Our Temple

On 26th July 1757 the Lodge received an estimate for the building a two storey building on the land at 11a King Street, Port Glasgow.

They entered into a contract with a local builder, Robert Sellars, Stonemason, who described the building as

“for Building the Masons Lodge att Port Glasgow the dimensions being 40 foot by 19 foot within walls, 19 foot high above the surface, the work is to be good Cornis Q Work with Rustic Corners, back filleted ribits, 2 doors, 5 windows, 3 braces properly placed.”

The estimate was accepted and instructions were placed to build the lodge. The work was finished in 1758 at a cost of £134-1s-4d. This included all furnishings.

The final account was £139-19s-0d. (£210,000 in todays currency) £5 of the final sum for ‘the defuncts own trouble in planning out the building and conducting the work”.

The original estimate and invoices for the work are still in possession of the Lodge.

This was a considerable amount of money when you consider that a foot soldier of that time was earning 1d per day.

The original Port Glasgow Town Hall was built around the same time, on the same site as the Lodge.

In the late 1758 , the Magistrates of the Town requested that the brethren give consideration to leasing the ground floor of the Temple, which would be used as a latin and writing class for boys. It was agreed to lease the lower floor for £3-00s-00d per annum.

In 1772 John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, visited the Lodge Rooms to preach to the people of the Town. This is recorded in his Journals –

“Tuesday, 21 (April).–The house was very full in the morning, and they showed an excellent spirit. After I had spoken a few words on the head, everyone stood up at the singing. In the afternoon I preached at Port Glasgow, a large town two miles east of Greenock. Many gay people were there, careless enough; but the greater part seemed to hear with understanding. In the evening I preached at Greenock; God gave them a loud call, whither they will hear or whether they will forbear.”

“Wednesday, 22 (April). – About eight I preached once more in the Masons’ Lodge, at Port Glasgow. The house was crowded greatly; and I suppose all the gentry of the Town were part of the congregation. Resolving not to shoot over their heads, as I had done the day before, I spoke strongly of death and judgment, heaven and hell. This they seemed to comprehend; and there was no more laughing among them, or talking with each other; but all were quietly and deeply attentive.”

In 1784, the Magistrates of the Town requested that a door of communication be opened in the Lodge Gable-end leading into the Town Hall.

The Lodge minute of 12 th October, 1784 states:

“…. that it be proposed by the brethren of the assemblies from this season, that a door of communication should be opened between the Lodge and the Town Hall for the accommodation of the company who may attend the assemblies, the room in its present state being too small the Lodge has therefore unanimously agreed that the said door of communication be opened providing that it in no manner of ways shall interfere with the function of the Lodge. That the lock shall be put upon the said door, the key of which shall remain at all times with the secretary for the time, and at the disposal of the master. And furthermore that the society of Masons shall at all times have in their power the right to build up said door when they see proper to do so.”

The Masons and the Town Council then used both buildings for their respective meetings.

In 1884 the first major refurbishment of the Lodge was carried out at a cost of £99-12-00. This included the installation of gas lighting!

The Temple and the Old Town Hall are still used and maintained by the Brethren of Cumberland Kilwinning to this day. They are two of the oldest buildings in the Port Glasgow. Access is gained to the building via an arched pen (alleyway), which leads to a small court yard. The brethren then climb a winding stairway into the lodge rooms.

The Temple is the oldest, purpose built, Masonic Temple in the World and has been in constant use by the Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning since the day it was built.