ST JOHN CROFTHEAD FAULDHOUSE NO. 374
A BRIEF RETROSPECT 1856-2006
BY JAMES B GILMOUR JNR PM
'Marybank 15th April 1856'
'Convened here this evening a meeting called by a few members of Wilsontown St John’s Lodge for the purpose of considering the propriety of constituting a Lodge of Freemasons.'
'Robert Sommerville having been called to the chair, the meeting appointed Joseph Mulloch, William Jackson, James Maxwell, Robert Gibson, John Sommerville, Robert Sommerville, James Williamson to draw up regulations who agreed to meet to commence their labours they being limited to fourteen days to give in their report when another meeting will be called to consider the same.'
That was the opening extract from our first minute book, a portion of minute which would herald the arrival of freemasonry in a small mining village on the outskirts of the Province of Linlithgowshire.
On the evening of 17th June 1856, having been granted a Charter on the 5th day of May by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Lodge Saint John Crofthead Whitburn held our first constituted meeting where six entrants were initiated into freemasonry for a fee of £2 & 2 shillings by RWM Robert Sommerville and his team of office bearers.
Brother Sommerville was also a Past Master of Lodge Wilsontown Ironworks St John No 236,and it would be fair comment to suggest that the Lanarkshire lodge were heavily instrumental and influential in shaping 374's early years - along with The Thistle Lodge No 270 West Calder - they were our sponsor lodge, we adopted a few of their traditions ,their colours, their members and, indeed, on Tuesday 4th November 1856 Bro John Ormiston PM 236 and his team of office bearers were responsible for the ceremony of consecration and installation of 374 office bearers, a duty they carried out 'in a very able and impressive manner' . It's interesting to note that Bro John Ormiston carried out these duties in the absence of the RWPGM 'The Honourable Robert Sandilands of Torphichen' who informed the Lodge 'he was extremely sorry that being away from home would prevent him having the honour of being present at the consecration’.
Band parades were common place and the Crofthead Instrumental Band were about to play their own part in our lodge's history. They were first approached prior to our consecration 'to ascertain their terms of playing for one day'. This relationship would last for many years. The band would become regulars at our 'Annual Meetings' in June (installations) where at the conclusion of the ceremony they would lead the RWM and his procession through the 'principal places of the district, there to return to the lodge and the remainder of the evening spent in song, toast and sentiment'.
Fauldhouse was described circa 1860 by a local newspaper as a 'mining village in the SW corner of Whitburn parish SW Linlithgowshire lying in a bleak region of collieries, ironstone mines and paraffin works'. It becomes apparent that a few of the brethren from 236, having moved from Wilsontown due to a lack of work in their own area, now residing in and around Crofthead, which by then was a developing industrial village, were naturally finding it increasingly difficult attending their own meetings- this would require them to walk an arduous 13 mile round trip. This inconvenience would necessitate the formation of a new lodge - 374.