Having been on the verge of extinction for a number of years, due to failing numbers, Portland Lodge No.6170, which meets at Ashington Masonic Building, has had new life breathed into it having been adopted by the, well publicised, Bedlington and Ashington Meals on Wheels initiative
Portland Lodge was consecrated on 13th September 1945, with the Provincial Grand Master Sir Cecil A Cochrane officiating and acting as Consecrating Officer. The sum of Five Guineas was paid to a choir to sing at the Consecration but for many years following that Portland Lodge enjoyed the services of the Wansbeck Lodge Choir who always sang at the Installation Meetings. It is also recorded that a Miss A Robson was paid 12 shillings and sixpence for cooking the Consecration Banquet. The Lodge was born out of the length of waiting times for Candidates in their respective Lodges and the protracted time that a junior officer would have to wait to be given the opportunity to advance. In the lead up to the Consecration no mention was made in any of the Minutes of the meetings which were held as to the name of the Lodge, however at that time most of the land in the Ashington area was owned by His Grace the Duke of Portland. Bill Gibson, who was the Secretary Designate of the new Lodge, was a personal friend of the then Duke, having saved the life of his son in the First World War. An approach was therefore made to Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire requesting permission for the new Lodge to be called the Duke of Portland Lodge. In his personal handwritten reply the Duke insisted that the Lodge be called Portland Lodge and also granted his permission for his Coat of Arms to be used as a crest.
In the early stages Portland was thought to be a Lodge for the ‘Upper Crust’ but nothing could be further from the truth. Out of the first twelve initiates there were 2 grocers, a plumber, a licensed victualler, an electrician, a storekeeper, a colliery datal hand and a schoolteacher – a true cross section.
The Meals on Wheels initiative began at the start of lockdown whereby members attend Ashington Masonic Hall every Sunday to collect freshly cooked meals which are then promptly delivered to those in need. The service isn’t simply about delivering meals, it’s about connecting people who don’t see anyone else during the week and letting them know that others care about them.
Having initially decided to consecrate their own Lodge, they subsequently adopted an ailing lodge and Portland Lodge was agreed upon, with twelve members from the initiative being balloted for as joining members at their recent Installation meeting.
Having proclaimed John Warham, the Provincial Grand Master for the Royal Order of Scotland in the Province of Northumbria, as Worshipful Master for the third consecutive year, he immediately went on to appoint Gordon Craigs, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master in the Craft Province of Northumberland and the Past Provincial Grand Master in the Mark Province of Northumberland, as his Senior Warden, and Steven Read, the Inspector General of the Rose Croix in the District of Northumberland, as his Junior Warden.