Freemasonry in Rutherglen & Rutherglen Lodge No. 188

By Worshipful Brother Steve, Past Master of Rutherglen Lodge

Rutherglen’s first Masonic Loge was formed in 1865 and folded in 1884. It was known as the Alexandra Lodge and was No. 1115 in the English Constitution. As mining declined in the area, so did the numbers in of lodges in the North East of Victoria, hence the demise of the Alexandra Lodge.

Rutherglen Lodge (No. 188 VC) held its first meeting on July 31st 1902 when the minute book states that the ceremony was “the dedication of the Masonic Hall at Rutherglen and of the consecration etc. of the Rutherglen Masonic Lodge No 188". The ceremony also included the Installation of the first W.M. and other business of the first meeting of the Lodge. Wor. Bro. S.P. Gollings was our first official D.C. He served from 1905-1906, 1908, and 1919-1931. The Director of Ceremonies Baton that is still in use today was donated by the same Individual. The D.C.s pedestal on which the same sits was donated by Bro. T Robins.

In July 1931 it was moved that the words “Thursday on or after the full moon” be deleted from By-Law Number 2 and that the words “second Thursday” be inserted. This was carried unanimously.

In 1938 the Lodge equipped a Ward in the newly built Rutherglen Bush Nursing Hospital.

In March 1945 it was decided to have a ’Ladies Night’ and two of the younger members moved that Non-Masonic friends be also invited. This motion was defeated. (It seems that the younger members don’t often win the day so nothing has changed. LOL)

In 1957 the Past Master’s Jewel was presented for the first time. This is the same Jewel which the brethren presented to J.H. Kilgour, the first I.P.M. of Rutherglen Lodge. Upon his death in 1946 the Jewel was left to Wor. Bro. Norman Wright of Hampton Lodge and was to revert to Rutherglen Lodge upon his passing. When he died in 1954 the Jewel was given to his daughter, Mrs Jean Marks who was married to Dr. H.A. Marks of Wangaratta. In 1957, after a chance meeting with Wor. Bro. Norm Killeen the Jewel was given to him to present to the Lodge which he subsequently did. This is now a perpetual Past Master’s Jewel which has been worn with great pride by a succession of Past Masters from our Lodge.

Rutherglen has had five Father and Sons as Masters.

In 1988, Rt. Wor. Bro. Sonny Downs presented the Lodge with a hand written summons to the first meeting of Alexandra Lodge sent by Bro. Ninian Bow, and an original copy of its By-Laws. The summons is displayed on the Secretary’s table.

In March 1999 the facade of the Lodge was painted in Heritage Colours at a cost of $1,700. Subsequently the Lodge received a Heritage Award Certificate for the same from the Indigo Shire.

Sharing Memories. Riding the Goat.

Perhaps one of the most amusing anecdotes occurred one night after the meeting when the brethren were in the South enjoying themselves. At the time the block behind the lodge was overgrown with grass. A local woman had asked if she could put her goat in the yard, thereby providing it with pasturage and at the same time removing the fire hazard for the lodge. Anyway, this night, several of the brethren, including the then Wor. Bro. Sonny Downs, feeling that the evening needed livening up went out, and captured the aforementioned creature, (which was probably more interested in getting some sleep rather than being called from refreshment to labour). One Worshipful Brother then hopped astride the goat and walked it into the South and did a couple of laps round the room much to the amusement of all present and giving a whole new meaning to the term “Goat-Riders”.

In July 2002 I had the pleasure and honour of being installed as the Centenary Master of Rutherglen Lodge. To honour the occasion, the Lodge produced a history of the Lodge which was distributed amongst those interested for the princely sum of $5. Also on the day of Installation a Re-Consecration Ceremony was held and Ladies and non-Freemasons were admitted to the Installation of officers for the first time in the North-East.