First Friday of every month -
 except January & August,
 when it will be the third Friday.
Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow Grand Lodge of Scotland

Scotland   United Kingdom

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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.

Brethren petitioned 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 of Glasgow.

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.

Caledonian Railway 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 valid.

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.

 William M. Gray
William M. Gray P.M. 354

 

 
 
 

 

       2011 The Caledonian Railway Lodge