A well attended meeting in Liverpool Masonic Hall’s Roman Suite witnessed a memorable meeting of Hamer Lodge No 1393. Founded in 1872, the lodge works the old Bottomley ritual and can boast of a list of Liverpool brethren who are worthy of being members during lodge’s long history. This meeting was to celebrate 60 years membership within the lodge of one of Hamer’s distinguished members, Eric Charles Rothwell who was initiated into Hamer Lodge on 28 January 1955.
The principal guest for this special occasion was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, accompanied by Liverpool Group Secretary Dave Johnson and grand officer Joe Brine, escorted into the room by John Massie and Kev Dempster acting as provincial deacons, all under the expert tuition of Geoff Campbell, director of ceremonies. Many present had in mind that what only seemed like yesterday was in fact ten years ago, for it was then that Eric celebrated his 50th with Rev Harry Ross as the chief guest.
The WM Ron Davies offered the lodge gavel to Philip which he accepted and amicably occupied the master’s chair. Philip invited Eric to occupy the chair set in the centre of the lodge and to make himself comfortable as it was his night to enjoy. It has been said that the office of Assistant Provincial Grand Master carries a number of responsibilities and duties, but it also has a number of privileges and the prospect of being able to officiate at jubilee celebrations, is without doubt the best. Tonight is an extra special occasion in celebrating the Masonic diamond jubilee of Eric. Philip mentioned that he also knew Eric’s brother very well having served alongside him in the police force.
It was in Liverpool that Eric was born in 1930, to Charles and Gladys Rothwell, during an extremely interesting historical period. This is the era which also saw the birth of many now well known institutions and people. The Times crossword was introduced, along with Micky Mouse and the manufacturers Birds Eye started production of frozen food and in 1930 Princess Margaret was born, along with Ronnie Corbett, Big Daddy, Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen.
Eric started his education in the local school and later won a place at the prestigious Bootle Grammar School, however war had broken out yet again and similar to many local children Eric was labelled and evacuated, firstly up to Southport, then a later move to Hereford. He avoided the May Blitz of 1941 when over 6,000 homes were destroyed and 190,000 damaged, with around 4,000 people killed. The Liverpool area including Bootle was after London the most bombed area of Great Britain. The last full raid on the area happened on 10 January 1942 destroying a number of houses in Upper Stanhope Street. Ironically one of these, number 102, was the former home of the Hitler family. It was here that Alois Hitler, the half brother of Adolf Hitler, lived and was the birthplace of Adolf Hitler’s nephew William Patrick Hitler. It is also believed that Adolph Hitler stayed here previous to the First World War and he was visited in Germany on a number of occasions up to World War Two by his nephew William. Another famous visitor to Liverpool was our own Winston Churchill, who on a visit during the war commented on the spirit of the local people.
On finishing school Eric found employment with the Ellerman Lines as a junior engineer and spent six years at sea circumnavigating the globe on three occasions. Much to Eric’s delight Philip produced a large photograph of the City of Poona, the ship Eric had spent most of his sea time aboard. On leaving his sea legs behind he joined Metal Box, then on to Ogden’s and also finally had the time to chase a young lady he much admired, eventually marrying her in 1956. So Eric and Jeanie will celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary next July, no doubt with their three granddaughters and three grandsons. Eric always liked to keep things on an even keel. It is amazing that Eric ever managed to find the time with his busy schedule to sing in the choir at St Philip’s Church in Litherland.
With regard to his Masonic service, Eric was initiated into Hamer Lodge on 28 January 1955 proposed by his next door neighbour John McGregor and seconded by his father Charles Rothwell. He became worshipful master in 1979 and again in 2009. Eris was appointed in 1990 to the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon, with promotion in 1997 to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. As for Royal Arch Masonry, Eric went into Everton Chapter No 823 in 1998 and into the first principal’s chair in 1987; he also joined Ormskirk Priory Chapter No 4007 in 1980. He was appointed to the rank of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner in 1993 and Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2000. Eric at this moment can lay claim to be the longest serving member of Hamer Lodge
At this point the Liverpool Group Secretary Dave Johnson read the certificate which is an acknowledgement of the Province of West Lancashire’s great appreciation of Eric’s 60 years membership of the Craft and signed by the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and Philip then presented Eric with his certificate. Philip concluded by saying: “Brother Eric you have had a very long and distinguished Masonic career. Thank you for allowing us all to share your evening and on behalf of our Provincial Grand Master James Anthony Harrison, your Group Chairman Sam Robinson, myself and all the members of this your mother lodge and your many friends I would like to congratulate you and wish you continued good health and happiness, you have given outstanding service to your lodge, Freemasonry in general and to your community.”
After thanking Philip for his kind words Eric presented a cheque on behalf of the lodge for £150 in favour of Zoe’s Place, a baby hospice providing respite and end of life care to babies and infants up to five years of age who have life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. At the festive board Eric was joined by his many friends who had many accolades to share about his career in Freemasonry. Philip Gunning reiterated on how pleased he was to be able to preside over such a special celebration and thanked the brethren for their support.