ONE of the Capital’s oldest social clubs may close after almost a century in the Capital.
Members of the Royal Edinburgh Lodge No. 854 – Scotland’s oldest Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes Lodge – have been meeting on West Register Street since 1915 but their premises are now up for sale following an “excessive” repair bill from the city council.
Members have failed to raise the £40,000 requested by the local authority for the statutory roof repairs and, as a result, had to put the RAOB Institute on the market last month.
However, if the premises – which consists of a bar and lodge room and are available for £175,000 – don’t sell, members will be unable to relocate elsewhere in the city and the lodge will close for good.
Frank Boyd, 64, joined the Royal Edinburgh Lodge in 1987, where he has been secretary for around seven years.
He said: “The building is not council-owned but we have to pay the bill because it’s a statutory repair. It’s money we just don’t have. We have been here for 97 years now and we thought we were going to make 100, but this really took the legs from underneath us.
“It’s a hell of a lot of money for a roof repair, even though it’s an old building. We have managed to pay £15,000 but can’t manage anymore.
“We are down to about 25 members now so we’re not getting the income we used to and are running at a loss each month. We used to have about 200 members and at one time, about 20 to 25 years ago, they would queue to come in the door. A lot of our members have died off and nowadays, nobody wants to join clubs.”
Mr Boyd, of Broomhouse, added: “I’m fighting tooth and nail to keep my lodge. We are looking for £175,000 to see if we can purchase another premises somewhere in Edinburgh so we can start again to keep the lodge going. If push comes to shove, we will have to rent somewhere. If we don’t get somewhere else it could be the end of RAOB in Edinburgh.”
Mr Boyd is hopeful that the premises will sell as the building is in a “prime position” opposite The Balmoral. The repair work money would then be paid to the council.
The club shares the building with businesses including The Voodoo Rooms and Cafe Royal, which Mr Boyd believes have received similar bills.
A council spokesman said: “The aim of the statutory notice process is to safeguard the physical condition of buildings in the city. This is the owners’ responsibility but if agreement cannot be reached, the council would carry out the repairs and the cost is split equally among the owners.”
The minutes of the Royal Edinburgh Lodge have recorded some important events over the years:
June 6, 1902: Bro Krohn seconded by Bro Edward proposed to send a letter of congratulations to King Edward VIII on the termination of the Boer War.
February 18, 1914: Brother John S Rhind received hearty congratulations of the Lodge on the highly successful statue of the late King Edward which he had modelled for erection in Leith, photographs of which had appeared in that day’s newspapers.
May 26, 1915: Brother Cohen referred with feeling to the terrible railway disaster which had taken place at Gretna to so many of our gallant soldiers on their way to the Front, and expressed Buffalo sympathy with their relatives (most of whom reside in Leith and Edinburgh).