Early Irvine Lodges
According to a minute of the Mother Lodge of Scotland(Kilwinning No0) there was a lodge in Irvine in 1757.No name is given and no trace of the lodge can be found. It may even have been Lodge" Irvine Navigation" whose Charter actually dates from 8th February 1762.Then No 110 on the Roll,it hit bad times(domestic troubles are suggested as the reason) and the Lodge moved to Monkton.
The Lodge number was changed to 81 probably in 1817,but by that time membership had fallen off and meetings were seldom held. In 1827 it was proposed that the Lodge move to the new thriving town of Troon but ten years passed before the first meeting was held in Troon on 27th April 1837. Next year the Lodge was renamed "Troon Navigation" though still retaining the "Irvine Charter". The number changed to 86, this being the third number allocated.
Our Ancient Minute Book
The origin of Lodge Irvine St Andrew,originally allocated the number 198 and now 149,is more or less shrouded in mystery for the ancient Charter is to all intents and purposes indecipherable.The Minute Books of the past are lodged with the Grand Lodge of Scotland and it is hoped that a perusal or the records , if possible will give some clues to the establishment of the Lodge.
During the First World War the Temple was requisitioned by the military and the Charter was lost only to be discovered by a painter who found it jammed into one of the ventilators in the ceiling of the temple. Stained and sodden,the parchment was rescued from destruction, dried out and framed. For many years it hung on the Lodge -Room wall but it is now placed on the desk in front of the right Worshipful Master .Whether vandalism, thoughtlessness or carelessness caused its disappearance we shall never know, but it is a treasured possession which is faithfully preserved and passed on from master to master.
The charter was granted to the Lodge on 17th February 1780 and although there was no regular set meeting place the "Wheat Sheaf Inn" next to the Jail Close in High Street seems to have been in frequent use. The "Wheat Sheaf" has long since disappeared and the "Horse-Shoe Bar" which was next door is now a Chip-Shop (know as Black Mamas). In 1862 the Lodge purchased the "Masonic Arms" in the Kikgate so we can assume that although the Lodge had no settled home till that year Freemasonry was flouring in the Royal Burgh.
By the end of the 19th century the Lodge was able to think of bigger and better premises and soon the present Masonic Temple was built in Bank Street. The structure consists of four shops at street level. two large halls one above the other and above them a small flat to be occupied by the caretaker.
The foundation stone was laid on the 23rd April 1904 by Bro. Major William Mure ( of Caldwell) the cost ot the building was £3,416
The idea of building two halls was prompted by the fact that the Salvation Army wished to be tenants, part-time of the lower hall which at other times could be let for dances, concerts etc. This arrangement worked well for a time until the Salvation Army obtained premises in Glasgow Vennel. The lower hall became something of a "white Elephant" but is now a valuable asset to the Lodge as a Masonic Social Club.
It may be noted that in 1893 the Lodge was know as "St Andrew's" but the apostrophe "s" has long since been dropped and the 149 is now simply "St Andrew".
The Masters mallet
Behind the Masters chair are the Past Masters panels which contain 75 names, some of which appear more than once.One panel bears the names of seven Masters of the Harbour Lodge No 676 which amalgamated in 1910, having been instituted in 1882.That Lodge's apron was edged with blue and for many years after 1910 the working aprons in our Lodge were a mixture of the red of 149 and the blue of 676.
Among the Past masters who have served the Lodge are three founder members of Irvine Burns Club.
Dr John McKenzie a friend of the poet,was Master for 18 of the years between 1805 and 1826. He also married Miss Millar the fine one of the six "Belles of Mauchline", as referred to by Burns in his poem of the same name.
Robert Rankine senior from 1816 to 1819 and in 1827 and 1828.
Maxwell Dick, printer and joint inventor of the screw propeller,was Master from 1849 to 1851.
Other members of the Lodge who are worthy of a mention are Richard Brown the sailor who befriended and influenced Burns when he stayed in Irvine. There is also Ross Anderson Tollerton V.C. A replica of the Victoria Cross now hangs in the Temple, a gift from Bro Archibald Chalmers Provincial Grand Master of Ayrshire and P.M. of Lodge Thistle No 127.
Also hanging in the Temple is an original apron dating from 1886 which was presented to the Lodge by Bro. Kenneth Sandman P.M.of Crusader Lodge No 5938 EC., grandson of Bro .William John Harrison who was initiated in 1884.