As one explores the records wondering what might evolve, the exploratory mind is always hopeful, that something unique will emerge, some gem of custom or tradition, a something that will make it stand out above all others.
Has Lodge Major Ness such a something?
In its proud history, spanning 75 years, many characteristics have emerged, some bright and colourful, some controversial.
Let us look for a moment, at the situation in Burnbank in 1902. Far from being the poor relation of the Burgh of Hamilton, Burnbank was rapidly expanding. A flourishing Coal Mining Industry, crying out for Labour, surrounded by an expanding Steel Complex, the Clyde Shipyard, order books bursting at the seams, a stones throw away, with many more of the lighter industries growing up; the future looked rosy. The prospect was good. That was the situation in Burnbank in 1902, when Major John Ness, that well respected and extremely popular Schoolmaster from Blantyre, who already had a brilliant background in Masonic Circles, being twice R.W.M., and Secretary of Lodge Livingstone No. 599 saw fit, to set the wheels turning for the creation of a Masonic Lodge in Burnbank, Hamilton.
Already there were three Lodges functioning in the town, but plenty of room for expansion especially in an expanding suburb. A Charter was applied for and granted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. That was the birth of Lodge Major Ness No. 948.
The die was cast.
The Charter was granted on 7th May 1903. The first meeting was held on June 30th, when P.M. Bro. John Ness No. 599 initiated 10 candidates.
A great start indeed.
At the end of that first meeting, Bro. Ness presented the Lodge with a Bible, and the Master presented a Box of Working Tools.
On December 26th 1903, the Lodge was erected and consecrated. Then followed the Installation of Office Bearers by Col. Peter Spence S.P.G.M. and Provincial Office Bearers. According to the minutes, there were no teething troubles that one would normally expect in an undertaking such as this, and surely that says for almost perfect organising. Ten out of Ten!
At the beginning of the year 1904, the Lodge funds stood at £45.7.6d. A remarkable achievement indeed.
On May 11th, 1904, a needy Bro., was granted £2.0.0d. The first appeal from the Benevolent fund.
On going through the records of the 75 years, one feature stands out above the others, and that is this, the lesson of the N.E. Corner was the brightest jewel of the Lodge. Ask and ye shall receive, that should be the Motto of the Lodge. Almost every charitable organisation, local, county wise, and National can cheerfully thank Lodge Major Ness for assistance given, because their appeals never fell on deaf ears; and donations were forwarded according to financial situation at the time. It is on record that a sum of money was granted to a widow whose late husband was a member of 233.
As a young Lodge, they were enterprising and progressive, always striving to improve. They had many traditions and characteristics of their own. A temple of their own was the first priority. Who can ever forget that warm and cosy atmosphere, with the bright and comforting coal fire in the centre of the Lodge room. A real home from home for member and visitor alike. Nostalgic? Perhaps? but something one will always remember.
The Zodiac Circle which once adorned the wall behind the Master's Chair, was another, but more instructive feature of the Lodge. The Circle Lecture, so ably given by P.M. Bro. Thomas Goudie was fascinating and interesting, and not featured often enough.
The Fellow Craft Degree, with choir and musical background so ably presented presented by P.M. Bro. Robert Black, was a joy and a delight to listen to. Is there no one interested enough to take this up again? There was a time, and lets be strictly impartial, when the Lodge had to "thole their assizes". Perhaps lack of thought and inexperience was at the root of the trouble, but that’s all behind them now, and the present, and the future is very cosy indeed.
Throughout the life span of 75 years, many illustrious and talented Masters have adorned the Chair of the Lodge, bringing great credit to themselves and their Mother Lodge. It would be grossly unfair to particularise. All played their part in helping to build up the reputation and situation one finds in the Lodge today.
Although Burnbank is a purely industrial section of the town, many professional men were attracted to Lodge Major Ness. Doctors, Ministers, School-masters, H.M. Inspector of Mines and many of them paid the Lodge a great compliment by being regular in their attendance. The success of any Lodge, materially depends on the skill and ability of the R.W.M. and not only as a Ritualist, but also in planning the session's work, and make the meetings as attractive as possible to members and visitors alike. For many years this has been a feature of Lodge Major Ness's business. Their connections lie far beyond the Middle Ward Province and this surely is a great compliment to them.
Visitors are attracted by the friendliness of their welcome, and the spirit of real brotherliness which prevails, apart from the quality of the work performed, which is second to none, and must be a great comfort to the R.W.M. and Lodge Office-bearers. And when one realises that this part of the business is in the capable hands of mostly young, efficient and keen workers, who can look forward to many, many years in happy association with the Lodge.
Many a Lodge would give a lot to be in their proud and happy situation. And so, as another landmark has been achieved, and a new era of achievement lies ahead, our sincere wish is, that long may Lodge Major Ness No. 948 bear worthy sons of a worthy mother, who will work hard to keep the name of Major Ness in its proper and rightful place, and honoured among the Lodges.
SO MOTE IT BE
POINTS IN THE COMPASS:
First meeting. E.A. Degree by P.M. Bro. John Ness 599 10 Candidates. No Ballot. Accepted by Show of Hands.
First set of Bye-laws drafted.
Concert in Town Hall, Hamilton to purchase O.B. Jewels and Aprons. 200 Reserved seats 2/-, 500 at 1/-, Limited number at 6d.
Supper held to celebrate granting of Charter.
First Deputation received. 3rd Degree by Lodge Hamilton 233
Erection and Consecration of Lodge. Installation of Office Bearers by Col. P. Spence S.P.G.M.
First Honorary Member. P.M. Bro. James Bennett 233
First M.M.M. Degree Bro. P.M. John Ness. 35 Candidates. A wonderful start to any Lodge.
First Provincial Grand Lodge Visitation Lodge censured for not paying printing account.
A P.M. from Lodge 32 Waterford, Ireland, passing through Burnbank and stranded, appealed for benevolence. Benevolent Fund 5/- Collection 12/5d. Total 17/5d.
By-laws presented, and accepted.
P.M. Bro. John Ness presented first P.M.'s Jewel to I.P.M.
Visiting Bro., under the influence of drink, applied for assistance, application turned down.
Special Meeting. E.A. Degree. Attendance 13.
Donated £1.1.0 to testimonial for James Glencairn Thomson, only living grandson of Robert Burns.
A Goat's Head, mounted presented to the Lodge.
A sad day for the Lodge — P.M. Bro. Major John Ness died. Buried 27th May.
Bro. James Bowie, 948, who had affiliated to Lodge GASTINAEN, Alaska, as per demit, had his membership cancelled, as he was a saloon keeper. Rejoined Lodge Major Ness.
Stipend due by the Lodge to Hamilton Parish Church 1/1d. Duly paid.
Final £200 Bond on building cleared.
P.M. presented with Jewel. His wife received a gold bangle and a wristlet watch.
Quote! A wonderful moving speech was given by the R.W.M. on the signing of the armistice 11.11.18
MR. KAI HAX NORDECISKJOLO BALDOR CHRISTURSEN Chief Inspector of Engineering Work, Yoker applied for admission. Duly admitted on 28.1.1919.
Amusing anecdote re piano for dance, hired from lady, who insisted it must be returned after shop closed.
Happy Days? The following numbers were interviewed in the five months from 19.4.1919 to 23.9.191920: 23, 32, 40, 34, 19, 18, all were subsequently Initiated.
Letter from P.G. Lodge re complaint from a candidate at the rough treatment he had received at recent degree.
New Temple (Third) opened by Sir R. King Stewart. All records lost until 1938.
Lodge agreed to pay Bro's. Co-op account. Santa Claus indeed.
There were several. objections to the quality of whisky supplied at recent installation ceremony.
Bro. R. Maxwell applied for Life Membership, but owing to straightened circumstances, was presented with Life Membership free of charge.
Rededication service. Jubilee dance in Hamilton Salon.
Jubilee Celebration and Dinner held in Town Hall, Hamilton.
Period of unrest and distress.Secretary resigns. Treasurer resigns.P.G.L. cancelled inspection of books, pending further investigating.P.G.L. visitation postponed.P.G.L. deeply distressed at situation at 948. Serious charges against the Lodge.Three years suspension of Management Committee. Installation postponed by order of P.G.L.Election and Installation of new Office Bearers. Altogether a stormy passage for Lodge Major Ness.
All matters resolved, back on even keel.
First Instruction class inaugurated.
Minute books missing.
Bro. Walter Lang celebrates 53 years membership of the Lodge.
Unusual letter from P.G. Secretary re descriptive name of Lodge.
Insurance company advise Lodge to increase policy from £5,000 to £100,000 for a premium of £3.4.0d. Xmas was early this year for Lodge Major Ness.
Five Brothers presented with 50 years membership Diplomas. Other five unable to attend.
Preliminary plans set in motion to rebuild Lodge property.
New plans accepted.
It was agreed to offer Lodge Premises to Burnbank DistrictMasonic Social Club for £5,000 repayable over at least 50 years.
Bro. McTavish died in America aged 103 years.
Agreed to waive claim of £5,000 when new Lodge room is handed over to the Lodge from B.D.M.S. Club.
Committee formed to plan the 75th anniversary of the Lodge.
Rededication Service 14th February, 1978. 75th anniversary celebrations held in Fairhill Civic Centre. Since 1903 Lodge Major Ness has initiated almost 2,800 gentlemen into the mysteries and privileges of our Ancient Science.An average of approximately 37 per session. A truly remarkable record.