The Members of Widnes and Knowsley Lodge No.3581 celebrated their centenary with a very special meeting attended by the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker.
Peter Hosker was accompanied by his Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Howard Jones, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Ian Boswell, Widnes Group Chairmen David Redhead and the Provincial team and a host of other Grand and acting Provincial Grand Officers. With a total of 96 brethren attending to celebrate the event, eight of whom were visiting masters; extra seating had to be put out in the lodge room to accommodate all present.
The Worshipful Master of Widnes and Knowsley Lodge, Robert Winch, (for the fifth time), opened the meeting and conducted the initial business of the lodge. With this business complete, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp announced the arrival of Peter Hosker. Peter was escorted into the lodge room by the Provincial team in full splendour with the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Brian Blanchfield, holding the sword upright and the Provincial Grand Standard Bearers, Andrew Thompson and Alan Lock (deputising), with their standards making the procession even more majestic and colourful.
Keith introduced Peter to Robert who gave him a very warm welcome and invited him to take the gavel and occupy the chair, which Peter did. Peter then appointed his Provincial officers to their respective positions and proceeded to open Provincial Grand Lodge.
In his opening address to the lodge, Peter said: “what a magnificent occasion this is and a wonderful achievement for the lodge”. It is an occasion made even more special as when Widnes Lodge No.2819 and Knowsley Lodge No.3581 amalgamated in 2006 the members of Widnes Lodge proposed the use of Knowsley Lodge number for the new lodge to allow Knowsley Lodge to reach its centenary as Widnes Lodge had already reached its centenary in 2000.
Peter then requested Arend Van Duyvenbode, (acting Provincial Grand Secretary), to read out the details on the centenary warrant, which he did very articulately. The warrant was then delivered into the hands of Peter who took great pleasure in presenting it to Robert Winch. This was followed by a presentation of the centenary jewel to Robert, after which the members of the lodge were given permission to display their centenary jewel.
After the presentation, Peter requested Rev Graham Halsall (Provincial Grand Chaplain) to deliver an oration. In his oration, Graham gave the assembled brethren an interesting account of the history of Knowsley Lodge. The lodge was consecrated on 25 March 1912 in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master, The Honourable Arthur Stanley MP, third son of The 16th Earl of Derby, at Hope Street in Liverpool.
The following years were very busy with many initiations taking place with subsequent second and third degree ceremonies. The initiation of the youngest member took place in 1918 after special dispensation was granted to permit the son of a subscribing brother from another lodge be admitted as a minor or Lewis, he was just 19 years old. Membership of the lodge peaked in 1960 at 155, today membership stands at 26.
Throughout the periods of the First and Second World Wars, the members of Knowsley Lodge were undaunted and continued with their meetings. During the First World War servicemen were permitted to attend in uniform and during the Second World War, when as prisoners of war, they continued in the privacy of their quarters to practice ritual.
Following an approach by Widnes Lodge, the amalgamation of Knowsley Lodge with Widnes Lodge in 2006 came about after many meetings and a harmonious agreement was reached and the lodge got off to a busy start. In the first three months they had three important events; the celebration of 50 years Masonic service by Hartley Sanders, the amalgamation ceremony and a celebratory dinner to mark the retirement of Alan Griffiths as Widnes Group Chairman.
David Cook was the first to be initiated into Widnes and Knowsley Lodge, he was made an Entered Apprentice by Derek Williams in 2008 and if all goes to plan, Derek will install him into the chair of King Solomon in 2013.
The oration by Graham was followed by a dedication prayer after which Peter closed Provincial Grand Lodge and invited Robert to resume his chair, the lodge officers then resumed their positions.
Robert thanked Peter for a magnificent ceremony and then presented him with two cheques; one for £3,581 made out to West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity and one for £800 made out to Widnes Masonic Hall Limited. Peter said that on behalf of the recipients he was sure that the cheques would be gratefully received and faithfully applied.
The Alms collection for charity raised £306 of which £217 was gift aided.
With the centenary celebration complete, Peter retired from the lodge accompanied by Grand officers and escorted by the Provincial team. The final lodge business was transacted by Robert, before he closed the lodge and all retired to a splendid meal at the festive board.
Howard Jones replied to the toast to the Grand Officers saying: “Thanks for having me back after being here for the installation meeting; it is a great pleasure to be here and be part of this wonderful celebration.” He then proposed a toast to the Provincial Grand Master in which he said that Peter does a lot of work in the background, this is not the first centenary celebration this year and there are a few more to come.
In his reply Peter said: “It was a pleasure to lead such a celebration, a centenary is a very special landmark and I enjoyed going back into the chair.” He thanked Ian Boswell for his involvement in making the website very successful and the Provincial team for the excellent work they carried out in the lodge room. He then conveyed his warmest congratulations to the lodge members and said it was a privilege to come along and share the celebration.
Proposing the toast to Knowsley Lodge, Ian remarked how the lodge had benefitted from the amalgamation by sharing the number of the former Knowsley Lodge. He said that the lodge is now lively and vibrant and may it prosper for very many more years to come.
Robert Winch responded to this toast saying: “It is a privilege to respond to this toast, the lodge has a really good relationship since the amalgamation and we now have two light blues coming up through the ranks.” He thanked Derek Williams and Peter Carter for their tireless work over a number of years in the planning of the centenary celebration.
Four bottles of whisky were up for grabs in the raffle; first prize went to Howard Jones, second to Paul Smith, third to Alan McElhinney and forth to Hartley Sanders. The sum of £455 was raised from the raffle and this was presented by Robert Winch to Allen Yates and Paul Burrows who are doing a coast to coast walk for charity.