Sandbank Masonic Lodge


The foundations for the erection of a lodge of Freemasons in the village of Sandbank were first laid at a preliminary meeting of brethren from Sandbank, Ardnadam, Kilmun, Strone and Blairmore; held in Rose Linn Cottage Ardnadam in 1869.

Of the seven brethren present, six were Master Masons of Lodge Dunoon Argyll No. 335 whilst the seventh member and  chairman of the meeting, Bro. James Moir Cousins, was a Master Mason of Lodge Shamrock and Thistle, Glasgow no. 275.  He was however also an affiliate member of Lodge Dunoon Argyll and was in fact serving as Right Worshipful Master  of the Dunoon lodge at the time of this meeting*.  Bro. Cousins tendered his resignation to Lodge Dunoon Argyll in the March of 1879 and it was duly accepted although it does appear that there was some level of schism created between the Dunoon lodge and the proposed new lodge.  This theory is supported by the fact that there is no mention whatsoever of the formation of the Sandbank lodge in the minutes of Lodge Dunoon Argyll for that year.

In addition to the seven brethren present at the meeting, four further names were added to a subscription sheet showing a total of Nine Pounds and Ten Shillings towards the erection of the proposed Lodge.  It was moved and seconded unanimously that the first name of the lodge be St. Munn.  It was then moved that the second name be Holy Loch but a counter proposal was put forward that it be Ardnadam.  The vote went 4 to 3 in favour of the latter.  The meeting was then closed with a vote of thanks and a proposal that James Moir Cousins be the first Right Worshipful Master.

One of the members present at this original meeting was the aptly named Reverend Gavin Mason, the local minister of Sandbank Parish Church who went on to serve as the Secretary and the Right Worshipful Master of the lodge.  When he died he was buried in the grounds of his church  and to this day his gravestone is passed by the brethren of his lodge every time they attend their regular meetings in the Church hall.

Amongst the other brethren whose names were appended to the petition finally sent to Grand Lodge are a large and varied list of mother lodges including: Mother Kilwinning No. 0, Glasgow St Mungo’s No. 27, Doric Kilwinning No. 68 (Port Glasgow), Greenock St. John No. 75, St. Marks at Glasgow No. 102, Glasgow Shamrock & Thistle No. 275, Dunoon Argyll 335, Royal Arch West Kilbride No. 314 and The Athole Lodge No. 384 (Kirkintilloch).  Supporters of the petition included Bro. James Muir, RWM of Lodge Greenock St John No. 175 and Bro. Andrew Boag, Provincial Grand Secretary of Renfrewshire West.

The charter for Lodge St. Mun Ardnadam No. 496 was granted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland on 8th November 1869

The first meeting of the lodge was held in the Workman’s Club, Ardnadam on the 12th November 1869 at 7pm.  Three candidates for initiation were read out and passed.  They received their Entered Apprentice degrees that same night.

At the regular meeting on the 17th of December 1869 the colours of the Lodge were decided upon by a vote of ten to two in favour of Royal Blue against the Campbell tartan.  This is an important decision for any Scottish lodge as the colour of the regalia plays a big part in the lodge identity and no doubt much discussion took place before a decision was reached. At the same meeting it was agreed to hold every third meeting in the Kilmun area.  This practice has continued through the years albeit to a lesser extent in recent times.  The last meeting held there took place in 2005.

Other significant events during that first year included the purchase of jewels and furniture for the lodge on the 18th March 1870 the lodge secured by a Twenty Five pounds loan from the Right Worshipful Master.  On the 16th September 1870 the lodge was asked to send a deputation to Grand Lodge in Edinburgh to see the Prince of Wales installed as Patron of the Masonic Order in Scotland.  At an emergency meeting on the 25th of October 1870 Mr Hugh McArthur was entered, passed and raised in the three degrees of Freemasonry in the one night as he was leaving the next day to take up his post as lighthouse keeper for the Cumbrae Trustees.

On the 8th of November 1870 the lodge held an anniversary dinner in the Pier Hotel, Ardnadam which was attended by 27 brethren.  By the end of that first year lodge had a thriving membership of 52 brothers and a bank balance of nine pounds held in the City of Glasgow Bank in Dunoon.

It is nice to note that any animosity lingering between St. Munn Ardnadam and Dunoon Argyll over Bro. Cousins defection didn’t last very long and on the the 27th of December that year Bro. Cousins returned to Dunoon as Right Worshipful Master of Lodge 496 at the head of a deputation including his Secretary, Substitute Master and Inner Guard.  The bond of friendship between the two lodges has lasted down through the centuries and many brothers from each lodge have been honoured with Honorary Membership in  the other.

From these humble beginnings Lodge 496 has gone on to play an integral part in the fabric of the Sandbank community, never leaving the village, except for occasional trips round the Holy Loch to Kilmun to initiate candidates from that area.  The lodge continues to hold its regular meetings in Sandbank Parish Church Hall and indeed no fewer than three Parish ministers of that church have served as Right Worshipful Master.  The lodge has continued to draw its membership primarily from the local community and many local families like Currie, Campbell and Harvey can trace their membership back through the generations.

With so many years of dedication to Scottish Freemasonry behind them the brethren of Lodge St Munn Ardnadam are now looking forward to 2019 and celebrating their 150th Anniversary and beyond that to serving their community for many years to come with a dedication that is second to none.


* (Bro. Cousins may also have been a Past Master of Lodge Glasgow at Glasgow No. 441 but at present this remains unconfirmed)

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