The Caledonian Railway Lodge
was constituted as a direct result of the industrial
revolution. Its conception was in its self a revolution in
Freemasonry and was required to meet the needs of existing
brethren. Several members of the Craft were employed in
the building of the Caledonian Railway, moving slowly from
Carlisle to Edinburgh with a branch line to Glasgow.
Understandably they could not attend their own or any
other lodge easily.
Grand Lodge in Edinburgh on the 5th February 1849 to grant
a charter to hold and constitute meetings anywhere on
Caledonian Railway Property. This ' moveable' or 'travelling';
the petition was referred with delegated powers for full
discussion to Grand Committee and was granted on the 8th
February 1849. This charter as well as being 'moveable'
was granted restricting membership solely to those
employed on the railway when initiated. This was, and
still is unique in Scotland.
The Lodge was
treated as a Metropolitan Lodge under the supervision of
Grand Lodge. It thrived and attracted 61 initiates before
becoming dormant for some unknown reason in 1854.
Unfortunately the first minute book was destroyed by
dampness, however the remainder are intact and provide
fascinating reading beyond what space allows here.
In 1859 a railway
man, Bro. Donald Campbell one of the first to be initiated
in the lodge had become associated with St Marks No.102
and had risen to the rank of Worshipful Substitute
Provincial Grand Master of Glasgow. On 30th May he and
other brethren from St. Marks reconstituted the lodge. The
lodge thereafter continued to meet in St. Marks premises
in Buchanan Street, Glasgow as one of 15 lodges in the
Province of Glasgow. Many high ranking railway men were
initiated and gradually businessmen, military men and
local politicians became members. Employment on the
railway was apparently no longer mandatory although
anecdotal information suggests that applicants were
facilitated a few hours working on the railway in order to
meet the qualification.
The lodge began
developing internationally in 1862 when two Danish seamen
were initiated into the lodge and along with a third Dane
were ' passed' and 'raised' on the same night. This event
was extraordinary however; brethren of the lodge like
Freemasonry in general are documented as having settled in
the four quarters of the globe.
The lodge quickly
became a respected part of Victorian Society in Glasgow
and by 1863 it was claimed the lodge was "unequalled, in
Scotland regarding money matters". This was somewhat
demonstrated in 1898 when the lodge became one of the
principal investors in the New Masonic Halls Company,
purchasing premises at 100 West Regent Street, in Glasgow.
This was to become the lodge's home for three-quarters of
a century as well as home for the Provincial Grand Lodge
Service and charity
appropriately dominate the lodge history. In 1901 the
lodge created a specific new Office of Benevolent Fund
Treasurer to manage funds set aside for needy brethren and
their dependants and to this day significant funds are
maintained for benevolence.
brethren have served the country well in the armed forces,
merchant marine and public office. There is evidence of
members having served in India, Africa as well as the Fist
and Second World wars. In particular Right Worshipful
Master Bro. Thomas Thomson resigned his office in 1940
when he joined the army. In his absence the brethren
literally endured ' The Blitz' during meetings. Brethren
who remained at home always managed to serve in other
ways. In 1918 food parcels were sent to brethren who were
prisoners of War in Germany. In the same year a Brother
presented a 'Magic Lantern Lecture on his service with the
52nd Lowland Division in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine'
to the people of Glasgow at the St. Andrews Hall, which
raised the huge sum of £5000 for the Red Cross.
The lodge has also
served the Craft well; in particular the Provincial Grand
Lodge of Glasgow with many Past Masters as members and
holding high office. Notably, Brother Donald Campbell our
first Substitute Provincial Grand Master, Brother
Montgomery Neilson, Provincial Grand Master 1869 -1880 and
in living memory Brother Andrew Petrie, Substitute
Provincial Grand Master and Brother Donald McLean, Past
Provincial Senior Warden.
In 1949 the lodge
picked itself up after the war and welcomed home its
brethren . It continued to be highly regarded as can be
seen in the records of the centenary celebration which was
attended by The Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason The
Earl of Galloway and representatives of 67 lodges in the
Province. In the same year, while caring for its members
and with an eye on the future created a special collection
at each meeting for a "kiddies treat". This has continued
to the present day funding events, such as theatre visits
or trips to the seaside for children and families of
brethren. This has been very fruitful as many Past Masters
remember going 'Doon The Watter' as children.
Regrettably in 1976
the building at 100 West Regent Street deteriorated to an
unsafe condition and the lodge were sadly required to
vacate. It was the end of an era. The lodge took up
residence at Kelvinhaugh in Glasgow for three years before
a few months return to West Regent Street. In 1980 the
building finally became uneconomical and the lodge,
although deeply regrets having to move, is grateful to
Lodge Glasgow at Glasgow for a tenancy at 214 Stevenson
Street which has lasted twenty years to date.
Under the leadership
of 113 Masters who have passed the original Jewel from one
to another, the 'Caley' throughout the 150 years has
continued to prosper. Moving on from its initial function
at the completion of the railway, becoming at times highly
influential in the Province of Glasgow. The lodge has
survived wars, depressions and a modern society of
godlessness and self-interest over others. Undoubtedly the
current five or six initiates a year pale into
insignificance with the historic five or more a meeting.
However, the ' Caley' membership is fiercely proud of the
lodge and the maxim of 'quality not quantity' remains
Nowadays it is the
brethren and not the charter that does the travelling, with
members travelling regularly to regular meetings from
Ayrshire, Dunbartonshire Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and
London, with the odd life member popping in from Australia
and Hong Kong. The lodge has long established ties with
many other lodges within and out with the province which
in the early days necessitated journeys by train to Dundee
and Rosyth. More recently, as part of the Caledonian
Lodges Annual Gathering, the lodge travels as far a field
as Dumfries and Inverness.
As the lodge moves
forward into the new millennium the latest initiate,
Brother Graham Barrie, role No. 4785 has every reason to
be enthusiastic and optimistic about the future of the
lodge as Brother Robert Sinclair, the first Founder Member
and Right Worshipful Master.