Oldham District Latest News
L-R: Colonel Eric Davidson president of the Corp of Drums of the Fusiliers.
Just one small damaged section
Mums helping to paint lower part of wall
During the project, WBro Baines District Project Manager, had the support and help of Worshipful Brothers, Peter Hawkesworth, Stuart Booth, David Dunn, George Sharp, Peter Clegg, Ken Turner, John LeBrun, James Clegg, Philip Price, Alex McLaren, Steven Graham, and David Clayton, the Gym manager Glen, and many parents. On Wednesday the 17th April the project volunteers and their wives were asked to attend a Cheese and Wine celebration as a big thank you from Glen Prendergast the gym manager, the 10 volunteer instructors, and the parents of children who attend the gym. WBro Baines presented a plaque already fixed to the wall, to commemorate the work which had been completed by the Freemason’s, for people in the community. Glen Prendergast presented WBro Baines with pictures showing a before and after of the project and the other showing all Club members and trainers alongside the flags of the 22 nations supporting gymnastics. The children ended the presentation event by giving a excellent display of all their skills which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone present
The Brethren of Solidarity Lodge, the APGM WBro Alex McLaren, District Chairman WBro David Dunn, District Members and guests celebrated the 50th Birthday of Solidarity Lodge.
The Lodge was opened in due form after which the Worshipful Master, Jeremy Marshall, received a Grand Lodge Officers delegation and offered the Gavel to WBro Alex McLaren PSGD, the Eastern Area APGM who accepted on this special occasion. WBro McLaren began by saying how pleased he was to be there and introduced the Grand Lodge Officers, District Chairman and District Officers who all greeted the lodge members.
Alex said that the lodge was concreted on the 28th March 1963 exactly 50yrs to the day. In 1963 other things were happening, Harold Wilson became Prime Minister, in Cuba 7,000 people died in a hurricane, Lord Beeching act reduced the railways and 50yrs on we are expanding the system, President De Galle vetoed a vote to allow Britain into the EU
During the lodge’s 50yrs there have been two Grand Masters the Earl of Scarborough 1951-1967 and Duke of Kent our present Grand Master.
There have been eight Provincial Master namely Frederick William Towns, James D Hemsley, Peter Walthall. Paul J E Rink, Jack Price, WBro Harold Woodward, WBro Derek Thornhill, and Sir David Trippier, our present Provincial Grand Master.
Alex explained it was not easy to form a new lodge and have it consecrated. He called upon WBro Peter Clegg PProvGSwdB to give a presentation on the history of the lodge. Peter began by saying:-
Invitations to form a new Lodge began on 16th March, 1960 and the first meeting in connection to the formation was held on 5th April, 1960, with ten brethren present. The name suggested for the Lodge was ‘The Gables Lodge’ and Albert Lodge, their Mother Lodge, agreed to sponsor the new Lodge on 8th June 1960.
WBro Wilfred lamb, father of WBro Paul Lamb, who was present, was the first Secretary to the Founders of the Lodge but had to retire due to illness. The lodge submitted its petition to Sir Frank Lord APGM for a new Lodge at Bridge Street on 3rd October 1960.
From the outset the Founders wished the Lodge to be different from others in Oldham District, so WBro G.H.Thomas joined the Founders to help source an alternative ritual to Emulation. A search for a new ritual began, with brethren visiting a Lodge in Hull to see the ‘Humber Workings’ and Brunel Lodge in Bristol. At the next meeting of the Founders, it was agreed to adopt the ‘Bristol Ritual’ and to fund printing and binding of the ritual book, However, the Provincial Grand Master of the Bristol Province objected to the Ritual being used outside the Bristol Province for fear that it may be amended or altered. He, therefore, wrote to the Grand Lodge Secretary with his objections and the Grand Lodge Secretary informed the Provincial Grand Secretary of East Lancashire that it was forbidden to use the Bristol Ritual.
The Founders argued that, according to the Book of Constitutions, a private Lodge was permitted to adopt any Ritual that conformed to the Rules and Regulations of the Craft. Some very acrimonious correspondence ensued between the Founders, the Provincial Grand Secretary and the Provincial Grand Registrar.
At a meeting with Provincial Representatives in March 1962 regarding the Petition, they were informed that the Provincial Grand Master would not submit it to the Grand Lodge Secretary until the Founders adopted a different attitude.
To make progress the Founders agreed to start again with the Lodge to be renamed Foundation Lodge. However, following all the difficulties experienced and the firmness of the Founders to form a Lodge, it was unanimously agreed to adopt the name of SOLIDARITY LODGE. The Provincial Grand Secretary was invited to suggest a suitable Ritual and he suggested the English Ritual, which at that time was used by only nine Lodges. This was adopted by the Founders and one hundred copies of the Ritual were purchased.
A further meeting with Sir Frank Lord on 12th November 1962 resulted in a Petition being signed by the Founders, Master and Wardens of Albert Lodge. Surprisingly the petition came back unapproved with the comment that there was one brother included in the list who was ineligible to be there. It turned out to be Bro Stanley Brooke, who had been initiated in Karachi, Pakistan, under the Scottish Constitution and had as such not taken the Oath De Fidelis to the English Constitution. To aid progress, Bro Brooke agreed to stand down but became the first joining member, which required him to swear an oath of allegiance to the Grand Lodge of England.
The Consecration Meeting took place at the Union Club, Oldham on Thursday, 28th March 1963. Sir Frank Lord occupied the Chair and WBro Harold Yates was installed as the first Master by the DepPGM WBro Fredrick Towns and the oration was given by WBro Rev Canon Francis Paton Williams.
WBro McLaren APGM thanked WBro Peter Clegg for his explanation of the lodge’s history which was received with enthusiastic applause. Prior to WBro McLaren asking WBro Marshall to reoccupy the chair WBro Marshall presented several lodge history plates to prominent members attending the meeting in celebration of the evening.
On Monday the 11th March WBro Robert Henry Rowden, a member of Ben Brierley Lodge, reached fifty years in freemasonry. The Worshipful Master, WBro M Miles Leadbeater PProDGSwdB, opened the lodge in due form. He then received the APGM, WBro Alex S McLaren PJGD, and offered the Gavel to him, WBro Alex S McLaren said it was always a pleasure to be offered the gavel by the Worshipful Master, and on this special occasion of WBro Rowden’s birthday he would accept it and take the chair.
After occupying the lodge chair Alex then addressed the lodge and said that WBro Rowden was born in 1926 and many other things happened during that year. There was the General Strike which lasted from May until December and Marshal Law was declared, John Logie Baird (Scottish Engineer) gave a demonstration of a mechanical television to the Royal Institution, (it took 10 years before the BBC did its first broadcast to 15,000 televisions and 5 years later there were 5 million televisions). The League of Nations abolished slavery. Other famous people born during that year were Queen Elizabeth II, Danny Blanchflower, Jack Brabham, Marilyn Monroe, Kenneth Williams, Frank Carson, Ian Paisley, Fidel Castro, and David Attenborough.
WBro Robert Henry Rowden was initiated into Freemasonry in 1963 the same year that President John F Kennedy was assassinated, a hurricane in Cuba killed 7,000 people, Harold Wilson was elected as Leader of the Labour Party, and there were also two James Bond Movies released.
He asked the Lodge Director of Ceremonies to place WBro Rowden on a chair in the centre of the lodge. Alex then invited the Worshipful Master WBro Leadbeater, WBro Rowden’s son-in-law, to give a tribute. WBro Leadbeater began by telling all that Robert was born in Bristol on the 9th March 1926. During the war Robert served in the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Bideford in the North Atlantic. The Bideford was a Shoreham-class sloop, was built in 1931 and named after the town Bideford, Devon.
Robert was about to be posted to the Far East so whilst he was between ships, in 1945, he returned to Bristol and married the love of his life, Joyce, in August of that year. In 1946 his daughter Linda was born and after much arranging a telegraph was sent to his ship with news of the birth to the great excitement of his fellow crew members. After the war Robert returned to his job in the CWS flour mill. He was soon promoted to chief clerk at the factory in Oldham and relocated his wife and child to a residence in Limeside Oldham where they were welcomed most heartily by the local residents. Robert was subsequently promoted to chief clerk Manchester, then Manager of Oldham, and ended up as Manager in the CWS Avonmouth. His Freemasonry interest started when he was based in Oldham in 1952, however he was not initiated into freemasonry until 1963 when he joined Ben Brierly Lodge 3317 and became Master in 1978. He is still a very active member of the lodge and has held the post of Chaplain for 22 years. He was a founder of Tonge Hall Lodge 8763, Master of Middleton Lodge 8517 and Woodchurch Lodge 4308, and was exalted into Ben Brierly Chapter 3317 in 1964 where he is still their current organist.
WBro Leadbeater met Robert’s daughter Linda at several ladies evening and subsequently married her and as a result Robert now has two Grandsons and Two Great Granddaughters which he is very proud of.
Besides freemasonry Robert’s other passion was golf and he used to play at Wirral Ladies Golf Club, however, due to knee complaints he is unable to play anymore so has taken up doing Jigsaws.
WBro Leadbeater finished off his tribute by saying it is an honour to know Robert and to be his son-in-law.
WBro Alex McLaren addressed Robert by saying he hoped that what was said was not inappropriate. He went on to say he had known Robert for many years, served with him as a Provincial Steward in Chapter and it was a pleasure for him to be present at this celebration.
WBro Alex McLaren then read out a letter of congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master of East Lancashire, Sir David A Trippier and presented Robert with his Birthday certificate. Alex then asked the Lodge Director of Ceremonies to escort Robert around the lodge to rapturous applause.
WBro Alex McLaren, together with Robert, and the Grand Officers retired from the lodge which subsequently was closed by the Worshipful Master M Miles Leadbeater.
VWBro Derek Thornhill, WBro Neville Raynor, Lodge members and guests
Congratulation to Bro Robert Holder, a life long member of Langley Lodge, in reaching sixty years in freemasonry. His celebration took place at Middleton Masonic Hall on Thursday 7th March 2013 with the lodge opening in due form by the Worshipful Master WBro Neville Rayner, who then received the Deputy Provincial Grand Master VWBro Derek Nelson Thornhill, PGSwdB
The Worshipful Master, and the members present, welcomed VWBro Thornhill. The Master then offered the Gavel to VWBro Derek Thornhill who said “it was always an honour to be offered the gavel by any lodge, however, on this special occasion of Bro Holder’s birthday he would accept it”
After occupying the lodge chair the DPGM introduced the Provincial Senior Warden WBro Peter Faulkner, the Junior Warden WBro Mark Davies, the Provincial Grand Secretary WBro John Farrington, the Provincial Directors of ceremonies WBro Harold Cooper & WBro John Griffin, together with the rest of the Provincial Deputation.
The DPGM then asked his Director of Ceremonies to escort the birthday boy, Bro Robert Holder, to a seat in the centre of the lodge and called upon WBro Vernon to give a tribute our birthday boy.
WBro Neville Raynor, Bro Robert Holder and VWBro Derek Thornhill
WBro Reginald Vernon PPGSwB began by saying that Robert was not a Lewis but his father was a Freemason, a Past-Master of Langley Lodge and was well known. Robert was initiated into freemasonry on the 5th March 1953 by WBro Jimmy Moss, who had just been installed into the chair the previous month.
In 1953 it was not easy to become a mason and it could take up to 5 years to be initiated with a further 5 years as a steward. In many cases when the junior brethren met to practise there could be between 20 to 25 junior brethren queuing up to be selected to rehearse a piece of ritual.
Robert and WBro Vernon were Stewards for many years and Robert reached the heights of being Top Steward. He took his job very seriously because, in those days, in the Old Pavilion, they had to clear the room of Lodge Furniture and lay tables for the Social Board as it was the only room available. The geometry of the table lay-out depended upon the numbers present which necessitated Robert to create seating plans for each different numbers attending. As Robert was a Professional Printer the Lodge benefited from his skills because besides the seating plans, he would print place cards, ballot papers, summonses, etc. Robert became an accomplished ritualistic and it was a great pity that due to business commitments he was unable to give his masonry the attention it deserved.
Robert’s business was flourishing, and Middleton Cricket Club wished to have a professional cricketer from South Africa in their club but not able to employ him, so they asked Robert to employ the man in his business. That man was Basil D’Olivera who eventually played Cricket for England but sadly passed away last year.
Robert was called-up into the RAF during the War years and served in India, Burma, and Malaya after the atomic bomb, and relates many tales of his experiences.
Robert’s passion was his garden and he loved to produce orchids in his many green houses, he was also a member of Primula and Auricular Society, sadly he is no longer able to pursue his hobby for various reasons, but when you call at his house you always find orchids there.
Robert was devoted to his wife and was a tower of strength during her long term illness; unfortunately Wendy lost her battle and passed away. Before Wendy’s illness they spent many years holidaying in Austria and to ensure they enjoyed their holidays to the full Robert learned German to get the best out their holiday.
WBro Vernon concluded his tribute to Robert by thanking the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for allowing him to give this tribute to his great friend and Brother.
Bro Robert Holder, VWBro Derek Thornhill, WBro Neville Raynor and Lodge members
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master related to other great things that happened in 1953;- Queen Coronation of our present Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, Eisenhower was president of the USA, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister from 1951-1955, Edmund Hillary & Nepalese Sherpa Tensing Norgay conquered Mount Everest, the average cost of a house was £2,000, Sir Stanley Matthew played his last FA Cup Final, and Arsenal were the league winners with 54 points.
The DPGM then read out a letter of congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master of East Lancashire, Sir David A Trippier and presented Robert with his Birthday certificate. The Deputy then asked the Provincial DC’s to escort Robert around the lodge to rapturous applause.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, together with Robert, and the Deputation retired from the lodge which subsequently was closed by the Worshipful Master WBro Neville Rayner PAGDC.
This year 58 widows from 32 lodges in the district were chauffeured by lodge members to the annual Christmas party held at Middleton Masonic Hall on Tuesday 11th December. All the ladies were welcomed by the District Chairman, WBro David Dunn, who then went on to welcome the principal guests with a special welcome to WBro John Dixon the treasurer who has not been able to attend for several years due to illness.
After grace, proposed by WBro Jack Ball, everyone enjoyed a festive meal beautifully presented by Middleton Catering staff and the liquid refreshment was yet again served by several Werneth Lodge 6163 members, who this year were dressed as footballers.
Following the meal, WBro David Dunn proposed the loyal toast, and then introduced the principal guest of the evening, our past District Chairman WBro Philip Price PAGDC and his wife Lynn.
WBro Price started by saying this was one of Lynn’s and his favourite occasions and discussed with David Dunn how he could get himself onto the top table to share these happy times with the ladies and the only way of doing this was to be their guest of honour.
He went on to say that masonry cares and it is very pleasing to be brought together by the chairman with so much warmth and affection and hoped everyone would continue to enjoy the evening organised by the team and their helpers. He asked everyone to show their appreciation to David Dunn, John Dixon, Howard Nuttall and Jack Ball. He also stated how very pleased he was to see John Dixon at the party and looking so well as he had known Jack for many years and had missed his company.
He began his toast to the ladies by saying that his wife Lynn said that were he able to think like a woman he would have gone far, as all ladies excel in everything they do and woe betide any man that thought differently.
Ladies are also very good at multitasking and the skills that fall naturally to a lady such as how to pump up a cushion, how to draw curtains, correctly hang washing and take things back to Marks & Spencer. He felt sure that he was a disappointment to Lynn as he had mastered these skills.
Such tasks are effortless to you ladies so just continue to be as you are- intelligent, lovely, decorous charming etc
This was their evening and it was a privilege for us, as masons, to be with you to enjoy your togetherness your thoughts and your fellowship so may you have a wonderful Christmas, keep in touch with your almoner and his helpers, keep well so that we can share the same happy times next year. He then invited the brethren to stand and drink the toast to the ladies
WBro Alex McLaren APGM stood and responded to the toast on behalf of the ladies by saying it was his duty to thank WBro Price and Lynn for the toast. He commented that he was sure that Philip was not a disappointment to anyone let alone his wife Lynn and especially his mother who was present and listening to every word. Alex went on to say that everything Philip had said was true about the ladies, intelligent, charming, and they excelled in everything they did. Never a truer word had been said, however, he did not recognise such things as puffing cushions drawing curtains, washing.
He thanked Philip for the lovely toast to the ladies and he was sure all the ladies were enjoying themselves, and on behalf of all the ladies he formally thanked WBro Nuttall and his committee for organising the evening and also the stewards whom he recognised from three years ago when they were dressed in kilts. He thanked them for their enthusiasm and fun joining in the event. Thanks also went to Julie, the Catering Manager, for an excellent meal. He finished his speech by saying that the event had been going for forty years and he was sure that all the guests would want him to say to the chairman that it was his responsibility to make sure it would run for the next forty years. He finished by thanking Philip for the toast to the ladies.
Following the meal the entertainment began with Richard Daniels singing a wide selection of songs and inviting the ladies to join in if they knew the words. During the interval the raffle was drawn and some 18 ladies selected a raffle prize. After the interval the members of Werneth lodge, aided by Richard Daniels, sang “We wish you a Merry Christmas” after which the Werneth brethren partnered many ladies in dancing to songs by Richard. The last song of the evening, by popular request, was the”New York New York” whereby almost all ladies were seen doing the high kicks to the song.
At the end of the evening all the ladies were given a gift of Christmas cheer and WBro David Dunn wished everyone a merry Christmas and a safe journey home.
If you have any new stories you would like to see published here, please contact
WBro John LeBrun, District Communications Officer for Oldham District.