Port Glasgow & The Lodge
Port Glasgow was originally a small settlement called Newark on the south bank of the River Clyde, about 20 miles west of the City of Glasgow. The name Newark possibly deriving from the nearby small Castle – Newark Castle, owned by the Maxwell family.
Trading ships from France and the low counties (Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg) were unloading ships here and their cargo was transferred onto small boats for transporting up the River Clyde to Glasgow.
In 1667, the Town Council of Glasgow purchased land at Newark for the construction of a harbour and breakwater. This became Glasgow’s first deep-water port and the settlement of Newark became known as Port Glasgow. In some 18th century maps it is shown as Newport Glasgow.
After 1693, the street layout was laid, in a grid-iron style. This still forms much of the town centre today.
The 1706 Treat of Union between Scotland and England (forming Great Britain) allowed the Glasgow merchants to trade with the British colonies in the Americas and India. They traded in Tobacco from the America’s and tea from India. The trade winds from America made the River Clyde and ideal location for unloading the valuable cargo and the Merchants (Tobacco Lords or Virginia Dons) became enormously wealthy.
The town of Port Glasgow became a thriving town through the shipping.
Lodge Mother Kilwinning, one of the original Scottish Grand Lodges, were one of the founders of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736 but in 1743, when the Lodges were being numbered, Lodge St. Marys Chapel, Edinburgh were granted the position of No.1 on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. This was disputed by Mother Kilwinning, who insisted that they dated back to 1140. Unfortunately, this could not be substantiated at this time and as Lodge St. Marys Chapel were able to produce the oldest recorded minutes, they retained their number. Mother Kilwinning withdrew from the Grand Lodge of Scotland and reverted to acting as an independant Grand Lodge and issuing their own lodge charters.
On 17th January 1746, the Freemasons of the Port Glasgow penned a letter to Mother Kilwinning. They were represented by six brethren –
Bro. John Hunter
Bro. James Weir, Senior Warden
Bro. James Maine, Junior Warden
Bro. John Drummond, Fellow of the Craft
Bro. D Fullarton, Fellow of the Craft
Bro. Alex Walker, Fellow of the Craft
Their reason was
“…to procure a Decreet of Constitution from the Ancient Mother Lodge of Kilwinning in order that we, your true brethren, may meet with authority”
This request tends to suggest that they were already meeting without a charter.
On the 4th February, 1746 at a meeting in Kilwinning, , Mother Kilwinning, under Bro. Archibald Montgomerie, 11th Earl of Eglinton, instituted the Lodge and gave it the name – Cumberland Kilwinning, upon the annual payment of One Mark Scots.
In the early years, the Lodge, known locally as “The Gentlemans Lodge” , met in several places, including the Kings Arms, a coach house inn situated in Fore Street, Port Glasgow. The landlord of the inn being Bro. James Fleck, a member of the Lodge.
In 1757 the brethren agreed it was time to lay down their roots and build a Masonic Temple of their own.
In the same year, around the time of the building of the Lodge Temple, a number of brethren of Cumberland Kilwinning went their own way and petitioned Mother Kilwinning to form another Lodge in the Town. They were granted their charter and the Lodge was instituted at Kilwinning on 4th January 1757 . It was given the name Lodge Dorick (Port Glasgow). They are now known as Doric Kilwinning No.68.
Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning joined The Grand Lodge of Scotland on 2nd February 1807.
Later that same year, Mother Kilwinning re-joined the Grand Lodge of Scotland and instructed her daughter Lodges to do likewise. The Kilwinning lodges were numbered chronologically on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. This privilege was denied to Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning, as they had joined Grand Lodge prior to Mother Kilwinning.
The Lodge was not allocated a number on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland at this time. The secretary of the Lodge, Bro. William Ogilvie, wrote to Grand Lodge 11 times over the next 4 1/2 years regarding this situation without getting any reply. A letter eventually arrived from Grand Lodge in 1811. They regretted the delay and stated this was as a due to the Grand Secretary being unwell. Bro. Ogilvie replied to the letter and asked if there was no one else at Grand Lodge who could write!
The brethren of the Lodge then unanimously agreed that they would withhold the fees due to Grand Lodge until the matter was resolved. This action had a good effect and Grand Lodge allocated Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning the Number 277.
In 1816 the Lodge was re-numbered 212.
In 1822 it was given No. 216 and finally, in 1826 it was re-numbered 217.
In comparison, Lodge Doric Kilwinning, chartered 10 years later than Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning, was re-numbered 67 in 1816, 63 in 1822 and finally, 68 in 1826.
In 1812, Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, 5th Baronet of Ardgowan, was commissioned as the first Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Renfrewshire and Dumbarton.
Other members of the House of Shaw Stewart succeeded him as Provincial Grand Master for the next 155 years.
In 1967, this reign ended and the brethren of the Province, now known as Renfrewshire West, elected Bro. Sinclair Roxburgh as Provincial Grand Master. Bro. Roxburgh was a Past Master of Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning No.217. He was the first Provincial Grand Master to be elected out with the House of Shaw Stewart.
In 1988, Bro. William M.H. Macfarlane, a Past Master of the Lodge, was installed as the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Renfrewshire West. He served in the office until1993.
In 1996, the Lodge celebrated its 250th Anniversary. The Lodge was re-dedicated by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Bro. The Lord Burton, ably assisted by the Officer-bearers of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. A large token was struck to mark this occasion. There was an exact amount for the brethren present. It is now a cherished collectors item.
In 2007, the Lodge celebrated the 250th Anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Temple. The Temple was re-dedicated by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Bro. Sir Archibald Donald Orr Ewing, the 6th Baronet of Ballikinrain and Lennoxbank, ably assisted by the Officer-bearers of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. As in 1996, a token was also struck to mark this occasion. It depicts the Lodge crest and a line sketch of the exterior of the temple. The brethren present all received the token. It is also now a cherished collectors item. The Lodge also struck a “similar” token, which is on general sale.
Over the centuries, the brethren of the Lodge have, in the main, been residents of Port Glasgow. The cross section of occupations range from the common labourer to ship Captain. They have always taken a keen interest in the growth of the Town and many were elected as Baillies, Provosts and Town Councillors down through the centuries to present day.
Baillies of Port Glasgow 1781 Bro. Patrick Hunter PM
1800-1803 & 1811 Bro. Archibald Falconer Snr. PM
(Merchant & Ship Owner)
1807-8 Bro. John Barr PM
1825-6 & 1832 Bro. Archibald Falconer Jnr PM
(Merchant & Ship Owner)
1829-30 Bro. David Gilkison PM
Provosts of Port Glasgow 1833 Bro. Archibald Falconer Jnr PM
1848 & 1857 Bro. Archibald Murdoch Burrell PM
1871 Bro. Alexander Lang PM
1904 Bro. Walter N Campbell PM
There is no doubt that Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning has always strived to be at the heart of the community of Port Glasgow.