Attendance exceeded all records this year as 1,000s of visitors enjoyed the seventh annual Hope Street Feast which was blessed with a dry start but a wet afternoon.
The curiosity of the public was undiminished as record numbers took the opportunity to visit the Liverpool Masonic Hall which once again opened its doors to all-comers. The lounge bar was thronged with visitors who were able to enjoy the full bar and refreshment facilities provided by the hardworking hall catering staff. In addition to cold refreshments, the servings of traditional hot ‘scouse’ and red cabbage, beef curry, and meat balls were as popular as ever and the many customers kept the catering staff busy throughout the day.
The West Lancashire Regalia shop was manned by members of the committee who reported brisk sales of both masonic and non-masonic items. This store now has a considerable inventory and is able to supply all masonic items. Chairman Derek Cadwallader and secretary Mike Melling assisted by Eric Poole were pleased to answer many queries and talk about Freemasonry with the many visitors and customers. Derek said: 'Sales benefitting Masonic halls were greater this year than for any previous Feast. I am really pleased.'
Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Paul Shepherd, Liverpool vice-chairman Steve Walls, group treasurer Steve Kayne and Liverpool Masonic Hall Chairman John Roberts gave members of the public continual conducted tours throughout the day of the lodge rooms and facilities of the hall. They also answered the many questions posed by visitors regarding the theory and practice of the Craft. It is estimated that over 1,500 visitors received the tours of the hall. Chairman John Roberts said: 'People who toured the hall were really complimentary and appreciated the opportunity they had to see inside this magnificent building.'
Other volunteers assisted by sitting in their regalia in the lodge offices to help explain the layout of lodge rooms. Masonic history expert Geoff Cuthill was on hand at the War Memorial to explain to visitors the valiant contributions made by Liverpool masons to the defence of the realm in battle and to expound on other historic events in Freemasonry.
These tours proved extremely popular and long queues quickly developed to view the magnificently Corinthian, Roman and Egyptian suites. The War Memorial and long hall which contains a museum of historic masonic artefacts proved a fascination for many of the visitors. It was quite apparent that many of the them were deeply interested in Freemasonry judging by the depth and types of questions being asked of and answered by the tour guides.
This year recruitment to the Craft was boosted by the presence of the Provincial trailer manned throughout the day by the very hardworking group membership officers David Sullivan and Paul Rattigan. Both did a superb job of being the friendly faces and first contacts for potential new members. They distributed leaflets containing information about Freemasonry and encouraged members of the public to tour the Hall. A large number of enquiries were made regarding membership and requesting further details.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master Stanley Oldfield accompanied by his wife Marlene were on hand throughout the day to support and encourage the hardworking volunteers.