On February 6th, 1826 Lodge St John Royal Arch Saltcoats and Ardrossan No.320 received its charter from Grand Lodge of Scotland. We were sponsored by Lodge Mother Kilwinning No.0 and Lodge St John Kilwinning Largs No.173. Initially we met in McBride’s Hall in Countess Street Saltcoats under the Chairmanship of Brother Dundas Smith.
Little is known about the following 28 years due to a terrible fire in 1861 which cost the Lodge dearly when all the records from 1827 to 1854 were lost.
On the evening of February 7th, 1894, the Brethren of Lodge Mother Kilwinning No.0 granted us a great honour by presenting the Lodge with a new setting maul. Praise indeed, as this maul was made from wood taken from the “Old Masonic Lodge” in Kilwinning. Over the years the Lodge has received several mauls as gifts from friendly Lodges, but to this day the R.W.M. of Lodge St John Royal Arch Saltcoats and Ardrossan No.320 still wields the maul presented by Lodge Mother Kilwinning No.0 over a century ago.
The Lodge had several homes for many years after the move to Ardrossan on September 12th, 1854 until February 1923 when the Lodge purchased Castlecraigs in Ardrossan for their meetings and paid the sum of £2,900. An imposing building located in the center of the town, built of fine red sandstone and with plenty of grounds including tennis courts.
At that time much of the grounds were laid in grass and a caretaker was employed to look after it. In June 1930 the caretaker sought permission from the Brethren to tether a goat on the grounds with the idea to keep the long grass down in the corners of the lawn where the mowing machine could not reach. Permission was duly granted, and a goat was tethered on the lawns for many years, and popular belief has it that the goat was tethered outside the doors of the building before meetings (see the photograph below).
In October 1940 the War Office informed the Lodge that the building was to be commandeered by the Royal Navy, therefore the Brethren were required to find alternative premises. Our neighbours, Lodge Neptune Kilwinning Saltcoats No.442 came to our aid and offered the right hand of friendship and we met there until 1946. On October 22nd, 1945 the Lodge voted on a motion put forward by several Brethren to dispose of Castlecraigs and all the grounds attached thereto in exchange for the old Town Hall. The result of the vote was 70 in favour of the move, and 21 against it. The transfer therefore went ahead and on 8th November 1946 after holding our installation ceremony in Lodge Neptune Kilwinning Saltcoats No.442, the Brethren travelled by private coach to the new premises in Ardrossan where we have met ever since. The Lodge Temple is in what was once the town court house and the adjacent flat was once the local police office and gaol.
The Lodge Crest (which can be seen at the top of the webpage) shows the town castle in the top right-hand corner. The Castle was built in 1280 and like many castles in the area was destroyed by the forces of General Monk on the orders of Oliver Cromwell. Many years later much of the stone work was removed to assist in the building of the Wallace Monument in the County town of Ayr. The Crest also depicts the Lodge building in the bottom left hand corner, the town Crest of Ardrossan in the bottom right hand corner, and the Square and Compasses in the top left corner. Designed by the late Brother Tom Young Martin P.M. the Crest is also to be found on the Lodge tie, our Mark Token, the 175th Anniversary Jewel, the Lodge key fob, and on the limited-edition commemorative Token struck to mark the Golden Jubilee of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II.
Castlecraigs Circa 1930. I apologise for the quality of this image, however it is almost 90 years old. If you look very closely, you can just about make out the image of the goat