By the second part of the 19th century, Gourock was fast becoming a developing and popular town with a need to satisfy the social and cultural needs of its people. Gourock Curling Club was formed in 1858, a Chess Club in 1878, the Gourock Sailing Club in 1894 (later in 1908 to become the Royal Gourock Yacht Club). Ploughing matches were organised, tennis, putting, badminton, miniature rifle shooting clubs all flourished and there was even an organised clay pigeon shoot on New Year’s Day. It was against this backdrop that a group of local freemasons inevitably got together to consider a Masonic Lodge for the town of Gourock. At that time, freemasons living in Gourock either had to travel to Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No. XII or to Lodge Greenock St John's No. 175 in Greenock or further to Lodge Doric Kilwinning No. 68 or Lodge Cumberland Kilwinning No. 217 in Port Glasgow. Given the poor transport facilities which existed, this must have been a difficult journey especially on cold winter nights. A petition was therefore compiled and submitted to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a Lodge to be constituted in Gourock under the title of Lodge “Firth of Clyde”. A Charter was granted on Monday 6th May 1878 and presented on Friday 10th May 1878 at the Commissioners’ Rooms which stood across from the former Municipal Buildings at the Pierhead on the ground now occupied by the Health Centre complex and the Lodge itself was consecrated on the 2nd July 1878, in the Gamble Institute.
The membership of the Lodge consisted of the 26 founder members supplemented by a further 8 honorary members and following the consecration of the Lodge, the first meeting was held on 15th July 1878. Meetings were held in various locations, including the Commissioner’s Rooms, the Gamble Institute and the Free Church Hall in John Street, which is not the location of the current Temple but more likely the building recently occupied by the Ex-Servicemen’s club. While there was undoubtedly a desire on the part of the brethren to have their own premises, the minute of 17th April 1895 makes reference to a requirement to leave the present hall and a committee was therefore created to consider the options available.
The foundation stone of the new Temple was laid on the 1st February 1896 by the Right Worshipful Master Brother Captain Robert Duncan. The brethren firstly met in the Gamble Institute and marched in procession led by a band of the local army volunteers, via Bath Street, Royal Street and John Street to the site. The foundation stone was then laid, with full Masonic Honours by the Right Worshipful Master ably assisted by his office-bearers. Under the stone were placed coins of the realm and local newspapers and the first meeting of the Lodge took place on 1st September 1896.
In 1905, an extension was added to the rear of the hall to form what became known as the Burns Room, the Master’s Room and the kitchen at which point, the Lodge began to resemble the way it was shortly before the fire in 2008.
Prominent early members
If you have been carefully noting some of the names referred to above, you will have noticed the number of brethren of the Lodge who were prominent in the administration of the town’s affairs during those early years of the Lodge. Brothers Robert Binnie, James Adam, John M Adam, James Mathie and later Sloan Macmillan all served as Provosts and later had streets named after them in the town. Brother Duncan McPherson PM, left a bequest to the town which enabled a small hospital to be built in Midton in 1925.
The Lodge Jubilee 1928
The Jubilee of the Lodge in 1928 was marked with the rededication of the Lodge on Monday 7th May 1928 by the then Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Brother Sir Hugh Shaw Stewart with Right Worshipful Master Brother Arthur T Russell presiding in the Chair of the Lodge.
The rededication of the Lodge took place on Saturday 6th May 1978, with the ceremony being held in the Lodge Temple carried out by Grand Lodge headed by the most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Brother Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esslement assisted by a very large deputation from the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Centenary of the Lodge Temple The Lodge continued to perform as well as any and in 1996, it held a rededication of the Lodge Temple, being by that time exactly 100 years old. In 2003, the Lodge celebrated its 125th anniversary with a special meeting and dance chaired by Right Worshipful Master Brother Jim Porter.
Many thanks to James P. Livingstone PM for providing the website with this history!