|Cox's Stack Lochee||
LODGE ALBERT LOCHEE 448
©Lodge Albert 448, 2014
Lochee, 5th September, 1865
A meeting of Free Masons was held to night in the Weavers Hall to take into consideration the forming of a Lodge in Lochee, there being a great many of the Brethren that lived in the district of Lochee and found it very inconvenient to attend the meetings of their respective Lodges in Dundee. Bro. David Law was called to the chair and after some discussion it was unanimously agreed to form a Lodge and that it be called the Albert. Office bearers were then elected viz: Bro. David Law, Spirit Merchant R.W.M., Douglas Foote, Blacksmith W.S.W., George Flight, Spirit Merchant W.J.W., James Clark, Spirit Merchant W.D.M., James Wilson, Spirit Merchant W.S.M., David Baxter, Plumber, Treasurer, John Mitchell, Spirit Merchant, Secretary, James Anderson, Mason W.S.D., George Reid, Plasterer W.J.D., John Reoch, Tinsmith, Inner Guard, Andrew Clark, Carter, Outside Guard. It was then resolved to petition the Grand Lodge of Scotland to grant a charter. No other business being brought forward the meeting departed.
So was penned the first minute of Lodge Albert No. 448, Lochee, in a fine copperplate, on blue paper, now faded and barely legible.
A second meeting was held on 22nd September, and the new R.W.M. read a letter from Grand Lodge stating that a charter and books would be forwarded on receipt of £13 10/- Sterling. Subscriptions were raised which amounted to £15 and the Secretary was empowered to send the required sum to Grand Lodge. It was then proposed that the entry money should be £1 15/- and affiliating money 7/6; that the colour of the clothing should be Royal Blue, and that an estimate for aprons should be obtained from the principal drapers. The Secretary was also to get tools made for the proper working of the Lodge.
At a third meeting on 10th December, Bro. Law reported that the Charter had arrived. An estimate for aprons was accepted, and the first meeting of the newly constituted Lodge was arranged for 22nd December.
On that night, the Albert Lodge No. 448, holding on the Grand Lodge of Scotland, initiated its first candidates - Alexander Watt, painter; Thomas Small, brewer; John Masterton, grocer; William Anderson, grocer; Robert Bruce, draper; John Brown, joiner; James Cant, spirit merchant. The candidates were initiated in the First Degree in Freemasonry. Then as the minute records - “No other business being brought forward the Lodge was shut”.
Though these first minutes are not elaborate, it is not difficult to sense the enthusiasm of the Brethren. Naturally, the founder members were all Freemasons already, all keenly interested in the Craft, a solid basis for the new Lodge.
A further meeting on 27th December celebrated the Festival of St. John. Two other candidates were initiated, refreshments were served and visitors from Lodge Forfar and Kincardine, and from Lodge Ancient were introduced. According to the Secretary, “the Master proposed some very appropriate toasts followed by song and recitation, and the Lodge was closed in the early hours, everyone seemingly delighted with the merry evening that had been spent!”
Was it ever thus?
Gradually the minutes became a little more expansive, and snippets about the social side of the new fraternity began to emerge.
With so many spirit merchants in the Lodge, it would seem that the early members were a merry lot, and there are several references to “song and sentiment being given with much taste by the Brethren”. But there was also a very strict code of behaviour and decorum within the Lodge, typified by the experiences of a Bro. Halliburton.
This man, it appears, was denied entry to his passing and raising (which took place on the same night) as he was under the influence of drink. He came back two months later, but when he refused to apologise to the Lodge for his behaviour, he was sent away again. Eventually, however, he saw the light and received his degrees in November 1866, having made the required apologies. He probably never made a better decision, as for many years after his death his wife still received an annual grant from the Lodge, always minuted and reported on to the members.
The social calendar developed over the first few years. The election of Office-Bearers was accompanied by the Festival of St. John; the installation, as it is to this day, incorporated the Festival of St. Andrew, and an annual dance and assembly took place from February 1868 onwards. [Bro. Stevenson’s Quadrille Band provided the music for these dances until 1874, when it was minuted that the band was “not liked”, and Bro. Dick’s Quadrille Band took over the next year].
There were complaints about the behaviour of a member at each of the dances in 1873 and 1874. It was not clear whether this had anything to do with the music, but both men later apologised in open Lodge!
Masonic parades were common occurrences during these years. No doubt resplendent in their jewels which had cost 7/- each at the Lodge consecration, office bearers led deputations from Lodge Albert, to the laying of the foundation stones of various buildings, such as the Charitable School in Newburgh in 1866; Wallaces Works in Perth in 1868; the public hall and court-house in Forfar in 1869 and the opening of the Balgay Hill as a public park in 1871. Large numbers also attended the consecration of Lodge Broughty Castle in 1871, and were at the funeral of the Earl of Dalhousie in 1874.
The tenth anniversary of the consecration of the Lodge was celebrated with a parade on the 2nd August, 1876.
The Brethren marched along Liff Road, Buttar’s Loan, South Road, along the High Street to the Toll in full regalia, before returning to the Lodge where visitors were welcomed. There were 14 from Broughty Castle, 12 from Ancient, 10 from Thistle, 10 from Camperdown, 7 from Forfar and Kincardine, 6 from Caledonian, 6 from St. David and 1 from Benvie.
“The usual loyal and patriotic toasts were drunk and replied to, and the rest of the evening was spent in a very happy manner with song and sentiment from some of the Brethren”.
No doubt they reflected on the fine start the Lodge had made, with candidates aplenty. In these early days there was no limit to the number put through at one time. On occasions candidates received their three degrees in one night, and on the 25th February, 1874, 11 were passed and raised on the same evening, then listened to a special lecture by a visiting Brother!
Even in these early days, Grand Lodge was looking for funds! In April 1872, they asked for “a 2/- tax on each member to extinguish Grand Lodge debt”. After due discussion in Lodge Albert the request was declined. In November that year, Grand Lodge increased the registration fee for each initiate - by 2/-!
On that day, the Master and Wardens of Lodge Albert attended Grand Lodge in Edinburgh, at the Lodge’s expense - a practice which continues to this day.
David Coupar and David Small were the Secretaries over this period. Their minutes were usually short and to the point, often just records of the candidates admitted with little embellishment of the facts.
Meetings were on the last Thursday of each month except June, July and August, although special meetings were often called if candidates were available, which they usually were!
In 1877 it was agreed that Minutes should be read at every meeting. Before this as many as six months minutes were often read at one go!
Candidates still came thick and fast.
Two degrees in one night seemed to be the order of the day, either Initiation and Passing or Passing and Raising. This continued until 1896 when it was passed that 14 days must elapse between each degree. However, the practice of having two degrees in one evening continued, but with different sets of candidates.
The rules and regulations of the Lodge were strictly adhered to. Each candidate received a copy of the rules on his initiation. When the laws were extensively renewed in 1897, 400 copies bound in cloth were printed and circulated to all members.
From 1886, after each candidate was raised, two Brethren were appointed as his instructors to maintain his interest in the craft. The Ad Hoc Committee of 1992 came up with a similar suggestion!
The cost of initiation had risen to £2 2s 0d in 1878, and the first recording of a Mark Degree appeared in April 1879. After this, teams from Lodge Albert periodically worked the Mark in other Dundee Lodges, including Thistle and Camperdown.
The first Honorary Member recorded was a Bro. Alex. Graham of Operative No. 47.
During these years the Election of Office Bearers and Festival of St. Andrew took place at the November meeting, and the Installation was carried out at the December meeting, both accompanied by degree workings.
The professions of the candidates reflected the work going on in Dundee at that time. The 7 candidates initiated in September 1889 were a tenter, brass finisher, watch maker, fruiterer, shoemaker, a cork cutter and a carpet printer.
Perhaps due to the large number of candidates being put through there was a suggestion that a second Lochee Lodge be set up. Lodge Albert members would have none of it, petitioning Grand Lodge to nip the idea in the bud! They did.
Parades were becoming more and more numerous. Lodge Albert was represented all over the place, in Stonehaven for the opening ceremony of a new hall; at the erection of Lodge Edzell, at the laying of the foundation stones at the Municipal Building in Perth and at Dundee Public Baths, and at the Public Hall, Blairgowrie; in Forfar for the laying of Lodge Lour foundation stone; at the opening of the Sick Hospital, where all in attendance received a sandwich and a pint of beer; and at the foundation stone laying of the Old Parish Church in Arbroath, which terminated in a banquet in Lodge Panmure; to name but a few.
On 17th September, 1879, the Lodge met at 11.00 a.m., when a candidate was initiated, then at 1.45 p.m. the Lodge was adjourned and 50 Brethren marched in procession behind a pipe band to Liff for the laying of the foundation stone at the new asylum, by Lord Ramsay. After the ceremony and celebrations they returned to the Lodge, which eventually closed at 1 a.m.
The Lodge was not represented at the unveiling of the Burns statue in Dundee, for the Provincial Grand Master for some reason, refused to allow Masons to attend this ceremony! The Lodges got their revenge, however, by refusing to attend a Hospitals Day parade, when ordered to do so by the same P.G.M.! Ah, Brotherly love!
The foundation stone of the New North Bridge in Edinburgh was laid in April 1896, and a deputation from Lodge Albert was in attendance there, along with many others from Forfarshire. The minutes record, however, that this was a very poor affair. The Forfarshire contingent were left out in the cold. Best seats went to the Edinburgh Brethren. Banquet tickets were dispersed in the same manner!
In July 1895 a church parade with Lodge Ancient was greatly enjoyed until scaffolding fell on some of the Brethren, injuring a few.
At all these parades, Brethren were allowed to take the Lodge regalia and paraphernalia, but all was exactly recorded. A footnote in the minutes of one meeting records. “The Articles that Bro. Miller got the loan of has been duly received, all correct”. A special meeting was held each year to check Lodge clothing and jewels. The minute of 14th January, 1898 records the following list - 14 jewels in box, 2 altar jewels in case, 9 officer’s aprons, 3 fringed sashes, 10 plain sashes, 4 Warden’s batons, 4 columns, 4 mallets, 2 Deacons’ stones, 8 Hoodwinks, 56 Working Aprons, 1 Upper Cloth, 1 Under Cloth, 4 Pairs of Slippers, 1 Sheet of Emblems, 7 Cable Tows, 4 Swords, 1 Square, 1 Level, 1 Plumb, 24" Gauge, 1 Bible, 2 Charter Boxes, 2 Ballot Boxes and Balls, 3 Cushions, 1 Pedestal, 4 Chests, 5 Table Cloths, 2 Banners and Pole, 1 Chisel, 2 Stones, 1 Wicket, 1 Candlestick, 1 Copy of G.L. Laws, 1 Parcel of Black Crepe, 1 Skull.
At the funeral of the Lodge treasurer, a Bro. Wallace in 1878, the Lodge marched in procession, carrying the coffin from Bro. Wallace’s house to Balgay Cemetery, where he was buried with full Masonic honours.
Items of charity figure frequently in the minutes. Donations to needy widows, boat disasters, Brethren in difficulties, hospitals and the like are numerous.
In February 1899 a Brother arrived at the Lodge during a meeting asking for assistance. The Master, stopped the degree, and sent two men out to test him. They found “he was a M.M. right enough and gave him 2/6”. Later visitors to the Lodge put the hat round and the man got another 5/-.
Some however, were not so lucky. In 1883, a James Harley tried a similar ploy. He couldn’t prove he was a mason, and “left the building hurriedly”.
In October 1889 a widow tried to get benevolence. Investigations proved that the deceased Bro. had twice received relief from Grand Lodge during his lifetime. He had also never paid a test fee in his life. The request was thrown out. Two years later, the widow tried again - with the same results.
A circular from the Worthing Lodge of Friendship which contained a pathetic appeal from the inhabitants of Worthing fared better. 1200 people had been affected by a virulent outbreak of Typhoid Fever and 150 died. The Lodge sent £2 2s 0d from their funds, and issued subscription sheets to all the members. Two meetings later Lodge Albert’s Benevolent Fund was opened, taking one half of all test fees taken in.
Steeplejack D. Wright, a Brother of the Lodge, also received benevolence, to help him publish a book about his work experiences. Other Brethren also subscribed to the printing.
Lord Kitchener’s scheme for educating the natives of the Sudan, also got the nod, and a substantial donation from the Lodge!
Universal benevolence you are always to inculcate ...
The minutes certainly give the impression of a group of men, doing their best to maintain the tenets of Freemasonry to the best of their abilities.
The social side of the Lodge had now taken on a regular pattern.
Visitors were regularly present at the meetings, and Albert members visited widely. Lodge picnics were arranged each summer.
The annual Assembly and Ball was held in February or March. In 1892 the ticket cost 4/-. This admitted a gent - and two ladies! I would suggest that this might have been so that a wife had a friend to speak to - while her husband was at the bar!
The minutes recording one dance noted that the dancing had gone on till 2 a.m. At the next meeting a proposal was put forward that dancing should cease at midnight on dance nights. No seconder was found for the proposal, and the same committee was voted on for the next year!
The Report on the same dance noted that there was a surplus after expenses of £1 2s 7d, but as the Ball Committee had made some outlays during the time of getting up the Ball, they agreed to divide this surplus among themselves to recoup their outlay, but no account had been presented to the Lodge.
There had been no objection to this!
To me, the Minutes of the Annual Supper and Ball of 1st March, 1899 seems to catch the spirit of the Lodge at that time. It reads - A large turn-out of Brethren and their lady friends sat down to an excellent supper, purveyed by Bro. Smith. After supper the usual loyal and patriotic toasts were given and responded to. The following Brethren enlivened it with harmony viz.; Bros. Bishop; Reoch, Butcher, etc. etc. etc. There was also several ladies contributed to the harmony of the evening. Then the R.W.M. said that he had a pleasant duty to perform this evening, that of presenting Bro. Isaac P. Dyer, I.P.M. with a token viz. that of a P.M. Jewel in the name of the Brethren of Lodge Albert and friends for the many services he rendered while he was in the chair both to the Lodge and Sister Lodges also. The R.W.M. then presented Mrs Dyer with a handsome Silver Teapot. Then Bro. Dyer feelingly replied for the wife and himself and said he hoped he would be able to do more yet for the Lodge in the future. After a few more toasts had been given this part of the proceedings was brought to a close, the floor was then cleared for dancing, which was kept up till about 5 a.m., all parties being highly pleased with their nights enjoyment.
One intriguing social event was a visit to a circus performance, which was under the patronage of the Provincial Grand Master and the Lodges in the town. Regalia was worn by the Brethren who attended, and it certainly conjures up a wonderful picture!
The century ended on a nice note.
A widow had appealed for benevolence. The Lodge voted that she received £1 in November, and someone would visit her with another £1 on Christmas Day.
For most of this decade the Secretary’s office was filled by William B. Small. Bro. Small’s minutes were much more detailed, if a little flowery at times, and his method of laying the minutes out set a standard which has changed very little up to the present day.
More details of the degrees also appeared. On the 25th January, 1900, a Bro. Buchan and Bro. Couper entertained the company with music and song during a break in the third degree. The Lodge then went back to labour, and the Master delivered the final charge. This may well have been the way things were always done, but it was the first time it was recorded.
The Annual Dance that year was also well documented.
“Mr Robbies’ band supplied the music, and Bro. Irvine as M.C. gave every satisfaction, all parties being highly satisfied with the nights enjoyment which terminated about 5 o’clock.
At the next meeting, however, it was announced that there was a deficiency of £1 15s 9½d. This matter was documented in the Lodge, and it turned out that several tickets had been cancelled at the last moment! (We’re still having that trouble in 1994!).
The deficiency was made up out of the Casual Relief Fund. The minute ends - “The Dance Committee were thanked, and their services dispensed with”!
Many calls for charity were dealt with in these times. Brethren from out of town often turned up at the meetings asking for help. They were always carefully tested, and if found worthy received appropriate sums. Many were obviously “trying it on” however, and they were despatched in double quick time.
About this time it was also recorded that after the third degree - “The Master heartily welcomed the newly made master masons to their new home”! [I’ve been told on odd occasions that I should move my bed into the Albert, as I’m there more often that I am at home].
The minute of 27th December, 1900 demonstrated the floweriness of the Secretary’s writing.
In a letter of sympathy to the relations of the Lodge’s deceased Chaplain, he wrote.
Dear Sir, At a meeting of the Lodge held on the 27th instant, the Brethren unanimously express their deepest sympathy and regret at the bereavement you have sustained through the death of your venerable relative, our Bro. Bruce, who for so lengthy a period was Chaplain of our Lodge, and asked me to communicate the same to you.
You have our heartfelt sympathy in your hour of trial, but we must rest in the blessed assurance that our Bro. is not dead, but sleepeth and that in the hereafter we shall again meet him in the mansions not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The genuine sadness and regret felt by the Brethren on such occasions comes through in the minutes, none more so than on the 24th January, 1901 when the minute began -
“The R.W.M. John Bruce put the following resolution to the Lodge and asked that it be recorded verbatim in the minutes. This was seconded by P.M. I.P. Dyer and was agreed unanimously.
It read -
The Brethren of Lodge Albert (No. 448), Lochee, holding of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, hereby resolve and now place or record their deepest sympathy at the death of her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, who throughout a glorious reign of 64 years, has upheld the liberty of the people and honour of the Crown, who has received the overflowing love of all her subjects, and lived and died, in the continual effort to discharge to the utmost the duties of her exalted station. We believe we can best show our affection for her memory, by a calm resignation to the will of the Great Architect of the Universe, and continued loyalty to her son, His Most Gracious Majesty the King.
A First Degree followed that evening, with black rosettes on the aprons, and covers over the Office-Bearers jewels, a practice which continued for the next three months, on the instructions of Grand Lodge.
On 21st February, 1901 the Lodges first two Lewis’s were admitted into Lodge Albert.
The highlight of the 1901 dance was a bone solo by one of the Brothers, so much appreciated that he did several encores.
In November 1903, a circular from Grand Lodge outlining licensing laws was considered so important that it was entered word for word in the minutes, occupying considerable space.
Regular entries on the subject appeared until 2nd March, 1905 when the Lodge was first registered as a Club.
Around this time Provincial introduced a payment of £2 a year from each Lodge in the province, and 1/- off the initiation fee of each candidate.
Foundation stone ceremonies were again regular occurrences. Among those attended were at the Ancient Order of Foresters new hall on the Esplanade. The consecration of St. David No. 78 new hall at 86 Nethergate also took place in 1905.
Candidates were coming thick and fast. There were 30 candidates in 1905, and 35 received their Mark Degrees that year.
Workings in the Lodge varied. Sometimes three degrees were worked in a night, usually two. One degree was a rarity.
One night in February 1905, one Brother was raised, another had the second degree, then a third degree was worked again for a Brother who had turned up late.
On some occasions the R.W.M. was in the chair, but the Senior Warden often officiated too. On one occasion the J.W. worked the whole degree, and musical accompaniment was provided by the R.W.M. on the organ!
The Annual Dance in 1906 left a small surplus in the hands of the Committee. It was reported that after partaking of a light refreshment, they deposited the balance in the Charity Box!
All was not always sweetness and light however. On one occasion the R.W.M. proposed that the Master elect and the Wardens should represent Lodge Albert at Grand Lodge. The I.P.M. objected, and put the amendment that he and the Wardens should go. After a vote the amendment was carried!
On another occasion in 1908, a candidate was admitted for his first degree. Before the ceremony began, another Brother, arriving late, objected to the candidate, who was taken back out, given his money back and sent packing!
A further examination was made of the same man a month later, but he was rejected again.
Between 1905 and 1910 there seemed to be a spate of Brethren leaving for overseas, Hong Kong, India and Africa in particular.
In 1908, Grand Lodge assisted the Lodge in tracking down an Albert member, through correspondence with Lodges in Brazil.
Visitors to Lodge Albert included Brethren from Massachusetts, and Canada. The Canadian asked for assistance. He was examined by a Past Master who reported that although the man made a rather poor go at passing the test, he thought he was a Mason and proposed Lodge Albert should give the Brother 2/-.
Throughout the decade charity was dispensed regularly. Tickets were on sale in the Lodge in July 1909, for a benefit to be run by Lodge Ancient members in the Empire Theatre. Proceeds were to go to the poor children of the city. Universal benevolence was still being inculcated.
On 10th January, 1910, it was decided to purchase new Lodge aprons, sashes and regalia cases for the office bearers from George Kenning & Sons, London. The aprons were priced at 27/6 each, the solid calf cases at 5/- each, and sashes at 26/- each - less a 20% discount.
It was noted at a meeting just three days later that Bro. George Reid, the oldest member of the Lodge was to be present at the Burns Supper on 25 January, and the Brethren voted that he should be presented with a charter member’s certificate and a jewel to mark the occasion.
In March a letter from Grand Lodge warned that John Murphy, a seaman in the submarine service, twice rejected by Masons in Plymouth, would attempt to join the craft in Dundee. Each of the city Lodges had been warned.
Later that year a special Masonic Service was held in the city to mark the death of King Edward VII. Brethren assembled in the Lodge, proceeded to the Drill Hall in Bell Street, then marched in procession to St. Mary’s Parish Church. After the service they marched on to the Albert Institute where they dispersed.
Around this time proposals to join in the formation of a Masonic Temple in Dundee, were continually rejected by the members for Lodge Albert. The reasons were not made clear in the minutes.
On the 12th January, 1911, a letter was received from Provincial Grand Lodge asking Lodge Albert to postpone their Burns Night on 25th January, as Grand Lodge were to be dedicating the new Masonic temple on that night. A proposal was put forward to the Lodge to change the meeting, but an amendment to carry on with the Burns Night as arranged, was easily carried!
A Bro. Ogilvy asked for a duplicate diploma from the Lodge. After some investigation this was agreed - providing the Brother made a declaration before a Justice of the Peace!
An annual donation to the Royal Infirmary was passed on 30th March, 1911 and on the 28th April, a deputation from Lodge Albert attended the laying of the foundation stone at Freemasons Hall in Edinburgh.
Around this time many Brothers were on the move, leaving Dundee to join up in the forces. In 1911 both the R.W.M. and S.W. resigned within months of each other. The R.W.M. was moving to live in Arbroath, and the S.W. moved to Penzance. The Secretary also resigned due to ill health in July, and the J.D. in August. All offices were immediately filled.
The foundation stone of Lodge Broughty Castle was laid on 11th November, 1911.
Around the same time Law 181 was changed by Grand Lodge. Candidates could no longer be initiated on the day their petitions were read out. Seven days must now elapse.
“At Home” Days were introduced that year instead of the Annual Dance. No Masonic business was carried out on that night, and the minutes give the impression that the “At Home” Day was one big party!
On 2nd May, 1912 a picnic was proposed and seconded for a Sunday later that month. On 9th May the decision was rescinded as some members objected to picnicking on the Lord’s Day.
On 12th October, 1912 it was announced that a draft clause was to be included in the Government of Ireland Bill to protect the rights of Irish Masons.
Lodge Meigle was consecrated on 30th October, 1913, and in December that year new offices were suggested for Lodge Albert - architect, director of ceremonies, organist and standard bearer. These were confirmed in January 1914.
In April 1914, the habit of saluting the Wardens were abolished in the Lodge.
Around this time several complaints began to appear in the minutes about the dirty state of the Weavers Halls, and finally a letter was sent to the Weavers Society.
On 14th May appeared the first mention of leasing or buying new premises for the Lodge. Finally, on the 4th June a Committee was formed consisting of R. Black, G. Sturrock, R. Annan, T. Laverock and A.B. Young, the R.W.M. Alexander Reoch, ex-officio and the Secretary, D.H. Bruce.
At the same meeting it was proposed new hoodwinks should be purchased for the Lodge. The present ones were deemed dangerous to the eyes!
In August, the first mention of war appeared in the minutes. The R.W.M. was called to serve in the Territorials and was unable to give further service to the Lodge.
The Lodge answered appeals from the Prince of Wales War Fund, and from Lord Tullibardine’s appeal for Field Glasses.
On 8th October, the first casualty to a Lodge member was reported. Bro. David Williamson was drowned from the H.M.S. Hague in the North Sea submarine disaster.
It was passed that the Festival of St. Andrews be celebrated in a quieter way that year, in view of the serious crisis in which the country was involved.
Several members were nominated for office despite being on active service, including the Master, Alexander Reoch.
On the 17th December, the Weavers Hall was commandeered for the Military, and the Secretary was given powers to move the meeting place when necessary.
In January 1915, a Roll of Honour was initiated for serving members and members who had lost their lives. Active members were freed from annual subscriptions.
On 16th May members attended a Divine Service in Newburgh. The Lodge was opened and adjourned. The members travelled to Newburgh and back by boat, and returned to the Weavers Hall to close the Lodge.
On the 3rd June, a letter was received from the R.W.M. who was serving in France.
Incredibly, a new Lodge opened in August 1915, and Lodge Albert members were present at the consecration of Lodge St. Mary’s, 1149.
The 50th Anniversary of Lodge Albert fell during these terrible times. A Jubilee card was sent to each Lodge in the city. At a quiet meeting to celebrate the event, an apology was received from the R.W.M. Bridies were provided free, and brethren partook of refreshments, which had been saved up, despite the restrictions.
R.W.M. Bro. Reoch sent a letter of resignation before the nominations day. While he’d been proud to be R.W.M. his service precluded him from standing for further office.
The minute of 9th December contained a further description of the installation, and there was the first real mention of the installed Master’s degree.
In February 1916 P.M. Reoch received honorary life membership of the Lodge while on leave from the forces. P.M. Young who had deputised in his absence was similarly honoured.
In March the Lodge moved their investments with the Harbour Trust to Exchequer Bonds to help the war effort.
In August came the first instructions from Grand Lodge on a Committee of Enquiry for each candidate, and a system of letters of introduction was started for Masons abroad.
A Brother who had been brought home from South Africa in ill health, died after three weeks. The Lodge met his funeral expenses.
Fund raising events were held regularly to assist the war effort. A fair in aid of the Red Cross in February 1918, raised £35 11/-.
The R.W.M. was elected as governor to the Royal Infirmary to represent the city Lodges.
As the year progressed you could sense a lightening of the atmosphere in the minutes, as the war drew to a close.
The Lodge ran a carnival and sports day. 2000 tickets were sold and 50 display bills advertised the event. Main prize in the raffle was a photo of the “Lady Mason”.
On 17th August, 1918 a special parade and band concert was held in the Lochee Park, with a football competition and tug o’war events.
An Armistice Day service was held in the Lochee Parish Church just before Christmas and the Lodge was well represented.
The year 1919 saw an amazing upsurge in entrants into Lodge Albert, a phenomenon matched throughout the country. As men returned from the war, membership of Lodges gave them the comradeship and camaraderie they had known in the trenches.
The minute books catalogued long lists of applicants, and they were being initiated in droves. In the year up to November 1919, 217 new members joined Lodge Albert, and 225 Mark Masons were elevated.
The huge intake brought a reaction from Grand Lodge. On 21st August a Notice of Motion included the following -
“That a law to be numbered 190A be added to the Constitution and Laws to the following effect -
“No Lodge shall initiate more than seven candidates on the same day, and no Lodge shall pass to the second, or raise to the third degree, more than seven Brethren in either of the said degrees in any one day”.
On 1st December, this became law.
In September, Lodge Albert was well represented at the erection and consecretation of Lodge Ubique, a Lodge which must have started with a bang following this upsurge in interest in the craft.
In that month also an offer of purchase was received for the Weavers Halls. An argument arose over the titles of the halls. It was unclear who actually held the title.
On 23rd October a property committee met and agreed to enquire as to the acquisition of a site to build a Lodge on. A Ladies committee was also instituted to assist in the raising of funds for the new venture.
There was tremendous competition for office at the Nomination’s meeting. Contested offices included that of R.W.M., Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Senior Deacon, Architect, Sword Bearer, Organist, Bible Bearer, Director of Ceremonies and Inner Guard!
After nominations over 200 Brethren sat down to a special dinner to welcome back the Brethren who had served in the war.
Lodge Albert and masonry in general was obviously on the crest of a wave.
The last meeting of 1919 took place on Christmas day! Six candidates were initiated, and six Brethren received the Fellowcraft degree. The wives must have been delighted at that!
Throughout the twenties, the business of procuring their own premises came to the fore. Over these ten years, many buildings were proposed, examined and rejected. Money raising events abounded, and money was salted away towards the new venture.
Not surprisingly, after the surge of interest after the war, membership fell away. But by today’s standards, 1920 was still a good year - with 70 candidates and 66 receiving their Mark degree!
The first instance of a regular meeting being held without a candidate, occurred in 1925, when lectures were given at three consecutive meetings.
Lodge Albert masons were getting around too. Donations for the building fund arrived during these years from every corner of the world - from Yonkers, U.S.A., from Australia, from Quebec, from Calcutta to name but a few.
On 8th January, 1920 a letter was received from Lodge Palestine No. 151, Denver, Colorado reporting on a visit received from a Bro. Harry Fraser from “Albert , Lochee”.
It was around this time that the “Albert Piano” began to raise a lot of money for the Lodge. Organisations could hire it for 10/6 a time, and two days running it attended Burns Suppers, first with Spalding and Valentines staff, than at the Lochee Gardener’s Burns Supper. An Albert member, who was a Carter, had the job of moving it about!
The members were a go-ahead bunch. They even started a clothing club. Clothing was purchased in bulk, and sold to members at bargain prices, with any profit going to the Building Fund.
In October 1920, a Lodge of Instruction was suggested. This was never followed up, and is something that has never figured in Lodge Albert’s history.
On 11th November, it was minuted that on that day, the second anniversary of Armistice Day “The Unknown Warrior” was reverently laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.
The installation that year took place on 9th December. After the installation, the Lodge was put into recess, for an hour’s harmony, then re-opened, and Bro. Charles D’Angelis received his third degree.
The Burns Supper in 1926 was used for the first time, for the presentation of the Immediate Past Master’s jewel. His wife also received a present. This became the custom for a number of years.
Compared to today, Masons had a very high profile in the city. They seemed to be permanently on parade, at foundation stone laying and at church parades. Presentations to charity by various Lodges were regularly recorded in the press, and you get the impression that Masonry was held in very high esteem at that time. What a difference to the press we seem to attract nowadays.
Charity raising events took many shapes and forms. In 1921, Osborne F.C. played a charity football match against a Masonic team to raise funds for a Brother’s widow. Lodge Albert held a special Church Parade in May 1921 - in the Lochee Park. It was conducted by Rev. Gorden Quig, B.D. of St. Paul’s Parish Church, Glasgow, assisted by Rev. Richard Gibb, M.A. of Lochee Parish Church. Representatives of all the Dundee Lodges were present, and “resplendent in their regalia, made a wonderful sight”. In later years the Rev. Gibb became an honorary member of Lodge Albert.
The first mention of Albert R.A.C. No. 503 appeared in the minutes in July 1921, when it was minuted that they should be allowed to use the Lodge furniture and clothing until such time as they were kitted out.
In October 1921 a letter from Lodge Buttana No. 1033 in Chile advised that Earnest McLean, a fellowcraft mason from Lodge Albert had received his third degree in that Lodge.
In March 1992 came the first recorded invitation for Lodge Albert to work a third degree in Lodge St. Laurance, Laurencekirk.
About this time, a Brother requested a loan from the Lodge to kit himself out to go to Canada. The Lodge agreed if he could get security. The loan was paid, the Brother left for Canada, and in August a letter from Canada was received, repaying the loan, plus a donation!
Attendances at this time were falling. Only 27 candidates went through in 1922, and attendances were often under 30. Financially, the Lodge was in a good state however, and charity work never faltered.
The minutes during this period were penned by Bro. R.K. Mackenzie, in a beautiful copperplate, very detailed and easy to follow.
In March 1923 a directive from Grand Lodge ordered that each candidate’s application should now be read out in open Lodge, before being submitted to the Enquiry Committee. Regulations were gradually being tightened up.
A large deputation attended the dedication of Lodge Roineach Mhor No. 1308 on 22nd October, 1923.
A unique ceremony took place in the Lodge in December that year when P.M. John Bruce received an illuminated address from the Brethren “as a token of esteem and respect on the occasion of his 50th anniversary as a Mason”.
That night it was also suggested that a photograph of Past Masters should be taken and hung in the Lodge - with the rather strange stipulation that the photograph should be confined to living past masters only!!
Around this time the minutes began to give the impression of some ill-feeling in the Lodge which persisted over the next few years.
The present treasurer had not signed the illuminated address to P.M. Bruce, and was asked his reasons. He replied that he hadn’t been asked, but if he had been, he would have refused! This led to demands for his resignation, which were later withdrawn.
A storm in a tea-cup perhaps, and whether this was related to later troubles is difficult to ascertain from the minutes.
In April 1924, the umpteenth suggestion of a site for new Lodge premises, a site known as Belmont in Lochee High Street, was put before the Lodge, examined and rejected. The hunt went on.
The Provincial Golf Tournament took place on 17th July - now an annual event for the Ramsay Trophy.
Letters from abroad were still arriving with donations for the Building Fund. There was also one from Buffallo, asking if the Lodge would meet the funeral expenses of an Albert member who had died there! This was refused.
1925, the year of the Diamond Jubilee began with Albert probably at the lowest ebb in its history. Candidates were slow in coming. An air of ill-feeling persisted in the minutes.
However on 5th November that year the Secretary reported - “The Diamond Jubilee of the Lodge was celebrated in the Weavers Hall, amid manifestations of rejoicing and goodwill. After a sumptuous dinner, R.W.M. Bro. William Burden opened the Lodge”.
The following Sunday, a church service of thanksgiving for the first 50 years of the Lodge took place in the Lochee Parish Church.
The next two years went quickly, with sudden bursts of energy as first one then another site was brought up and rejected by the members.
At the end of 1926, Cecil Black, a local painter came to the chair, and interest appeared to pick up once more. An upsurge of candidates in late 1927, accompanied by the examination of several sites seemed to get the Lodge buzzing again.
Finally, on 11th September, 1928 came the first mention of the site at the corner of Ancrum Road and Tullideph Road. A joint meeting of the Building and General Committees decided to recommend the site to the Lodge. From then on it was all go!
An architect was appointed on 25th September. On 16th October he submitted plans, but the members considered them too elaborate. Simpler plans were submitted on 30th October. On 3rd December it was decided to send out schedules and take in estimates and on 24th December, 1928, the Town Council accepted the Lodge’s offer to feu the ground at a cost of 2/- per pole.
Around this time the Lochee Union Weavers Lodge Ltd. re-opened negotiations to allow Lodge Albert to purchase the present Lodge premises. But by this time things had gone too far with the new venture, and the offer was turned down.
In January 1929, the third Lodge piano in twenty years was purchased. This was certainly a high turn over in pianos, perhaps caused by it being hired out and continuously carted around various premises in Dundee.
During 1929 estimates for the building of the new halls were submitted and rejected on several occasions. The members were in no hurry. The cost was reduced from £6,500 to £5,298 in October 1929. This was still considered excessive, and on the 31st October, the Building Committee agreed to abandon the present scheme and instructed the architect to prepare a pencil sketch of a building less elaborate, at an estimate cost in the region of £4,000.
Whether it was a reflection on the slowness of the proceeding or not, but the R.W.M. was not elected for a second term in 1929, but was beaten in a vote by Bro. William Watson!
The twenties ended on a sad note. The Grand Master Mason Lord Blythewood died, and Grand Lodge asked that as a mark of respect, no social occasion or harmonies in Masonic Lodges should be held before 30th December.
So Lodge Albert moved quietly into the thirties, with their proposed new Lodge still very much in the planning stage.
On 16th January, 1930, estimates for £4,450, £4,200 and £4,250 were put before the Building Committee. The first two designs were put before the Lodge for approval on 30th January, and the second, and cheapest design was adopted. Even at that stage an amendment called for the whole business to be delayed for five years. This was then changed to a rejection of the proposal. But the amendment was defeated and at long last the Albert Halls was on the way.
In retrospect, it was a bold step for the brethren to take. The depression was at its height, unemployment was rife, and you could understand the caution of the members. But the architect Bro. R.W. Lowe was told to get on with it.
In April 1930, a meeting was held by the Dundee Lodges to discuss the possibility of a Provincial Grand Lodge of Dundee City, a proposal which was to raise its head again and again over the next fifty or so years!
On 12th August work started on the hall. The laying of the foundation stone was arranged for 1st November, 1930, with a cake and wine banquet in the Weavers Halls to celebrate.
On that day a special meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge took place in the Weavers Hall. The meeting was opened, adjourned, and the brethren marched to the site of the new hall behind the Boys Brigade Pipe Band.
The foundation stone was laid by the Provincial Grand Master Bro. Thomas Lyell, using a silver trowel presented by the Architect.
A list of members and Office-Bearers was placed in a receptacle under the stone.
From then on, fortnightly meetings of the Building Committee reported back the progress of the building to the members, and you can visualise the halls taking shape from the bills submitted for payment.
Meanwhile, meetings continued in the Weavers Halls.
On 19th February, 1931, the Master and Office-Bearers of Lodge Thistle Operative visited the Lodge, and offered to come back the next week and work a third degree.
On the 21 August, 1931, the members adjourned their meeting in the Weavers Halls, and had a conducted visit to see the progress of the halls with the architect.
On that day William Black was obligated as Chaplain. He was the father of our present Chaplain Richard Black.
On 30th August it was decided to advertise for a caretaker. He would be paid £20 per year, plus 5% of all lets. Applications were whittled down to three, and finally Charles Croll was given the job.
On 22nd September, the first set of hall lets was agreed - £3. 10/- from 7 p.m. - 2 a.m.; £2 10/- from 7 p.m. to midnight, and £1 15/- from 7 p.m. to 10.30 p.m., i.e. 10/- per hour with use of piano, or 5/- per hour for dining hall only.
The last meeting in the Weavers Hall took place on 22nd October, 1931 when P.M. Burdon presented three tables for the use of the Master and Wardens, and a Bro. Sturrock presented a clock for the new hall.
The minute records -
This being the last meeting in the Weavers Hall, prior to removing to the new hall in Tullideph Road, a pleasant hour was spent in harmony, after which the Lodge was closed in due and ancient form.
An era had ended.