The evening saw the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Coronation Lodge No 2923. The lodge was consecrated in September 1902, but this Installation will be the last under its current name. However, rather than being considered an end of an era, it is being seen by the remaining members as a whole new beginning.
Due to a decline in membership over the last five years, reluctantly all the remaining members decided, after long discussions over the future of the Lodge, to surrender the warrant.
The office of Provincial Grand Lodge and the Gladstone Group Chairman were notified of the motion, which was passed in favor of surrendering the warrant. On being notified of the decision, the Provincial Office advised the lodge that a group of Masons were looking to open a new Lodge. They were all members of an organisation called Merseyside Centurions, who generate funds to support the armed services charities. A number of meetings took place between members of Coronation Lodge and brethren representing the Centurions. Together they agreed a plan that would see a number of their group becoming joining members of Coronation Lodge.
It was agreed that the lodge number would not change. However, the lodge would be re-named to become ‘Centurions of Merseyside Coronation Lodge No 2923’. The by-laws would also name a change to the meeting venue, meeting dates and the number of meetings to be held each year.
Prior to the opening of this final installation meeting of Coronation Lodge, the WM Peter Slade requested the acting secretary Ted Baxter, to read the dispensation, permitting the meeting to be held at a different venue and on a different day than that stated in the by-laws. Peter then, with the assistance of his acting wardens Joe Allan and Gordon Heron, opened the lodge at 5.30pm. Following confirmation of the minutes of the previous meeting, the details of 22 joining members were announced and balloted for. The ballot being unanimously in favour, the 20 who were in attendance were admitted and welcomed by Peter and applauded with enthusiasm by the brethren. The lodge was then opened in the second degree and subsequently the third degree.
The assistant director of ceremonies Arran Banks then retired. Upon his return, he called the Provincial deacons to order. He then announced that David Hilliard, representative of the Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by the Gladstone Group Chairman Bill Culshaw, were without and sought admission. The brethren stood to receive them. Peter warmly welcomed them all, with the hope that they would enjoy the evening and later, the festive board.
Salutations followed and Syd Ford, the senior Grand Lodge officer, thanked the brethren on behalf of his colleagues while Ted Baxter responded on behalf of his colleagues of Provincial Grand Lodge. Labour in the third degree was adjourned and labour in the second degree resumed. Peter Duggan, master elect, was presented. As Peter had been installed on a previous occasion, he moved onto take his place in front of the pedestal and proceeded to recite the obligation as master elect, which was delivered in a perfect and sincere manner. Labour was resumed in the third degree.
Brethren below the rank of an installed master retired and a board of installed master’s declared. Peter proceeded to install his namesake Peter Duggan, in a faultless and heartfelt ceremony. Once installed, he appointed Peter Slade as immediate past master. Prior to appointing other officers, Ted Baxter gave the address to the newly installed master. David Hilliard promptly rose to convey the congratulations of the PrGM, Tony Harrison. He also congratulated installing master Peter and ADC Arran, for the way the ceremony had been conducted.
Other officers appointed were a balance of Coronation Lodge and joining members. From Coronation Lodge, Syd Ford was appointed chaplain and almoner, Warren Morris DC, Arran Banks ADC, Joe Allan charity steward, John Pope junior warden and Rod McGregor and Andy Byrne deacons. From amongst the new joining members, Hughie O’Neil was appointed treasurer, Bob Patterson secretary, Roger Phillips senior warden, Mick Hunt inner guard and Ian Tumuity, Kevin Gates Lunden, David Hitchmough and James McKenna were appointed stewards. Ken Orme had acted as tyler just for the evening.
Addresses were given as follows, to the WM by Ted Baxter, to the wardens by Bob Patterson and to the brethren by David Hilliard.
Grand Lodge officers retired after the first rising, to enjoy a pre-dinner drink in the sumptuous surroundings of the Artist Club in Eberle Street, Liverpool. The business of the lodge complete, they were joined by the other members and guests. 33 members and guests then enjoyed an excellent three course meal, served by the friendly staff. Much wine taking took place, toasts and responses and a rendition of the ‘Masters Song’, sung in a rich baritone voice by Ken Orme.
All too soon it was time for the last toast of the evening, again in the capable hands of acting tyler Ken. It was obvious from the mood of the brethren gathered, that a most memorable evening had taken place.
Article by Phil Marshall.
Photographs courtesy of John Daley