A BRIEF HISTORY OF LODGE ANIMA NO 1223
The seeds of the proposal to form Lodge Anima (Glasgow) No 1223 were said to have been sown in discussions by a group of eminent Freemasons engaged in the influential development of the Glasgow cinema industry. A number of the key players were also jointly associated with the Glasgow Film Club, and strongly encouraged by several iconic cinema industry members of The Anima Lodge No 3634 (EC) London..
Fortunately, although the first minute book of the Lodge has been lost, The Scottish Kinema Record”, the Scottish cinema industry’s trade magazine of the 1920’s, captured details of the Lodges consecration, and the principal brethren involved:
“Friday 3rd September 1920, will be remembered as a red letter day by all members of the Craft connected with the Scottish Cinema Trade. The day saw realised the hopes and wishes of some men in the founding of a Lodge of our own, and Lodge Anima No 1223 became a reality. The subject was first discussed years ago, but the war knocked things on the head. However, the idea was resurrected, and through the efforts of Mr W Welsh, Mr W Shaw and Mr W.S. Shepherd the project was again raised at a meeting of the Cinema Club some time ago and carried to a successful issue.
Sixty-five brethren (Founder Members Appendix 1) signed the petition to The Grand Lodge of Scotland, with almost all being actively engaged in the booming Glasgow cinema industry. The prime purpose of the application was to form a daylight Lodge, meeting on a suitable day that would enable members of the cinema industry to regularly attend, and to practice their Masonic learning.
The Petition was signed on 14th April 1920 and countersigned by the Master and Wardens of the two Sponsor Lodges: Lodge Athole No. 413 and Lodge Montefiore No. 753.
The petition proposed meetings to take place at 100 West Regent Street, Glasgow; the Meting day to be a Friday (the day in which weekly cinema programmes changed); .and the Lodge colours “Black and White”, representing the black and white of the cinema “silver screen”.
The agreed name for the Lodge was “Anima”, mirroring the name of the London cinema industry Lodge. Papers from the London Lodge identified the term “Anima”as relating to “animatograph”, an early form of cinema projector.
The Petition was approved by The Grand Lodge of Scotland at its Quarterly Communication on 5th August 1920, and the number 1223 assigned. The Lodge’s consecration was held on 3rd September 1920 at 100 West Regent Street. A deputation from The Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow headed by the Provincial Grand Master Bro A.A. Haggart Spiers of Elderslie attended the meeting to conduct the consecration ceremony. In the evening a dinner was held in the North British Station Hotel at which forty Founder Members were present, including four honorary members from the Anima London Lodge. .
The demand for cinema in Glasgow positively exploded from the 1920’s, prompting the conversion of some theatres and other halls to cinemas, as well as the construction of new, larger, and luxurious art deco cinemas. With more cinemas than any other city outwith London, as well as more cinema goers per head of population than any other UK city, it was no wonder Glasgow inherited the title of “Cinema City”. It was against this backdrop that Masonic members across the cinema and linked theatre industry craved the forming of a Lodge that dovetailed with their unique working and leisure needs.
Lodge Anima flourished throughout its first three decades, attracting members from both the cinema and theatre industries, including; theatre and cinema owners and managers, financiers, actors, musical directors, musicians, film distributors, and all manner of cinema personnel. Throughout the first decade, Initiates totalled 104, and Affiliates 19, an average of 10 candidates a year.
The calibre of the Lodge’s senior office bearers and successive Past Masters was exceptional, and the degree work uniquely embellished with poetry and expertly delivered. Harmonies were most professional with a host of musicians, singers and theatre artistes in attendance at every meeting. Until the introduction of the “talkies” in 1927 the sound for films in the main was provided by musicians, so there was often an abundance of them in attendance at Meetings. Competition to perform was stiff. Lodge dances were also regular occurrences, often held in conjunction with the Glasgow Cinema Club, either for Lodge funds or charitable causes. It was not uncommon for the Lodge members, to be able to form the attending orchestra, complete with a Musical Director. Greens Playhouse, the Locarno ballroom, or the Charing Cross Hotel was the favoured venues, with attendance numbers often exceeding several hundred.
The cinema industry encountered rapid and ongoing change from the early 1950’s. A number of Cinema Corporations were formed and film studios extended their interests into cinema ownership. Sadly, larger more ostentatious cinemas with enhance technology heralded the demise of many of the older, independently owned cinemas, and a substantial reduction in personnel. It was primarily due to these factors and a resultant reduction in membership and candidate numbers that the Lodge decided to change to evening meetings, from 1957/58..
The change was fundamental in every respect. For the first time the Lodge found itself competing for candidates with the other seventy or so Lodges within the Province of Glasgow. In contrast to the Lodge’s earlier period, only five of the ten initiates that year were employed in the cinema or theatre industries. Thereafter, the number of industry related members also diminished annually, with less than ten or so members of both industries still attending by 1970.
Despite the change in its Meeting structure, the standards, reputation and culture of the Lodge were maintained. The nature of candidates included a range of Company Directors, Managers, Accountants, and all manner of Sales Representatives, and Tradesmen. Candidate numbers throughout the 1950s, 1960’s and 1970s still remained at the healthy levels, slightly in excess of 100 in each decade.
New links were forged with a range of evening Lodges primarily within the Province of Glasgow, but also with others further afield. Luckily, the Lodge’s Masters and office bearers at the time were prolific visitors, and reciprocated visits to Lodge Anima ensured Regular Meeting numbers varied between sixty to eighty. The Lodge’s degree work and degree workers continued to be of the highest standard prompting annual requests for exchange visits to confer degrees.
From the 1950s Glasgow, as well as the rest of the U.K,, underwent significant and continuous social change. Housing had improved enormously and large suburban areas of Glasgow were redeveloped. The population significantly reduced due to a steady migration of the population to outlying areas of the city and to a several New Towns. Individuals became more prosperous and more mobile. The introduction and continuous enhancement of new technology, telephony and television all saw the most significant change in social habits. The Lodge, similar to a number of other Lodges, encountered a continuous reduction in attendance, and in time, candidate numbers.
A number changes to Lodge’s Meeting place and Meeting nights from 1951, primarily due to hall closures also had an impact on its ability to establish roots or with an established community. The Lodge’s Meeting places have included: the Masonic Halls, at 100, West Regent Street (1920-1951); The Royal Philosophical Society, Bath Street (1951); West Regent Street, again (1952-1969), Saltire House, Ashley Street, Glasgow, (1970-1971); Clydesdale Masonic Halls, Butterbiggins Road (1971-1990); Dixon Halls, Govanhill,(1990-1994); Bell Street, Glasgow, (1995); Video One, Ingram Street, (1995); and its current Meeting place, Neptune Masonic Centre, Clifford Street, Glasgow, from 1996 to date.
The reduced flow of candidates and consequential challenge of filling the Lodges senior offices became more challenging from the 1980s. It was therefore not uncommon for the Lodge Office Bearers to fill office for more than one year; or for one of the Lodges Past Masters to retake the Chair of the Lodge to allow new members and junior office bearers to consolidate their Masonic teaching. and ritual work. It’s particularly important to recognise the selfless and extensive commitment given by many of those members, some of who m have filled the Chair of the Lodge on multiple occasions and have participated in degree work continuously over a number of decades (Appendix 2).
Despite undeniable and continuous changes in both the cinema industry and society throughout the Lodges hundred year history, one thing has remained constant, the commitment and resolve of successive Masters, Past Masters and Office Bearers to maintain the Lodge’s unique heritage and standards.
Note: The Glasgow Cinema Club
The Glasgow Cinema Club was formed in 1919 by a group of independent Glasgow cinema owners and film distributers to ensure full control and continuity of their film supply and delivery. The role of the Club was further enhanced to consider benevolent support for cinema workers; and to arrange social events for members. It may have been termed a Club but it was an industry Cartel in every respect, a number of whose strategic and most influential members were also, later Founder Members of Lodge Anima.
Gavin Stewart Past Master
Lodge Anima Glasgow 1223
Neptune Masonic Centre
101 Clifford Street
Our meetings are normally conducted on the 1st Wednesday in September until the 1st Wednesday in June.
We tyle at 7-30pm Prompt.