Members of Lodge of Equity and Appleton No 1384 assembled at their lodge meeting to celebrate the 60 years of Masonic service Bob Martindale has given to Freemasonry. Attending the meeting as the principal guest and to lead the celebration was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton.
The WM Chris Douglas opened the meeting and worked through the business of the lodge. With the initial business complete, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell announced the entrance of Kevin Poynton into the lodge. Kevin was accompanied by Widnes Group Vice Chairman Neil Pedder, grand and acting Provincial grand officers. Kevin received a very warm welcome from Chris and retained the gavel offered to him so that he could officiate over the celebration.
Kevin thanked the lodge members for his invitation to this special meeting and proceeded to give an introduction to the evening explaining what it really meant to have the dedication to achieve 60 years in Freemasonry. The Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies was then asked by Kevin to seat Bob on a chair on the floor of the lodge and ensure that he was comfortable and proceeded to give a resume of Bob’s personal and Masonic life.
A long time ago a certain John Martindale who, after the Great War, came home to find that there was little or no work to be had, decided to turn his hand to what we in these modern days call ‘Farm Contracting’. Born in Woolton, Liverpool, he would plough fields all over the area. Meanwhile a young lady called Jessica who lived in Alsager had gone into service and she eventually became employed at Speke Hall Farm as part of the household team. This was quite a long way away from her home town in Alsager, where her mum ran a pub called the Cricketers Arms, situated on the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal. The two of them met, courted and eventually married and settled in Widnes, where John took a job as Power Station Attendant.
John and Jessi produced two sons, Robert the eldest, was followed four years later by Norman. Bob was born in Halton View, Widnes in December 1930 and lived here until the age of nine before moving to Farnworth. He married his wife Ann in September 1955. Bob and Ann celebrated 60 years of marriage in September earlier this year. They have two children, Clive and Gill.
In his early years Bob attended Warrington Road and Farnworth C of E Primary schools. During the Second World War he was evacuated for four weeks to Alsager in Cheshire. This being the birthplace of his mother, he went to stay quite often with his grandmother who, as previously mentioned ran a pub. The method of transport from Widnes to Alsager then was by barge. Bob was taken by his dad to the Top Locks and then put on one of the barges and two or three days later he would arrive in Alsager right to the door step of the Cricketers Arms!
Bob went on to Fairfield Secondary Modern and from there to Widnes Technical College. He left school at 14 years of age and started work at the ICI Pilkington Sullivan Works as an office boy. Shortly afterwards he started an apprenticeship with ICI, firstly in mechanical engineering, then electrical engineering and moving onto instrumentation. Bob was the first person to gain an apprenticeship in Instruments at ICI Pilkington Sullivan works. During this time he also attended Liverpool College studying applied physics. Bob worked his way up through Pilkington Sullivan Works becoming a foreman instrument technician and then promoted to senior foreman. He retired in 1985. Kevin commented: “He tried it, liked it and decided to stay!” Bob is delighted to admit he has had more out of the pension fund than he put in.
After serving his apprenticeship with ICI, at the age of 21 Bob was called up for your National Service in the RAF (1952 – 1954) serving at Padgate, Melksham in Wiltshire and then posted on to RAF Driffield in Yorkshire to work in instrumentation. Part of his duties was to convert conventional aircraft into jet fighters and Bob at that time was working on the rebuilding of Gloster Meteor jet fighters. But, as they were all basically rebuilding the jets, they had to be very precise in their work as the airbase they were stationed at was in fact an advanced flying school, where pilots who were used to flying conventional planes were sent and taught to fly the jets. Bob stated that whilst in the RAF he had never worked so hard in his Life.
Bob was selected to attend the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. However, at this time, National Servicemen had to buy their own uniform for the occasion at a cost of £100. Regulars had theirs provided free of charge! Bob could not afford this cost and had to turn the opportunity down. When he started in the RAF the pay was £2 10s 00d a week, rising to £3 10s 00d. Bob came out of National Service as a Senior Aircraftsman.
In his youth Bob was a proficient cyclist and for a time became semi-professional. He represented the RAF and would regularly compete in time trials which covered a distance of 25 miles or up to 12 hours duration. Whilst in the RAF, he used to cycle from the airbase into Leeds and back. He became an honorary member of the then well-known club ‘The Morley Wheelers’ in Leeds.
Photography and local history have become a passion for you Bob. Firstly as a member of Widnes, and now Halton, Camera club. He is a past Chairman of the Widnes Family History Group and over the years he has amassed in excess of 7,000 photographs and slides of all descriptions depicting many aspects of the history of Widnes and the surrounding areas. He regularly gave presentations to interested groups on the many facets of Widnes past and present from the evolution of the chemical industry, people and places that were involved, to the development of the transport links, construction and the demolition of the various grand houses that had been built throughout the town. Bob has recently took possession of a new professional camera and still takes as many photographs as he can, cataloguing them in the hope that they may be passed on to future generations for posterity.
Bob was a co-writer of a book entitled ‘The Changing Face of Widnes’ which was written by Cliff Hayes and Robert Martindale. Also Bob is featured several times on ‘YouTube’ talking about the importance of the Heritage of Widnes where he actually displayed pictures and talked in depth about St Marie’s Church which sits on the edge of the car park at Tesco. The church was at one time quite run down then closed and it is nice to see that the head of one of our local companies, a local man himself, actually facilitated a donation of nearly £1,500,000 towards the restoration and the upkeep of the church.
The other passion of Bob’s is horticulture. He has been a very active member of Halton Horticultural Society and has been involved with the growing and cultivation of roses, dahlias and chrysanthemums. Bob won the National Rose Society medal for his displays and for many years up until as recent as two years ago, managed the annual Widnes Flower Show.
He was also a member of the local Probus group but unfortunately there are no longer any groups in Widnes.
At the time Bob joined Freemasonry he was a reservist in the RAF and actually received his call up papers for the Suez crisis, but thankfully he was never actually called for.
Bob was proposed into Freemasonry by his father John Martindale and seconded by W Woodward. His father was a member of Lodge of Equity No 1384 and that although he had spoken on the subject while in the RAF he never gave it too much thought but, when on leave one night, his father told him he had arranged a meeting for him with the lodge committee.
He was initiated into Lodge of Equity in a joint ceremony with Eric Quinn on 6 October 1955. Due to work commitments, Bob felt that he was unable to progress to become master, mainly because he held a responsible position in the production of paraquat and could not guarantee being able to be present at all lodge meetings. However he does probably hold the record for the position of lodge steward which he held for 15 years. Bob has been a strong supporter of the lodge and has attended as regularly as he could, as well as being the lodge photographer.
The Masonic Martindale dynasty comprised of five members of the family within the Lodge of Equity. His father John was the lodge chaplain for many years; his brother Norman was the WM in 1977; he was followed into the chair by his cousin Fred who became WM in 1978. A distant cousin was A F Martindale who held the position of lodge treasurer for 20 years, becoming WM in 1930. There have also been other brethren within the lodge who have connections with the Martindale family.
Kevin then commented: “This history is probably one of the reasons that this lodge has had a successful existence and long may it continue.”
In conclusion, Kevin said: “To mark this very special occasion, our Provincial Grand Master has caused a commemorative certificate to be produced in recognition of your service, which I shall now call on our Group Vice Chairman Neil Pedder to read out”. Following this, Kevin presented the certificate to Bob saying: “Robert, it is with great pleasure that I now present to you this certificate to mark your continuous 60 years in Freemasonry. With it come the congratulations and best wishes of our West Lancashire Provincial Grand Master. 60 years is a long time to serve Masonry, but like any other celebration, it gets much better if you have someone to share it with, particularly the members of your own lodge. Congratulations sir.” This was met with unanimous applause from everyone present.
With the celebration of Bob’s 60 years complete, Kevin handed the gavel back to Chris to transact the final business and to close the lodge. The brethren then retired to the festive board to enjoy a delightful three course meal in a warm and social atmosphere. The group chairman Derek Williams presented Bob with a 60 year lapel badge and an engraved group tumbler, in recognition of his 60 years in Freemasonry. Chris then presented Bob with a card and vouchers as a gift from the lodge and towards the end of the evening a presentation was made to Bob of a bunch of flowers for his wife.