Apparently, every night at midnight, Mr. J. B. Struthers took a stroll round his outbuildings in the 1880’s at his High Blantyre premises before retiring to bed. On the evening of Thursday 24th April 1884 he did just that, but found nothing amiss at his buildings near Kirkton on Main Street. However, a beam that was touching the wash-house chimney was slowly smouldering away and in the middle of the night it burst into flame. The local Parish hose was burst, so they had to send to Hamilton for help, but in the end the hall, wash-house and stable were totally destroyed and the cobbler’s house at the end was badly damaged. Also lost was all the regalia and orders of the Masonic Lodge, the Good Templars, and of the property belonging to the Mechanic’s Institute. The total damage was estimated at about £2,000 though it was all insured. The Hall with its ante-rooms was in the middle section of the upstairs part of the building and the flames were already bursting through the roof when the fire was discovered.
We must then assume that the present Masonic Hall was quickly rebuilt with the insurance money, as the date on the wall today indicates it was opened the same year, 1884. There is a story of a deal being done with the Masonic Lodge and Mr Struthers, to the effect that they got the hall, but Mr Struthers retained access to the cellar. J. B. Struthers put all his premises at High Blantyre on the market in 1893, stated that he had been running the business for twenty years past. Thinking that this may have been upon his retirement, there is evidence he worked on. J. B. Struthers continued to be listed as as a spirit dealer in High Blantyre in the Peat & Forrest directory of 1894. He didn’t pass away until 1913 and is not to be confused with his son, James. B. H Struthers who owned the Auchentibber Inn.
Thanks to Gordon Cook for the source information in this story. Pictured by myself in 2015 are the rebuilt Masonic Halls.