Members of St Peter’s Lodge No 4324 conducted their annual installation ceremony, with Merrick Beedle taking the chair of King Solomon. This is a return to office for Merrick, having occupied the position once before in 2007. By today’s standards the installation was extremely well supported in attendance, but fell just short of the record set in 1937 when nearly 350 brethren and their guests were present. The lodge itself was founded in 1921 and has always had a strong membership, but more importantly it has a great family tradition with many cases of two and three generations being members.
The lodge was founded in 1921 as a daughter lodge to Walton Lodge No 1086 and took its name from St Peter’s Church, which at that time was the Pro-Cathedral of Liverpool and was situated on Church Street. The church was demolished in the early 1920’s and all that now marks the site is a small brass cross set into the pavement, and of course the lodge. Bolstered by the influx of members who had shortly before been involved in the Great War, the early days in the lodge were ones of tremendous growth and it is interesting to note that the first 15 worshipful masters, who were founders, initiated 332 members. The record being set in 1923/24 by Tom Wivell, who during his office carried out 28 first degree ceremonies involving 51 candidates, 25 second degrees on 55 brethren and 41 third degrees on 81 brethren, his busiest time being at an emergency meeting on 4 January 1924 when he initiated two candidates, passed four entered apprentices to the second degree and raised three fellowcraft to the degree of master Mason.
Work on that day equalled that carried out on 23 January the previous year by Richard Davies. It is hoped that this year, with any luck, the new master Merrick Beedle will manage to emulate Tom and Richard. Founder Tom Wivell would also become a founder of the Liverpool Epworth Lodge No 5381, thus commencing the close ties that still exist today, with the current WM of that lodge George Christie, being in attendance for the ceremony with other members and quite a number of the members of St Peter’s Lodge are members of Liverpool Epworth Chapter No 5381.
It is worth noting that members of St Peter’s formed a daughter lodge in 1944, St Luke’s Lodge No 6006 and by coincidence the principal guest this year for the installation of Merrick was the former vicar of St Luke’s Church at Everton, Reverend Harry E Ross. This year’s installation ceremony was held in the Roman Suite at Liverpool Masonic Hall and was worked according to the Bottomley ritual. The meeting was opened by the worshipful master Steve Davies who as his first duty conducted a ballot for the admission of Ian Jones as a joining member. This proved in the affirmative and Ian was warmly welcomed into his lodge and escorted to his rightful seat at the keyboards. Ian is an extremely accomplished organist and his virtuoso performances will benefit all for many years to come.
Steve then gave a hearty welcome to Harry Ross, who was accompanied by Liverpool Group Chairman Sam Robinson. Steve, who was completing his term as a first time master, conducted a superb ceremony throughout, installing Merrick with great aplomb. On completion of the workings, Merrick had as his first task to perform, which was the appointment of his officers, and this he achieved in a quiet and dignified manner. On bringing the good wishes of the Provincial Grand Master, Harry said that if Tony had been present he would have congratulated all who had taken part, particularly to Steve Davies on his achievement in carrying out the ceremony in a flawless manner and director of ceremonies John Lambert, in ensuring all ran smoothly throughout.
Merrick’s next duty was one of bringing pleasure as he presented three cheques to Harry, the first for £100 in favour of the Liverpool Masonic Hall Building Fund, the second for £900 in favour of the Liverpool Masonic Hall 2015 Festival and the last for £500 to Prostrate Cancer UK. Harry thanked the lodge members on their generosity and for their continued support for the hall.
The members and their guests then retired to another room to toast the health of Merrick, before sitting to enjoy a very enjoyable festive board. In replying to a toast to his health, Harry offered his own congratulations to the new WM, the installing master and all the team.