The installation meeting of Hindpool Lodge No 1225 at Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall saw John Marriott return to the chair 25 years to the day since he first enjoyed that honour. He offered his services to the lodge once again in order to enable the more junior brethren more time to gain experience in other roles, rather than them reaching the heady heights of master of the lodge too soon.
In the present day and age the choice of Hindpool as the name of a lodge would perhaps raise the odd eyebrow or two. The ward of Hindpool in the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness has seen better days and now often features in the lists of the most deprived areas of the country.
When the lodge was formed in 1868 at the Royal Hotel on The Strand in the town, however, Hindpool was a very different area. It was very much the hub of the industrial powerhouse that Barrow-in-Furness was in the mid-1800s. It was the home of the largest steelworks in the world and in its own right was classed as one of the 10 most important industrial areas globally.
Nowadays, that great iron and steel industrial heritage has gone, remembered only with the name of some of the streets and the terraces of houses in which the workers lived. The slag bank on the road into Barrow-in-Furness was once the largest in Europe – much of it was taken away to be used in the foundations of the Eurotunnel complex. What remains is now a pleasant walk with views over the Irish Sea and up to the mountains of the Lake District. In those days to title the new lodge with the name of the area where many of the distinguished founding members earned their fortunes was a not unsurprising choice.
But returning to the present, the installation meeting proved a delight being both accurate in its ritual and sincere in its delivery.
Outgoing master Derek Forrest led the way, for although the ceremony of installation of a past master is somewhat truncated, he did not let that prevent him undertaking his work with genuine feeling and purpose. It was a pleasure to listen to.
Amongst those enjoying his work was Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger who was the principal guest. David was accompanied by eight acting officers of the Province in the persons of Andrew Ridal, Barry Fitzgerald, David Cole, Steve Plevey, Stuart Aimson, Phil Burrow, Keith Halligan and Dave Rigby. Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield and his deputy Gary Rogerson were also on hand to witness proceedings.
Lodge secretary Tony Cassells delivered the working tools of an installed master to his usual very high standard. Paul Musgrave, Steve Renney and Gary Gibson, who are junior members of the lodge, did not let the side down as they delivered the working tools of the three degrees to a standard which met with much appreciation and favourable comment.
Tony was once again called into action to deliver the address to the newly installed master with Bob Carr undertaking the address to the wardens and David Grainger that to the brethren. They continued in the same exemplary fashion as had preceded them.
Others too were called onto the floor of the lodge to further add to the enjoyment of proceedings. Almoner Bill Hughes was addressed as to his duties by group care officer Brian Coward, whilst group charity steward Richard Wilcock undertook a similar task in respect of charity steward Keran Stalker and festival representative Doug Smith. The deacons and stewards had their responsibilities explained to them by acting Provincial grand officers Steve Plevey and Keith Halligan.
Lodge director of ceremonies Doug Smith was praised by David for all the work he must have done in ensuring that a ceremony of such quality was delivered.
To mark the occasion, John Marriott presented David Grainger with a cheque for £1,500 in favour of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. This entitled the lodge to style itself as a vice-patron of the Festival and Richard Wilcock was again called upon when he presented John with a certificate acknowledging the achievement.
This is far from the only charitable donation made by the lodge. As a result of a legacy they received 12 years ago they have established their own fund to donate monies to charitable and good causes, most of which are local. They do not publicise the fact and prefer to remain under the radar. However in the 12 years since the inception of the fund £220,000 has been distributed to worthy endeavours.
Following the ceremonial part of the day 90 members and their guests enjoyed a superb meal in the Fairfield Suite in the hall in what was a fitting end to a delightful day which showcased so much of what is good about the craft.