A trip back in time proved to be a major stimulus to the future of Freemasonry when the Blackpool Masonic Hall opened its doors to the general public during the Heritage Open Days of Friday 8 and Saturday 9 September. Dozens of visitors were treated to guided tours of the building by experienced, genial and industrious Masons.
There was no modified DeLorean car on the set; no eccentric scientist of the likes of Doc Emmett Brown and no heart-throb Michael J Fox in the guise of Marty McFly to glamourize the event like the cinematographic blockbuster of 1985. And the event was not science fiction. The tours were down to earth, relaxed, factual and extremely informative.
The first thing to wow the visitor was, of course, the magnificently ornate upper lodge room with its array of intriguing symbolism and impressive furnishings. Having captured the imagination and interest of the viewers, the guides proudly led their parties around the remainder of the building, imparting gems of wisdom about the history and traditions of Freemasonry until finally arriving at the newly established museum in the ground floor dining suite.
Once there, the visitor was free to browse at will, receiving fascinating explanations of the hundreds of artefacts on show. Additional displays on famous Freemasons and details of the diversity of other Masonic Orders added further interest to the viewer.
The collection provided an ideal medium for stimulating an interest in our fraternity, a goal that was proved highly successful by the unanimous positive feedback that was expressed by the visitors.
Officers of the Blackpool Civic Trust were as equally impressed as the members of the general public. President of the Blackpool Civic Trust, Elaine Smith MBE was particularly lavish with her compliments, saying: “It’s a fascinating collection and beautifully displayed.” The number and diversity of aprons was of particular interest to many visitors, along with the knowledge gained about Freemasonry’s charitable work, (the collections of festival jewels providing an excellent opportunity to explain the structure of charitable giving in Freemasonry).
Some were fascinated by the vastness of the collection of Masonic jewels, with one discerning couple intrigued with the changing designs amongst medals; many reflecting general design styles of different eras, from the arts and crafts movement of the late 19th century to the influences of art deco during the late 1920’s and the cardboard and plastic jewels during the austere years of WWII.
All the visitors took away their own particular memories and impressions but the one universal message was that ‘looking back to the past increased their interest for the future’.
And most importantly, every visitor commented on the friendliness and professionalism of their Masonic guides and that must surely ensure that the two days of Heritage Open Days have been a box-office success.