The scene for a diamond celebration was set to honour a gentleman of Freemasonry, Jim Noble and his 60 years of being a Freemason. Members and distinguished visitors alike of Barlow Moor Lodge No 4525 meeting at Urmston Masonic Hall were delighted to receive Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Hutton. John was accompanied by South Eastern Group Chairman Mike Adams, along with grand officers, Bryan Hayes and Gareth Jones and acting Provincial Grand Standard Bearer Tom Fredrickson, all to be efficiently marshalled by Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell.
The lodge business being underway, that special part of the evening arrived where as John entered the lodge room in ceremonial form and was then presented by Malcolm to the worshipful master Stephen Golding.
Stephen having welcomed John and his attending officers immediately offered John the gavel of the lodge to which he kindly acceded. John took the master’s position and then addressed the brethren by saying: “May I start by thanking you all for your very kind welcome to Barlow Moor Lodge this evening. It’s a great pleasure to be with you to share this unique occasion.”
John began his presentation by indicating that in his office of Assistant Provincial Grand Master there 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. He continued by saying he had been personally asked by the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, to pass on his warmest fraternal greetings and congratulations to Jim in attaining his 60 years in Freemasonry, that of course being a wonderful milestone for Jim to add to his Masonic career portfolio.
A request was then made by John to Malcolm to arrange a comfortable seating position for Jim who was then placed on the centre before the masters’ pedestal. It was at that point when John continued by addressing the brethren by saying: ‘Throughout our lives we all have cause to meet at gatherings like this evening to celebrate special occasions. Most of us remember a special birthday, a special Christmas, a special anniversary of one form or another.” John continued: ‘This evening we are meeting to celebrate an event not covered by rules and regulations or the book of constitutions, but an occasion for which all Freemasons have abiding affection. The anniversary of a senior and much esteemed brother, James (Jim) Gregory Noble who was initiated into Freemasonry 60 years ago.”
The story began some years ago where Jim, being one of four brothers, was born 1 November 1930 in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire to proud parents James Noble and Mary Ann Mac Donald. James was a ‘Cooper’ and Mary was a hotel housekeeper and later became a fish merchant.
Notable points of historical interest at this time were in the form of Amy Johnson who was the first woman to fly 11,000 miles solo from England landing in Darwin, Australia, the British airship R101 crashed in France en-route on its maiden voyage to India and the Times newspaper published its first crossword. Other birthday celebrants at this time were such people as Formula One racing boss Bernie Eccleston, actor Sean Connery and local Manchester comedian Bernard Manning.
John continued by referring to Jim’s schooling days which started at Fraserburgh Infants School from the age of five and then onto Fraserburgh Central School at the age of 12 years, where, as was the custom during the war, he finished school at 14 years old. Jim continued his education, in, as he put it ‘the University of Life’ which in his view, was possibly the best university for the study of the subject of common sense.
Jim started his working life in 1942 at the age of 12 years as a part time barbers’ lad, but never the less, even in those early days he had a determination to succeed in life. At 14 years Jim moved onward and upwards by taking on employment in a fish house where he was cutting and preparing fish for 15 shillings a week (75 pence) by doing 12 hour day shifts starting at 6am every morning.
At age 16, Jim joined his father in his fish house and he soon became foreman where he had a reputation of being a bit of a ‘bossy boots’, because at this age, Jim, as he put it, thought he knew everything. The brethren at this point gave an amusing witty retort of ‘he still is and still does’, clearly amusing Jim too.
John continued by saying that in the winter of 1947, Jim went to Great Yarmouth having gained employment as a foreman of a fish house, this time, owned by an Englishman. Jim was in charge of four women, two men and two lads. Jim was, ‘the boss’ and he did very well receiving good bonuses for his work, but this was short term as Jim later returned to work again with his father until he was called up for national service.
Jim, having been called up became driver Noble and was based at Aldershot, Hampshire. Jim didn’t want to wear a kilt at the age of 18 so he joined a cruise to Singapore and Malaya. Jim was demobilized in April 1951 but he was expected to complete four more years in the Territorial Army in Korea. Jim received armed forces decorations, those he attained were the Good Service Medal in Malaya and the Police Good Conduct Medal.
Upon leaving military service, Jim applied for and was appointed as a constable with Lancashire County Police in August 1956. He served the police in Formby between 1956 and 1963 then moved to Hollins Green between 1963 and 1970. He then moved on to Stretford in 1970 to 1974 and became a sergeant and gained promotion to that of an inspector at Moss Side between 1974 and 1981. He then moved to Bootle Street, Manchester in 1981 to 1984 and finally back to Stretford between 1984 and 1987.
Retiring on 15 September 1987 Jim had completed 31 years of police service of which he had, as he put it, a most enjoyable career with absolutely no regrets. It would be without doubt that Jim could have told a few tales, albeit amusing, but as he said, that would not be his style.
In reference to careers and in this sense, Jim’s Masonic career and clearly the reason for the special celebratory meeting, he joined Freemasonry at the age of 25 and on 19 January 1955 was initiated into Lodge Solomon No 197 of the Scottish Constitution which met in Fraserburgh. Jim having been previously proposed and seconded by brothers George Noble and John Noble, that evening clearly became a family affair as in which Jim was initiated alongside his father in rather special conjoined initiation ceremony.
In the Province of West Lancashire, Jim joined Barlow Moor Lodge on the 6 May 1975 where he attained the chair of the lodge in October 1983. As an installed master Jim joined Athenaeum Lodge of Installed Masters No 9368 in September 1997.
In the craft Jim was honoured with first Provincial rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in May 1991 by Kenneth Edward Moxley and then promoted by Colin Penty Wright to the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in October 1998, Jim’s current rank today.
Secretary Andrew Makin read out a communication by way of a certificate received from the Grand Lodge of Scotland secretary which was a confirmation certificate and celebratory congratulation to be read out in open lodge. Andrew also read out a communication from R N Innis, the master of Lodge Solomon No 197, who on behalf of the Scottish lodge sent similar congratulations to Jim.
John then commented about Jim of him having an extensive Masonic knowledge and that he has clearly contributed enormously to his lodge, the South Eastern Group, the Province of West Lancashire, the hall building and to Masonry in general, for which his friends present and many others not present, thanked him most sincerely.
John, in conclusion of his address to Jim added his own personal best wishes, along with the good wishes of the Provincial Grand Master. John said that during the evening we have come together in a spirit of true Masonic friendship to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Jim Noble.
John then called upon Mike Adams to assist him by reading the 60 year celebration certificate issued by Provincial Grand Lodge. Malcolm, having retrieved the certificate from Mike passed it to John for him to present to Jim where after Jim received worthy applause.
Finally, John said he would like to thank David M Begg of The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland and Andrew Makin, secretary of Barlow Moor Lodge and many others who contributed to this celebration meeting.
John then thanked Jim for his very long and distinguished Masonic career and likewise for allowing us all to share his evening and wished him continued good health and happiness.
The celebratory part of the ceremony completed, John passed the chair back to Stephen, whereupon Stephen thanked John for his presentation and very kind words towards their highly respected member.
On completion of the ceremony and after the first rising, John requested Jim to join him on leaving the lodge room with the grand and acting officers.
There was no one more surprised than the worshipful master during the lodges’ communication of any other business when it was revealed through his father’s proposition, that Stephen’s 22 year old nephew would be wishing to join along with a another prospective initiate also being proposed.
An excellent festive board ensued encompassed with food and cups of cheer along with heartfelt responses towards and in return from Jim Noble who himself said he had enjoyed a most memorable celebratory evening.