The Provincial team were out in force recently to help the members of Abercromby Lodge No. 3699 celebrate their centenary meeting at Liverpool Masonic Hall
The proceedings commenced with the entrance of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones, whose arrival was heralded by Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp. He was preceded by the Provincial Standard Bearers and the Provincial Sword Bearer in a magnificent and colourful procession.
Howard was accompanied by many Grand and Acting Provincial Officers. Amongst those distinguished brethren were Mark Dimelow, the Chairman of the Liverpool Group, Sam Robinson, vice chairman Bob Povall and Abercromby Lodge grand officers Dudley York-Sumerskill and Ian Fisher.
Accepting the proffered gavel from the lodge WM Arthur Garnett, Howard took the chair and opened a special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge. He called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor, to read to the assembled brethren the centenary warrant issued by the Grand Master commemorating the centenary and permitting and authorising the members of Abercromby Lodge to wear their centenary jewel. Howard then formally presented the warrant and centenary jewel to Arthur Garnett, who promised to keep and pass on the warrant to his successors pure and unsullied as he received it.
A most wonderful oration was then delivered to the assembly by the Provincial Grand Chaplain the Rev Graham Halsall, who explained how Abercromby Lodge came to be so named. The lodge was consecrated on the eve of the Great War on 3 January 1914 and was named after nearby Abercromby Square, in those days a fashionable location filled with merchant’s homes and also the palace of the Bishop of Liverpool. The lodge motto is Vive et Vivas and Graham went on to moralise upon the meaning of those words, which could be translated as 'Live well so that others may live’. Graham then led the assembly in prayer for the future of the lodge and its members.
Howard passed on the greetings and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master who had been prevented from being in attendance due to illness. The special Provincial Grand Lodge was closed in due form and Howard returned the gavel to Arthur.
A comprehensive but concise history of Abercromby Lodge from consecration to the present day was then read to the lodge by Dudley York-Sumerskill. This history explained how the lodge became named and traced the story of the lodge and its members, including the effects on it of the vicissitudes of two world wars, the economic difficulties of the 1930s, as well as the more prosperous periods.
It was interesting to note that the lodge membership consisted at one time of many members of the teaching profession. Dudley made mention of several individual brethren who made notable contributions to the lodge including the first master, Herbert Standring and Billy Bucknall who were instrumental in founding the lodge. Abercromby lodge’s oldest surviving past master from 1957 is Herbert Price, who recently celebrated his 101st birthday! Although sound in mind and spirit, Herbert’s physical condition prevented him from attending the meeting. Dudley’s discourse was received with applause by the assembly. Although far too extensive to be reproduced here, several of the lodge members have co-operated to produce a written history which was distributed to the members and visitors for their interest.
It is pleasing to report that the lodge is now undergoing something of a renaissance with several younger members looking to advance through the lodge offices. The meeting reached a conclusion when Arthur Garnett presented Howard with a cheque for £300 which represented a donation by Abercromby Lodge to the masonic charities.
The lodge was closed and the brethren adjourned to a lavish festive board. Following the meal Howard gave a most interesting speech in which he gave an account of the life of Sir Arthur Stanley, who was the Provincial Grand Master at the time that Abercromby Lodge was consecrated. The consecration took place in the Bear’s Paw public house in Lord Street, Liverpool. This fascinating account received hearty applause and crowned what had been a most enjoyable and memorable evening and a fitting celebration of the practice of 100 years of Freemasonry by the brethren of Abercromby Lodge No. 3699.
Each September many Liverpool buildings open their doors to the general public as they take part in the annual Liverpool Heritage Open Days scheme. Members of the public, in organised groups, are allowed entry into many buildings throughout Liverpool which are normally closed to them throughout the year to see the magnificent architectural wonders with which the city is blessed
The Liverpool Masonic Hall in Hope Street is proudly included in the Heritage tours and was open to the public over a period of four separate days. Dozens of visitors to the Hall were given comprehensive tours by Liverpool group chairman Sam Robinson during morning and afternoon sessions. Sam was also able to give a special tour and interview to BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Graham Mack, which was broadcast on his morning show.
Commencing with a video presentation, Sam gave the visitors a comprehensive lecture on the history of Freemasonry as it began in Liverpool and details of the construction and developments of the Masonic Hall. The members of the public were then given a walking tour of the lodge rooms, dining rooms and other areas of interest inside the hall.
The visitors expressed particular interest in the Corinthian suite, the War Memorial and the Egyptian suite which is used for Royal Arch Masonry. They were also interested in the items of lodge furniture and their symbolic relevance. A number of them used the Victorian lift which is rumoured to have been used by Humphrey Bogart in one of his movies. Several visitors were surprised to be informed that the building is not solely used by Freemasons but that the enterprising directors of the hall lease time and space within the hall to outside organisations and individuals as additional sources of income.
Throughout the tours Sam answered and expanded upon numerous questions from the members of the public about Freemasonry in general, its rituals and procedures and about the benefits Freemasonry can give to its members. These open tours prove that there is a most gratifying there level of interest in the Craft from ordinary members of the public.
Further details and information regarding the Hall's facilities can be found on their website at: www.liverpoolmasonichall.co.uk
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.