the Stirling Observer on the 12th of May 1959, and reproduced in the History of the Lodge. Although not strictly the copyright of Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No. 76, we would appreciate permission being asked from the webmaster should all or any part of it be reproduced.

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