Members of Fleetwood Civic Society took the opportunity to take a rare tour round Fleetwood Masonic Hall which is one of the society’s Heritage Open Days partners. Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest heritage festival; it celebrates history, architecture and culture by offering people the chance to see hidden gems and places on their own doorstep not generally open to the public; all of which are free of charge during the annual four day event, which this year will run from 10 until 13 September.
Fleetwood Civic Society is the umbrella organisation which organises the town’s participation in the HODs festival. Unfortunately the society’s volunteer members are so heavily involved showing the many hundreds of visitors who come to Fleetwood for the festival around such features as the Pharos Lighthouse that they don’t get the opportunity to take the tour of the other Fleetwood outlets which are also open.
Society secretary Yvonne Johnstone resolved to put that omission to rights and 16 of her members joined her on the tour of Fleetwood Masonic Hall after arranging the visit with local Mason Bob Boal, who is also a member of the Civic Society, and his colleagues.
The Civic Society group were warmly welcomed by Bob and members of the hall’s committee, Peter Tebbs, Rod Greenall and Jack I’Anson and they heard about some of the chequered history of the building which was built in 1847, the same year as the much renowned North Euston Hotel and which was so named in honour of a visit to the town by Queen Victoria.
Then the building which was to become the Masonic hall was a private house known locally as ‘The Towers.’ One of the original twin spires still remains to this day. In 1945 it became an orphanage and children’s home and remained as such until the orphanage closed in 1954 having given scores of Fleetwood children an especially fine start in life.
In 1955 Fleetwood Masons, members of Hesketh Lodge No 950 who until then had met in various local hotels and were on the lookout for premises of their own took the building over. Massive structural alterations took place and over the years local Freemasons have continued the development of the hall to the impressive property it is today and have even extended its use for private functions.
The Civic Society party was given the guided tour of the building and heard not only about the building but also about Freemasonry and its origins on the local scene and how Fleetwood Masons support many local charitable organisations in the town in which they work and live.
Over tea or coffee and home-made cake Civic Society member Keith Porter gave a vote of thanks to Bob and his colleagues for allowing the society to visit and said how impressed they had been by all they had seen and heard.