Stevenston Thistle and Rose Royal Arch Chapter No.436
The Charter for Stevenston Thistle and Rose Chapter No. 436 was issued/dated on the 20th September 1918. There were twenty one signatories on the Charter.
R. Watson * T. Dickson *
W.S. Campbell R. McEwan *
W. Hutchinson ** D. Beattie *
A. Stewart Cameron * J. McDonald
F. Stevenson * J. Wilson **
W. Cummings G. Mclntyre *
D. Toole * C. Mclntyre
R. McCulloch Grahame * J. Aitchison Reid Cree *
D. Wallace * J. Goslin *
T. Burnside * A. Agnew *
F. C. Bounds
* These Companions provided the first allocation of Office-Bearers at our first monthly meeting held in the Masonic Temple, New Street, Stevenston on the 6th November 1918.
** These Companions were in attendance.
The only other Companion in attendance at the meeting was Andrew (Nicolson?) from Chapter 111.
The Supreme Grand Office Bearers who signed the Charter were:
Peter Spence, Depute Grand Z
Samuel Duncan, Grand H
John Sime, Grand J
Aylmer Hunter-Weston, Grand Scribe E
D. Turnbull, Grand Scribe N
G.N. Langland, Grand Treasurer
B. Langley Mills, Acting Grand Chancellor
MEC Falconer, Grand Recorder
The Supreme Grand SE asked if we would alter the name to Thistle and Rose, Stevenston. This was refused, staying with the entry on the Petition Form.
The Chapter was consecrated, and office-bearers installed, on the 24th October 1918 by a deputation headed by Archibald, Earl of Cassillis – ME Provincial Grand Superintendent.
The first minuted reference to a Vault was dated the 2nd of February 1955. The 1st Principal reported that the Committee of Lodge 169 were in general agreement that a Vault should be provided in the New Temple, and it was left to EC J. Clark to interview the architect for further information. EC T.D. Sandford PZ proposed that we make provision for the expending of £200 for the construction of a Vault. This was seconded by EC A. Allison PZ. MEC L Gazely was MEZ at the time. (NOTE - this sum of £200 is roughly equivalent to £15,000 at today’s prices.)
The Lodge had agreed to take out a bond, with the Royal Arch responsible for the bond along with expenses and interest.
The Vault was the first in Ayrshire. MEC W. Steveley PZ (who had been initiated into Freemasonry in Stevenston in 1907) was the designer of the Shettleston Clydesdale No. 489 Vault and prepared identical working plans for the 436 Vault. The Companions started a ‘buy-a-brick’ scheme (4/- a brick), and numerous other financial contributions were made.
The initial drawings of the Vault were an exact copy of the Shettleston vault, and a deputation of 13 Companions from 436 visited Clydesdale on the 16th January 1960 to inspect their vault in person. The layout of the Master’s Room and the location of the Vault stairs meant that the actual hole was slightly smaller than that at Clydesdale, and therefore so was the Vault. Eventually, the chosen option for the Vault decoration was a simpler design than 489’s. It was one based on the decoration of the Supreme GRA Chapter’s Vault in Edinburgh. Companion W. Gibb was responsible for the Vault decoration.
The Vault is officially known as the Gazely Memorial Vault, in memory of Leonard H. Gazely PZ. MEC T.D. Sandford Senior PZ conducted this short service on the 4th January 1966 in memory of Companion Gazely (his death was minuted on the 7th September 1965).
There is also an Appreciation Plaque in the Vault, which was erected on the 20th October 1961 by the Companions of the Chapter indicating their thanks to MEC P. Butcher MEZ and MEC L. Gazely for “their interest and enthusiasm in constructing and decorating the Vault”. In addition, there is a Visitors Book, the first signatory being the Earl of Galloway followed by the Office-Bearers of Supreme, dated the 6th May 1961.
MEC P. Butcher stated at the Convocation on the 6th May 1960 that work had started on the Vault. The total cost to the Chapter for all aspects of work associated with the Vault was nearly £300 (insurance in 1961 was a yearly premium of 5/- for £200 cover). The initial sum of £200 did not include the stairs, the wood or the paint.
The ﬁnal £25 was paid to Lodge 169 on the 2nd May 1961, clearing all debt before the Consecration ceremony on the 6th of May. The Ceremony of Consecration and Dedication of the Vault was held on Saturday 6th May 1961 at 3:00pm.
Companions, including Deputations, assembled in the Temple and thereafter the Chapter was opened by ME Companion Philip J. Butcher ME 1st Principal of Chapter 436.
The Ofﬁce-Bearers of the Provincial Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ayrshire were headed by ME Companion James Pirrie, Provincial Grand Superintendent. He was assisted by another nineteen members of Provincial. Within this deputation was MEC J.W. Butcher, Past Assistant Grand Standard Bearer of the Grand Chapter of England, who was introduced to his son, our MEZ Companion Philip Butcher. MEC Butcher Senior, had made a special journey from London for the occasion.
The Ofﬁce-Bearers of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland were led by ME Companion, The Right Honourable, the Earl of Galloway, the First Grand Principal (Presiding). This Deputation consisted of sixteen members of Supreme. Also in attendance were one hundred and eighteen Companions, including the Ofﬁce-Bearers of 436. In total the ceremony was attended by one hundred and ﬁfty-four Companions.
Visitors present included Companions from Chapters 17, 18, 32, 91,
111, 114, 223, 250 EG 3, 253, 254, 257, 285, 430, 461, 480, 481, 489, 498, 501, 541, 575, 674, 781, Provincial Grand Chapter of Renfrewshire, plus seven MEZs.
Psalms 23 and 122 plus Hymn 229 were sung, and a Scripture Reading from the Book of Nehemiah was given by ME Comp P. Butcher, MEZ 436.
The Consecration and Dedication of the Vault was carried out by ME Comp The Earl of Galloway. He, along with ME Comp P. Butcher also addressed the assembled Companions.
MEC L. Gazely received a Mark Jewel, and MEC T.D. Sandford Jnr along with EC W. Gibb each received a New Edition of the Bible for their hard and complicated work in completing the Vault.
NOTE these important dates:
1. The Foundation Stone for the New Masonic Temple was laid on the 18th June 1955.
2. The Official Consecration of the Temple was on the 30th June 1956.
3. The first regular meeting was held on the 10th July 1956.
4. The ﬁrst regular Royal Arch Convocation in the New Temple was held on the 27th August 1956
Past Principals Board
The matter of erecting a Past Principal’s Board within the Temple was first raised on the 4th December 1957. By the 5th May 1959, permission had been granted by Lodge 169 to install a Board in the foyer of the Lodge.
On the 5th December 1961 Companion W. Allison volunteered to undertake the gold leaf lettering on the Board.
5th February 1963 - the Board was to be placed on the N.E. wall of the Temple, as granted by the Property Committee of Lodge 169. MEG Superintendent James Hamilton was to be invited to unveil the Board.
On the 5th March 1963 the ceremony took place, and MEC D. Smith thanked the MEG Superintendent and also MEC T.D. Sandford Jnr and Companion W. Allison for their work in preparing the Board. Companion W. Allison refused any payment.
World Wars I and II
Stevenston Thistle & Rose Chapter No 436 is unusual, in a Scottish context, in being granted its Charter during the hostilities of WW1.
Chapter No 435 is Chapter Hope from Calabar in S.E. Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon. Chapter No 437 is Chapter Orient from Nairobi in Kenya (436 was the only Ayrshire Chapter constituted during WW1 and WW2).
The Charter was signed on the 20th September 1918, before the Armistice was signed with Germany at 5:00am on Monday the 11th November 1918 in a railway coach in the Compiegne Forest in northern France (at 11:00am the guns fell silent).
Many local men served during the Great War, especially in the County Regiment which was the Royal Scots Fusiliers, but there were exemptions (reserved occupations or professions) even after the Universal Conscription Bill was passed in May 1916.
Eight members of Lodge 169 died during WW1. It is unknown if any of these fatalities were Royal Arch Masons.
Another piece of relevant background information comes from the 1921 Census, which informs us that the population of Stevenston at this time was 8,244, and the town had 1,606 houses (today’s population is 9,330). Although the population has grown, the density has diminished.
WW2 - On the day Britain declared war on Germany, the 3rd September 1939, Parliament immediately passed the National Service (Armed Forces) Act, which replaced the Military Training Act of May 1939.This Act imposed conscription on all males aged between 18 and 41, who had to register for service. Exemptions included the medically unfit and others in key industries such as farming, medicine, baking and engineering.
On 7th April 2015, MEC Alex McLatchie presented a lecture on the history of Stevenston Thistle & Rose Royal Arch Chapter No. 436 within the temple. This brief history has been extracted from that informative lecture.