A BRIEF HISTORY
By Trevor Nicol
On 2nd January 1949, the following notice was circulated among Freemasons in Inverness:
PROPOSED NEW LODGE
It is proposed that a new Masonic Lodge be erected in Inverness, and a
meeting of those interested will be held in the FREEMASONS’ HALL,
SCHOOL LANE, on SATURDAY 8TH JANUARY 1949 at 8pm.
It is hoped that you will find it convenient to attend.
The author was one of the most distinguished Freemasons of his day – Bro Hugh W Johnstone PM, the reigning Provincial Grand Master of Inverness-shire and a future Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
The meeting was a fruitful one resulting in the drawing up of a list of office bearers, the setting of fees and the choice of a name for the new lodge. It is strange how fate takes a hand – we could be celebrating the anniversary of Lodge Glen Mhor instead of Lodge Drummossie! The foregoing were the two suggestions at the meeting and following a vote, Drummossie won 9 to 6 over Glen Mhor.
Bro Johnstone was pressed to take the chair as the first RWM, but he refused, saying it was the intention that the Master and Wardens offices be occupied by brethren who had not previously passed through all the chairs.
The list of senior office bearers was as follows:
RWM – Donald Alister Matheson; DM – David Gordon; SM – Alex F Mackenzie PPGM; WSW – Duncan H McNeill; WJW – David Mackenzie; Secretary – Hugh C Mackintosh; Treasurer- Alistair M Johnstone; SD – John Matheson; JD – Donald B Grant; D of C – William Falconer; IG – James A Young; Tyler – James Milne.
The fees agreed upon were as follows:
Annual Dues 6/-
Life Membership £3.00
Initiation Fee £9.15/-
Founders’ Fee £4.4/-
It was also agreed that the colours of the new lodge would be “red and gold” and that it would meet on the second Friday of the month between September and March – except December.
Events moved very quickly following this meeting and the date for the Erection and Consecration of Lodge Drummossie No 1438 was fixed at Saturday 27th May 1949. The ceremony was to be carried out by the RW Substitute Grand Master Bro Dr Douglas Radford. Whether by accident or design, the list of founder members numbered 33, and these comprised some of the most prominent Freemasons in the North: Past Provincial Grand Masters Bros A F Mackenzie and H W Johnstone; the newly installed Provincial Grand Master Col Neil MacArthur; three future Provincial Grand Masters Bros Angus Lamont, Walter P Cameron and William Mackenzie; as well as a future Grand Master Mason Bro The Lord Macdonald of Sleat. Bro Alex F Mackenzie in particular was a renowned Freemason in Inverness – as well as being a Past Provincial Grand Master he was a Past Master of St Mary’s, St Columba, St Andrew No 601 and Seaforth No 854. “AF” as he was known, was a founder member of Lodge St Columba and agreed to take the office of Substitute Master in the new Lodge for its first year. Bro Mackenzie’s picture now has pride of place behind the senior warden’s chair in the lodge room in Inverness.
At the Erection and Consecration Meeting, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Inverness-shire was opened by Bro Dr Radford, and the new Lodge was then consecrated. The first man to occupy the chair of the Lodge was Bro A F Mackenzie PM while the office bearers were obligated and installed by Bro Hugh W Johnstone PPGM.
Following the ceremony the first applications for initiation were read, and one of these applicants, Mr James A Smith later became Lodge Drummossie’s first “home grown” RWM in 1958. Several donations of regalia and other items were intimated including the lodge jewels which had been made and gifted by the Depute Master Bro David Gordon and his son. These jewels had been plated by Bro Hugh Fraser, RWM of Lodge St Andrew No 601 (who also donated the Tyler’s sword), thus displaying an early example of inter-lodge fellowship.
The new Lodge had the blessing of all five lodges in the district, and indeed all five were represented in the roll of founder members. St Mary’s CO No 339 was heavily involved in the establishment of Drummossie – 17 brethren including 8 past masters were among the 33 founders.
At the lodge’s installation of office bearers on 11th November 1949, a deputation from Lodge St Andrew No 601 was present when Bro Hugh Fraser the RWM, was made an honorary member of Drummossie. A few days later, on the 16th, a deputation from Lodge Drummossie attended St Andrew’s No 601 where Bro David Gordon handed over a Director of Ceremonies’ baton which he had crafted from a yew tree taken from Drummossie Moor – the battlefield of Culloden. The baton was similar to one he and his son had made for Lodge Drummossie, and it was hoped that the presentation would assist in binding the two lodges together.
In the early days of Lodge Drummossie several notable brethren joined its ranks. Three early initiates were Bro D G F Chisholm (a well-known local character as well as a future RWM) who was number three on the roll while Bro W A E Fraser (the future town Provost) and his brother Bro D M “Len” Fraser (another future RWM) were number six and seven on the roll respectively. Stories concerning Bro Davie Chisholm are legion, but one incident occurred several years later when he took Bro W Falconer PM home one night after a meeting in one of the company cars (a hearse). Apparently Mrs Falconer was most perturbed to see the vehicle parked outside the door on returning home late that night!
Lodge Drummossie was not short of characters in those days, the type of person who people look back on with strong vivid memories. One of these was the first Tyler, Bro James Milne who worked at Lord Roberts’ Workshop near the old Public Baths. As was the case with all the employees there, Bro Milne had been seriously wounded in the First World War. Among other things, he had lost an eye, and must have looked a fearsome sight to new initiates who would have observed his eye patch with some alarm! Another individual who for obvious reasons was not even a Freemason was Mrs MacPherson, the caretaker at School Lane. She used to keep the building in immaculate condition, indeed the stairs were polished so vigorously that if a Brother slipped on the stairs he could always blame Mrs MacPherson’s zealous housekeeping. At harmonies following meetings in those days Mrs MacPherson would make the tea and produce several plates of rich tea biscuits which the stewards would carefully carry upstairs.
A noteworthy event recorded in the minutes in those early years occurred on 13th October 1950, when Bro W Shanks PM – a founder member - presented two beautiful stones to the lodge in a specially made box. It is believed that these stones are the ones used by the Lodge in Mark Degrees to this day. They were made by Bro Shanks’ brother-in-law, who was a skilled craftsman in Glasgow.
The Lodge’s first Divine Service was held at Daviot Church on 8th April 1951. The officiating minister that day was Bro Rev Dr J McPherson. Bro McPherson was obviously favourably impressed with Lodge Drummossie and began attending meetings regularly. He eventually became a member of the Lodge and was made Chaplain in November 1951 – a position he held until his death in 1980. Drummossie continued to hold its Divine Services in Daviot Church until 1985.
Drummossie was very lucky in its early choice of office bearers. Its first secretary was another long-serving stalwart – Bro Hugh Mackintosh, who held that office from the Lodge’s founding until 1965 and was deeply committed to its affairs. His hard work was rewarded by his being installed RWM in 1970 for one year. Apparently Hugh, when secretary, could often be seen pedalling his bicycle around the town asking people to do a part at a forthcoming meeting – the telephone certainly makes life easier for lodge masters and secretaries nowadays!
In January 1953 an anonymous founder member presented a new master’s chair to the Lodge. The IPM Bro D H McNeill, a well-known local solicitor, spoke highly of the generosity of the donor and hoped eventually the Lodge would have two wardens’ chairs to match. This never materialised but it is gratifying to note that Drummossie’s chair is still used today by all the Inverness lodges as the Immediate Past Master’s chair.
At this time Drummossie meetings were held in the old Trades Hall in School Lane, which was sub-let from St Andrew’s RA Chapter No 115. Drummossie was indeed fortunate to have a permanent home for such a long time, as opposed to the problems faced by Lodge St Columba No 1295, who had various homes over the years. Drummossie continued to hold meetings there until 1969, when the move to Gordon Terrace occurred. An interesting insight into costs in those days is evidenced when reading a minute from February 1953. The Lodge paid £1 per meeting in rent and were being asked to contribute to the costs of a new heating system. This was agreed and Drummossie contributed the princely sum of £6 to the project!
At the same meeting, the passing of Bro David Gordon PM was announced, Bro Gordon had made the Lodge jewels, was its second RWM and had been an enthusiastic supporter through its early life.
The Lodge received an even heavier blow in April 1956 when its founder Bro Hugh W Johnstone PPGM PSGW died. Bro Johnstone had been the driving force behind the foundation of the Lodge and had been a regular attendee despite his exalted rank and the pressing commitments that it placed upon him. At the annual installation meeting in November a suitable memorial was unveiled to him. The ceremony was recorded in the columns of the “Northern Chronicle” and the memorial, an altar, was described as follows:
“The altar, of chaste design, is of Spanish mahogany, the outstanding features being the three steps, four pillars and square top”.
The altar was finished off with a small bronze plaque bearing a suitable inscription. The dedication of the altar was performed by the Chaplain, Bro Rev Dr John McPherson and the praise included the 23rd Psalm – Bro Johnstone’s favourite. The actual unveiling was performed by Bro Dr Alex Buchan, Grand Secretary and Bro Robert Murray – a founder member of the Lodge and a great friend of Bro Johnstone. Following this short ceremony the installation was carried out by Bro Buchan assisted by Bro Dr Angus Lamont, PGM of Inverness-shire. The altar maintains a very special place in freemasonry in Inverness, it being one of the first things a new initiate sees on entering the Craft. There could have been no more fitting tribute to Bro Johnstone’s memory.
Lodge Drummossie for many years was known as “The Bobbies’ Lodge” due to its high police membership. This seems to have begun quite early in its history. An early initiate was Bro Hugh A Macleod who became RWM in 1961 and was number fifteen on the roll. Bro Alex Macdonald, who joined the Lodge in 1952 was an Inspector with the town police. He became Treasurer later that year and held that office until 1971. Perhaps Drummossie’s greatest coup was in recruiting the Chief Constable of the County Force Bro John Rattray Johnstone in 1963. Bro Johnstone was a fine ritualist and his rise through the Lodge ranks was swift, being installed WSW in November 1961.
However, tragedy struck in may 1962 when he died after a short illness. The RWM Bro Hugh Macleod paid a moving tribute to Bro Johnstone, which is recorded fully in the Minute Book:
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to place on record the death of our dearly beloved WSW Bro John Rattray Johnstone on 29th May 1962. This was his Mother Lodge and he served it faithfully and with infectious enthusiasm down the years. I have no doubt that had he been spared he would one day have occupied this Chair with distinction and would have gone down in the annals of Lodge Drummossie as one of its most illustrious Masters … of outstanding and recognised ability in his chosen vocation in life, it is, nevertheless as a man, humble and true that he will be gratefully remembered. In spite of his many gifts he remained of a quiet unassuming disposition, as fine a gentleman as you could meet in a long day’s journey. Today Brethren, the world is a poorer place because of the passing of Bro Johnstone, and we who are left mourn his passing …”
In April 1962 Bro Macleod led a very impressive deputation to Lodge Fort William’s regular meeting. The deputation of about a dozen brethren included two eminent founder members in its ranks – the Provincial Grand Master Bro Walter P Cameron and his Immediate Past, Bro Dr Angus Lamont. Bro Macleod had strong links with Lochaber, having served there for a number of years before he joined the Craft.
Around this time, discussions began between the four Inverness Lodges, with a view to building a new Masonic Temple in the town. It was agreed that all four Lodges would take equal shares totalling £300 each, the total capital required being £1200. On 25th March 1964 a company calling itself Masonic Properties (Inverness) Ltd was formed to mastermind the whole project.
On 22nd April 1966 a special supper and social evening was held in the Glen Mhor Hotel to recognise the service of Bro Hugh MacKintosh as Lodge Secretary, who had recently retired from that office. The RWM Bro W Brodie spoke of the outstanding service Bro MacKintosh had given to the Lodge during his seventeen years as secretary. A large gathering of past masters and brethren witnessed Bro D A Matheson PM present Bro MacKintosh with an apron case and cheque. The evening was brought to a close with “God Save the Queen” and “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”.
Another social event which took place that year was a boat trip down Loch Ness on “MV Scot II” – Bro R J MacKenzie, the secretary revealed in the minute book that no cases of seasickness were reported! The whole trip was deemed a huge success thanks to the entertainments committee headed by Bro J W A Thomson.
An important alteration to lodge ritual occurred in October 1966, when it was agreed to exclude the ancient penalties from our obligations. This had been under consideration for some time both in Inverness and Scotland as a whole, and Grand Lodge had expressed itself neutral on the subject – leaving it up to individual Lodges to decide. The motion was passed on the proposal of Bro K J Macleod JD, seconded by Bro W Copland DM. A sub-committee was formed in September 1967 to prepare the new Ritual for printing consisting of Bros W Copland, W Falconer PM and J W A Thomson.
At the turn of the year Grand Lodge announced its intention to build a Masonic Home at Ault Wharrie, and daughter Lodges were asked to contribute to the cost. Lodge Drummossie voted to donate £25, but this figure was surpassed after some successful fundraising by the brethren and their wives. The RWM Bro Copland and Bro H MacKintosh were present at the laying of the foundation stone in June 1967. At a social evening in April 1968, Mrs D A Matheson presented a cheque for £100 to Grand Secretary Bro Alex Buchan as its final contribution to the new home.
The Lodge held its last meeting in School Lane on 10th April 1969. The RWM Bro J W A Thomson stated that it was an historic occasion as the Lodge had met there for twenty years. The room above the new Masonic Club was to be Drummossie’s home for the next seven years, until the new Temple was completed in early 1976. The first meeting in the new hall was Lodge Drummossie’s Regular Meeting on 12th September 1969. Bro D Chisholm PM of St Mary’s CO No 339 said that it was fitting that the youngest Lodge in the town should be the first to hold a meeting in the new hall – which he believed to be the first meeting in the Hill District for at least 200 years. The plans were well under way by this time for the construction of the new Temple in Inverness. On Saturday 2nd August 1975, the RWM Bro J F Watt and brethren attended the laying of the foundation stone by the Provincial Grand Master Bro D Chisholm. Masonic Properties issued an appeal for furnishings from sister Lodges, and Drummossie were pleased to donate its altar and Master’s Chair, as well as £100.
Controversy raged following an advert in the “Inverness Courier” of 9th January 1976 intimating that the Masonic club planned to open on Sundays, subject to an amendment to the club constitution. Several brethren objected to this plan at Lodge Drummossie’s Regular Meeting that evening, including Bro G A Black IPM, and a proposal was approved in open lodge that Drummossie objected to any variation to the existing licence certificate. The Club Special General Meeting was awaited with interest, where eventually the proposed amendment to the constitution was defeated.
In early 1976, the Lodge suffered the passing of Bro H C MacKintosh PM to the Grand Lodge above. Bro MacKintosh had served the Lodge faithfully as secretary for many years and had been made RWM in recognition of his long service. A memorial fund was opened, and the money collected was used to purchase the H MacKintosh Memorial Shield for presentation to the Old High Church BB Company at the suggestion of Mrs MacKintsoh. This was presented to the BBS by Bro J F Watt PM.
Another sad event occurred in February 1978 when Bro W Falconer PM also passed beyond the veil. A rather unusual joint Funeral Lodge was held on 28th February by Lodge St Mary’s CO No 339 and Lodge Drummossie. Bro Falconer had been initiated in St Mary’s in 1930, had been a founder member of Lodge Drummossie in 1949 and its first Director of Ceremonies. He was installed RWM in 1954. After opening and adjourning the Lodge, Bro K McIntosh RWM of St Mary’s invited Bro R J Mackenzie RWM of Lodge Drummossie to close the Lodge following the funeral service.
On a lighter note, the first Provincial Grand Lodge Bowling Competition was held in August 1978, and the Lodge rink consisting of Bros Gary Nicol, George Jamieson, Colin Mann and Gordon Johnstone won the trophy donated by the Provincial Grand Master Bro D Chisholm. Lodge Drummossie have won the trophy no less than six times in all, and were recently the first Lodge to win four years in a row. Including as it does most craft Lodges in the Province, as well as several other orders, this is no mean feat.
Unfortunately, the Lodge has not been quite so successful in the Provincial Grand Lodge Golf Competition, however in May 1987 a team consisting of Bros Paul Maclean, Jim Hazle and Trevor Nicol were runners-up in the team competition. the following year the Lodge went one better and won the team prize. Bros Maclean and Hazle emulated their previous year’s performance, but this time were joined by Bro Hugh Macleod PM.
In September 1980 a large gathering numbering over 100 brethren witnessed a first degree worked entirely by policemen from the Police College, Tulliallan. The deputation was led by Bro P MacNab PM of Lodge Moncrieffe No 1332. The RWM Bro J A Cowie thanked the brethren from Tulliallan and stated that it was one of the finest degrees ever worked in Inverness. It is interesting to note that at the same meeting it was agreed in open Lodge that the office of Depute Master become non-progressive in order to shorten the promotion “ladder” to the Chair.
In November 1981 the Lodge’s first “second generation” Master was installed by Bro J W A Thomson PM. Bro Duncan Mackintosh was the son of the late Bro Hugh C Mackintosh PM. The installing Master was assisted by a fine team of Drummossie Past masters: Bros D G F Chisholm, J A Cowie, J F Watt and R J Mackenzie.
Bro R J Mackenzie PM or “Wee Roddy” as he is affectionately known received a singular honour from the Grand Lodge of Scotland in November 1982 when he was made an Honorary Junior Grand Deacon for his services to Freemasonry in the North of Scotland, particularly with Lodge Drummossie. Bro Roddy was initiated in Lodge Drummossie in 1960 and filled the office of Secretary for five years from 1965. He was installed RWM in 1976, but his finest hour was possibly in May 1989 when he agreed to accept the office of Substitute Provincial Grand Master under the Provincial Grand Master Bro Sam Horner – an admirer of Roddy’s for many years.
On Friday 12th September 1986 the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge of Scotland was celebrated in Inverness at Lodge Drummossie’s regular Meeting. A total of 118 brethren witnessed a 3rd Degree worked by representatives from all the local Lodges. The following week a deputation including Bros J Fraser WSW, A F Nicol DM, G F Nicol WJW and T Y Nicol SB attended the Grand Lodge rededication at Ingliston – a very moving and impressive ceremony.
In November 1988 a rather unique ceremony took place when Bro Alex Nicol was installed into the Chair of Lodge Drummossie. The Installing Master Bro R J Mackenzie PM had arranged for Alex’s sons Graeme, Gary and Trevor to present the working tools of the three degrees to the newly installed RWM. This thoughtful touch was much admired by the brethren who witnessed it. Bro Alex was followed into the Chair by his two sons Grame and Gary – another possibly unique event in Freemasonry in the North – this after having served the Lodge faithfully as Secretary for nine years.
Lodge Drummossie has had a fairly eventful first fifty years – a foundation has been laid on which it is hoped to raise a superstructure worthy of its founders. It has not always been easy being the “baby brother “of the Inverness Lodges, but it is believed that Drummossie has succeeded in making a useful contribution to the Province over the years. It is hoped that the next fifty years will see an end to the outside world’s suspicion of the Craft which has been the prevailing attitude of recent years, and that Lodge Drummossie, and Freemasonry in general, can look to the future with confidence.