Newby Bridge Lodge No. 4598
Freemasonry was developed in the early 17th Century. This lead to the establishment of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813 when the Premier and Ancients Grand Lodges decided to settle their differences and form one united lodge.
The Ancients were formed in 1751, when a group of some 80 brethren broke away from Premier Grand Lodge to form a rival grand lodge which they claimed practiced an older and purer form of Freemasonry, the group called themselves, The Ancients. After 62 years of separation the two groups came back together mainly through the close relationship of key leaders in each group.
From this period Grand Lodge has never lost its ruling influence and the craft has continued to thrive from this period to the present day.
Freemasonry is established in three broad tiers or levels. First, is United Grand Lodge, headed by the most worshipful grand master, supported by a large complement of officers and ruling the whole craft of English freemasonry.
Next are the Masonic provinces roughly approximating to counties. Each province has a provincial grand lodge ruled by a provincial grand master who also has a large team of officers. Whilst self- supporting and governing to a large extent every provincial Grand Lodge is subservient to united grand lodge.
Third, are the private lodges, which are the root and soul of the craft. There are more than 7800 such lodges in England and Wales. Numbers vary, from as few as eleven in The Province of Jersey, to more than 500 in the province of West Lancashire.
And this is where we start the story of Newby Bridge Lodge which was formed in 1924.
By looking at the old minute book and deciphering the writing we can bring to light the work involved in forming a Masonic lodge at NewbyBridge, nearly 90 years ago. Discussions appear to have started in February 1922 in the Windermere Lodge, when the idea was to form a second lodge at Windermere to be known as Birthwaite. Much correspondence and argument seems to have taken place, due to some of the members feeling that two lodges in a place the size of Windermere would not be to successful. Consequently negotiations broke down and interest moved to Lakeside.
The Lakeside Hotel was the suggested meeting place for the new lodge which was to bear its name. Again the move was thwarted as it was discovered that the hotel was likely to be sold in the very near future.
So another move was instigated to NewbyBridge. Here the lease of a piece of land was sought from the Revell family of the Swan Hotel on which it was the intention to erect an army hut for conversion into a lodge. This was immediately frowned on by Provincial Grand lodge. The idea of a wooden or tin hut being used as a temple was promptly rejected despite assurances that this would be made soundproof and suitable in every way. Outbuildings at the Swan Hotel now caught the eyes of the proposed founder members and talks with Mrs Revell ended in the lease being granted for the barn.
A petition was presented on our behalf to the Northern group council by the Lodge of Furness for Newby Bridge Lodge, which was approved by all concerned.
Masses of old correspondence show many interesting accounts for materials and labour necessary for the alterations, prices with regard to today’s standards being quite fantastic including; Five pounds for the carpet and thirty nine shillings paid to Jimmy Longmire of Windermere for eight oak armchairs for the dais. Even so a member was heard to say that the lodge could be bankrupt in a year’s time if money was spent to this extent. Despite these gloomy forecasts, work went ahead and by the autumn of 1924 the temple which was to be our home for the next forty years was ready for consecration.
The ceremony of consecration took place on October 28th 1924 when the consecrating officer was W. Bro. John H Burrell P.G.D. Provincial Grand Master and the installing officer was W. Bro. L B Bailey P.G.D. Dep. Provincial Grand Master. The first worshipful master was W. Bro. Garnett Gibson with W Bro. Walter Hogg and W.Bro. J.D.Walker as Wardens. A banquet at the Swan Hotel followed the consecration ceremony at which the thirteen founder members and 50 guests enjoyed the excellent fare.
The menu was as follows, Soup: Oxtail and Tomato.
Fish: Halibut and Tartar Sauce
Joints: Roast Lamb and Duckling
Sweets: Greengage Tart and Trifle.
The first regular lodge on Wednesday 19th November 1924 when the first initiate was Mr Maurice Borwick Revell, the company secretary of the Swan Hotel. If you go into the Swan Hotel today the restaurant is called Revell’s, maybe just a coincidence or it was possibly named after him.
Subsequently the meeting night was changed to the second Tuesday in each month and has remained so during our history apart from various alterations during the war years, and for a five year period from 2015 to 2020
In December 1924 there was a ballot for two more joining members, ceremony to pass Bro Revell to the second degree, and a ceremony to initiate a new candidate. In January 1925 there were two more joining members, a second degree and another two new brothers initiated. That’s how it went on for the next two years with at least 2 if not 3 ceremonies per meeting.
Two initiates of these early years must be included in the NewbyBridge story.
John Hodgson Clarkson printer of Preston initiated on January 28th 1925 whose firm Castle printed Co. was responsible for the printed of the agendas etc. for over fifty years.
Walter Beggs Master of the W. S. Y. steam boats initiated on June 9th 1925 as a serving brother and first appeared on the summons as Tyler on the 12th June 1926. He remained Tyler for a continuous period of thirty years until he retired at the age of 76 years on the 9th October 1956 and was honoured by Provincial Grand Lodge in 1942 with the rank of Provincial Assistant Grand Pursuivant.
At the outbreak of World War Two the lodge was closed for three months and the next installation took place on a Saturday afternoon when the late W.Bro Hugh Leck was installed as master and remained in office for two years.
February 12th 1940 is a memorable date in our history for on this day the lodge suffered a disastrous fire. The brigade from Ulverston quelled the blaze after about five hours with water pumped from the lake. It was reported in the local newspaper, that at 4.10pm Ulverston fire brigade arrived at NewbyBridge with 12 men and found a stone building adjoining the Swan Hotel and used as a Masonic temple a veritable inferno.
Fortunately the lodge jewels were saved but the charter was lost and damage to the contents was estimated at £1200. However the lodge was insured. The March meeting was cancelled due to having no warrant.
The Lodge of Furness and the Arthur John Brogden lodge at Grange over Sands offered the use of their premises. The April and May meetings took place at Arthur John Brogden Lodge. In attendance at the April meeting was W.Bro T.W Helme PGD Asst Provincial Grand Master to present the new lodge warrant.
Much of the replacement furniture was the work of W.Bro Leck and still holds pride of place in our present building and is an example of the very fine craftsmanship of the time.
The lodge did not meet again until Saturday 26th October at 2.30pm, back at NewbyBridge. Again present was W.Bro T.W Helme PGD Asst Provincial Grand Master, to declare the re-opening of the lodge following the destruction of the fire in 1940. During the 1942-43 season the lodge met at the Masonic Hall, Windermere.
History does not appear to have raised its head to any extent until a request was made by the new management of the Swan Hotel for us to vacate the lodge premises. As the lease still had time to run, alternative accommodation was offered but it was quite unsuitable for our requirements.
Consequently after much correspondence and visits from officers of the lodge which proved unsatisfactory, a legal battle followed, during which time access to the lodge, an outside staircase was removed by the owners thus making entry to the lodge impossible.
It was reported on the 15th January 1964 in daily national newspapers that the case of the freemason’s staircase came before Mr Justice Pennycuick in the high court. The staircase was in the yard of the Swan Hotel Newby Bridge and led to two upper rooms which was the meeting place of the Newby Bridge Masonic lodge. Mr P.J.Millett, a lodge trustee, said the stairs had been
removed by the hotel owners and they had stopped the members replacing them.
Whilst these negotiations were taking place the possibility of building a new lodge was explored and eventually a piece of land was purchased from the owners of the Newby Bridge Hotel, Bro Bob and Mrs Steel.
With Bro H Whittaker as architect, Bro H.B Wilson agreed to undertake the building of the new temple. Compensation from the legal proceedings formed the nucleus of the building fund for this project which began to take shape early in 1964. One of the brethren who worked on the building is still a member today, W Bro Michael Philipson PPrJGW who worked on the building prior to being initiated into the lodge and was called to a higher service in the Grand Lodge above.
On July 30th 1964 the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new building was performed by the ass provincial grand master W.Bro HW Whittle MBE PSGD in the presence of members and their wives prior to a service at St Mary’s church Stavely in Cartmel conducted by the lodge chaplain W. Bro Rev TL Walsh P.A.G.Chap to commemorate the event. This was followed by a tea at the Newby Bridge Hotel.
Some of our senior members may remember all the hard work put in nearly 60 years ago to build the new temple.
Building progressed rapidly during the next few months and due to the untiring efforts of Bro HB Wilson and his staff the building was ready for dedication by November 10th of the same year.
W.Bro Wilson was honoured the following year by provincial grand lodge for his part in the erection of the lodge of which we are all justly proud.
The dedication ceremony was performed by the assistant provincial Grand Master W. Bro H.B Whittle assisted by W.Bro T.L Walsh as chaplain and two Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies along with many distinguished guests. At the installation which followed the worshipful Master Bro T.T Tyson installed Bro H.B Wilson as the new master. These events were concluded with a banquet at the Newby Bridge Hotel.
In recent years the lodge has continued to thrive. There have been some notable events, celebrations and sad times.
Due to a chance meeting whilst cruising by W.Bro Collins, the lodge has established an active link with the lodge of Greenock St John No 175. In 2006 their members came down to demonstrate a Scottish first, then we reciprocated with a missionary visit in 2007 to demonstrate a third. However, not to be outdone on Saturday 15th March 2008 they returned south of the border with a rather physical demonstration of a third. On each occasion they kindly presented the lodge with a gift, a Masonic bible and a quaich drinking cup.
In celebration, we have had Bro Jock Buchanan celebrate 50 years and then 60 years in Freemasonry and in 2011 we celebrated 50 years in Freemasonry with W. Bro Michael Philipson, Who was Promoted on the night of his celebration to the high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master Wor Bro F.P.Gardner PSGD.
As I come to a close, in the drawing together of different texts and looking at the minutes. It was a revelation to me to bring to read what has gone before. I feel that as a present member of the lodge, that all of us act as trustees of that history and heritage for future members. And as we now often hear we are encouraged to put the temple at the centre of our efforts to support masonry in the future, we can look round at the work being done by our present members and be proud of Newby Bridge Masonic Lodge.
To all past and present members who have helped to ensure the lodge continues to thrive. We give thanks and pass on their good work as an example and inspiration to those who may join the craft in the future and hopefully to its centenary in 2024.
Extracts from a talk given at the golden jubilee by W. Bro J.C Read P.Pr.G.W,
And extracts from the Lodge History by W.Bro Phil Preston P.Pr.J.G.W, and Bro Jock Buchanan.
Newby Bridge Lodge meets on the second Tuesday of each Month excluding June, July and August.
The Lodge Tyles at 7.00pm Prompt with the exception of the November Installation meeting which Tyles at 4.00pm and all the Festive Boards are held in the Newby Bridge Hotel.
The Lodge Secretary is John Lowther and can be contacted on 01229 585227 of by email: JLow8638@aol.com
Visitors to the Lodge will be made very welcome