Sunday 6 November 2022

Laying the foundation stone of the Custom House 1817

On 2 May 1817 the foundation stone of the Custom House in Greenock was laid by Sir Michael Shaw Stewart.  A large procession of members of the different masonic lodges, magistrates, and important people of the town as well as “a very numerous assemblage of the inhabitants” met in the Mid Kirk.  After a “most excellent and appropriate” sermon by the Reverend Robert Steele, Grand Chaplain, the procession moved to the site of the building where there were bands playing “the King’s Anthem”.  

Greenock Custom House

After a prayer, the Grand Secretary read the following inscription from a plate which was also to be placed in the foundations:-

By the favour of Almighty God    

The Foundation of this Building erected by Government

For a Custom House and Excise Office

Was laid upon the 2nd day of May In the year of our Lord 1817

Of the Era of Masonry 5817 

And in the 57th year of the reign of our Most Gracious Sovereign George III

By Sir Michael Shaw Stewart Bart Provincial Grand Master of Renfrew and Dumbarton Shires

In presence of Quintin Leitch and Robert Ewing, Esquires Magistrates

And the other Members of the Town Council of Greenock

William Burn, Architect. William Spottiswoode, Superintendent

D Mathieson, A McFarlane and G Dempster, Contractors

Which undertaking may the Supreme God prosper.

 Also placed in the foundations was a bottle containing a current “coin of the realm” and a copy of the Greenock Advertiser and Greenock Herald.  After the ceremony the crowd gave three cheers and the band then played the Mason’s Anthem.  Sir Michael Shaw Stewart then gave a speech followed by another from Robert Ewing, Greenock Magistrate. 

From Caledonian Mercury 1817

It must have been a wonderful occasion and it is a credit to the architect and builders that Greenock’s Custom House is still standing and is one of the most striking structures in the town.

1 comment:

  1. You have to admire how they used to commemorate things like that back in those days


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