The brethren of Ormskirk Priory Lodge No 4007 gathered with the friends of Peter Fairclough to celebrate his 50 years in Freemasonry. The principal guest on this special occasion was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, who is also a member of Ormskirk Priory Lodge. Philip was accompanied by Frank Umbers (Ormskirk and District Group Chairman) and Neil MacSymons Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.
The lodge was opened in due form by the WM Ian Kennedy and the usual administration duties undertaken. Shortly afterwards, when the lodge was in the third degree, Neil announced that Assistant Provincial Grand Master was without and demanded admission. Philip was then admitted in due ceremonial style and was accompanied by grand and Provincial grand officers, Jim Charnock, John Wilcox and Frank Umbers. Also in attendance were acting Provincial grand officers Barry Hewitt PrAGDC and Brian Griffiths PrGStwd.
Ian gave a warm and sincere welcome to Philip who responded by saying how much he had been looking forward to this very special evening. Ian then offered Philip the gavel of the lodge, which on this occasion he was delighted to accept following which he occupied the WM’s chair.
He then instructed Neil to place Peter before him and to ensure he was sitting comfortably. Philip started by saying that 1933 was actually a fairly unremarkable year. It was a year that would see work start on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the publication of one of the most recognisable maps in the world, that of the London underground and the average price of a house was £750.
In sport the British Ryder Cup Team would claim a rare victory over the USA at Ainsdale near Southport and even rarer still in football, Everton would win the FA Cup. Similarly on the 20 September Mr and Mrs Fairclough, from their house in St Luke’s Road, Crosby, announced the arrival of their son Peter.
Continuing, Philip said that Peter’s earliest recollection was of vague memories of a street party which took place for the coronation of King George VI in 1937. The next major event was the outbreak of World War II with memories of the air raids and taking shelter. By the end of the war Peter had a very keen interest in football. One of the teachers who was interested in sport set up a schools league which included Crosby and Litherland schools. After the formation of the league, a district team was started. The first choice goalkeeper was a lad named McCarthy. He left school at Christmas and Peter was chosen to take his place. His first big match was in January 1946 against Manchester Boys which unfortunately they lost 5-0.
In September 1947 Peter attended Bootle Technical College and his interest in football developed further. The college had an excellent football squad and Peter was chosen for the team and a year later won the league. At the Crosby Carnival in 1949 Peter was introduced to representatives of Everton Football Club, who asked him if he would like to sign amateur forms with them. Despite being a Liverpool supporter he eagerly took the opportunity and signed.
At this time Peter had a keen interest in engineering and was offered an apprenticeship at S and C Walmsley on Bridle Road, Netherton starting work on 9 August 1949. The apprenticeship eventually led to the position of draughtsman. Structural engineering was different but it was certainly interesting. For the first 12 months, Peter was taught various disciplines, riveting, welding, marking off and breaking down drawings for an assembly line. At the same time, Peter commenced training at Everton; two nights a week at Bellefield until the dark nights came when training took place at Goodison Park.
Philip went on to say that Peter mixed business with pleasure very nicely. Carrying out site surveys during the week and playing football at the weekend. At Everton he gradually climbed the ladder from the ‘E’ team to the ‘B’ team. In the 1951/52 season he joined the Liverpool County FA under 18 team and made steady progress towards the County Championship final. It was at that time he received a letter from the Football Association advising him that he had been selected to play for England against Northern Ireland at Cliftonville; the team losing 2-0. The county team reached the final of the Youth Championship and played Sussex in a two-legged final. Once again, Peter was on the losing side 0-1 at Goodison, then 1-2 at Brighton. Philip with a smile on his face said: “I don’t know about you brethren but I can see a trend developing.” This led to a spontaneous outburst of laughter.
At Everton, Peter progressed to the reserve team, playing against Huddersfield Reserves. Unfortunately, his luck ran out that day because he incurred a bad injury to his right wrist. This kept him from playing for four months. However, the season ended on a high note when he was offered part time professional forms. However 1953/54 was to be his last season at Everton before he signed for Burscough FC.
The next two years Peter spent doing National Service. His apprenticeship was held in abeyance for him and on 5 February 1955 he joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) at Honiton in Devon. He was offered a vehicle mechanics course which he very much enjoyed. After the initial training, he was posted to the REME workshops at Plymouth and whilst at Plymouth, Peter played 30 games for Plymouth Argyle Reserves in the then Football Combination.
Peter’s summer was spent working on the forts around the coast where he learned a lot about guns, generators and radar. Peter was then transferred to REME workshops Burscough where, once again, he started playing for Burscough FC.
In January 1957 he was demobbed and after a week’s leave, returned to work at his old company. The firm closed in 1961 and Peter went to work for English Electric. When this closed Peter moved over to Ellesmere Port and then returned back over the water to work for Tarmac in Kirkby. In 1990 he gained employment as a Local Government Officer at the Rent Office in Liverpool before retiring in 1997.
Peter met his wife Dot whilst working at Walmsleys and they were married in June 1962. It was during this time that he became interested in Freemasonry. His father-in-law, Harry Callon, introduced him to Ladies’ Nights and Half Nights and eventually was Peter’s proposer when he joined the Prince of Wales Lodge No 1035 on the 12 March 1965. He became WM on 9 November 1979 for the first of three times, having progressed through all offices. Peter received preferment in the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire as PPrJGD on 22 May 1990 and on 5 November 1999 promotion to PPrJGW. Following closure of Prince of Wales Lodge, Peter joined Ormskirk Priory Lodge on 22 November 2006 becoming WM on 24 October 2008.
Peters Royal Arch career started when he joined Prince of Wales Chapter No 1035 on 7 November 1971. He receiving the rank of PPrGSoj on 9 May 1991 and on 12 May 1999 promotion to PPrGSwdB and a further promotion followed to PPrGSN on the 9 May 2007. Peter joined Southport Chapter No 1070 in 1983 and was first principal in December 2011.
At the conclusion of the ceremony Philip asked Frank Umbers to read out the celebration certificate before he formally presented it to Peter.
Later at the festive board, in response to the toast to his health, Peter recounted tales of his many visits to Masonic halls all over the world. The evening concluded with Ian Kennedy presenting Peter with a set of Masonic cufflinks and a bottle of Jack Daniels as a sign of affection from the brethren of the lodge. He then presented both Peter and Philip with a bouquet of flowers for their wives which concluded a most memorable evening.