Don Peacock Relects on Modern Masonic Recruitment
During my forty year career in telecommunications, I was often struck by the rate of change not only in the technology we were producing but also our business processes and methods. When you are in the middle of all this change it is at times frustrating and annoying. However, on looking back it is very much apparent that we had to evolve or the world would have passed us by.
Classic car runs have become major fund-raising events for Masons, bringing out families and friends in a community day out which involves vehicles and their owners from many parts of the country.
During the summer, the Leicestershire & Rutland Freemasons’ Classic Car Run took place, when 30 pre and post-war classics assembled for the event. The older cars included a 1934 Rolls Royce, a 1933 Aston Martin and a Lanchester.
For the second year, the wartime Willys Jeep, together with driver and passenger in wartime uniform, took part. The post-war classics ranged from a 1948 Allard and included Rolls Royces, Jaguars and a Ferrari.
The run was started by entertainer Engelbert Humberdinck and Lady Gretton, the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire. After being waved off, the cars took a circuitous route to Grimsthorpe Castle, 40 miles away near Bourne in Lincolnshire, quite an onerous run for some of the more elderly vehicles!
This year the runners were raising money for LOROS and the Ruby Rainbow Appeal by sponsorship for the journey. Over the past four years, classic car events held by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have raised more than £17,000 for local and national charities.
This year they were hoping to raise more than £5,000, and one participant has already raised more than £1,000 for sponsorship of his classic car in this event.
Specialist lodges: all the fun of the fair
A newly-consecrated lodge has been set up for travelling showmen, John Jackson reports
When the ancient Goose Fair, well over 700 years old, gets underway at Nottingham in October, among the showmen who will be entertaining the thousands of visitors will be members of a newly consecrated Lodge, The Showmen’s No. 9826.
Showmen have been associated with fairs as far back as at least Roman times, the word ‘fair’ deriving from the Latin word ‘feria’ meaning ‘holiday’. As fairgrounds became established, many were granted charter status by the sovereign, and a number of these charter fairs exist today with their showmen in attendance.
These include King’s Lynn, under a charter granted by King John in 1204, which traditionally starts the travelling showmen’s season on St Valentine’s Day – 14 February.
The association with the church still continues to this day, for the opening ceremony at King’s Lynn begins with a blessing from the Mayor’s Chaplain.
These early fairs were originally for the sale of livestock, but quickly attracted the travelling showmen, and many fairs were associated with Saints’ days and the early Christian church.
The granting of a charter by the sovereign was much prized, as it laid down the dates, provided protection against rival fairs and gave the right to collect dues and tolls. In return, there was an obligation to hold the fair on the stated dates.
Many autumn fairs did not have a charter and were known as ‘Mop’ or ‘Hiring’ fairs, and some still exist. At these fairs, prospective employers reviewed potential employees.
Sometimes a second fair – known as a Run-Away Mop – was held for those seeking to change jobs or those who had not found work on the first occasion.
With the showmen travelling hundreds of miles, it has not been easy trying to put a Lodge together for such a mobile group of Masons. The original idea came from secretary Paul Maltby, but it would not have got off the ground but for the enthusiasm of Darren Jones, first Master, and his Uncle Jimmy Wheatley, first Senior Warden.
The Lodge, consecrated in February, has 31 founders – all showmen – and many of them run the big rides, so popular with children. It was because they were so scattered that the idea of a Lodge arose. However, the plan has been an instant success, with seven candidates lining up to become Masons as well as five joining members waiting to come on board. The Lodge will hold its meetings at Loughborough in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, whose Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Michael H Roalfe, officiated at the consecration meeting.
The Lodge was also given a great deal of help by Richard Moss of Belper Masonic Regalia in Derbyshire.
Summer is the busiest time for showmen, so the Lodge will be meeting five times a year ‘out of season’ in September, November, December, January and February.
Although showmen are spread over the country, there is a central organisation, the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain, which is both a trade union and trade association, and was originally formed around 1888-1889 as the United Kingdom Van Dwellers Protection Association (the Guild). There is also a Showmen's Guild Lodge No. 9089 associated with the Guild, which meets at Clevedon in Somerset.