Barlow Moor Lodge No 4525 was originally consecrated on 18 October 1923 and a unique, special meeting was held in November 2023 to celebrate its centenary. The Centenary Meeting was held in the newly refurbished surroundings of ‘The Venue’ Lodge Room at Urmston Masonic Hall and was attended by a very large number of lodge members, grand and Provincial grand officers and honoured guests from the length and breadth of the country from the Highlands of Scotland to the South Coast and, as Centenary Meetings go, it was considered to be a huge success!
The lodge was opened by WM Sam Wood, the normal business of the lodge quickly dispensed with and the lodge made ready to welcome the Provincial party. At the appropriate time, the lodge members and visitors alike were clearly delighted to receive an expected knock on the door from the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald who announced that the Provincial Grand Master, Mark Matthews was without and demanded admission.
The lodge room rose to greet Mark, admirably supported by his Provincial team, who processed into the lodge room in massed, colourful ranks. Having been introduced to the WM, who promptly offered him the lodge gavel, Mark, on this occasion accepted Sam’s offer, duly taking the preferred gavel and taking his place in the chair of King Solomon.
Mark commenced his introduction by remarking upon certain centennial dates which coincided with the consecration of the lodge and revealed that Barlow Moor Lodge had been an offshoot of Chorlton Lodge No 1387. This lodge had apparently grown too large for its current surroundings with 80 lodge members and a lodge room which seated 50! In these circumstances it would have been incredibly difficult for a new initiate to attain the chair in his lifetime, so consequently the creation of Barlow Moor Lodge was proposed. Mark also went on to mention the Hall Stone Jewel and its subsequent presentation to the lodge.
Mark then nominated his Provincial team in readiness to open Provincial Grand Lodge. For that purpose, Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning was present with Provincial Senior Grand Warden Michael Tax, Provincial Junior Grand Warden David Rigby, Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Matthew McMurray, Barry Fitzgerald and Peter Taylor, Provincial Grand Secretary, along with many other acting officers who were splendidly serenaded by Stephen Derringer, Provincial Grand Organist, all in their respective positions for the purposes of the centenary ceremony.
Mark then opened Provincial Grand Lodge and called upon the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Matthew McMurray to give an oration to the lodge. Matthew started his oration with the founding of the Barlow Moor Lodge, which it was said, derived its name from a local 13th century Manor House, Barlow Moor Hall in the district of Chorlton. The lodge was proposed by 12 petitioners who between them, paid the princely sum of 10 guineas for the warrant. The name Barlow Moor was decided upon and was designated as lodge No 4525 in the County of Lancaster meeting on the third Thursday of the months September through to May. The consecration meeting was held at The Masonic Hall, 17 High Lane, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, on 18 October 1923 and later in that year, the lodge qualified as a Hall Stone Lodge with the presentation of 136 guineas and 10 shillings (current equivalent £8,000 approximately) to the Masonic Million Memorial Fund receiving the Million Memorial Jewel to be worn by all succeeding masters of the Lodge.
Following the war, in 1949 the lodge moved to new quarters in South Manchester Freemasons Hall on Edge Lane in Chorlton and spent 57 years there until the hall fell into disrepair, eventually moving to Urmston Masonic Hall in 2006. Sadly, in this time a large portion of the lodge records were lost and although the very earliest years are on record, the late 1920’s to 1980’s are absent.
The earliest records tell us that the first master was a brother by the name of Albert Harris who was a local estate agent and coal merchant, originally a member of Chorlton Lodge. Also, in its first full year, Barlow Moor Lodge had eight initiates and two joining members, the first initiate being a Samuel Harold Owen, a local bank manager who was initiated on 23 November 1923 and achieved the masters chair in 1932.
The lodge has had many notable members over the years amongst them the first foreign national to achieve the masters chair, one Niels Sejrup who was a member of the Free Danes during the Second World War and was elected master in 1945 but sadly died suddenly in 1949.
The lodge membership has most often been made up of members families and friends and still continues to this day, with generations of families involved, indeed, the current master, Sam Wood who is the nephew of previous master, Stephen Golding whose grandfather Norman was also a member of the Lodge.
Barlow Moor Lodge has a strong tradition of contributing to local and national charities becoming Patrons of the RMBI Festival in 1981 and Grand Patrons of the 2021 MCF and are always on the lookout for deserving causes.
As a strange quirk, in 2020 the world was turned upside down with the advent of a particularly nasty strain of Coronavirus named COVID 19. This disease literally swept the planet causing illness and death wherever it passed. The country was placed in ‘lockdown’ with the Government forced to declare that everyone should stay at home only venturing out for vital supplies and working from home where possible.
In the end, COVID 19 managed what Hitler could not, prompting the Grand Master to declare all meetings from April 2020 to July 2021 to be cancelled thus, necessitating the master at the time, Mohammed Yusuf to serve a term of three years in the chair! However, the lodge is growing in strength and unity of purpose once more and anticipating the next 100 years.
On completion of Matthew’s presentation, Mark thanked him for a very interesting and thought-provoking oration, and then called the brethren to the attention of Matthew once more, for a prayer of re-dedication whereafter, Mark closed Provincial Grand Lodge and handed the gavel back over to WM, Sam Wood.
On completion of the ceremony, Sam rose to the thank Mark along with the Provincial team for making the evening such a special occasion and presenting a donation of £225 to the WLFC, whereupon Mark thanked him most gratefully and then presented long serving lodge secretary, Andrew Makin with promotion to the Provincial rank of PPJGW.
The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies then commandeered the proceedings with excellent precision and the Provincial team exited in the same magnificently colourful procession to which they had entered.
The lodge having closed, the celebrations were continued at a magnificent and cheerful festive board with excellent food and wine in plentiful supply. Mark in response to his toast, congratulated the lodge founders for their foresight in opening the lodge and to the current and future members for its continued existence and promising future.
The memorable occasion thus ended, but the history of the lodge and its current strength indicate that there will be many similar occasions ahead for Barlow Moor Lodge!