The success of the Classic 300, a nationwide series of classic car runs supporting UGLE’s Tercentenary celebrations in 2017, has given rise to Square Wheels Lodge, No. 9966, consecrated in the British Motor Museum in Warwickshire. Edwin Smith meets the lodge that’s making a lot of noise
You have to be a certain sort of person to have a love for classic cars,’ says Peter Manning, Primus Master of Square Wheels Lodge. ‘And there’s an affinity between classic cars and Freemasonry.’
If the early days of the lodge are anything to go by, he’s not wrong. The lodge was only consecrated a few months ago, but already it has 90 members and a calendar brimming with events.
The genesis of the lodge, Peter explains, can be traced back to the Classic 300 – a series of 17 classic car rallies that took place across the country during the Tercentenary year, under the auspices of what was then the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club. When chairman John Cole chose to retire, the decision was taken to move the club from its base in Reading. ‘We settled on Warwick,’ says founding Secretary, now Senior Warden Peter Hughes, ‘because it’s at the centre of the country, it’s close to a lot of motor production, and it’s got a lovely masonic hall.’
The name of the classic car club was also changed to Square Wheels. It’s not necessary to be a Freemason in order to be a member of the car club but, Peter says, ‘the consensus was that the club could easily give birth to a lodge. We created a petition and David Macey, the Warwickshire Provincial Grand Master, who’s a petrolhead himself, supported it wholeheartedly.’
With the two Peters on the case, along with Lodge Secretary Bernard Foad tinkering under the bonnet, preparations accelerated. The warrant was secured in July last year and the consecration took place in October at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon – a ‘brilliant venue, full of classic cars,’ says Peter Manning. Some 253 people attended, including three Provincial Grand Masters: David Macey was the Consecrating Officer, Mike Wilkes of Hampshire & the Isle of Wight was the Consecrating Senior Warden, and Bob Vaughan of Worcestershire was the Consecrating Junior Warden.
The oil used during the ceremony was, appropriately, ‘Castrol R’ motor oil. ‘I wanted to burn it by putting a few drops in the censer,’ says Peter. ‘You really get the smell when it’s burning, but our Provincial Grand Chaplain suffers from asthma, so it wasn’t a good idea.’
'We'll take our wives and partners with us. They'll have the morning off while we have our meeting and then we'll go for a run around the Cotswolds and head home.’
The lodge has 75 founding members, 20 honorary members and welcomed a further 15 members early this year. It will primarily be based at Alderson House, a handsome Grade-II-listed Georgian building on the High Street in Warwick. Some of the lodge’s meetings in 2019, however, will take place elsewhere.
‘We’ll have four meetings a year,’ says Peter Manning. ‘Two in Warwick and the other two will be peripatetic – we’re taking the lodge to the members around the country.’ On 4 May, the lodge will meet in Bristol. ‘We will be taking wives and partners down with us. They can have the morning off while we have our meeting. After lunch, we will go for a run around the Cotswolds, have afternoon tea, and then head home.’
Another meeting is planned for Burton-on-Trent in July. ‘We want to spread the word around the country,’ says Peter Manning. ‘That’s one of the principal aims: for the lodge to visit its members rather than waiting for them to come to us.
‘I hope it’s going to be an extremely active lodge,’ he adds, ‘both masonically and socially. We want to make sure that partners get involved. At a lot of lodges, I think a problem can be that wives occasionally feel alienated, or at least not a part of it. But, clearly, we don’t want that to be the case.’ To that end, Peter Manning and others have also planned to organise an informal picnic every six weeks at a beauty spot or a National Trust venue.
There’s a need to keep ‘clear water’ between the car club and the lodge itself, but it is hoped that by touring around the country and remaining open to non-Freemasons, the club will fuel the future of the lodge. ‘The idea is to promote Freemasonry to the public through the club,’ he says. ‘We’re hoping it will be a feeder for initiates into the lodge.’
The cars themselves may prove to be a draw as well, with a huge range of vehicles in the club, from legendary marques to cute vintage runabouts. ‘There are some fairly heavy motors in the club,’ says Peter Hughes, but it’s his 1970 Fiat 500 that he describes as his ‘pride and joy’. ‘The biggest problem with my Fiat is keeping it away from my daughters,’ he says. It’s a far cry from the challenges he came up against in his early motoring life. He raced in Formula 3, and even shared a grid with the late, great Ayrton Senna. ‘I emphasise “shared a grid with”,’ he says, laughing. ‘It wasn’t “racing”. He went one way while I seemed to go backwards by comparison.’
Peter Manning is also very keen to emphasise that the club isn’t all about luxury or high-powered sports cars. On the contrary, ‘there’s a huge cross-section of vehicles,’ he says. ‘We’ve got loads of members who have MGBs and Austin 7s and goodness knows what. We’ve also got some beautiful pre-war Bentleys, but the nice thing is that it’s reflective of Freemasonry.’ What does he mean by that? ‘It might sound a bit poetic,’ Peter says, ‘but I mean it in the sense that everybody here has got the same passions: motoring and Freemasonry. It doesn’t really matter what you drive – we all enjoy it for what it is. It’s a great atmosphere we’ve created.’
Looking to the future, Peter Hughes is adamant that Square Wheels Lodge has the pulling power needed for further growth. Some of his back-of-the-envelope calculations based on research carried out by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs suggest that there might be as many as 10,000 Freemasons who own classic cars. ‘It’s predominantly a hobby for males over the age of 40,’ he says. ‘Which sounds a bit like Freemasonry.’
Other specialist motoring lodges are also beginning to spring up. ‘There’s a new one at the Mini factory in Oxfordshire, as well as Derbyshire, Cheshire and West Wales. I think a lot of Provinces are looking at this.’ He points to the Widows Sons, the association of Freemason motorcyclists, as an example of a community that can be built around a special interest. ‘They are huge on the charity side of things and everybody knows them – they have done very well. I think it’s a pattern we could follow.’
In fact, Peter Hughes sees no reason why there couldn’t be a national Freemasons’ association for classic vehicle enthusiasts. ‘I’d quite like us to take a lead; it would encourage people to visit other Provinces and build ties through meetings and cross-visiting. That’s got to be the next project.’
Motorcycling Freemasons in Hampshire, many dressed as Santa, delivered 1,500 presents to the local charity SCRATCH, which will distribute them to youngsters this Christmas
The Widows’ Sons Masonic Bikers Association (Southern Chapter) also presented a cheque for £2,153 for the charity’s Christmas Complete project.
Boxes were placed in Masonic centres across the county where toys were donated by Freemasons, whilst some lodges also raised money through raffles. The bikers, led by the Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Mike Wilks, then set off from the Province’s HQ to Southampton where the donations were handed over.
SCRATCH (Southampton City Region Action to Combat Hardship) was formed in 1999 to relieve the effects of poverty in the area. Last Christmas the charity gave parcels of toys to almost 2,000 children and young people across Hampshire.
A spokesman from SCRATCH said the support from the Freemasons was ‘amazing’ and added: ‘Donations of over £2,000 will allow us to purchase items when we have shortages for particular age groups.’
Mike Wilks said: ‘As Freemasons we are committed to helping our communities. Our members raise money for many charities and good causes but it is especially at this time of year we think of those less fortunate than ourselves.
‘It’s an honour to support SCRATCH and assist them with the wonderful work they do in our communities. We hope our donations will make Christmas a little easier for children and young people.’
The perfect match
Whether it’s a World Cup final or Sunday morning kickabout, football permeates our culture. Matthew Bowen finds out how the founders of Football Lodge want to harness this power to breathe new life into Freemasonry
Looking out over the pitch from the hospitality box in a football stadium, you can feel the theatre of what happens on the pitch and in the stands. There won’t be another match until next weekend, but echoes of last Saturday’s chants still linger in the air. The empty ground exudes a sense of limitless potential, much like Football Lodge, No. 9921, which is engaging at a grass-roots level to bring Freemasonry into their community.
Surveying the ground, Lodge founder and Primus Master, David Lallana (Liverpool and England player Adam Lallana’s father), explains the thinking behind forming the lodge. ‘The ‘F’ word was very important to us when we launched the lodge,’ he says. He’s not talking about Freemasonry, or football, but ‘fun’.
Football Lodge’s quirky take on masonic ritual made headlines after featuring in Sky’s Inside the Freemasons documentary. Members enter the lodge to the sound of the Match of the Day theme tune and can receive a card (yellow or red, depending on severity) for social faux pas. But there’s method to the madness.
‘We stick to the tenets, but see no point in suffering through meetings,’ says Lodge Secretary Bill Starkey, who’s joined David in the hospitality box. ‘Visitors to the lodge enjoy themselves, and the word is spreading.’ More than 280 guests attended the lodge’s consecration, and meetings regularly attract 100-plus members, who travel to Botley in Hampshire from as far away as Devon.
FOSTERING A TEAM SPIRIT
The popularity of the lodge is no doubt helped by its high-profile members, among whom is former England player and current Birmingham City coach James Beattie. Stars such as this may make the headlines, but the lodge uses its popularity to support the Province’s football community from the ground up. In its first year, Football Lodge granted £100-£150 to each club in the Mid-Solent Youth League to assist with forming under-nine’s teams. They also provided a new kit for Hamble United FC – with a square and compass logo on the breast – after a fire devastated their ground.
‘We’re proud of our community work and it’s a two-way street,’ says Worshipful Master Leon Whitfield. ‘Some people still see Freemasonry as elitist, but at Football Lodge, we’re just another team.’
To strengthen its presence within the community, the members understand that they now have a responsibility to convert the initial excitement into a lifelong commitment to Freemasonry as they guide the light blues through the ranks. David Lallana is on a mission to take Freemasonry into the 21st century – but he knows he can’t do this without bringing on the next generation.
‘We stick to the tenets, but see no point in suffering through meetings. Visitors to the lodge enjoy themselves, and the word is spreading’
MORE MEMBERS WITH EVERY MEETING
Ahead of each Installation meeting, the Loos Football, which was kicked across no man’s land by British soldiers towards German trenches in 1915 during the Battle of Loos, is transported down to the masonic hall by the Royal Irish Regiment. It sits on a pedestal on one side of the Worshipful Master. On the other side sits an identical football to the one used in the current Premier League season.
‘As experienced masons, we have a responsibility to create a pathway for junior brethren to take the Chair of King Solomon,’ says David. ‘We hope people aspire to our position, but it’s not about looking up to us, it’s about the future of Freemasonry.’ The lodge has initiated new members at every meeting so far as it looks to build the perfect team who can take it to the next level.
Newly initiated members include referees, semi-professional managers and ex-players, including Richard Appleton, who is an Academy scout for Portsmouth FC. For Richard, Freemasonry has echoes of the team environment he enjoyed when playing high-level football, but it goes beyond that. ‘Football Lodge has changed my perspective on Freemasonry,’ he says. ‘I thought it was a bit stuffy to begin with, but I enjoy the history. I like to get involved in all the parts in the Temple, and think it’s making me a better person’.
In order to achieve their goals, the founding members know they have to be sympathetic to the time limitations of younger men. ‘We’re very careful to not impinge on anyone’s lives,’ says Leon. ‘If you’ve got time, let us know. If you don’t, sit back, enjoy the meetings and relax. Not every member can make the same commitment, and we fully respect that.’
In addition to being professionally involved with football, Richard also works 14-hour days in construction, commuting to London most days from his home in Portsmouth. ‘I don’t find it easy to commit, but I believe that if you love something you make it work. I’m excited by the challenge of taking on what these guys have started and, along with the other light blues, carrying on our traditions and maintaining the buzz that surrounds the lodge.’
NEW SET OF GOALS
It’s clear something special is going on at Football Lodge. Their formula works, but they’re not resting on their laurels. ‘We see the lodge like a football club,’ says Leon. ‘When a club finds success, the hardest thing to do is maintain it.’ He’s keen to form affinities with other lodges to sustain this momentum. Farming out passing and raising ceremonies to other lodges in the Province that are struggling with attendance creates a buzz and, more importantly, an ‘interaction between a wider circle of brethren’.
If the growth continues, Football Lodge may become just the first in a line of football lodges around the country. ‘People are looking at what we’re doing here,’ says David, who is keen to share the lessons he’s learned, not only with others looking to set up similar lodges, but with Freemasonry as a whole. ‘We’ve adopted a young way of thinking to attract younger members. First and foremost, we want to create something that people enjoy.’
‘We’ve adopted a young way of thinking to attract younger members. First and foremost, we want to create something that people enjoy’
An impromptu meeting was held underwater between three lodges at the bottom of The National Diving & Activity Centre on 14th October 2018
Michael Wilson, Senior Warden and Master Elect of Ashley Lodge No. 6525 in Dorset, donned his diving gear to meet with Luke Sibley, Master of Arthurian Lodge No. 5658 in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, and John DeLara, Past Master of the Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope No. 574 in Berkshire, to help Michael celebrate his 70th Birthday at a depth of 70 metres for 70 minutes, whilst raising funds for the charity DDRC Healthcare, the Diving Diseases Research Centre in Plymouth.
In the event, the depth and duration were slightly exceeded with 71.2 metres for 78 minutes. The temperature at the bottom of the quarry was 6C and on the wind and rain swept surface it was a balmy 15C. Following the dive, refreshments comprised numerous mugs of hot chocolate and lashings of Old Jamaica ginger cake soaked in rum and cream.
To date, over £400 has been donated to DDRC Healthcare by the British Sub-Aqua Lodge No. 8997, Ashley Lodge, Arthurian Lodge, Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope and Fins and Flippers Swim School in Poole, Dorset.
Four Hampshire Freemasons dressed as superheroes and battled 90 degree heat as they cycled around the Isle of Wight in a race against two colleagues in boats – all in the name of charity
Together they raised more than £1,300 for Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington and drew the 11 hour race with their opponents at sea.
Plucky pedalers Andy Wort, Robin, Joe Traykov, Batman, Lee Marsh, Superman, and Mark Jones, Wonder Woman, are from the New Forest Lodge No. 319 in Hampshire.
The race was 64 miles long and the superheroes consumed 40 litres of water as they roared ahead of fellow lodge members Paul Adams and Adam Fuller, who were taking part in the Round the Island Race – a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight.
Later in the day the wind picked up and the yachts began to catch up and they all crossed the finishing line together.
Andy said: 'Our lodge meets in Lymington and Oakhaven Hospice does amazing work in the community.
'We’ve done various fundraisers in the past and when we decided to do this one we had no idea it would be so hot. It was exhausting and took several hours longer than we anticipated. At one point my chain broke, but luckily Wonder Woman came to my rescue.
'Incredibly, we all finished at the same time and we’re on the way to raising our target of £2,000.'
Oakhaven Hospice Trust provides specialist palliative care and support to those facing life-limiting illness and their loved ones in both a home and hospice setting.
Freemasons in Hampshire have formed a new lodge for those involved or interested in air travel as it attempts to attract members
It is the latest specialist lodge in the province following the creation of a Scouting lodge, football lodge, rugby lodge, sailing lodge and two motorsports lodges, which are proving highly popular.
The Samuel Cody Aviation Lodge No. 9953 – named after the early 19th century flying pioneer - meets in Bordon. Among its number are members and former members of the RAF, members and former members of civil aviation and ground crew, those from air traffic control as well as aeroplane enthusiasts.
It is run in the same way as any other lodge and its first master is Roger Bricknell who spent 25 years as a Concorde flight engineer – clocking up 14,000 flying hours.
Roger said: 'After the success of the other specialist lodges it became clear that there was enough interest to form a ‘flying’ lodge. There were many Freemasons from Hampshire and further afield who were keen to help.
'We do the same things as in other lodges, but just have a shared interest which makes meetings even more enjoyable.'
Mike Wilks, the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, consecrated the lodge. He said: 'We are using various methods to increase membership in the province and specialist lodges have proved a great way of doing it.
'Samuel Cody was a Wild West showman who became a flying pioneer and made the first ever flight in the UK in Farnborough in 1908. His name was a great choice and the lodge has got off to a flying start with interest from around the province and beyond.'
One of the new lodge’s members is Bernard Brown, well into his 90s, a world renowned air traffic controller who, amongst his achievements, is credited with the requirement that all pilots must be able to converse in English.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons have donated over £20,000 to 31 charities at a celebration evening at Farnborough Masonic Centre on 4th May
All the donations distributed to the charities had been raised from individual members of the area’s lodges. Of the many and varied methods of raising funds are raffles, special events and personal donations, all with the specific aim of distributing to local charities.
The evening was hosted by William Withers, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight. Dignitaries present included the local Aldershot Member of Parliament, Leo Docherty, together with the Mayor of Rushmoor, Sophia Choudhary, as well as Cllr Ken Muschamp, Cllr Charles Choudhary and Diane Bedford.
Representatives of the charities and other agencies gave interesting and inspirational talks about their own work and how donations are put to good use.
Amongst the 31 charities which received donations, were Phyllis Tuckwell, Lifelites, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Hampshire Air Ambulance, Stepping Stones, Limbcare, Henry Tyndale Community Special School and Veterans in Action.
William Withers said. 'This was a memorable and rewarding experience, with local and national charities coming together displaying such enthusiasm and in the process, making new friends. As Freemasons we believe in supporting our local communities in their functional activities and this event provided even more motivation for us to keep raising funds for such worthy causes.'
After the formal presentations had concluded, the attendees were invited to a buffet reception in the centre’s dining hall, where everyone had the opportunity to socialise and discuss many of the evening’s topics and recipients of the donations.
|Lodge No||Lodge Name||Charity|
|515||Zetland||Farnham Assist, Stepping Stones|
|723||Panmure||Phyllis Tuckwell, Limb Care, Step by Step|
|1331||Aldershot Camp||The Salvation Army, Hampshire Air Ambulance, Fleet Army Cadet Force|
|2475||Border||Stepping Stones, Messy Arts|
|2755||Waller Rodwell Wright||Asthma UK|
|4187||Palma Virtuti||Veterans Charity, Hampshire Air Ambulance|
|4919||Earl of Malmesbury||Stepping Stones|
|8385||Anniversary||Beavers Church Crookham|
|1971||Aldershot Army & Navy||SAAFA, Parity|
|2203||Farnborough North camp||Alzheimer's Café|
|4178||Aldershot Royal Engineers||Veterans in Action|
|4581||Mercury||Phyllis Tuckwell, Lifelites, Dogs for Good|
|5073||Fugelmere||Cancer Relief UK, Diabetes UK|
|6314||Ferneberga||Boots on the Ground, Alzheimer's Café|
|6664||Semper Fidelis||Phyllis Tuckwell|
|7154||Loyalty||Step by Step|
|7786||More Majorum||Ehlers-Danlos Support UK|
|7927||Lodge of Hospitality||Phyllis Tuckwell|
|8463||Rose of Hampshire||Prostate Cancer|
|8859||Mid Wessex Installed Masters||TBC|
|9107||Yateley Lodge||Tommy's Charity|
|9289||Alder Tree||Brain Tumour Charity|
|9336||United Progress||Henry Tyndale School|
|9393||Pegasus||Airborne Security Forces|
|9395||Ashburn St John||Wessex Cancer Trust|
|9732||Chevalier de Fer||TBC|
A Freemasons-funded project at a children’s hospice in Hampshire has been featured as part of a BBC show about disability and video games
Over the past year, the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight has provided significant funding to the charity Lifelites so it can provide life-changing assistive technology to children at a local hospice.
The ability to play video games can be beneficial for young people with disabilities. As many have very limited movement and are often unable to control anything for themselves, the technology Lifelites donates can help them to regain this ability. It can also help them to communicate with friends, encouraging social development and relieving isolation, as well as create the opportunity to play and have fun.
The lodge's Worshipful Master Warren Snook, together with his wife Lisa, hosted a black tie event at the Apollo Hotel which traditionally marks the end of his year of office.
Supported by their sons Oscar and Reuben, 160 people enjoyed the occasion with a splendid three course dinner followed by several toasts including one to all the ladies present.
The raffle and the auction which followed had some impressive offerings, most of which were not possible to buy on the open market. These included a rare 1960s Dimple Haig whisky, the use of a house near to Disney World, Florida, tickets to CarFest South, dinner bed and breakfast at Oakley Hall, a day sailing in the Solent and three day paddock entry to any European Grand Prix for two people which included the grid walk prior to the race.
Beaconsfield Lodge No. 2849 in Buckinghamshire was proud to celebrate 60 years of dedicated service to the lodge and Freemasonry as a whole, by Stan Brooker PPSGW
Stan was presented with a 60 year certificate by Buckinghamshire's Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Robinson at Slough Masonic Temple during the Installation of David Harfield as the lodge's new Worshipful Master.
Stan was born and raised in Shepherds Bush, West London, on the 5th May 1925. He joined the army at the age of 18 on the 6th May 1943. Whilst on active service in Normandy he was seriously wounded in the left arm. Stan was repatriated to the UK and subsequently discharged from the army, as medically unfit for active service, in January 1945.
Stan received a medal from the French Government in recognition of his service in the liberation of France in January 2018. He was made a 'Chevalier' in the Order National de la Legion d’ Honour.
After the war, Stan married Joan and they lived happily for 71 years; although sadly Joan recently passed away after a long illness. Stan and Joan had a son and daughter who in turn gave them grandchildren and great-grandchildren all of whom he is justly proud. In the 1960s, Stan and Joan moved from Shepherds Bush to live in Hayes, Middlesex, and again moved in 1989 to Andover where he still resides. Stan was a toolmaker by trade and in particular, worked for Johnson Matthey making specialist tools for their famous jewellery business in Hatton Garden.
Stan joined Freemasonry by becoming a member of Beaconsfield Lodge on 23rd April 1958, and 12 years later he attained the Mastership of the Lodge in 1970. He also served as the lodge Secretary for 13 years through the late 80s and early 90s where he proved to be a superb administrator, very knowledgeable on the rules and regulations of the order, and the ceremonies and etiquette required within the lodge. He was a regular attendee of the Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge, as remarked by the former Provincial Grand Master Ray Reed when presenting Stan with his 50th certificate.
For the lodge centenary in 2001, Stan put together the history of the lodge. He then organised the centenary meeting held which was presided over by the then Provincial Grand Master, Lord Burnham.
Stan has been a member of three craft lodges in Buckinghamshire, Middlesex and Hampshire. Along with achieving senior rank in Royal Arch Chapter, Mark, Rose Croix, Great Cross of Constantine, Knights Templar and Knights Templar Priests.
For 60 years Stan, supported by Joan, has devoted a great deal of his time and efforts in supporting the many and varied aspects of Freemasonry. And at 93 years of age, his support continues.