The Masonic County of Cheshire extends from the Wirral in the West to the Borough of Stockport in the East
Nestled just 3 miles away from Manchester Airport in the leafy suburb of Timperley lies Altrincham Masonic Hall and the offices of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cheshire, Ashcroft House.
Originally constructed in 1898 the building has now begun to show its age and in 2019 plans were drawn up to completely redevelop the site.
Planning permission had been granted by the council just before Covid-19 restrictions hit and the suspension of meetings, however as there was an exemption of restrictions for construction workers work began in June 2020 on removing all of the existing furniture and salvageable materials from the building.
By November 2020 things had progressed. The actual demolition of the old Masonic Hall was well in hand and it was expected that it would only take a week to completely remove all traces of the former Lodge building.
By the middle of November work had begun on the basement of the new building where the new Lodge rooms would be situated. In the space of a week a hole approximately 15 feet deep appeared and 1200 tonnes of soil had been excavated.
The new structure which is designed as both a masonic and commercial venue will be constructed using cutting edge techniques and materials, hollow blocks from Italy with insulation built in will be used, braced with a steel reinforcement bar through the block which is then filled with wet concrete.
This creates a strong and highly insulated structure. The strength is such that a 6-meter span can be created without the use of lintels or steel beams. This also means that the construction can be completed in a fraction of the time of a traditional structure.
The use of Solar panels will also make the Hall more environmentally friendly and many of the Masonic features of the original building have been salvaged and are being incorporated into the new site. Bird boxes made from the old, unused ballot boxes from Lodges will be placed around the site in the hope of attracting wildlife to the area.
It is hoped that all being well, the new hall will be open and ready for meetings from September 2021.