I was given the task, (at very short notice), compiling a history of this Lodge which, as you know, now covers fifty years. Apparently, a history of the Lodge was written by W. Bro Bill McClement to celebrate twenty-one years but, unfortunately, no copy of that account has been preserved. This has meant that I have spent many hours reading through the Lodge and Permanent Committee Meeting minutes.
I feel sure that you would not want me to go through all of my notes with you on this occasion. It would take a very, very long time indeed!
I have therefore decided to give a picture of the development and history of the Lodge through the personalities of members and general working in the Lodge rather than list of facts and figures alone.
Brethren, in my experience, in the aftermath of the war years, men coming home from the forces found that they had a need to join associations of like minded people – associations such as Regimental, RAF and Naval Fellowship of the Services and Freemasonry. Consequently, new Lodges were formed – there was no shortage of candidates – in fact, there were long waiting lists to gain entry into Masonry. So the Lodge of Concord No 6859 came into being at this time. The minutes of the Consecration and of the first regular meeting of the Lodge have already been read to you.
This is the daughter Lodge of the Lodge of Harmony No. 4224, some of whose members became the first officials of this Lodge. The W.M., S.W., J.W., Treasurer, Secretary and D of C. established the atmosphere, tone and outgoing musical character of the Lodge by reason of their own talents and, as a result, the Lodge attracted like minded musical brethren.
W. Bro H. H. Alder was a very talented musician – an excellent pianist. A real extrovert, he demanded – no – commanded undivided attention and if this was not forthcoming he would stop playing and say “if you are not prepared to listen – I am not prepared to play!” – so everyone listened! When accompanying a singer who was not receiving very good attention, Harold would stop, turn to the brethren and say, “This brother is giving of his talent to entertain you. Have the courtesy to listen properly - he is doing you probably cannot do!”
When Harold entertained by himself, he first removed his dinner jacket, then the front of the piano. Sat down and said, “Now what would you like me to play for you?” He had the great gift of being able to play extremely well without a note of music in from of him. So he would play selections from popular shows, songs, light music and any requests from the brethren. He had a particular saying “we are here to please each other”.
W.Bro G.H. McClement was a very popular baritone, renowned for his singing of “The Godfather Clock”, accompanied by all the brethren tapping their glasses at the appropriate time and singing the chorus. As a finale they would throw small coins either at him or on the floor – in this way he raised a considerable amount of money for the Festivals!
W. Bro John Johnson Reavley, (whose cherubic rendition of “The Foggy Foggy Dew” was always a popular request on Ladies’ night s), had a fund of monologues for entertainment.
Other talented founder members, Eric Sparkes, (Organist),
A.E.B.Galliford, (Tenor) and
In the following years, W.Bros Alan Smith, Joe Wells, Ernie Freeman-Davies and Jim Peacock joined the list of entertainers. This meant that J.W never had to go outside of the Lodge for Harmony until recently.
From the beginning of the Lodge, it was established that the S.W. would give the toast to the unofficial visitors. It could be a very difficult task as he was interrupted, barracked, plagued and generally insulted! (Good training for speech making later on and great, great fun for the brethren).
During the first three years, the work load for the officers of the Lodge was extremely hard as they initiated twenty new members and passed and raised some of them in that period. This was done by performing two ceremonies per meeting, with the exception of the installation – a very heavy workload indeed for a small number of people.
The first Secretary was Founder Member W.Bro Bill McClement. He served in that office from 1949 to 1975 – twenty six years.
He was an enthusiastic performer of the ritual, a most
prolific worker for Masonry in general and fir this Lodge in particular. Over the years he served on all of the ruling
The next Secretary, W.Bro. R. Clarke P.P.S.G.D., served form 1975 to 1986 – eleven years. He had served the Lodge well for thirsty-seven years when he had to resign in 1998. He is now an Honorary Member.
W.Bro. Jim Peacock P.P.J.G.D., served as Secretary for two years, (1986 – 88), followed by bro R. Myers from 1988 to 1993. Our present Secretary, W. Bro. Eddie Stewart P.P.S.G.D, took over in 1993 and, hopefully, he will hold the office for many years to come.
This Lodge has had only four Treasurers during its lifetime.
The first Treasurer was Founder Member W.Bro Walter H.
Turnbull P.P.J.G.W. who served form 1949 to 1957. (He died at
The next Treasurer, W.Bro. T.F. Reay P.P.G.D., served from 1957 to 1970. (He proposed his son-in-law, a certain Mr. Norman Reekie, in 1962).
W.Bro R. Tweddell P.P.G.D., took over the office 1970 and held it until 1985 when he handed it over to our present Treasurer, W.Bro. Tom Smith P.P.G.Reg.
In 1949, the Annual Fee was two
There was a 50% increase in annual subscriptions in 1957 to three guineas and a 33% increase in the Initiation Fee to £21.
Over the years these subscriptions have increased steadily. Today, as you know the annual subscription is £85, the Initiation Fee is £50 and joining members pay a fee of £25. These Increases have obviously had a adverse effect on membership – every time an increase is announced, members leave. Many members give donations by rounding their subscriptions up to £90 or £100.
Directors Of Ceremonies
In the first fourteen years in the life of this Lodge, the office of Director of Ceremonies was held by:-
W.Bros. W.S. Martin., Catheral,
In 1964, W.Bro A.R. Riley was re-appointed D of C., a
position he filled with great distinction until 1990. From then until 1997 the office was taken
over by W.Bro Stan Blakie P.P.G.Swd.B., who worked very conscientiously at a
time when membership was declining. The
present holder of this office is W.Bro.
In a letter dated September 1955 – I quote:- "Decisions of Past Masters".
It is agreed that the office of Chaplain is to be a progressive one and that the Master Elect be advised accordingly by his predecessor.
It is agreed that the offices of D of C. and Assistant D of C are intended to be progressive and be brought under review in twelve months and, thereafter, every two years.” And, in addendum:-
“It is agreed that the office of Chaplain is intended to be progressive unless there is a Clerk in Holy Orders, a member of the Lodge.”
However, the office of Chaplain was first printed in the Lodge circular when W.Bro G.H. McClement was appointed in October 1957. He continued to serve in that office until 1972 when he handed over to W.Bro J.W. Wells, the present incumbent. In my defence, after I had served for three years, I Asked that someone else should be appointed but I was overruled and have held the office ever since.
This Lodge has been very, very fortunate in its choice of Almoners over the years.
This is borne out by the receipt of numerous letters of appreciation from brethren who have been visited and widows who have received visits, Christmas cards and Christmas gifts. These ladies especially appreciate being invited to the Lodge’s Founders’ Night and Ladies’ Night functions.
Grand Lodge Officers
The Lodge was first favoured by Grand Lodge with the promotion of W.Bro W.E. McClement to the rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer in April 1970.
W.Bro. A.R. Riley, (a Founder Member), was granted Grand Lodge Honours in 1974 with the rank of P.A.G.D.C. He attained high office in several other degrees and was subsequently elevated to the 33rd Degree.
W.Bro. Alan Smith was honoured by Grand Lodge in 1984 with the rank of P.A.G.D.C.
Our Present D of C, W.Bro. Norman Reekie, after his
Initiation in April 1963 and subsequent Passing and Raising in this Lodge,
spent the following31 years working abroad.
During his short annual leaves in the
Over the years many of our Past Masters and Brethren have received Provincial Grand Lodge Honours.
Visiting played a great parting in the life of the Lodge
with regular annual visits to and from the Rose of Raby Lodge at Staindrop, the
These Visits involved large numbers of brethren which led to those particular nights becoming the “red letter” night of the year.
The German Visit
The affiliation between the Lodge of Concord and Johanis Loge
W.Bro. Dirk is a dedicated Mason and, during the years he
He was instrumental in arranging exchange visits between our
Lodge and his Mother Lodge in
At the Festive Board, W.Bro. Richard Schultze-Wolfhagen IX Presented a bell, (Inscribed from Johanis Loge No. 276), to the newly installed W.Master, W.Bro. E. Stewart. In his reply, W.Bro. Stewart promised that the bell would be rung at every regular Lodge meeting at the beginning of the Absence of the Brethren Toast in memory of brethren past and present and especially or our brothers from Germany, This was carried out until our Installation Meeting in October 1995 when brethren from Johanis Loge again visited our Lodge and, on this occasion, were accompanied by brethren from three other German Lodges.
It just had to happen that, when the bell was being rung for the Absent Brethren Toast, It fell off the wall! The bell was fitted more securely last year and is once again, being rung at our Festive Board. In February 1992, some of our brethren visited the Johanis Loge to attend thief 175th Founders’ Night.
For many years the Instruction Lodge was a very popular meeting. It was so well attended that, after the regular officers had completed their rehearsal, some of them would then go on to attend a Permanent committee Meeting, while the remaining brethren held another rehearsal under the direction of a P.M. After this, all brethren gathered and enjoyed an informal fish and chip supper. All brothers together!
This helped Lodge members to get to know and understand each other. Unfortunately, this practice has fallen out or favour.
Matters Of Interest
Special Masonic Visit.
In preparation for the 100th meeting of the Lodge I read a quotation form a letter sent to all Lodge brethren dated August 1960:-
“Dear Sir and Brother,
On the occasion of the 100th meeting of the Lodge
of Concord No. 6859, the Provincial Grand Master, Col. F. Walton and his
Officers will visit the Lodge on
At the August meeting in 1950 it was agreed that, in the
future, the November Instruction Lodge meeting would take the form of a social
evening, (Founders; Night), confined to Lodge members and their Ladies. The first Dinner Dance was held in March 1951
in Meng’s Restaurant,
Annual golf tournaments were held until 1965 but ended due to lack of support. A bowls tournament with our Mother Lodge, the Lodge of Harmony, was instituted in its place in 1966. It consisted of teams of Bowlers and Rabbits, was very successful and ran for many years.
In 1975 a Ladies’ Social Committee was formed from all the
Queen Street Lodges and Social evenings were held several times a year. They
were very successful for a number of years and raised quite a considerable sum
of money in total which all went to help defray some of the running costs of
In May 1997, after the Lodge had opened, and the official
Fraternal Visitors admitted, there then followed a break in tradition. The Lodge was called off and Mrs Caroline
Edden, Home Manager of
In October 1966 a letter was received from the R.M.H. thanking the Lodge for its contributions over the years and acknowledging the fact that the Lodge was now a PATRON of the Hospital. A certificate to that effect was enclosed.
In March 1978 a further honour of GRAND PATRON was conferred on the Lodge. Now this Lodge had a close association with the hospital in the person of the late W.Bro. J.R.Wells. A former member of this Lodge, he served, over several years, as a Board Member, Trustee, (one of only three), and as Chief Executive in an Honorary capacity until he had to resign due to ill health.
This Grade 1 Listed Building is the oldest purpose built temple still in use in this country.
Like all ancient monuments, stately homes and other listed buildings, it is in constant need of repair, maintenance and refurbishment. They also have to meet modern day health and safety standards when in use.
It is a constant financial burden for all Lodge who use this
building For example – in the 1960’s Lodges meeting at
Discussions continued until 1969 when the proposition was
dropped by the Bridge Street Lodges in favour of extending and increasing
The reading of facts and figures alone contained in the Lodge minutes does not convey the atmosphere engendered by the excellence of certain ritualists in the Lodge Room.
There were brethren who, in their own different ways, had the ability to make rituals come alive – no matter how often it had been heard. This Lodge has been very fortunate in having many brethren who could do that. The names of W.Bros. Bill McClement, Fred Garmonsway, Alan Smith, Pat Riley, and Bob Marshall immediately spring to mind.
The entertainment provided at the Festive Board contributed greatly to the friendliness, fun and, indeed. the popularity of this Lodge. The wit of Eric Townsend, the humour of Ernie Freeman-Davies, the singing of the many talented Lodge members – this all combined to create the once unique atmosphere of the Lodge of Concord – a Lodge well named – a company of brethren in friendship, agreement, harmony and unity.