There was a large gathering of brethren at Wellington Park, Leyland, for a very special anniversary meeting, the purpose being that of celebrating 150 years of masonic service of Hesketh Lodge No. 986
In fact there were over 150 brethren in attendance to mark the lodge’s milestone. The atmosphere was one which was full of anticipation of the celebration ahead and there was a real buzz around the lodge room.
The lodge was opened by the current worshipful master, Ian Smith, who before the meeting was full of the apprehension a ceremony of this nature could stir. Once he was into his stride though he very quickly despatched the lodge business and admitted Ray Martland, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, into the lodge room. Ian, out of courtesy and as a right, offered the lodge gavel to Ray who, on this occasion retained it as it was befitting for this celebratory ceremony. Ray started by saying: 'Are we all sitting comfortably?' He then set about telling a brief and concise history of the lodge.
Hesketh Lodge was consecrated in 1863 when there were other notable and historical facts in the same year. Queen Victoria was on the throne, the Prime Minister was Viscount Palmerston and the first section of the London underground was completed. The FA was founded at the Freemasons Arms in Long Acre, London and scarlet fever caused 30,000 deaths.
At a meeting of the Lodge of Harmony held at Ormskirk, Lancashire, on 26 August 1863, the petition to form Hesketh lodge was signed. At this time there were only 85 lodges in the whole of Lancashire of which 55 were in East Lancashire and 30 in what is now West Lancashire. The Province now has 367 lodges.
It was decided that the first meeting would be held on the third Tuesday in November at the Grapes Inn, Croston, and to have the warrant read and the master installed. The annual subscription was one guinea for 33 years with an initiation fee of 5 guineas. Hesketh Lodge is the mother lodge of a number of other lodges including Carnarvon Lodge No. 2376, Coppull Lodge No. 4232, St Michael’s Lodge No. 5756, Eccleston Lodge No. 7754 and Tarleton Lodge No. 7871.
Ray asked the members of the lodge to stand and he commented that it gave him great pleasure to be able to say thank you to those brethren whose foresight and enthusiasm made it possible in the founding of this lodge. He went on to congratulate them and their successors on a happy and successful one and a half centuries of service to Freemasonry. He concluded the celebration by saying that he hoped the lodge would be refreshed and reinvigorated and may they continue to enjoy the friendship and the good fellowship of this, the world’s finest fraternal organisation.
Once Ray had completed his oration he invited Ian back into the chair before he was presented with a number of cheques. These cheques were each written out for the sum of £986, the number of the lodge, and there were six in total. Two were written out to the Wellington Park Masonic Hall loan reduction fund and one each to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, St Catherine’s Hospice, Derian House and the Rosemere Cancer Foundation. Ray thanked the lodge for their kind donations. He also said that the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, had sent his good wishes and celebratory congratulations and wished the lodge health and happiness for the future.
There were eight toasts on the toast list for the evening and following the first toast to the Queen the most important one was indeed the toast to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Ray Martland. In his reply Ray was more than pleased to be offered the opportunity to be present at the occasion. He brought his own best wishes to the lodge and thanked every member and their predecessors for having ensured the well being of the lodge. He said that he hoped the lodge would continue to thrive for at least another 50 years but quipped, and conceded that he didn’t think that he would be present at that occasion.
Stewart Seddon the Leyland Group Chairman then proposed the next toast of the evening that to Hesketh Lodge No. 986. He started by thanking the lodge secretary David Lloyd for affording him the pleasure of being able to make the toast. He also mentioned that the lodge members are merely custodians of Freemasonry and past performance is no guarantee of future success – the immediate future of the lodge rests in their hands. He also mentioned that 50 years ago at the lodge’s centenary celebration there were three lodge members who were also at this celebration too. Jack Staziker a member for 65 years, David Johnson a member for 55 years and Alan Heald a member who will celebrate his 50 years in the coming weeks.
Ian Smith responded to this toast on behalf of the lodge and saying what an honour it had been for him to have served as WM in the lodge’s 150th year. He praised the organising committee for all their hard work preparing for the big day and thanked Ray and the Provincial team for attending and making the day additionally special.
At the end of a very enjoyable day’s celebration every lodge member and visitor went home happy and with the knowledge that they had witnessed and been a part of Hesketh lodge’s 150 year celebration. Each were gifted with cuff links which had been embossed with the lodge crest as a memento of this special evening.