Dunoon Burgh Hall

Laying the Foundation Stone

In September 1873 people gathered from across the west coast of Scotland, to lay the foundation stone of Dunoon Burgh Hall. A jar containing coins ‘of the realm’ and a copy of Colgate’s 1868 Guide to Dunoon, (written and compiled by local insurance and house agent John Colgate), was placed in a cavity in the foundation stone and is still there to this day, as far as we know.

‘On Saturday afternoon the Foundation Stone of a New Town Hall for the Burgh of Dunoon was laid with Masonic honours and under the most favourable circumstances.

Magnificent weather prevailed throughout the proceedings. Flags floated in the breeze from almost every house-top and point of prominence, residents wore their holiday attire, and brass bands, stationed in respective districts, filled the air with music. Each passing steamer disembarked its quota of passengers – many wearing the insignia of the ‘craft’ – to swell the general gathering; and long before the hour for the commencement of the proceedings, the principal thoroughfares were crowded by many, doubtless, simply on pleasure bent, in the interesting business of the day.

Lodges were represented from across the region as far afield as Royal Arch Rutherglen (Lodge Number 116) to Rothesay (Lodge number 292) but owing to the late arrival of some of the boats, several delegates did not report themselves. Towards two o’clock the different bodies intending to join in the procession assembled in the Drill Hall, Manse Road where the order of precedence was arranged. A start was effected shortly after two, the advance body consisting of a detachment of stalwart policemen, headed by two Police Officials on horseback. Closely following were a number of Good Templar Lodges, succeeding whom were the Masonic body, then the Commissioners of Police for the Burgh, the rear being brought up by the members of the Grand Lodge. The route taken was along Manse Road, through High John Street and Edward Street, to Auchamore Road, down Wellington Place and Ferry Brae to Argyll Street, and thence to the site of the new edifice. Both sides of these thoroughfares were lined with spectators, many of whom, by joining in, swelled the proportions of the procession to a great degree. On and around the building were congregated a large and select body of the inhabitants, including a goodly number of ladies. The members of the Grand Lodge having taken up their position near the Foundation Stone, which is placed in the front wall of the building, prayer, on the call of the Worshipful Master, was offered up by the Rev. Mr Fullerton.

The Grand Secretary Mr Boag, read a document explaining the event of the day, which with the different coins of the realm and the newspapers of the day, was put into a glass jar and then inserted into a cavity in the stone. The customary ceremony peculiar to Masonry was then gone through; and the Grand Master having declared that the work had been performed in accordance with the rules of the body, prayer was offered for the success of the undertaking and three cheers were given in honour of the event.

Quiet having been restored, the Worshipful Grand Master said that it had given him great pleasure to witness the interest taken in the proceedings. By the enterprise of the inhabitants, he said, it had been resolved to erect a Hall which would be one followed by many other towns, for it was a great want when there was no proper hall for the bulk of the people to assemble in and express their feelings on all matters affecting the community and the nation. He hoped what had transpired that day would be the precursor of many blessings to Dunoon.

More loud cheers were heard from the crowd.’

An extract from the Argyllshire Standard, August 1873.

The erection of the buildings commenced about the beginning of June (1873) and are expected to finish early 1874. They are to consist of two storeys with the principal frontage on Argyll St. On the ground floor accommodation will be provided for the Commissioners, their Clerk and collector. The story above a Hall 77ft and 10inch long, by 36 ft. broad and capable of holding 500 persons, a surveyors’ room and two retiring rooms. Entrance to the Hall will be obtained from the side street named Hamilton Street. The style of architecture is Old Scotch and, as shown on the plans, the building when completed, while meeting a much felt want, will prove an ornament not only to the locality, but to the Burgh!

The proposed builders of the Burgh Hall were:

Mr A Dixon, Mason
Mr T Young, Joiner
Mr J Kelly, Plumber and Gas Fitter
Mr Moses Nelson, Slater

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