The way we were – the Press and Masonry

The 2013 Prestonian Lecture by Paul Richard Calderwood was titled, ‘As we were seen: The Press and Freemasonry’ and showed how our relationship with the press has changed since the middle of the 20th century.

The 2013 Prestonian Lecture.

The 2013 Prestonian Lecture.

However, a newspaper cutting from the Morecambe Visitor dated October 1958 which was found by Regional Charity Steward Geoffrey Bury amongst his late sister’s effects, shows that locally, at least, Freemasonry was still at that time regarded with great respect. Especially in North Lancashire.

Under the heading, ‘Private hotel converted into Masonic temple: Silverdale Masons did it themselves’, the story is an extended article about the acquisition of the Mountain View Private Hotel and its conversion and dedication as the new home for Silverdale Masons.

The article’s introduction says:

‘Emulating the ancient Masons who built the magnificent temple of King Solomon, 44 members of the Silverdale Lodge No 6926, (in the register of the Grand Lodge of England) turned themselves from free and accepted or speculative Masons into operative Masons and by their combined efforts during the past 12 months have converted part of the former Mountain View Private Hotel at Silverdale into their Masonic temple.

Last Wednesday afternoon it was dedicated by the Provincial Grand Master of Lancashire (Western Division) and a team of consecrating officers of the Provincial Hierarchy.

The lodge comprises tradesmen such as builders, joiners, electricians, plumbers, painters and farmers, who devoted Saturday afternoons, evenings and their holidays to effecting the conversion, whilst others comprising business and professional men, solicitors, bank clerks and shopkeepers, assisted in the labouring work for the craftsmen.

The Silverdale Masonic Hall.

The Silverdale Masonic Hall.

This was an effort unique in the annals of Masonry and that is why the Provincial Grand Master and his officers honoured the dedication with their presence as a mark of their appreciation of the hard and persistent work put in by the Freemasons of the Silverdale Lodge.’

The article goes on to detail some of the work involved with a description of the new accommodation:

‘Now, after 10 months, they behold the fruits of their labour in a fine new Masonic temple in their ’home village’ and surrounded by a car park.

The temple itself, which is described as the most dignified and impressive in the district, is panelled in light oak and the pedestals and carving are the work of a member. In contrast is the tip-up seating, upholstered in royal blue, also the work of a member.

On the ground floor is the supper room for the Festive Board, surrounded with the usual kitchen, cloakroom, robing room etc.

The furnishings, decoration and lighting has mainly been provided by members.’

Founder members and past masters of the lodge are all named, together with details of the purchase of the building from a Mr Chris Hardy of Morecambe. The Provincial Grand Master L E Rutherford of Liverpool, is quoted:

“For a number of lodges meeting in the same place to provide a temple as their Masonic Home is a great undertaking. For one Lodge to do so is magnificent. I cannot commend too highly the enthusiasm, industry and generosity of the brethren of Silverdale Lodge who have given so freely of their time, their skill and their money in creating a temple in which to practise their Masonry. They have exemplified by their co-operative effort the true spirit of brotherhood on which our Order is founded, and I wish every success to the great enterprise which I have the privilege of launching.”

Editor’s note: The article undoubtedly portrays a very positive image of Freemasonry but editorially it has to be a great advantage when the family of the wife of the lodge’s first initiate and the master at the time of dedication of the new building actually owns the newspaper!

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