In early 1914 the winds of war were already spreading over mainland Europe. Discontent was growing in the Balkans and the hurricane which would be unleashed later that year was fomenting. Closer to home in Britain, Irish home rule was on the governmental agenda and suffragettes were pushing their cause and gaining momentum. Masonry had been well established in the country for many years with some lodges nearby already having celebrated their centenary. Unanimity Lodge in Preston No. 113 in particular.
The town of Fleetwood, at that time, had a single masonic lodge – Hesketh Lodge No. 950 – and it was from there that seven members joined with seven brethren from other lodges to form a new lodge in the town, which was to be known as Fleetwood Lodge No. 3711. The lodge was consecrated on 11 March 1914 at the Mount Hotel. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Louis S Winslow, was in attendance along with a number of other Grand and Provincial Grand Officers.
A little over 100 years later over 90 brethren gathered at the Savoy Hotel in Blackpool to celebrate the centenary of Fleetwood Lodge No. 3711.
The WM Howard Valentine opened the lodge and the dispensations to hold the special meeting were read by the secretary Mark Blundell. Howard transacted the other business of the lodge before it was announced that the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Howard Jones, was without and demanded admission.
The brethren rose and Howard was admitted accompanied by Harry Cox, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Raymond Martland, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Duncan Smith, Chairman of the North Fylde Group and a number of grand and acting Provincial grand officers.
Howard Valentine offered Howard Jones the gavel of the lodge which was accepted and he took his place in the chair of King Solomon.
Howard then nominated his Provincial team in readiness to open Provincial Grand Lodge. For that purpose, Harry Cox was requested to assist as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Mark Matthews the position of Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Joseph Hall as Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Graham Halsall as the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Neil McSymons as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Frank Kennedy as Provincial Grand Tyler, Peter Taylor, Provincial Grand Secretary, along with other acting officers, all in their respective positions for the purposes of the centenary ceremony.
Howard then opened Provincial Grand Lodge and called upon the Provincial Grand Chaplain Graham Halsall to give an oration to the lodge. Graham started his oration by informing the brethren a little about how the town of Fleetwood come to be and surprised most present by revealing that there were three lighthouses in Fleetwood.
At the conclusion, Graham was congratulated by Howard for his well-researched and well-rehearsed oration. The assembled brethren concurred with extended applause.
Howard was then pleased to present the lodge members with their splendid centenary jewels.
A prayer of rededication followed which was led by Graham, this was followed by the closure of Provincial Grand Lodge. Howard returned the gavel to Howard Valentine who resumed the WM’s chair. Howard then rose and thanked the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the wonderful and enjoyable ceremony. He then presented Howard with a cheque to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity for the magnificent sum of £3,711. Howard thanked the lodge members for their splendid donation.
The Provincial party then retired in a magnificent and colourful recession before Howard Valentine closed the lodge and the brethren made their way to the dining room where they enjoyed a happy and convivial festive board.
In readiness for the meeting, the lodge produced a centenary booklet containing lodge information and historical notes. The booklet was written and assembled by Mark Bludell with the assistance of members Peter Bailey, David Brooks, Brian Chapman, Neil McSymons, Jonathon Moss, Alan Ollerton, Peter Tebbs, Edward Vollans and Dewi Williams who all spent hours trawling through the numerous minute books to build the story about the lodge’s existence.
Harry Cox had the pleasure of proposing the health of Howard Jones at the festive board and during his proposition Harry informed the brethren that Howard was a people’s person, always had a ready smile and a welcoming approach to all that he meets. As a Freemason, he had had two acting ranks that really got him known around the Province. Harry continued by adding the Howard was doing a magnificent job as our Deputy Provincial Grand Master.
Howard in his response to the toast to his health congratulated the lodge and commented in saying ‘well done to the founders and well done to the members’. He then offered his own toast to the lodge.