Oscar Lynch, a reporter with the North West Evening Mail, was welcomed to Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger. Following the recent advert in defence of the Craft which appeared in some national newspapers Oscar had made contact, wanting to add a local perspective to the story.
David gave Oscar a guided tour of the lodge and provided an insight into the signification of some of the fixtures and fittings. The chairs of the master and wardens were presented by Sir James Ramsden who was master in 1873. The benches which are situated either side of the master’s pedestal were presented in 1877 by Henry Schneider. Both these gentlemen played prominent roles in the growth of Barrow-in-Furness from a hamlet to a major industrial area. They each have squares named after them in the town with their statues proudly standing in the centre of them.
Amongst the features catching the journalist’s eye were the ornate stained glass windows in the lodge room which had been transferred from the previous purpose built Masonic hall in Abbey Road.
As Oscar commented: “Although the original aim of my coming here was to learn more about Freemasonry, I have now realised that the lodges and the artefacts they contain are in fact a significant part of local history.”
No questions were out of bounds as David was interviewed by Oscar. It was a source of pride to David to be able to scotch the rumours that only men of advanced years were Masons with many younger men now joining the lodges in the Furness and South Lakeland Group.
As well as an article in the local press, Oscar also took some camcorder footage for inclusion in the Mail on-line edition. David later remarked: “We are fortunate locally, as in recent years stories concerning lodge installations, charity events and other news have appeared quite frequently in the Mail. The visit today confirms that we are open about who we are and what we do.
We will continue to be proud and transparent about who we are and our Masonic heritage. This will in time help dispel the discrimination and prejudice that exists in certain quarters. In the 19th and early part of the 20th century the many local newspapers which were in circulation then carried full details of lodge installations and other important meetings. As we try to emulate those former days let us hope that the day is not far off when all brethren can mention their membership of the Craft in any company, safe from ill-informed criticism.”