A very jubilant evening was held at the Geoffrey Hirst Masonic Suite within Woolton Golf Club on Eric Binks celebrating 50 years in Freemasonry. There were over 60 Masons present to witness this joyous occasion and the lodge room was filled with music played by Brian Wilson, the Provincial Grand Organist of East Lancashire.
The celebration in the temple was led by principal guest, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Andrew Whittle who, on being offered the gavel of Toxteth Lodge No 1356 by the WM Matthew Wilson, readily accepted it so as to be able to lead the celebrations.
Andrew immediately proceeded to close the lodge to the first degree so that those below the rank of a master Mason could enter to listen to Eric’s life history and an edited version is outlined below. Andrew requested Provincial Assistant Grand Directors of Ceremonies to place Eric before him and ensure that he was comfortable.
Andrew went on to say that the greatest happiness a man can have is to know that he is loved, and the very fact that there are so many brethren present serves to reinforce that statement and shows the high regard in which the celebrant is held. A short summary of the key events within the year of Eric’s birth were read:
The coal industry was nationalised; Cable and Wireless became known as British Telecom; British coins ceased to have any silver content; the University of Cambridge voted to allow women to become full time students; soft toilet paper was sold in Harrods and some favourite and new cars were the Ferrari 125 Sport; Rolls Royce Phantom III Labourdette Vutotal Cabriolet; Austin A40 Countryman, the Ford Pilot and MG Y-type were born.
In 1947 some very famous people were born in the persons of Hilary Clinton, Elton John, Alan Sugar, David Bowie, Camilla Parker Bowles to name but a few, but the most famous was Eric Binks born in August in a small two up and two down houses on Beresford Road, Dingle, Liverpool to Mary Elizabeth (Cissy) and Percy Binks. Eric was the fifth child born to the couple; the oldest Reg was 16 years.
Eric’s first school was at Beaufort Street Primary School at the tender age of 4, but Eric hated school from the day he started to the day he finished. Moving onto secondary school which was Wellington Road Secondary Modern created a little more interest for Eric as at the end of his first year in 1959 a school trip was arranged to Switzerland and Eric was one of the lucky ones chosen to participate along with six other schools and the cost of the trip was £26 each.
It was whilst at secondary school that Eric developed his passion for metalwork and woodwork; little did he know that this would assist him with gaining useful employment as Eric also hated sport but between the ages of 11 and 15 he was a member of the Sea Cadets at HMS Eaglet located at Salthouse Dock and enjoying the activities that the Sea Cadets offered him, rowing, learning to sail and attending a Royal Navy Air Base in Scotland. Eric thought he might join the navy but his Mum had other ideas.
In 1962 Eric was finally able to leave school and start work with Yates Brothers in Pall Mall as an apprentice motor mechanic with the grand salary of £2.00 per week which was not enough to live on so he relied heavily on his mother’s assistance. However, in September 1962 he was shocked to discover that his employer wanted him to enhance his apprenticeship by attending day release at Riverside College; this apprenticeship was to last for five years, at the end of which his technical qualifications qualified him as a fully-fledged Motor Vehicle Technician and a certified Motor Engineer and a Member of the Institute of Road Transport Engineers.
So, at the age of 21, he joined Liverpool and Bootle Police as a Police Mechanic/Vehicle Examiner and progressed to lead mechanic, garage foreman, garage manager to vehicle fleet support services manager and all of these qualifications allowed him many highlights along with the camaraderie amongst his working colleagues and also allowed him to visit many vehicle manufacturers, vehicle test sites and the vehicle test facilities at Millbrook. During the Toxteth riots, he and his colleagues found ways to protect officers in the field by creating inventive equipment so as to protect colleagues in the midst of the riots.
Eric gained all the licenses for all categories on his driving licence such as HGV3 in 1972, HGV1 in 1975, PCV in late 1970s, motorcycle all categories in 1976 and in late 1976, Eric undertook his motorcycle training course and tests with Peter Melling as his instructor. One of Eric’s most vivid memories are of the test drives he got to take in a variety of vehicles around some of the country’s top racetracks and test tracks.
On his 45 years of service with Merseyside Police, the Chief Constable, Sir John Murphy, presented him with a Sergeant’s Signalling Stick engraved to mark the occasion and said he now had the rank Honorary Sergeant. In 2019 Eric finally retired after serving for over 50 years with Merseyside Police.
Eric married his first wife in 1968 and they were blessed with three children and Eric junior, born in 1970, is also a member of Toxteth Lodge. In 182 Eric married his second wife and they were blessed with one son called Adam who was able to retire at the age of thirty-nine and now travels the world.
Eric has a large connection with Freemasonry and Toxteth Lodge in particular; hi uncle (Jack) John Binks joined in 1935; dad Percy in 1938; uncle Alf in 1962; brother Reg in 1958; brother Alan in 1960; brother-in-law John in 1973; nephews Alan and David in 1988; Eric junior in 2010, and when Alan and David were raised, all the offices of the lodge were occupied by a family member. Dad Percy and brothers Alan and Reg have also achieved 50 years in Freemasonry. Eric was installed as WM of the lodge in 1990 and whilst in the chair he proposed, initiated, passed and raised the lodge’s current WM Matthew Wilson. During his time in Toxteth Lodge, Eric has held a plethora of offices and is currently treasurer and almoner.
In 1981 Eric was exalted into the Royal Arch in De Grey and Rippon Chapter No 1356 remaining as a knife and fork Mason until starting his progression through the various offices.
The certificate granted by Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews was read by the group chairman and presented by Andrew Whittle, after which Eric thanked everyone for supporting his 50 years as a Freemason and then presented a personal cheque for West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity to Andrew.
The lodge was closed in due form so that the brethren could retire to the dining to continue the celebrations. During the excellent meal which consisted of duck spring rolls, beef bourguignon and Eaton mess followed by cheese and biscuits, a raffle was held which raised £365.
David Atkinson proposed the toast to Andrew Whittle who replied with brevity. The toast to Eric was firstly proposed, in a jocular manner by nephew Alan and this caused much merriment. David Bruffell continued with some interesting stories. It was a wonderful evening and enjoyed by all who were present.
Article by Colin Roberts.