by Brother JAMES L. JACK, P. M., Treasurer
In the summer of 1982, while researching into the building of the present halls of lodge St Bryde, No. 579, a large box belonging to the Lodge was discovered in the local bank. To our joy it contained the Lodge Minute Books from 1875 to 1939, which were previously thought to have been lost. This discovery enabled a complete Lodge history to be written.
The earliest recorded Lodge minute dates from 12th October 1875 when eight Brethren from six different Lodges met at the request of Brother W. H. L. Crawford to consider his proposal to open a Lodge of Freemasons in Uddingston. These Brethren then decided to test the feelings of the general public by calling a public meeting on 9th December 1875. At this meeting, eighteen Master Masons signed the petition, praying for a Charter from Grand Lodge. The chairman of the meeting then took the somewhat unusual step of inviting all those non- Masons present who were in favour of the proposal to form a Lodge to sign their names “pledging themselves to become members of the mystic tie”. Twenty-four non-Masons did so. They were then asked to retire from the meeting while the election of Office-bearers took place, at which Brother Wm. J. Easton, a member of Lodge St John, Glasgow, No. 3bis was elected the first Right Worshipful Master.
It was also decided that the designation of the Lodge would be “St Bryde”, after the patron saint of the nearby village of Bothwell. It is believed that the name St Bryde was chosen because the saint was a favourite of the Douglas family who owned the Bothwell Castle estates and whose family church was the ancient parish church of St Bride, Bothwell. The Charter was granted on 7th February 1876, and the sponsoring Lodges were Hamilton Kilwinning, No. 7, and Hamilton, No. 233.
Lodge St Bryde was itself soon to become a sponsor Lodge when, in 1877, Lodge Livingstone, No. 599, Blantyre, was chartered.
Although Lodge attendance’s were small, this did not deter the Brethren from visiting other Lodges and attending many of the public ceremonials which were very much part of the Victorian era, and in turn perhaps inspired the idea which was to become a great social event in the village – the annual outing.
Towards the end of the last century the Lodge went through a very difficult period, so much so that the election of Lodge Office-bearers had to be postponed because Brethren were not forthcoming to take office. The Lodge was also unable to pay dues to the Provincial Grand Lodge during these trying times. From this low the Lodge went from strength to strength, although it seems strange that it was not until 18th January 1893 that the first Mark Degree was worked in the Lodge.
At the outset of war in 1914 the Brethren responded to the appeal by Grand Lodge and collected field-glasses for the Right Worshipful Immediate Past Grand Master, the Marquis of Tullibardine’s “Scottish Horse”. Lodge St Bryde adopted the Grand Lodge special law freeing members on active service from their annual contributions without losing good standing. The Lodge also decided to pay rent arrears to dependants rather than send parcels to the Brethren at the Front. It is interesting to note that a captured Brother, Joseph Reid, serving with the Cameron Highlanders, became a Founder Member of Lodge Wiliem van Oranje, No. 118, under the Grand Orient of the Netherlands, and served as Senior Steward until the end of the war. (The history of this unique prisoner-of-war Lodge is described in the 1983 Year Book.)
After the war Freemasonry flourished and servicemen who had experienced the comradeship of the trenches sought to continue that bond when they returned home. This prompted the formation of new Lodges of which Lodge St Bryde was honoured to have sponsored two, namely Bothwell Brig, No.[ ~9], and St Enoch, No. 1288. Lodge St Bryde had met in four different meeting-places, none of which the Lodge owned, but from the earliest days of the Lodge’s existence the Brethren had prayed and planned to build a Temple in Uddingston. Their prayers were answered when, in 1924, the Lodge purchased 1,000 square yards of land in Oardenside Street for £285. There they built the Temple at a cost of £4,455.8.5d. The Consecration Ceremonial was conducted by The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Brother Sir Robert King Stewart (Grand Master Mason of Scotland, 1913-16), who remarked that he had consecrated two earlier Lodge St Bryde meeting-places, but “this building was one of the finest in the Province”.
The Lodge celebrated its Jubilee on 24th February 1926 at a regular meeting, at which Past Grand Master Brother Sir Robert King Stewart, who had been made an Honorary Member of the Lodge in 1891, presided. Also present was a Founder Member, Brother J. Robertson, and Brother J. Patrick, Past Master, one of the first Initiates.
During the 1939-45 war years several Brethren of Lodge St Bryde attained high office in both Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge. Two of these distinguished Brethren, Brother J. S. M. Grieve and Brother D. Paterson, brought further honour to the Lodge by attaining the rank of Depute Grand Master Mason and Substitute Provincial Grand Master respectively. The following year, Brother R. McKirdy completed twenty-one years as Lodge Tyler and the Lodge decided to mark the event with a dinner in his honour at which he was presented with a special Jewel. After his death whilst in office in 1956 his widow returned the Jewel to the Lodge and it has been worn by every Lodge Tyler since then.
The Centenary year was only a year away when a Past Master of the Lodge, Brother P. Smith, was installed as Provincial Grand Senior Warden. In fact, this was the last honour that the Lodge received in its first hundred years. The celebrations which the Centenary Committee had been planning became reality on 7th February 1976, one hundred years exactly since the Charter was granted. The Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Brother Captain Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont, and a deputation of Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge Office-bearers attended a Re-dedication Service followed by a dinner to mark the passing of the first century in the history of the Lodge, and to dedicate the Lodge for the years ahead.
In February 1979, our oldest member, Brother John Junor, was present at the regular meeting, celebrating seventy years’ membership of Lodge St Bryde, and later that year Brother J. F. Scott, Past Master, received the Honorary Grand Rank of Bible-bearer in recognition of his long service as Lodge Secretary and his work for charity.
In October 1982, the Lodge marked the Diamond Jubilee of the building of our present halls, the highlight of which was the Re- consecration Service conducted by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lanarkshire Middle Ward. The Provincial Grand Master remarked on those Brethren who had the vision to build such a Temple and on the continuing dedication of the Lodge Brethren who had recently re- decorated the interior after completing a programme of renovation.
(The history of Lodge St Bryde, No. 579, is contained in a 70-page book which is available from the Lodge Secretary, price £3. 00.)