Organisations and Recreations
The steady growth of the village and its near neighbours led towards the end of the 18th century, and thereafter, to the establishment of organisations and the commencement of recreational pursuits.
MASONIC LODGE. The oldest of the organisations still in existence is the Masonic Lodge "Cadder Argyle" No. 147, formed in December 1771 without a Grand Lodge Charter (later granted, on 2nd February 1778). The foundation stone of the present Temple was laid on 8th February 1913 and the building consecrated on 5th July of the same year by Col. Henry Brock. It cost a little over £859. In its early years it is presumed that meetings were held in members' homes for it is not until 1877 that there is a mention of a meeting place. This is contained in a letter from Mrs Baxter, proprietrix of the Chryston Inn, which was situated on the Main Street, opposite Gartferry Road. In it reference is made to a charge of 5s. (25p) for every meeting held-presumably for the use of Baxters' Hall, which was above the Inn. In the present century this hall was used for a considerable time by the Salvation Army, and also by other organisations. Two memorial windows to those killed in the 1914-18 War were unveiled in the Temple on 11th December 1921 by Col. Sir Alexander Sprot of Garnkirk House.
During the 1939-45 conflict the building was used by the military from October 1941 to May 1945, coming into Lodge service again in October that year. Meetings during this occupation were held in the West Church Hall.
In the early days Lodge members were prominent in parades at local events such as Mayfair (Chryston Fair, 12th May), and on St Andrew's Day (30th November) and St John's Day (27th December). They also took part in laying the foundation stones of Chryston Manse, 1803; Nelson's Monument in Glasgow Green, 1st August 1806; the first house in London Street, Glasgow, 1824; enlargement of Chryston School, 25th August 1826; Hutcheson's Bridge, Glasgow, 1829; St David's Church, Kirkintilloch, 1836; Chryston Female School, 1839; Bridge over the Bothlin Burn at Bedlay, 15th June 1832. At the last-named event the various coins of the realm and newspapers of the day were lodged in a cavity of stone. At the same time Mark Sprot, laird of Garnkirk, presented the Lodge with a beautiful Gilt Bible, Silver Square and Silver Compasses. Wherever they paraded they were accompanied by a band, and on occasions they held a torchlight procession to Moodiesburn Inn, which must have been quite an eyecatching sight for the villagers.
The Lodge provided mort cloths to place over coffins during burial processions. There were four qualities available, according to ability to pay the fee. They also showed liberality to the poor and needy in the district. This kindness and concern has continued to the present day, with monies disbursed to the bereaved and the needy. The Royal Arch Chapter was instituted in 1919.
In the early 1860s the Orange Grand Lodge was able to issue its own warrants for new Lodges. At that time Airdrie District under which this area fell issued warrants for No.1 Moodiesburn and No.2 Chryston. Later these Lodges would appear to have joined together, becoming known as "Star of Chryston" Orange Lodge No.1.
CHRYSTON AND DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. The society is one of the oldest in the west of Scotland. It dates back to 13th December 1853, when its formation was agreed at a meeting held in Chryston Inn. Early shows were held in the old Parish School, adjoining the Church, in late July or early August and in mid-September. The first year's activities produced a profit of £3 6s.2½d. (£3.31). In 1860 there was a change of venue to the Free Church Hall. The next 18 years were "lean years", with loss of interest. After that time the show was held in the new Public and Drill Hall in Muirhead. The traditional day became the last Saturday of August, an occasion to meet old friends and to enjoy music provided by a band. In the years prior to World War II there was great rivalry between local enthusiasts to obtain the premier awards in the various classes. The Public Hall was a mass of blooms of all kinds, also vegetables, bakings and jams. Since 1945, sadly, there has been a declining interest in competitive gardening, which has reduced the number of classes and entries, and the show is now a shadow of its former glory. This is no reflection on the endeavours and the spirit of the office-bearers to maintain its place on the calendar.
YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN'S GUILD. In 1892 this Guild held its first meeting in the Parish Church. Ten years later its membership was 65, rising to 161 by 1910. In the 1914-18 war 65 members served in the armed forces, 23 of whom were killed - their names are listed on a memorial in the church vestibule which was unveiled on 27th February 1921. By 1929 membership had risen to 286, and the yearly syllabus contained addresses from members in addition to speakers from further afield. Following the union of the two churches in 1930, the organisation was renamed Chryston East Church Guilds (in connection with the Church of Scotland Young Men's Guild) and it continued to meet until 1939 and the outbreak of hostilities.
An offshoot of the Guild was the Chryston Mutual Improvement Association, formed in 1900, its object being the "study and discussion of Political, Social and Other Questions of Importance". It met in the Parish Church Session House on Thursday evenings. Another development was that of a Tennis Section, formed in 1929, which integrated with the already-formed Chryston Tennis Club (commenced in 1920-21 by a group of young men and women who had two courts laid adjacent to the Bowling Club). To meet the requirements of the Tennis Association and to allow participation in league matches two more courts were laid. This club had a membership of over 100 players at its peak, but by 1938 declining numbers made its future uncertain, and at the end of the war years the whole site was taken over by the Bowling Club and the Tennis Club disbanded.
BOWLING CLUB. The Chryston and District Bowling Club is the oldest sports organisation in the area, having being constituted in 1900, though there is a possibility that the facility for playing the game existed prior to that date. In the Kirkintilloch Herald of 22nd October 1902 is recorded a dispute concerning the relaying of the green, but this was later resolved and it was relaid the following year and eventually opened for play in June 1903. In February 1904 plans were approved for the building of a clubhouse and this was completed by May. Improvements have been made to the structure over the years to keep in step with the membership of the club and the times, and it is now a very modern building. Ladies were not permitted to participate in the game until mid-1914. In 1947, following acquisition of the site of the tennis club, a second green was laid-so providing additional rinks for the growing membership, which was augmented when the Miners' Welfare Green at Bridgend closed about 1952. The Club has over the years maintained a very good record in local and national competition and has had members selected for international honours.
LITERARY SOCIETY. This body was constituted in 1897, its object to discuss subjects of general interest - political, social and otherwise. The subjects were wide in their selection and often delivered by local school teachers or well-known personalities of the day. Included too were "Lantern Lectures", often of travel trips at home or abroad. On one occasion one of these had to be concluded abruptly when the oxygen for the limelight gave out! It may be of interest to know that the lantern used in the 1920s is still in use today and is the property of the Parish Church. The Society continued to meet on a regular basis until 1937-38. Attendances over the years varied according to the subject of the evening (and apparently the weather). Another side of this group was musical and dramatic productions, and in 1930-31 a Dramatic Section was presenting one-act and three-act plays in the Public Hall on evenings other than the regular meeting nights. These are recorded as being well received.
DISCUSSION GROUP. After the War years the Literary Society was replaced by the formation of the Chryston and District Discussion Group, in 1947. A lively interest was taken in this new organisation and the programme for each session produced talks on a variety of subjects, including one by a member of the Soviet Russian Embassy in London. Membership over the years has been erratic, from a peak of almost 100 down to the present number of about 30, but the Group continue to meet on a regular basis and maintain a fitting syllabus of high standard.
THE THESPIAN CLUB. On 4th September 1950 this Club was constituted "to provide facilities for those interested in drama, music and stage productions". Its principal producer was Frank Farquhar of Stepps, a man dedicated to the amateur stage. By 1971, 31 one-act plays, 16 three-act plays, six pantomimes, one music show and one choir concert had been performed in over 100 separate evenings and involving over 200 persons, either taking part in those performances, behind the scenes or in the orchestras. From the proceeds of the shows £270 was donated to local and national charities and the Club purchased its own stage lighting which was given to the local Council for use in the Public Hall, following the Club's "final curtain" in 1973.
BANDS. On the musical side, Chryston Brass Band was formed around 1824. It had an erratic history. McIsaac relates that it only lasted for some 20 years, but there is photographic evidence that a band was in existence in the 1890s and in the period down to 1911, as one accompanied Sunday School and choir trips at that time. It is probable that this band faded out with the onset of World War I. There is mention, too, of a band at Garnkirk village.
Probably better known was the Chryston and District Pipe Band. Formed in 1920 it was prominent in attendance at various local events and in the area around. Among its members it had many local personalities who were devoted to its progress, and under its Pipe Major Harry Proud and his deputy Dick Ford it achieved a high standard. In 1938 the band offered and was accepted as the band of the 57th Searchlight Regiment of the Territorial Army and were fitted out with new kilts in the Ancient Douglas tartan. In September 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, the band was attending a camp at Gosforth near Newcastle-on-Tyne. All were immediately transferred to their war station and later into action. After the war the band reformed and continued into the 1950s but interest waned and it ceased. The band practices were held in the old Girl Guide Hall which stood on the site of the present hall.
Also known in the district was the Pipe Band of the 1st Chryston Boys' Brigade. Formed shortly after the Company was enrolled in 1897 it had its peaks and troughs, being dependent on the turnover of boys joining the company and those having the inclination and enthusiasm to learn piping or drumming. Fortunately over the years the company has been served by persons willing to provide the necessary tuition, and it is still providing enjoyment to players and listeners. For a few years there was also a Bugle Band, but this has been disbanded.
BOYS' BRIGADE. The 1st Chryston Company was enrolled at B.B. Headquarters on 22nd October 1897. It is the oldest youth organisation in the area. The first officers of the Company were Captain James Faulds and Lieutenants James Fyfe, John Hutchison and Duncan Macmillan. Within a short time of its formation 50 boys had joined and were meeting in the Drill Hall on a Monday evening. The numbers rose gradually to over 100, a figure coasistently maintained for many years. The Company was attached to both the Parish and Free Churches and continued so until 1955, when following the union of the East and West Churches it became attached to the Parish Church. In 1974, in order to provide more facilities for the growing number of boys, the Company erected a hall adjoining the Church Hall at a cost of £25,000. This was officially opened and dedicated on 7th December 1975. Besides the Company Section there are now Anchor Boys and a Junior Section, and at present around 180 boys enjoy the facilities available.
GIRL GUIDES AND BROWNIES. The 1st Chryston, 17th Lanarkshire, Girl Guide Company was formed in 1920 and about the same time the first Pack of Brownies also took shape. The first Captain was Miss Jean McAuley, with Miss Jean Murray as Lieutenant, and the Brownie Tawny Owl was Miss Margaret Fyfe, with Miss Agnes Hunter as Brown Owl. Both organisations flourished and the first Guide Hut was built to accommodate the numbers attending and provide good facilities for their work. Towards the start of World War II use of the hut was shared with the Pipe Band, who helped to keep the fabric in a reasonable condition, and this arrangement continued after the hostilities ceased. In the mid-1960s, however, deterioration of the roof and woodwork became acute and the local Parents' Association started a Building Fund, the culmination of which was the present main building, which was opened and dedicated on 9th June 1969. Later further extensions were necessary, as new companies and packs were formed, and at present meetings are held in schools and church halls, in addition to the hut.
CUBS. For a short time from 1926 there was a local Pack in being, led by Mr Tommy Duthie and Mr Hamish McEwan, which met in the Guide Hut. From this Pack several boys followed on to join the 40th Glasgow (Stepps) Scout Troop, which was one of the premier troops in the area. There has never been a separate scout troop in Chryston.
FOOTBALL. Probably the most successful and continuing recreation has been football. Its origins, so far as organised league games is concerned, can be traced back to the 1890s. At that time Chryston Athletic Football Club played in the District Junior League, and by all accounts acquitted themselves well. Later there came the Chryston Waverley and Chryston Primrose Clubs. Football in those days was played on the field situated where the houses now stand at the end of Elmira Road. Later the present field was laid out, behind the Guide Hut. In the 1920s and 1930s the prominent team was the Muirhead Amateurs which in 1930-31 season won the Scottish Amateur Cup. This Club continued until the outbreak of the war. Also in being at that time were Muirhead Bluebell, Muirhead Benburb, and two elevens of Chryston H.G. School Former Pupils, plus other local teams in Moodiesburn and Heathfield. Several talented members of these Clubs moved to Junior and Senior ranks. At the present time there has been a great revival in the game, with several local teams covering a wide range of age groups, and all engaged in competitive league games.
GOLF. The area is fortunate to have two easily accessible golf courses, namely Crow Wood Golf and Country Club and Mount Ellen Golf Club. The first named was originally designed by James Braid and was carved out of the policies of Garnkirk estate. It covered 160 acres and totalled 5,610 yards in length. It was opened for play on 30th April 1925. The initial fees were: Men-Entrance £6 6s. (£6.30); Annual Subscription £3 3s. (£3.15); and Ladies-£3 3s. and £2 2s. respectively. The mansion of Garnkirk House was the "19th hole" and at that time was unrivalled in its appointment and beautiful surroundings. It continued to be used until 1932 when the house was taken over by A. R. Stenhouse. A new clubhouse was erected at that time bordering the Cumbernauld Road (now Crowwood House Hotel). It was in use until 1955 when the mansion house was bought after negotiations with the Stenhouse family and became the clubhouse once again. It is still in use today and can still be said to be "unrivalled in its appointment and surroundings". The course is now extended to 6,249 yards and current fees are: Entry £405; Annual Subscription £270 - both plus VAT!
Mount Ellen Golf Club was instituted in 1901 as Chryston and Muirhead Golf Club, but it was not until 1905 that it began to function, when Mr Walter C. B. Christie of Bedlay House formally opened a nine-hole course. The ground area was provided by Smith and MacLean Ltd. of Gartcosh. In June 1921 Mount Ellen House, which stood near to the site known earlier as Oldyards, was obtained and modernised to provide the clubhouse, and also a new name for the Club. At that time too the course was altered and extended to the standard 18 holes. Sixty years on, Johnston House was purchased to provide a more spacious clubhouse. The former house was demolished and the course adjusted to suit the new "19th hole". It is interesting to note that the annual fee 90 years ago was £1 15s. (£1.75). It is now £260 for men and £130 ladies. The membership, including all classes, is at present 636.
LIBRARIES. The earliest record of a library in Chryston is in the 1830s. It contained a set of Sir Walter Scott's Waverley novels and was said to be well managed. It is not known how long it was in use.
From 1927 library facilities were provided in Chryston Higher Grade School each Friday evening. The books were set out by the janitor on trays on top ctif the desks in the Art Room, which was the most spacious in the building. This arrangement continued until lst March 1939 when the wooden building in Lindsaybeg Road was opened to provide more adequate accommodation, at larger selection of books and more days for the readers to choose. In course of time a children's section was added and also reference titles. In recent years warious exhibitions on local subjects have been mounted, and there have also been special events for young persons. This building was demolished in 1990 and replaced by a new brick building on the site of the former Higher Grade School. During the transition period the Senior Citizens' Hut at the Moor was utilised. The new library was officially opened on 10th April 1991.
Moodiesburn library was opened in April 1976 by Councillor John Brady. It stands adjacent to the Pivot Centre. The new library provided a choice of 12,000 books and 1,000 paperbacks and in recent times records and tapes have also been available. Several exhibitions and special events have been held in the building and the community is well served by its facilities. Prior to its erection a mobile library was in use, with 3,000 books on regular issue to the residents.
OTHER ORGANISATIONS. In addition to organisations already listed, there were constituted in the last century the Y.M.C.A. (1874), Good Templars (1890), Rechabites (1898), British Women's Temperance Society (1890), and the Nursing Association (1890s). With the exception of the last named these all faded out in the early decades of the present century. Sports which enjoyed a brief existence were a Cricket Club (1904) and a Rugby Club (1920s). A Choral Union was formed in 1912. After World War II a Junior Choir was formed under the direction of Mr James Allan and competed in several Festivals, gaining distinction. Around the same time there was a similar choir in connection with the Parish Church Sunday School. An Ex-Servicemen's Club was formed in the 1920s and premises were built in Moss Road behind the Toll House. The Club had only a limited success and was disbanded in the 1930s, its building being used for other purposes.
CINEMA. An application to start a cinema was turned down in 1921 but granted at a later date. Its premises were behind "Oakbank", the entrance door facing what is now Fleming Avenue. The powerhouse was in the building now known as the Smiddy. The proprietor was Mr D. Kilpatrick. It went along successfully until the arrival of the "talkies", when with the easier travel to Glasgow patronage decreased and it closed down. Many can remember the 2d. matinees, 1s. 6d. and 1s. seats for the evening performance, and the pianist keeping up with figures on the screen. Great days indeed, especially the serials!