Brethren of Atherton Lodge No 4488 held their centenary meeting on the 23 February 2023, and they were honoured to have the company of the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews and other important dignitaries and guests.
The lodge being previously opened in the third degree, Mark and those grand and acting Provincial Grand officers processed in. Mark was offered the gavel of the lodge by the WM Jonathan Battye and Mark accepted the gavel and took the chair of King Solomon to continue with the ceremony.
Salutations were offered to Mark, Deputy Provincial Grand Master Phil Gunning, Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Ogden, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent, Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor and the other grand officers, finally Provincial grand officers were given salutations, Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden Daniel Crossley, Provincial Junior Grand Warden Sylvester During, Provincial Grand Chaplain Reverend Canon John Hall and Dr David Case Vice Chairman of Leigh Group, all of whom responded.
Mark then asked Daniel Crossley, Sylvester During, Reverend Canon John Hall and the other Provincial grand officers to take their places in Provincial Grand Lodge then asked Malcom Bell to continue as the director of ceremonies and Gary Smith to be his deputy.
Provincial Grand Lodge was then closed by Mark by virtue in the third degree and opened in the first degree and Mark expressed his gratitude to the fine work that Atherton Lodge had given to Freemasonry in past years. He called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor to read the Centenary Warrant, after which Mark presented the Centenary Warrant to the WM Johnathan Batty, along with a Centenary Jewel At this point the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies announced that the Centenary Jewel can now be worn by the brethren of the lodge. Rev Can John Hall gave the oration, rededication of the lodge, rededication prayer and following this, Provincial Grand Lodge was closed and the WM and lodge officers took up their places.
A brief history of Atherton Lodge was given by John Hall. Atherton Lodge had its warrant issued on 1 November 1922 and was founded in early 1923 by a number of members of Tyldesley Lodge No 2572 who at that time resided above the NatWest bank in Tyldesley and who, as a consequence, became known as the mother lodge. Atherton Lodge had as their first home, the first floor of Seymour Meads grocery store in Market Street in Atherton when after the monthly meetings; caterers would bring in meals such as hotpot or pie and peas in the style of the school meals provided during that era.
Atherton Lodge made the move from Seymour Meads in 1967 to the Leigh Masonic Hall in Ellesmere Street in Leigh, locally known as the Ellesmere Suite, to join five other lodges including the Marquis of Lorne Lodge No 1354 who, being the mother lodge of Tyldesley Lodge, are in fact Atherton Lodge’s grandmother lodge. Later years Makerfield Lodge No 2155 came to Leigh from Ashton-in-Makerfield and together with Tyldesley Lodge formed the Leigh and District Masonic Group of eight lodges within the Masonic Province of West Lancashire. When the NatWest bank closed its doors in the late 90s, Tyldesley Lodge members chose to move to Westhoughton Masonic Hall and join the Chorley and District Group which meant that the Leigh Group lost what it deemed as its ‘district’ and became just the Leigh Group, as it is known today.
And for the record, there 50th birthday way back in 1973, the current most senior member of the lodge, Frank Monaghan was the WM during that year and was be present to celebrate the centenary having been a subscribing member for 63 years. Also, the second most senior member of the lodge was Peter Gregory who was initiated under the constitution of the Grand Lodge of Switzerland, celebrated his 50th anniversary as a Freemason on Wednesday the 8 December 2022 and on that same occasion was promoted in Provincial grand rank by our Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Ogden, which was a very pleasant surprise for the celebrant.
After the history of the lodge, the WM then thanked the Provincial Grand Master for attending, then presented him with cheques for Masonic Charities as follows; Bolton Dementia Support £500, Wigan and Leigh Hospice £500, Patrick Wylde Centre £500, Derian House £500, Leigh Masonic Hall £488, and West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £2000, making a grand total £4,488.
At the first rising the Provincial Grand Master, together with grand officers and acting Provincial grand officers retired. The lodge then resumed its normal business before being closed in due form.
Anthony Roe, Leigh Group Publicity Officer.