HISTORICAL SKETCH, LODGE RANDOLPH NO 776,
BUCKHAVEN, FIFE, SCOTLAND
The First 100 Years
By Brother John C Martin, Past Master 776
On Saturday the 11th August 1990. Lodge Randolph No 776 celebrated its Centenary Rededication, which was carried out by the Grand master mason, Brother Brigadier Sir Gregor MacGregor of MacGregor Bart, and Deputation from the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Brother The Right Honourable The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine KT CD- JP, MA, LLD, Provincial Grand master and Deputation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Fife and Kinross and 123 Brethren from 32 Sister Lodges attended the Celebrations.
We have started at the pouring forth of Corn, wine and oil of Rededication, but we must go back to the laying of the foundations and the building of the superstructure of this 100 year old Lodge, which was as follows:
It was in 1890 in Buckhaven, a small coal mining and fishing community in the Kingdom of Fife on the Firth of Forth almost due North of Edinburgh, where 12 brethren from 8 various Lodges, who had seen the Light, were desirous of extending the benefits of the Craft in this part of the County, which could not be accomplished without having a regularly constituted lodge.
These Brethren had obviously sought the patronage of Brother Randolph Gordon Erskine Wemyss of Wemyss, as the Lodge was named ‘Randolph’ after him. The petition for a Charter to hold a new Lodge was drawn up, the first Office Bearers were elected and the Petition signed by the 12 Brethren
On the 24th April 1890, they travelled east to Leven, to seek the sponsorship of Elgins Lodge at Leven No 91, which they readily agreed to. The following night they travelled west to the next nearest Lodge, St Clair of Dysart No 520, who also agreed to sponsorship. The Petition was received by Grand Lodge in May 1890 and was subsequently granted on the 7th of August 1890.
The first meeting of the Lodge took place in a room in the house in College Street, Buckhaven, belonging to Brother Peter Deas, Junior Warden, on the 1st of September 1890, the Charter was read and the Fees for Initiation of £1 -17s-6d or to include the mark £2-2s were set.
The first Degree meeting took place on the 15th September, when one of the Initiates, Reverend Alexander Ayton Young, Clergyman was thereafter proposed and seconded to be the Lodge Chaplain as an E.A., such was the need for Office Bearers. On the 6th of October, the Lodge repaid to Brother Stuart, Senior Warden, the 10 Guineas he had loaned the Lodge in order to obtain the Charter. Due to Buckhaven being a fishing harbour and Methil having industrial docks, many ships from ports throughout Britain, Germany, Holland, Norway and Sweden, loaded or unloaded their cargos here, members of the crews were often proposed, Initiated, Passed and Raised on the same night, due to them sailing on the morning tide, this was a regular occurrence.
The foundation stone was laid for the new Methil Public School, with Masonic Honours by the Master, Office Bearers of the Lodge and assisted by 3 Office Bearers from Lodge Wemyss No 777. Thereafter the Brethren proceeded in procession to the Methil Band Hall where refreshments were provided by the School Board, on 24th September 1892.
The 1st of October 1892, Brother J T Oswald of Dunnikier, Provincial Grand Master and the Deputation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Fife and Kinross, Consecrated the Lodge, the proceedings were of the most harmonious nature, although there is no evidence of any one signing the Attendance Book on this occasion.
At the Regular Meeting on 21st May 1894, the Lodge was asked to support the formation of a new Lodge in Methil, between Randolph and Elgins Lodge at Leven, 2 miles away. It was decided to delay signing of the Petition, till all the facts were presented, as to whether the population of the area could support another Lodge
These facts, when produced, were to be heard by Grand Secretary. Nothing more is minited after June, regarding the matter or the Lodges' favour of it, but in August an Invitation was received form Balfour Melville No 809, the new Lodge in Methil, to attend their Installation.
Lodge Randolph moved to a New Meeting Place on 15th October 1894, they had obtained a let for the use of the Free Gardeners hall. The Senior Warden opened the Lodge and the Master was then received into the new Lodge Rooms with Masonic Honours. The Insurance Company informed the Lodge that 6d. Extra would require to be paid on the premium for each ‘Theatrical Performance'!
In 1897 Brother the Right Honourable the Earl of Rosslyn organised his Installation as the Provincial Grand Master of Fife and Kinross to be held in Roslin Chapel, Midlothian. A special train was laid on to convey the Brethren and their ladies from Fife and Kinross to Roslin Railway station, where the Brethren assembled and marched in procession for a mass meeting, to the Chapel connected with the name and family of the Provincial Grand master, (The Apprentices Pillar of Masonic fame is located in Roslin Chapel).
The Brethren of the Lodge attended the Laying of the Foundation Stone of the new Masonic Hall for Elgins Lodge at Leven No 91 on the 6th of October 1898 and 20 Brethren also attended the consecration of the Lodge by the Provincial Grand Lodge, 7th September 1899.
In January 1901, the Lodge and the Country went into mourning over sense of loss by the death of Queen Victoria also to wish our new King and Brother. Edward VII well. The Lodge Regalia was put into mourning for three months with black crepe.
July 1901, the Brethren of the Lodge turned out to the railway station at East Wemyss, to welcome home our Patron, Brother Randolph Gordon Erskine Wemyss of Wemyss, on his homecoming from the Boer War in South Africa.
It had been quite common at this time for the Lodge to conduct the complete service at Masonic Funerals for deceased Brethren of the Lodge, a Funeral Service card was even produced for the use of the Brethren who attended and participated in the ceremony.
At a meeting in March 1908, the Master commanded the Junior Warden to call the Brethren from Labour to Refreshment, after the Brethren had partaken of refreshment the Master, for the first time in the Lodge's history with a few pointed words, presented Brother James Waddell, Immediate Past Master with a Past Masters Jewel, in token of his services to the Lodge as Master for the past three years. Thereafter the Brethren were called from Refreshment back to Labour and the Lodge was closed in due form.
In April 1910, the Master made a feeling reference to the death of our beloved King and Brother Edward VII; Provincial Grand Lodge issued instructions for wearing of mourning for our late King.
In 1911, after the Installation Ceremony, the Senior Warden presented the Immediate Past Master with his Past Masters Jewel, this was to become the regular manner for many years in which this presentation was made.
August 1914, The Master referring to the War Crisis, asked Nominees of intending candidates to consider well their future position before applying for membership.
In 1915, Brother Lord Bruce Provincial Grand Master, appealed to the Brethren of the Province to assist him in bringing the Corps he commanded up to the required strength. As the Country was in the middle of the Great War (World War 1) it was decided not to celebrate our 25th Anniversary.
The Lodge, during the war sent comfort parcels to the Brethren serving with the Colours, not forgetting P.O.W's Lodge Brethren who attended meetings at this time in uniform were always given a very special, hearty welcome. In February 1918 a Brother of the Lodge, sent a letter regarding a meeting he had attended while on active service and enclosed the programme of the proceedings of the interesting gathering entitled, 'St Johns Night in Flanders'.
After the war, Freemasonry flourished, large numbers of Petitions were received, at one meeting in February 1919, 13 Petitions were read, 12 were Passed and a further 13 were Initiated. In September 60 Brethren received their Mark and in April 1920, 66 more received their Mark.
A Feu to purchase a piece of ground was obtained in April 1920, from the Wemyss Estate at £10-10s. Per acre, the area of ground required was 1/3 acre; this generous offer was by the good graces of Brother Randolph Wemyss. The ground had been purchased to build a Masonic Temple, it was decided to proceed but the building was not to cost more than £4,000. When the Architect presented the prices from his drawings, it exceeded the agreed price, therefore the proposal was dropped and alternative accommodation was sought for the Lodge's use.
Alternative premises were purchased for the sum of £2,500 in November 1920, which was a building called Templehall, consisting of ground floor and first floor flats. The idea was to convert the first floor flat into a Lodge Room and the ground floor into ante rooms.
Due to problems of purchasing the building, the factoring of the Tenants, within the flats and the costs involved for the alterations required, it was decided to sell the property in April 1921. A Brother of the Lodge had an idea, which was to offer the Building called Templehall, to the Wemyss Estate if they would build a Temple on the ground, which had already been purchased in Kinnear Street Buckhaven; this proposal was accepted by the Wemyss Estate Board.
In May 1922, the Wemyss Estate Architect, Mr Todd, designed the Temple to meet the requirements of :- Hall floor space 40' x 25', two ante rooms 16 x 11'6" each with a toilet, a heating chamber. Lit with electric (which at that time was an option) and wall seating all round the Lodge room.
The Lodge was ultimately built then Consecrated on the 10th march 1923. The Secretary had gone across to Grand Lodge in Edinburgh to pick up the Consecration Vessels etc, to be used at the Consecration, Brother the Right Honourable The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine and Provincial Grand Lodge of Fife and Kinross Office Bearers carried out the Ceremony in a very impressive and touching manner, during which a memorial tablet which had been erected on the West wall to commemorate the 5 Brethren of the Lodge who had given their lives in the Great War was also unveiled, after which the Last Post was sounded.
In March 1926 a Special Meeting was held to attend the Masonic Funeral of the Master, the Service was held in the late Brother's Home, conducted by the Immediate Past Master and the Lodge Chaplain. Pall Bearers from the Lodge who had been appointed, conveyed the coffin to the hearse. Thereafter they proceeded to the cemetery in East Wemyss, where the last rites were performed by the Depute Master and Chaplain, the attendance of 123 Brethren was normal for these occasions. A head stone in open book form, with the square and compasses on it, was paid for by the Lodge.
In March 1930, the Lodges Annual Assemble commenced at 8 pm, members and friends sat down to dinner and tea in the Masonic hall, after dinner, recitations and songs were performed, and a nice evening was spent. The dinner tables were then cleared away and 60 couples headed by the Master and his wife took the floor for the Grand March and dancing, the evening ended at 4 am.
In the Minute Book for 1932, at the Festival of St John, a full entry for the Toast List was inscribed as follows:
(1) The King and the Craft
(2) The Three Grand Lodges
(3) Provincial Grand Lodge
(4) The Master
(6) The Past Masters
(8) The Wardens
(9) Both Replied
(10) The Visiting Brethren
(12) Absent Brethren
18th November 1937, Brother Andrew Stein, Lodge Architect and Brother William Small, presented to the Lodge a beautifully carved master's Chair, which is still used today. Brother Andrew Stein also presented the Lodge with a new carpet, when we moved into our new Hall in 1923, at that Meeting, the Master requested the two Wardens to unroll the carpet.
Due to the Second World War the Lodge did not celebrate its Jubilee Anniversary (50 years). During the early War years the County Council intimated they would be taking over the Lodge for the duration of the War, in case of a Blitz, to be used as a Mortuary. The Fire Watchers for the Lodge, were instructed not to erect beds within the building, which they intended to use while they were on duty, (you can't fire watch a building if you're sleeping in it!) The Lodge moved to other premises during the War, these being The Church of Scotland, Denbeath Church Hall and Ante Rooms, during this period it was agreed that similar to the last war, that Comfort Parcels be sent to Lodge Brethren in the Forces and P.O.Ws.
At the end of the War, the Brethren moved back to the Lodge Rooms and received £45 compensation from Fife County Council for damages done to the building while in their hands.
In December 1945, The Secretary had received 2 gallons of Whisky and 2 gallons of Rum. It was decided to sell 1/2 bottle of each at meetings. Brethren to get one nip each at 1/6d for whisky and 1/9d for rum, 2 bottles of each for the Installation, Festival of St John and the Annual Assembly.
The Lodge was Adopted in 1948 by the Sir Wylie Norman Lodge No 79, Brisbane, United Grand Lodge of Queensland, Australia, the adoption formed a bond of Fraternal Brotherhood between the two Lodges, which is still in much evidence today. Correspondence was carried out between the Lodges and the Brethren in the Lodges, which culminated in a Parcel Scheme being introduced, bearing in mind that Britain was still in the food rationing system at this time, parcels were sent to 3 Office Bearers and 3 Brethren of Lodge Randolph by our Australian Brothers on a regular basis, a different 6 on each occasion.
After the Installation in 1949, it had been unanimously agreed to present Brother William Carstairs the retiring Master, for the first time in the Lodge's History, a Past Masters jewel, Sash and Apron in recognition of his services to the Lodge, previously it had been the custom to present a Past Masters Jewel only.
In 1950, we were honoured to receive the Sir Wylie Norman Lodge No 79, Australia, who visited the Lodge, with a deputation of 14 Brethren, one of whom a Brother Frederick Allan Pidgeon, was a Fellow Craft and was made a Master Mason at Lodge Randolph’s hands.
After the Ceremony the Candidate was made an Honorary Member of Lodge Randolph, also a Masonic Bible was presented to him, for future reference and to recall his night in Buckhaven. Deputations from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, The Provincial Grand Lodge of Fife and Kinross along with Brethren from many other Lodges attended, making an attendance of 167 Brethren.
August 1952, the Lodge met for the purpose of a Masonic Funeral. The Immediate Past master made sympathetic reference to the sudden and tragic death of Brother James H Blyth the Master. The family favoured a Masonic Funeral and for that purpose the Lodge had assembled. The Lodge had been very unfortunate in that, since 1926 March, The Master, 1951 June, The Junior Warden and now the Master, all these principle Office Bearers had died while holding office.
The beginning of good and true lasting friendship began in 1957 between Lodge Randolph and Lodge Salfire No 1505 Glasgow, the two lodges visiting each other annually to work degrees and to attend each other’s installations. This inter-visiting still continues today which is a true bond of Masonic Brotherhood.
The Masters of the local Lodges met in 1964 and agreed to hold Annually, a third degree and it to be called the 'Reigning Masters Degree', which was to be worked by the masters of Lodges 91, 776, 809, 940, 1240, 1260 and 1441. The idea was that each master takes an Office and perform from their own Lodge workings, each year progressing up the offices till occupying the Chair in their own Lodge, rotating to a different host Lodge every year. The profits from the Harmony and the collection to be donated to Benevolence.
The Lodge decided the presentation to be made to the Retiring Master was to consist of: - if serving one year in the Chair, either a Past Masters Jewel or Sash and Apron, if serving two years in the Chair to receive both, this ruling was made in 1966.
The Master made a feeling report and asked the Brethren to be upstanding and to observe one minutes silence for the Coal Miners who had lost their lives in the Michael Colliery Disaster, East Wemyss. Disasters, like the Lindsay Colliery Disaster in 1958, the Auchengeich Colliery Disaster in 1959 and the Michaels, affect the Brethren greatly from the close connection the Lodge and its Members have with the Coal Miners.
The first regular Meeting after the master had been Installed in 1968, the Master opened the Meeting, conducted the business and before he could continue with the degree, he was called to attend an emergency matter arising from his duties as a Police Officer.
The Lodge was honoured to receive on the 18th July 1970, and to witness a Special Meeting, being an Exemplified Working of the master mason degree, by the Masonic Kilties of New Jersey, U.S.A. This very memorable and impressive Ceremony was witnessed by 300 Brethren from 52 Sister Lodges and was their first visit to Fife.
Sunday 13th May 1972. On this day, Brother David Liddell-Grainger of Ayton, Most Worshipful Grand master Mason, Grand Secretary, Senior Grand Chaplain, also two Substitute Provincial Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Secretary from the Province of Fife and Kinross, visited the Lodge Rooms of Lodge Randolph No 776, where they were warmly welcomed and entertained by the Master, Office Bearers, Brethren and their wives. A similar entry to the aforementioned was inscribed in the Attendance Book by Grand Secretary and it was signed, at the Grand Master's request, by all in attendance, including the wives. This created quite a novelty, by having ladies signatures in a Lodge Attendance Book; this occasion was the first visit of a Grand Master to the Lodge.
The Lodge was again extremely pleased and honoured, that we had again the pleasure of receiving a second visit from our American Brothers from the Masonic Kilties of New Jersey on 8th August 1975. A Special meeting was held for the Exemplified Working of the Master mason degree, at the end of the ceremony Provincial Grand Lodge and the Kilties retired to the stirring sound of Bagpipes.
The Kilties working of the degree and their company after the Meetings at the dances to follow was extremely pleasant and memorable; the Brethren who were fortunately able to attend both of the meetings certainly had something very special to remember and to increase their understanding of our Universal Brotherhood. Time alas has broken this contact.
The mode of Ceremonial Dress was changed from white bow tie and white gloves to black bow tie and white gloves and that the Aprons were to be worn inside the jackets, in 1978.
The Lodge Almoner resigned in 1978 after serving 31 years in the same Office, since its conception in 1947, the lodge's long serving Office Bearers in the same Office had been a Treasurer, Brother James Beveridge Junior who had served 40 years, also a Chaplain Brother John Elmslie, Past Master, served 24 years.
Dispensation from the Provincial Grand Lodge to abandon our Regular Meeting on 16th November 1978, the reason for this was the finding in the Lodge, the body of our Brother Andrew Livingstone, Past master, No 776. Our much beloved Brother had been savagely murdered by person or persons unknown, and the Lodge was temporarily closed by the Police to allow the investigations to proceed.
Twelve Noon, 21st November, Special meeting was convened to attend to the Masonic Funeral of our late Brother, Andrew Livingstone, Past Master. The Provincial Grand Lodge Deputation and 233 Brethren who attended heard a eulogy by Brother John Elmslie Past Master 776. The assembled Brethren then adjourned and travelled to Methilhill Cemetery where they were joined by many other mourning Brothers. The Lodge Office Bearers acted as Pall Bearers and conveyed the coffin to its last resting place and along with the assembled Brethren full Masonic Honours were bestowed.
Lodge Randolph attended in 1980, the 25th Anniversary of Lodge Salfire No 1505 in Glasgow, held within the Guild Hall, Glasgow, a most impressive and suitable premises to hold such a memorable day. Lodge Salfire having taken its name from the old 'Salvage and Fire Corps' and many of the Brethren being firemen, Randolph presented to them on this occasion an old brass fire bell and stand, from an old Fire Engine, which had been suitably inscribed. In 1981 Lodge Salfire returned this compliment and presented Randolph with a Fire Bell.
The six local lodges' masters and Wardens met in 1983, to discuss the means of jointly raising money for local charities. The idea which was adopted was to have the members of each Lodge taking part in a Sponsored Walk, round the six Lodges, a distance of 13 miles. Each Lodge taking a turn of being host and to rotate annually. During the walk each Lodge holding fund raising events and providing refreshment and sustenance to the walkers and to make their load easier by relieving them of some of their money. This event has been very successful and has been run every year since, and the Levenmouth Combined Freemasons have raised the sum of £20,000 for local charities.
In 1986 the Lodge had been experiencing financial problems, which made the viability of continuing to own our own Temple impossible. It was agreed to sell the Lodge Buildings and seek alternative accommodation. In September the Lodge moved to the Denbeath Miners Welfare Institute, as tenants, the accommodation provided by them was very suitable and acceptable for our uses.
A design for a Coat of Arms was produced for the Lodge and approved, thereafter a petition was presented to the Lord Lyon King of Arms for approval in March 1987, a Warrant was granted to the Lyon Clerk to matriculate in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland in the name of Lodge Randolph No 776 its Ensigns Armorial
One half of the Coat of Arms is that of Grand Lodge of Scotland the other side contains the Lion Rampant of Randolph Wemyss, a miners davey lamp, (which are the three lights in the Lodge) the 776 motif and a black and white lozangy base with a fish upon it depicting the old mining and fishing community.
Embroidered badges, of the Coat of Arms were produced and added to the Lodge's Regalia, these being fixed onto the lambskin of the Aprons. A steel shield was presented in October 1989 to the Lodge, which depicted the Coat of Arms in its true form; the Centenary Jewels also depict our Coat of Arms.
On the 11th of August 1990 being the date nearest to that of the Charter being granted by Grand Lodge in 1890, the Centenary Re-dedication was celebrated, the Lodge was now 100 years old