The brethren of Fleetwood Lodge No 3711 and visitors gathered at Fleetwood Masonic Hall to celebrate an important milestone in Fred Pimlott’s Masonic career; that marking his 50 years in Freemasonry. Master of the lodge George Brooks, opened the lodge and after concluding the preliminary business of the lodge, received a report. The Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald was admitted and announced that Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Randerson was without and that he demanded admission.
David Randerson was welcomed by George Brooks and was offered the gavel of the lodge. David replied, saying it was always a great honour and a privilege to be offered the gavel of a lodge and that on this special occasion he would accept. David called on Barry Fitzgerald to place the celebrant in a comfortable seat before him.
Fred was born on 27 August 1940 in Thornton Cleveleys to Charles and Cissie. His father came from Birkdale in Southport and his mother from Crook in County Durham. Charles was only 18 years old when World War I started and he joined the Liverpool regiment. He spent the war years driving mules with the heavy guns to the front line. It must have been a horrendous time for such a young man but fortunately he survived, unlike 700,000 who lost their lives.
Mum Cissie was from a large family and, as was the case for many in those times, she was put into service at the tender age of just 13 years as a domestic servant. Her work after a few years brought her to Southport in the service of a local bank manager and this was where Charles and Cissie met and eventually married. They moved to Blackpool just before World War II and Fred’s father worked at Squires Gate Airport. At the outbreak of the war the site was taken over by the RAF with 63 Squadron flying the Fairey Battle and 75 and 215 Squadrons with Wellingtons. The Ministry of Aircraft production built a Vickers Wellington Shadow factory in 1940 and over 2,500 Wellingtons were built on the site which eventually closed in 1945. This is where Fred’s father worked for the duration of the war and Blackpool was then the RAF’s largest training area with camps at Weeton and Kirkham.
Fred was born in 1940; nearly a year into the Second World War and Winston Churchill, a Freemason, had become Prime Minister. Fred shared his year of birth with many well-known figures including Pele, John Lennon, Raquel Welch, Tom Jones, David Jason and Cliff Richard to name but a few. Fred was one of three siblings, his sister Joan – now sadly deceased and his brother Ken who spent 23 years in the RAF – maybe his dad’s time working at RAF Squires Gate had rubbed off on him a little.
Fred’s infant war years were in Anchorsholme and he attended Norbreck Primary School and then went on to Thornton Cleveleys Secondary Modern. It’s probably fair to say that Fred didn’t enjoy his school days too much. Academia and sports were not high on his list of favourite things. Fred was very much more a hands-on practical sort, very much enjoying working Saturday’s at Fleetwood Construction. In his late teens he did venture into a little sporting activity, joining the Aqua Club where he enjoyed learning to scuba dive. Saturday mornings at Fleetwood Construction led him to become an apprentice joiner when he left school at 15 in 1955. Fred served his time there and in 1961 moved to Brown and Jackson Construction where he stayed until 1976.
Fred had for many years in the back of his mind the desire that he would like to work abroad and in that year he went on his own to work in Saudi Arabia. His job there – sand stabilization, which in a place such as Saudi Arabia one would think would be a thankless task! Fred’s job entailed keeping the tops of oil wells and important power units from the ingress of sand which would otherwise have caused countless delays in production. Fred started out as a general foreman and eventually became contracts manager. During his three years stay his family came out to join him for the last of those years.
The name Eric Wright was well known to many and Eric was someone Fred had known from the mid-60s when he was working as an engineer. His company Eric Wright Construction was to take over Fred’s former employers Brown and Jackson. When Fred returned from Saudi Arabia, Eric asked Fred to come and work for him, making a promise that if the business was a success, then he wouldn’t have to work past 60. True to his word Fred did exactly that when he retired in 1998.
Fred met his first wife Valerie and they were married in 1962. They had two children, Wayne and Laura and now have five grandchildren. Wayne spent 22 years in the army and he now lives in Germany with his wife and children, a girl and two boys. Laura lives in Blackpool and has a girl and a boy. Sadly Fred’s marriage to Valerie was to eventually end in divorce but it was through Val’s father George who was a Freemason, which started him on his journey over the last 50 years in the Craft.
Moving on to his Masonic journey, though not forgetting his now wife Maureen, Fred had known her since the mid-70’s. Her mum and dad Jim and Edith Hersey had been hoteliers in the town and in 1970 they were honoured to become the Mayor and Mayoress of Blackpool.
Her first husband, a member of Normoss Round Table Lodge No 8741, had unfortunately suffered when he had been captured and held hostage in the Sudan. They had moved away from the area but sadly only a couple of years after being released he died from cancer and Maureen returned to Blackpool. Fred and Maureen’s paths crossed again in 1995, love blossomed and in the year he retired, 1998, Fred and Maureen were married in the April.
Maureen had two children Kim and Joanne who lived in Essex and Fred made the decision that he would move down there to be near them. They now have children of their own and one has just graduated as a doctor and a daughter lives in Singapore. Fred’s hobbies are DIY and Freemasonry. The DIY involves not only work at his own home but over the years he has helped his children and step children with theirs to the extent that he virtually rebuilt one of their homes.
At this juncture in the tale, David Randerson moved on to Fred’s Freemasonry – how did all that begin? As mentioned earlier in this narrative, Fred’s first wife’s father, George Wainwright was a Freemason. Fred had attended a number of social functions and ladies’ evenings and he eventually decided to join. Bill Beaumont was his proposer and George Wainwright seconded and on 11 September 1968 Fred was initiated into Fleetwood Lodge. At this point Chris Carnell the lodge secretary read out a précis of the minutes from that meeting when Fred was initiated.
Fred passed through his second degree on 11 December 1968 and was raised to the degree of a master Mason on 12 February 1969. In March 1970 Fred was given his first lodge office as a steward and his journey through to the chair began. Fred’s seconder and father-in-law, George, sadly died before he could become master of the lodge.
Fred progressed through the offices to reach junior warden of the lodge, but this was the time when he moved to work in Saudi Arabia for three years so his progression and Freemasonry was put on hold for a while. On his return from working abroad he did not want to jump back into a position on the floor ahead of another brother so Fred was happy to wait until a suitable opportunity arose. That was not to take long and on 9 March 1988 Fred was installed into the chair of King Solomon by George Davies, together with other installing officers, brothers Tebbs, Wright and Mitton.
Fred had a very enjoyable year in the chair, visiting many other lodges, (something that happens more in West Lancashire than in Essex as Fred told David Randerson). During Fred’s year he initiated David Noble who sadly was to lose his life in an accident while in the Falklands.
After completing his years as master of the lodge and immediate past master, Fred was appointed as assistant director of ceremonies of the Lodge for four years, before taking on the important office of director of ceremonies for a further three years. He was also one of the founders of the social committee becoming its secretary for many years. At the time there was a flourishing social calendar in the lodge and all kinds of visits were organised to places like Liverpool Docks. This commitment to Fleetwood Lodge and his service to West Lancashire Freemasonry were recognised by appointment to Provincial Grand Lodge as Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon in 1998.
Some of the names from those years in Fleetwood Lodge still remain with Fred; Peter Tebbs, two of Fred’s candidates Dewi Williams, Peter Bowden and Alan Ollerton. Mention was also made of a young Neil McSymons.
In addition to his time in the Craft Fred, was encouraged to join the Royal Arch soon after his third degree, which in those days was the recognised thing to do. Fred was exalted into Fleetwood Chapter 3711 and later joined Thornton and Cleveleys Chapter No 3854, becoming first principal in 1992. The second half of Fred’s Masonic journey of course was in Essex. When he moved there Fred contacted the Provincial Office to find out which lodges met in his area. By chance however in the village he moved to called Layer Marney, just outside the town of Colchester, there was a small country filling station come local store opposite his new home that was run by a certain Jim McCreadie. Jim quickly befriended Fred as a neighbour and fellow Freemason. In 2000 Fred was proposed as a member of Plume Chapter No 1024 and became first principal there in 2008 and in 2014 was appointed to the Provincial Rank of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner.
In 2001 he joined the Frederick Leistikow Lodge No 9143, which David believed was named after a former Provincial Grand Master of the Province and served as its master in 2013. Fred’s first Provincial appointment in the Craft in Essex was as Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon in 2007 and this year Fred was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer. Presently Fred is both director of ceremonies and charity steward of the lodge. In 2013 he also became a member of the Frederick Leistikow Chapter No 9143 and Fred is currently first principal and once again serving as their charity steward. In 2007 Fred also became a member of another Masonic Order.
David informed Fred that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was aware of his celebration at Fleetwood Lodge and although he could not be there in person sent his very best personal greetings in the form of a jubilee certificate. David then called upon the North Fylde Group Chairman Peter Greathead to read out the certificate.
50 years after Fred’s initiation, David said, has undoubtedly seen many changes both in Masonry and society. Freemasonry in Essex Fred told David, is somewhat different to that in West Lancashire – perhaps more visiting in chapter than in the Craft and to us it would seem unusual not to see a representative at every installation meeting. Nevertheless it is these differences that make our fraternity more interesting and Fred has continued to enjoy his Freemasonry and he has given great service to not just one but two Provinces.
Fred described himself as a practical man and, with recent advancements in technology and how quantum microchip developments will revolutionize many aspects of our lives, he and many others may be left a little baffled. However what we do as individuals in Freemasonry in a very practical way can also have a huge impact.
David said: “Fred, may you never lose the enthusiasm you have. We all wish you every happiness and the best of good health to enjoy many more years ahead.” David asked Fred to pass on best wishes to Maureen and thank her for the support she gives him. David said that it had been his privilege to play a part in Fred’s Jubilee celebration and he thanked Fred for the time he gave him in their conversations to help in the preparation of the presentation and it was a pleasure to be able to meet him face to face. David asked the assembled brethren to join with him in showing their respect and appreciation in the usual West Lancashire way to Fred Pimlott, PPrSGD, West Lancashire, PPrDepGSwdB in Essex, celebrating 50 years as a Craft Freemason.
Later in the evening David thanked the members of the lodge for their help in preparing for Fred’s 50th presentation as this was his first visit as a newly appointed Assistant Provincial Grand Master. Master of the lodge George Brooks thanked David on behalf of the lodge and presented him with a bouquet of flowers for his wife Anne.
A touching personal tribute on behalf of the lodge was delivered by Peter Tebbs which took Fred through many memories of his 50 years in Freemasonry in Fleetwood.