Pioneers and Founders - what visions these words have conjured up in the minds of men down through the ages. Our story in this early stage of the twenty first century is not concerned with the daring exploits of intrepid explorers who have crossed the burning sands of the desert, the frozen polar regions, or the penetration of the jungles in the humid tropical countries, but it is concerned in kindling in the hearts of all the members of Lodge Craigielea a greater appreciation of the boundless heritage and opportunities left to us by the Brethren, who by their vision and untiring efforts, founded our Lodge.
These Brethren whose faith in Freemasonry was built on an unshaken belief, veneration and reverence for brotherly love, desiring the good of all men and at this time, it is with grateful hearts we pause to pay tribute and honour the founder members of our Lodge, who built an edifice in their native town founded on the principles held dear to them, a system of morality, as their contribution to their day and generation.
What manner of men were these founders of Lodge Craigielea, and what were the conditions prevailing in the town of Paisley, which prompted these brethren to further the interests of Scottish Freemasonry, by accepting the herculean task of founding and establishing a new Lodge? It can be said that our Founders sought no fame or acclaim in the task which they had dedicated themselves. Their vision was the realisation of brotherly love, creative and all pervading. They were without doubt, brethren of sincere modesty, and they were endowed with their native spirit of personal independence, together with an admiration for the dignity of daily toil and craftmanship.
Our Founders faced their heavy responsibilities, pledged equally to participate in the pleasures of real happiness and to offer sympathy and render help to their fellow men who were less fortunate than themselves. The Brethren of Lodge Craigielea reverently salute all our Founders. We offer thanks to The Great Architect that these Brethren, by their efforts and their faith in the tenets of our Order, enabled their successors in Lodge Craigielea to further the interests of our Craft and we in our gratitude now hail them as true disciples of brotherly love who kept the faith.
The Time and Place
The 11th November 1918 and as the eleventh hour of that fateful day struck, the town of Paisley in common with the cities, towns and villages of our country were quite unable initially to fully appreciate that an armistice had been signed. In the spring of the following year a great resurrection was beginning throughout the length and breadth of country. Men who had fought in the defence of their country were being demobilised and returning home to their loved ones, resolved to devote their energies where the dignity of all men would be the prime consideration and it was significant that a number of these returning service men would become interested in Freemasonry.
Since the consecration of the first Masonic Lodge in Paisley, the members have always been pillars of strength in the furtherance of the principles and tenets of the Order as laid down by the Grand Lodge of Scotland and a great source of help to the guiding hands of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Renfrewshire East. In 1919, the town of Paisley had three Masonic Lodges within its confines
- Paisley St.Mirrins No. 129
- Renfrew County Kilwinning No.370
- Paisley St.James No.1116
As the year 1919 progressed an embarrassing situation developed, in Paisley's three Masonic Lodges, by the numerous applications for membership from the returning servicemen who were anxious to make their contribution through Freemasonry in building a better world. Despite the fact that Lodges at that period had no limit on the number of initiates at their meetings, they found they were unable to cope with the applications for membership. These conditions led to the inevitable demand from the Brethren of the Order that a new Lodge should be formed.
It is interesting to record that prior to the first formal meeting of the proposed new Lodge, a series of informal gatherings took place in various parts of the town by Brethren concerned in the project. The first formal meeting of the proposed new Lodges was convened on the 9th February 1920 in the Masonic Hall, 96 High Street Paisley and was presided over by Bro. James Simpson of Lodge St.Mirins No. 129.
The 10th May 1920 will always be regarded in Lodge Craigielea as an important milestone in its history. For on that day, the Founder Members assembled, were solemnly informed that the Grand Lodge of Scotland had on the 6th May 1920 granted a charter in the name of Lodge Craigielea and giving the Lodge number as 1218.
The final meeting of the erection period was held on the 7th June 1920, when the Founders heard that a communication from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Renfrewshire East had been received informing them that the ceremony of Erection and Consecration to be followed by the Installation of Office Bearers of the Lodge would take place in the Masonic Hall, 96 High Street, Paisley on the 28th June 1920, by the Provincial Grand Master, Bro. John Pattison.
The First Decade 1920 - 1930
The First Decade can be aptyly described as the brightest star in Lodge Craigielea's firmament. This period was without a doubt the Founders Era, as for good or ill, the fate of Lodge Craigielea now rested in thier guiding hands
When a member is elected to the Chair of a Lodge he attains the peak position in Scottish Freemasonry at Lodge level and during the period under review, the Lodge was indeed fortunate in electing to the Chair, ten Brethren, all Founder Members, to guide its destiny in the initial important years of its history.
The Second Decade 1930 - 1940
The Second Decade in the history of Lodge Craigielea was viewed with not a little apprehension by the Brethren, for during this period the destiny of the Lodge was to be guided by the initiates of the Lodge with one exception - William C. Campbell who had been tireless in his efforts in building the structure of the Lodge as a Founder Member.
To James Tumath fell the honour of attaining the Chair of the Lodge - the first initiate to be thus honoured and he was followed by:
- William C. Campbell
- Hugh W. Neilson
- Walter G. Taylor
- Nathaniel Corstorphine
- George Pirie
- John Gailey
- Robert T. Baird
- Archibald M. Lindsay
The Third Decade 1940 - 1950
These years were again dominated by world events, chiefly the Second World War and the uneasy but heady post war years. Applications for membership rolled in and it is interesting to note that 435 candidates were initiated into the Lodge during this decade as compared to 119 during the preceding decade. This influx of initiates reached its peak in the 1943-44 when no no fewer than 67 candidates were initiated.
The Fourth Decade 1950 - 1960
In the 50's the Lodge continued to grow in stature and influence in the Province and in the community. The Temple at 20 Hight Street which had for so long been the home of Lodges St. James 1116, Gleniffer 1219 and Craigielea 1218, had through the years become a centre of Masonic activity second to none in the area. So far as was known this state of affairs would continue indefinitely, but this was not to be. In the spring of 1957 notice was received by the halls committee of the termination of the lease on the 28th May. After a brief period of nine months in temporary premises in the Liberal Club Hall at 32 High Street, a recommendation was proposed and approved by all 3 lodges to buy the premises at 68 Maxwellton Road, Paisley and work was quickly started, much of it by volunteers, to suit it to its new purposes.
The new Temple was dedicated on 10th May 1958 and Lodge Craigielea held her first meeting on 10th February 1958 in her new home.
The Fifth Decade 1960 -1970
These years saw a drop in membership and subsequently the Lodge found it harder to find members willing to take on the responsibilities of office in the Lodge. However, under a succession of worthy Masters, namely John Goodfellow, James Gaston, James C. Kirkwood, John Hindle, Isaac K. Lindsay, Matthew Stewart, William Park, Robert J. Magowan, John Lindsay and John Gibson, there was always a band of Past Masters. Office Bearers and Brethren who still believed in the validity of our principles.
As it continues...
We of the year 2017, as we approach our centenary year, are part of the Lodge's continuing future. We hope that we have kept the faith of our Founders and their dream and have nurtured the trust which has for a time been vested in us. We now pass on that trust to our successors, confident that they too will keep the faith.