The beginning to 1888
In 1883, Glasgow was in terms of population, area and industrial enterprise one of the leading cities of a vast Empire. The 1881 Census recorded a population of 511,415 and in particular the Burgh of Partick, with which we are concerned, had a population of 39,028. Industrially, the city was almost unique in the United Kingdom because of its broad industrial base. It did not rely like many cities on a single industry for its prosperity. Shipbuilding, heavy engineering, textiles and printing all contributed to the common wealth.
It is clear that the desire to erect a new Lodge in Whiteinch was the product of one main factor. As a trading nation, Britain required merchant vessels and as a major international power her navy needed to be strengthened. In 1871, the Fairfield Company opened and by 1875 claimed to be the greatest shipyard in the world. In the same period Alexander Stephen and Sons moved to the Clyde from the North East of Scotland. Perhaps most significantly for us in 1876, Barclay Curle Ltd. moved to the north bank opposite Linthouse. Its chairman was Sir Andrew McLean of whom we shall hear more later. In 1883, the number of new vessels launched on the Clyde was 379, whose total tonnage was 404,383.
Thus many craftsmen were attracted to this area by the possibility of better and more secure employment. They probably owed no loyalty to their adopted home. Living not in Partick but in Whiteinch and finding their friends among 'immigrant' workers, they felt a desire to form a lodge of their own. Many were members of Lodges which contained Saint John in the titles. This may provide an explanation of our name.
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