Shifting gears

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.’

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Classic moments at Windsor Great Park

The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, waved the starting flag on the Classic 300 at a family fun day at Windsor Great Park

The Grand Director of Ceremonies Oliver Lodge then introduced the Grand Master to the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Cllr Sayonara Luxton, the Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire Martin Peters, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire Colin Hayes and Provincial Grand Masters from other provinces.

The event, organised by the Province of Berkshire, also included a teddy bears’ picnic in support of the Teddies for Loving Care appeal, which raises funds for the supply of cuddly toys to paediatric emergency departments.

The day also featured a challenge to get 300 people to walk a mile along the park’s famed tree-lined avenue, the Long Walk, to the Copper Horse statue at the top of Snow Hill – in the end more than 400 attendees took part.

Published in UGLE

The Masonic Classic Vehicle Club has undergone a makeover and been re-branded 'Square Wheels' at the NEC’s Classic Motor Show

This is the largest indoor classic car show of the year, attracting nearly 71,000 visitors over the long weekend of 10-12 November. The theme of the stand was the Classic 300 - a series of vehicle runs which took place throughout England this year.

Vehicles on display at the NEC were a stunning 1922 Rolls Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Tourer, a 1967 Ford GT40 in Gulf livery and an XKSS Jaguar, as well as a 1957 BSA A10 Super Rocket and a 1999 Honda VTR Firestorm, both courtesy of the Widows Sons Chapter.

On the Square Wheels stand, 20 new members were signed up, whilst lots of little teddies were also sold to visitors to help swell funds for the Teddies for Loving Care campaign.

As part of the rebrand, meetings will now be centralised in the Midlands to make the club more ‘national’ and the range of activities will offer members many additional diverse events, to help it appeal to all interests. The new Officers are: Chairman Mark Pierpoint, Hon. Secretary Phil Cottrell, Hon. Treasurer Mark Bigam and Press and PR Secretary John Cole.

Published in More News
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

Tercentenary celebrations at the Classic 300

The sun was shining on Tercentenary celebrations in Windsor Great Park as 2,000 visitors came to mark the beginning of the Classic 300 and attend a very special teddy bears’ picnic

The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, waved the starting flag on the Classic 300 at a Family Fun Day at Windsor Great Park on 21 May.

Commemorating 300 years of English Freemasonry, the Classic 300 is a series of classic car runs taking place in England and Wales during 2017. Organised by the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club, the non-competitive runs are open to masons and non-masons with an interest in Freemasonry and classic and future-classic cars. In some cases, motorcycles and commercial vehicles are also being included.

The Grand Director of Ceremonies, Oliver Lodge, introduced the Grand Master to the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Cllr Sayonara Luxton; the Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire, Martin Peters; Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire, Colin Hayes; and Provincial Grand Masters from other Provinces.

The Family Fun Day, organised by the Province of Berkshire, also included a teddy bears’ picnic in support of the Teddies for Loving Care appeal, which raises funds for the supply of cuddly toys to paediatric emergency departments across England, Wales and Ireland. The day also featured a challenge to get 300 people to walk a mile along the park’s famed tree-lined avenue, the Long Walk, to The Copper Horse statue at the top of Snow Hill, with more than 400 attendees taking part.

A ‘time tunnel’ explained the history of Freemasonry, with displays from the Berkshire Masonic Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, while the Egham Band made the day go with a swing. ‘It has been wonderful,’ said Martin Peters. ‘A really good turnout.’

Find out more at: www.classic300.org.uk

Published in More News

As the sun shone down on Sulgrave Manor, classic cars from as far away as Yorkshire and South Wales were flagged off by W Bro Charles Bennett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire

This marked the start of the fourth and final Midlands route of the Classic 300.

The participants, on Sunday 27th August, followed a route taking them 78 miles from Sulgrave Manor – the ancestral home of Bro George Washington’s family - to the Blenheim Palace Festival of Transport - where Bro Sir Winston Churchill was born. 

On the way, the classic vehicles passed through the Cotswolds including Bourton on the Water and Burford. This route was organised by W Bro Dermot Bambridge and W Bro John Harmer – members of Silverstone Lodge No. 9877 and on the Classic 300 Midlands organising committee.

Before the first car departed from Sulgrave, W Bro Charles Bennett handed W Bro Peter Manning, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire, a specially made gavel to carry on the route.

The gavel was made from the con rod of a Jaguar D-type, which was the legendary model that won the 24 Hours at Le Mans for England no less than three times during the 1950s. This and four other identical gavels are being ceremonially carried by a car on each route.

The Classic 300 is a series of events for classic cars and was started by the Grand Master at Windsor Great Park in May. It is part of the Tercentenary celebrations of the United Grand Lodge of England and will finish at Brooklands on 1st October.

Published in More News
Thursday, 24 August 2017 06:00

The Classic 300 makes it mark at Land's End

The latest Classic 300 run saw the travelling gavel cross the River Tamar, affectionately known as the Cornish border separating Cornwall from England

It arrived safely in Saltash, which is located in the South East of Cornwall, to begin the Cornish Leg of the Classic 300 on 20th August 2017.

The idea for the Classic 300 was conceived by the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club (now Square Wheels) to celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary. A series of 15 non-competitive classic car runs taking place in England and Wales throughout the year, it was launched back in May at Windsor Great Park when the first vehicle was waived off by The Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.

Hosted by the Cornwall Masonic Classic Car Club, 12 cars from across the county braved the wet conditions, created by the tail end of hurricane ‘Gert’, to converge at the designated starting point.

Before embarking on the 120 mile plus coastal trail, the travelling gavel, which was fashioned from a Jaguar ‘Con-Rod’, was formally handed over from Bro Kit Marquand to W Bro John Cole PAGDC, in anticipation for the next stage of its epic journey to the most South Westerly point in the England.

The route deviated from what would traditionally be the quickest road to Land’s End, with the cars peeling off towards the historic town of Looe at Trerulefoot. This was the start of a series of B roads that would dominate the day, winding their way down through to Lostwithiel and beyond towards Fowey.

The route ended with everyone arriving at the final destination of Land’s End with the addition of a beautiful post vintage Austin RP Standard. It was here that the finish line arch was inflated and positioned behind the iconic ‘Land’s End Sign Post’ – a real challenge to achieve in the wind, situated 250 feet above sea level and perched on top of the cliff.

Roy Harry-Young, one of the passengers from New Zealand, and a relative of one of the entrants, volunteered to act as an anchor holding on to the guide ropes behind the arch whilst the gavel was presented to the Provincial Grand Master of Cornwall Stephen Pearn. The sign post itself adorned the Grand Lodge address.

Roy Harry-Young commented: ‘I am not a Freemason myself, but I have been overwhelmed by the warmth and sense of inclusion that I have felt today. These sorts of events really put a human perspective on to your Fraternity, making them very visible and accessible to a greater audience. It’s obvious everyone is having a great deal of fun and sharing in a common passion of classic cars.

'This morning I never dreamed that I’d flown half way round the world to hang off a cliff holding on to a giant inflatable arch!’

Published in More News

The Classic 300 has been continuing in full force, with two runs held on the same day in Leicestershire and Bristol on July 2nd

In Leicestershire, several Freemasons participated with classic and future classic cars along with their motorcycles. The route was arranged by W Bro David Crocker and W Bro Mark Pierpoint, which started at the Devonshire Court RMBI Home in Oadby. This gave the residents a chance to look at the vehicles including the special edition Mike Tunnicliffe E-type Jaguar.

The classic car and bike enthusiasts then drove in convoy for the 15 mile journey to Bradgate Park on the outskirts of north Leicester. Upon arrival, they were warmly greeted by the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger.

Many then walked through the park to the site of the Memorial Wood which is being funded by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Leicestershire and Rutland and the United Grand Lodge of England as part of the Tercentenary celebrations.

The Park Ranger Peter Tyldesley gave an interesting talk on the history of the park and also the construction of the Memorial Wood which is due to be opened by the Pro Grand Master RW Bro Peter Lowndes on Thursday October 5th 2017. The visitors were shown the newly installed 14 tonne granite stone, which is to be the centrepiece for the wood along with a walk around the paths, which have been created to meander throughout the one acre wood.

South West – Route 2

On the same day, the crowds also gathered on a lovely summer's morning at Ashton Gate Stadium, home of Bristol City FC and Bristol Rugby, to await the arrival of a wonderful selection of classic cars. This was the departure point of the South West Route 2 run to the world famous Haynes Motor Museum in Somerset.

A giant electronic screen on the side of the stadium welcomed all the crews as they entered the car park and after light refreshments the first cars were ready to leave. The Provincial Grand Master of Bristol Alan Vaughan, accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Jonathan Davis, presented the "travelling gavel" to John Slade, who was driving a beautiful 1967 E-Type Jaguar.

The Union Jack was raised and then at 30 intervals the other 23 cars began their scenic journey, where they passed through Cheddar Gorge, Wookey Hole and the Somerset Lowlands.

Morgans, a Sunbeam Tiger, an Aston Martin, a Triumph Stag, a Royal Sceptre, a Bentley and a Mini Cooper, to name but a few, were then cheered by the spectators as they left.

Berkshire Freemasons Family Fun Day and the start of the Classic 300

Glorious weather greeted the Classic 300 cars and almost 2,000 people in Windsor Great Park on Sunday May 21st, as part of the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary celebrations

As well as the start of the Classic 300, there was a bear hunt and teddy bears picnic, a 300 mile walk to the Copper Horse, displays from over 20 charities together with the Berkshire Masonic Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, a ‘time tunnel’ explaining the history of Freemasonry and the Egham Brass Band who made sure the day went with a swing.

UGLE's Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, started the Classic 300 at 2pm having first viewed the cars, talking to their owners and visiting VIPs. Oliver Lodge, Grand Director of Ceremonies, introduced HRH The Duke of Kent to the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Cllr Sayonara Luxton, Martin Peters, the Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire, Colin Hayes, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire and Chairman of the organising committee for the event, and other dignitaries including Provincial Grand Masters from other Provinces and members of the Classic 300.

Over 100 classic vehicles of all types - car, motorcycles, commercial vehicles and even a six-wheeled Range Rover fire engine - turned up for the occasion and made for a spectacular sight in the sunshine, as HRH The Duke of Kent flagged them off for the start of the Classic 300, an 18 mile drive around Great Windsor Park.

Elsewhere, the 300 mile challenge for 300 people to walk one mile each to the Copper Horse along the Long Walk was easily achieved with over 400 people taking part. In fact, over 800 miles were walked as they realised that it was a mile back to the show ground as well!

The bear hunt was also a great success with many proud new owners enjoying a picnic with their TLC bears.

Martin Peters, the Provincial Grand Master of the Berkshire Freemasons, said: 'It has been a wonderful day, with a really good turnout and it is quite clear that everyone enjoyed themselves.'

Rachel Jones from the Masonic Charitable Foundation commented: 'We all very much enjoyed the event – what a fantastic way to celebrate the Tercentenary year and raise awareness of Freemasonry.'

This was the national start of the Classic 300. Over many weekend dates between now and October 1st the series continues all over the UK, with separate runs to the Isle of Man, the Lakeland Motor Museum, Thruxton Race Circuit, MFest300 in the Midlands, the Shelsley Walsh hill climb, Ashton Gate rugby and football stadium, Brands Hatch race circuit, Beaulieu Motor Museum and many more famous motoring venues. The national final will take place at Brooklands Circuit in Surrey on Sunday October 1st.

Scroll through the gallery at the top to view some of the classic vehicles on display

Revving up for the Tercentenary

Celebration of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary year will continue this Sunday when the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club launch the Classic 300 at Windsor Great Park – the first in a series of individual classic vehicle runs

A large gathering is expected as UGLE’s current Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent will be in attendance and will be officially starting the event.

Fans of classic cars will certainly be in their element, with a vast array of vehicles set to be displayed on the Review Ground, a large grassed area, from 10 am before proceeding on a short symbolic run at 2:30 pm.

The Classic 300 has 18 national classic car runs taking place across England and Wales this year at famous venues including the Isle of Man’s TT, Brands Hatch and the Brooklands motor circuit in Surrey. The runs are open to Freemasons and those with an interest in Freemasonry and classic or future classic cars.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Berkshire will also be holding a number of Tercentenary events on Sunday at Windsor Great Park including a 300 mile walk, which refers to 300 people walking one mile, and a teddy bears’ picnic. Everyone who takes part in the mile walk will receive a commemorative certificate to celebrate the Tercentenary.

Entrance to Windsor Great Park is free and parking is available for everyone.

You can find out more about the Classic 300 here

Published in More News

Double-decker display

The Masonic Classic Vehicle Club hosted show-stopping vehicles at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham in November, with a 1952 AEC Regent 111 double-decker bus dominating the stand.

Delivered to London Transport in January 1952, the bus was selected as one of three similar vehicles to represent London Transport on a tour of the US and Canada to promote travel to Britain and the purchase of British products.

At the show, the club launched a major series of classic vehicle runs – Classic 300 – which will take place throughout England and Wales this year to commemorate 300 years of Freemasonry.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - NO. 38 SUMMER 2017

WE WILL REMEMBER

Sir,

Having received spring’s magazine and opening the first page, I was returned to my military time in Germany, 1956. The photo of the London bus took me back to my visit to Berlin on the same type bus, which took a party of members belonging to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and 17th/21st Lancers to Berlin for bank-holiday weekend. I am now 80 and a proud mason of 45 years. I wonder if any other masons of today may have been on that trip?

Phil Holmes, Liverpool Mercantile Lodge, No. 4319, Liverpool, West Lancashire

Published in More News

ugle logoSGC logo