I had previously been contacted by Graham Glen who told me his grandfather, James Benson had made the beautiful stained glass windows for the former building on Glasgow Road.
In February 2017, I was contacted by Ean Brown, Bill Holdsworth and Bill Andrew, who each confirmed that the windows had been carefully removed in 1977 and at great expense of the lodge, had been fully renovated. The beautiful stain glass windows depicting various Lodge Members including Major Ness and David Livingstone himself, were then inserted into the new brick Lodge at the bottom of Elm Street near the junction with Glasgow Road. The Windows would stay there until 1988, when the lodge was sold to be turned into flats.
Each window features coloured opaque glass of many colours. Red, browns, yellow, greens and blues. Some are long and tall and have more than a hint of early art-deco about them.
Bill Andrew in 1988 took these photos of the renovated windows, capturing their beauty, colours and regalia. Although his camera was pre-digital, Bill still managed to show the windows in detail. The windows were then carefully removed in 1988 and placed into storage.
Bill told me, “These were taken in 1988 whilst they were incorporated as feature glazing in the main hall of the lodge and was always considered one of the most beautiful temples in the area if not Scotland because of this. Sadly at that time the camera I had was fairly standard and the developing process not brilliant. I don’t know of anyone else having these. The windows are in storage in the cellar at the Masonic Lodge in High Blantyre where we now meet but what condition they will be in now is anyone’s guess as it is not heated and they haven’t been moved for many years. When we left the Glasgow Road building they were fully refurbished so they could be installed at Elm Street and I am sure you will agree they were absolutely beautiful. The Glasgow Road building had a special aura when you walked and you truly felt the history in the building (at least I did) and a big part of this was the windows.”
I’d always meant to revisit this article to put more detail around Graham’s grandfather’s legacy which I’m able to do now.
On the evening of Wednesday 1st December 1909, an unveiling ceremony took place in the Stonefield Masonic Halls on Glasgow Road. The purpose was to ensure the name of the late Major Ness was cemented in history with the unveiling of a beautiful stained glass window in his name. This ceremony only unrelieved that one particular window with only master masons admitted. Besides the Brethren from Lodge Livingstone 599, there were many people from lodges throughout the district.It was commented on what a credit this window was to the glazier, Mr Benson.
In the centre is a bust of the late Major in full Masonic regalia, and the likeness is a most striking one, while below the bust is an open Bible, on the top of which are the compass and square. Around the bust are the jewels of the various chapters the Major was connected with, and the top part of the window is decorated with the Thistle and Rose. The window bears the following inscription “‘Do the Glory of God and sacred to the memory of Brother John Ness. V.D., P.M. of Lodge Livingstone No. 599 and P.P.G.S.W. of Provincial Grand Lodge of the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire, who died on 24th May 1908. Erected by the brethren of the Craft.” The unveiling ceremony was performed by Bro. Thomas Brown, P.M. of Lodge ‘Dramatic,” No. 571. A funeral lodge was afterwards held and the oration to the memory of the late Major was given by Bro. Rev. David Ness Whiteinch. who paid a most fitting tribute to the life and work of the deceased.