This era seemed to be a bit of a anti-climax following the Lodges Centenary as the problems of finance and maintenance came back to haunt the Lodge with a vengeance. By December 1975 the Lodge was deep in debt and the bank refused to give a loan to bail out the financial problems. It would appear that the lack of financial foresight on the part of the Lodge over a long period of time had jeopardised the Lodges very future.
This was the greatest financial problem the Lodge had faced since 1880 when the Lodge became dormant.
The Lodge looked at various ways of solving the problem including using the Benevolent Fund to support the General Fund (which had been done in the past) but Provincial Grand Lodge vetoed the proposal. However the Lodges own Members rallied round to assist the Lodge financially. The only long-term solution available to the Lodge was to form a social club to generate income—This was a key moment in the history of the Lodge. If the club had not been formed it seems there was no way the Lodge would have survived.
The Kenburn club eventually opened in May 1977 and by the following March it had already cleared £1800 of debt. The Lodges immediate future was once again secure.
The next Meeting after the Centenary Rededication was held on 10/9/1975 at which a letter was read from Bro. Robert Woolridge Gordon of Esselmont, Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, thanking the Lodge for its hospitality at the meeting and the meal.
The Lodge then closed its Centenary Fund and transferred the remaining balance to the beleaguered General Fund. At this same Meeting the Lodge decided to increase its Initiation Fees to the Grand Lodge minimum.
The galloping inflation of the seventies was shown in the cost of retiring Masters gift – this was increased to £60 at the Meeting on 8/18/1975.
13 Brethren were presented for the Mark Degree on 22/10/1975 with Bro. T Wilson PM and Bro. G Thornberry PM carrying out the work. At the same Meeting it was announced that Centenary photographs were available at a cost of £1.25 each.
Bro. Matt Barclay was elected Master and duly Installed on 28/11/1975. At this same Meeting it was reported that A Fire Escape would have to be constructed to comply with Building Regulations.
A critical Meeting for the future of the Lodge was held on 17/12/1975—This was an Emergency Meeting. Although, in truth, it was more of a crisis Meeting. The purpose of this Meeting was to discuss the financial state of the Lodge---The Treasurer, Bro. Norman Brown reported the Lodge had “heavy debts” and he had visited the bank on the Lodges behalf and had been refused a loan. He also reported that although the General Fund was depressed the Benevolent Fund was extremely healthy.
The Lodge discussed these financial problems and the sale of the property was mentioned to try to resolve these issues. At the conclusion the Treasurer was instructed to approach the bank again to try to secure a small loan while the Lodge considered its options. The Lodge that night held two collections—both for the General Fund, which raised over £50. All the Brethren contributed to this, and as it says in the Minutes “even the Senior Citizens”
So how had the Lodge come to this point of virtual finance collapse?
It seems there were various issues, which contributed to the Lodges financial plight;
- The Centenary had certainly impacted heavily on the General Fund of the Lodge and there did not seem to be a distinct strategy to deal with the costs involved. The Lodge had only considered Centenary celebrations the previous year(1974) and no obvious fundraising was carried out other than a jumble sale! This would seem an inadequate time period to cover the expenses of the Centenary. Given the expenses involved in organising such an event this must have been a particularly severe burden on the finances of the Lodge.
- The costs of maintenance were increasing in line with the age of the building and there was no maintenance strategy in place to deal with these costs. The reserve fund set to cover maintenance expenditure had already been plundered in 1965 to prop up the General Fund and never re-instated.
- The rateable value of the premises increased dramatically at this point. From the Minutes it appears that this was the straw that broke the camels’ back.
- The Lodge had only been charging the minimum rate for Initiation and did not benefit financially from the intake of candidates (even though this number had also reduced.)
- The Lodge was slow in recognising the spiralling costs of inflation in the seventies and as such rents were not increased to take cognisance of this.
- The Lodge purchased new Regalia to celebrate the Centenary at a cost of over £600 that would have detracted from donations to the General Fund. Perhaps this money should not have been spent on Regalia as the Lodge was obviously heavily in debt.
- The Lodge was facing a cost for the construction of a fire escape in the wake of a change in Fire Regulations.
Some of the causes were more responsible than others for the sorry financial plight of the Lodge. However the bottom line was that the Lodge had dug a financial hole for itself and unless something was done to get out of this hole the Lodge would, as occurred in 1880, be finished due to financial problems.
The Lodge at the next Regular Meeting on 28/12/1975 handed out appeal sheets to the Brethren to raise funds. Controversially a Notice of Motion was put forward “ To allow the Benevolence Fund to be used for General Fund purposes when required”. This Notice of Motion was considered on 28/1/1976 and Bro. Sam Sloan PM advised the Lodge that this contravened Grand Lodge Law. Although a vote was taken and the Motion prevailed 35-5. However Provincial Grand Lodge refused to sanction this illegal Bye-law change and the matter dropped. At the same Meeting it was reported that the Master would meet with the Corporation to “discuss the debts”. The Lodge also received a very healthy donation of £277 at this Meeting.
Despite the ongoing financial problems of the Lodge, Masonic work continued and on 18/2/1976 Bro. Edward Murray PM gave a lecture at the Lodge of Instruction on “Freemasonry in Prisoner of War Camps” based on his experiences as a Prisoner of War during World War 2 near Singapore. Further Lodges of Instruction were held in March and April with Lectures from Bro. A Grant PM on Lodge Bonhill No 321 and from Bro. R Walker IPM on King Solomon’s Temple.
The Meeting on 25/2/1976 was an important one as this was the first time that the idea of opening a Social Club was raised. Bro. James Walker had visited the Ellengowan Social Club to see how it functioned and he had also met with the Brewers representatives to gauge their interest.
The idea of forming a Social Club was moving apace by the next Meeting on 24/3/1976 by which time plans had been approved and Membership forms were available.
At the Meeting on 14/4/1976 a Notice of Motion was put forward by Bro. D Abernethy WSW seconded by Bro. T Wilson PM---“ The Lodge Building be put forward for security for the purpose of obtaining a loan to carry out the necessary alterations required to comply with the Fire Regulations and Sanitary Standards.” This was passed at the Meeting on 12/5/1976. For the first time since the Building was constructed in 1909 the Lodge did not hold the title deeds. Bro. J Walker also gave a report on the Social Committee activities and Bro. A Tasker PM reported that once again he had been runner-up in the district whist tournament.
Arrangements for the formation of a Social Club continued with Bro. J Walker, at the Meeting on 26/5/1976, reporting that he had met with the Provincial Grand Master and Provincial Grand Secretary.
The Lodge approved the formation of a joint Lodge and Club Committee comprising Master, Immediate Past Master, Depute Master, Substitute Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Secretary and Treasurer at the Meeting on 8/9/1976. At this same Meeting the Lodge cancelled the Annual Dance due to a poor response.
Inflation was evident again in the rise in cost for the retiring Masters Jewel and Apron, which had increased, from £60 to £70. Bro. D Abernethy WSW was elected as Master and duly installed on 26/11/1976.
The work for the construction of a new fire escape was planned and this was underway by 12/1/1977.
Honorary Membership was conferred on two Brethren at the meeting on 9/3/1977---Bro. Rev. John Stewart Provincial Grand Chaplain ( who had carried out the dedication of the new Regalia in August 1975) and Bro. Robert Cavan of Lodge Caledonian Railway No 354.
The Lodge revisited its Bye-laws to raise the Initiation Fee to £20—The minimum allowed by Grand Lodge at the Meeting on 25/5/1977.
The Kenburn Social Club officially opened its doors on 14/5/1977 for a Cabaret and Dance. The Cabaret being Andy Cameron with the cost of a ticket for this gala event being £1 with numbers limited to 150. This was an extremely successful event and the same formula was followed on 18/6/1977 when Benn Gunn provided the Cabaret.
Work to the Building was still not complete although at the Meeting on 24/8/1977 the Master Bro. D Abernethy explained the work was nearing completion. At the next Meeting on 14/9/1977, in answer to a question, Bro. D Abernethy Master explained how the Club would function financially and also explained the Ownership of the Club.
At the Meeting on 28/9/1977 it was reported that the Lodge of Instruction was under review as attendances were very poor.
The cost of the presentation to the retiring Master took a massive increase when the Notice of Motion increased from £70 to £160---A sign of the times.
Bro. Henry Eadie was elected Master and duly Installed on 25/11/1977. At that same Installation Bro. Thomas Lochhead was Installed into the Office of Bible-Bearer which is an Office he still occupies today (2000)
Lodge Rothesay St John No 292 visited on Saturday 25/2/1978 with a Meeting with a 5.30PM start with a cabaret to follow. The Lodge reciprocated this visit on 15/4/1978 when a Third Degree was carried out by Past Masters.
Bro. Henry Eadie Master reported at the Meeting on 22/3/1978 that since its formation in May 1977, the Kenburn Club had now paid £1800 of the Lodge debts and appealed for continued support for the Club.
Two interesting pieces of information are contained in the Minutes of the Meeting of 26/4/1978. The rateable value of the premises had now increased to £1867 per year, and the Pensioners bus run for that year would now visit Dunoon.
The lack of interest shown in the Lodge of Instruction was demonstrated by the cancellation of the May Meeting at the Regular Meeting held on 10/5/1978. At this same Meeting the Lodge had a far travelled visitor in the person of Bro. D McInnes of Lodge St Michael, Bahamas No 1634.
It was with sadness that the Lodge recorded the death of Bro. D Whyte PM(1928) at the Meeting on 14/6/1978.
At the AGM of 1978 held on the 8th of November, it was with sadness that the Lodge recorded the death of Bro. John McLeod PM(1945). At this same Meeting Bro. Ian Walker was elected as Master and duly Installed on 24/11/1978.
The Lodge entered a new competition on 14/3/1979 when it was recorded that 2 teams entered the Provincial Grand Lodge five-a-side competition( now termed the unarmed combat competition !). Alas no record of the outcome.
Bro. George Thornberry PM stood down as Secretary on 11/4/1979 due to ill health and this Office was filled by Bro. Norman Brown PM who was also the Treasurer.
At the following Meeting held on 25/4/1979 a lecture was delivered by Bro. A Forfar PM Partick St Marys Lodge No 117 on “Freemasonry in Belgium at the time of World War 2”. At this same Meeting a cheque was presented to the Lodge for £163 in respect of a dance held in The Royal Stuart Hotel.
Bro. G Thornberry PM was welcomed back to the Lodge after illness on 22/8/1979. However Bro. Norman Brown PM still continued as Secretary.
At the Meeting on 12/9/1979 it was reported that the Lodge had progressed to the final of the Bowling Rinks competition but had been beaten by The Bridgeton and Glasgow Shamrock and Thistle Lodge No 275.
Lodge Rothesay St John No 292 were due to come to Lodge Kenmuir on 27/10/1979 but were forced to call off due to lack of numbers—This necessitated rescheduling the Meeting for 31/10/1979 to allow the Degree to proceed during the week.
The AGM was held on 14/11/1979 and it was agreed to set aside £170 for a Jewel and Apron for the retiring RWM. Bro. Hugh Tollan was elected as Master and duly Installed on 23/11/1979 as Master.
Bro. Norman Brown PM carried out the last Degree of the 1970s on 12/12/1979 being a First Degree on Bro. Edward Taylor.