At the Geoffrey Hirst Masonic Suite within Woolton Golf Cub there was an air of excitement. Early in the afternoon Ian Halsall rehearsed members of the Provincial team together with members of Olympic Lodge No 4461 in preparation of the forthcoming centenary meeting to be held later in the day.
At the stated time, the WM Fred Hulse welcomed all the brethren and opened the lodge in due form to the accompaniment of the sounds of the organ played by Stephen Derringer. After the usual opening business was concluded Fred opened the lodge to the second and third degrees.
Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell was announced and informed the WM that the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews stood without and demanded admission. Mark, accompanied by other grand and Provincial grand officers, entered the room in ceremonial form and was warmly welcomed by Fred who offered Mark the gavel of the lodge which was gratefully accepted.
Mark said that it was wonderful to see the room so full and hoped that everyone would have an enjoyable evening. Mark assigned his Provincial grand officers to their positions and opened Provincial Grand Lodge. Malcolm Bell ably assisted by David Boyes called the brethren to salute the Provincial Grand Master, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Andrew Whittle, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master and the Provincial Senior Grand Warden. Mark then called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor to read the centenary warrant which was then presented to Fred Hulse by Mark Matthews.
At this point Malcolm Bell informed the brethren of Olympic Lodge that they may now wear their centenary jewel.
The Provincial Grand Chaplain, Canon John Hall, was requested to give a narration and then re-dedicate the lodge. John Hall in usual jocular form and with a short song gave information of the lodge and the meaning of friendship and how easy it was to fall out of favour with one’s routine. The narration was met with spontaneous applause from the brethren. So much so that Mark requested peter Taylor to note that on future occasions such as this, John Hall was always to provide a song!!
Provincial Grand Lodge was closed in due form and Fred was requested to resume his seat. Fred rose to present Mark with a cheque for £500 for WLFC which Mark gratefully received saying that for a small lodge it was a magnificent sum and the beneficiaries of it would never be known to us and the money would be used wisely by the charity office. Malcom Bell formed the procession to retire. After which Fred requested the lodge secretary Robert James to read a short history of the lodge.
In the years following the Great War of 1914-1918, 12 brethren of Cycling and Athletic Lodge No 2335 and one brother from each of Mariners Lodge No 249 and Duke of Edinburgh Lodge No 1182 collaborated in the decision to form a new lodge to be named Olympic Lodge. Petition was made and on 17 July 1922 a new warrant was issued signed by P F Halsey, Deputy Grand Master and P Colville Smith, Grand Secretary, by command of the Grand Master Lord Stratham. The new lodge was registered as number 4461 and was consecrated on 27 January 1923 at the Masonic Hall in Hope Street, Liverpool. Following the consecration ceremony James Simpson was installed as WM.
Throughout the roaring 20s, the lodge had plenty of candidates for initiation as well as an abundance of joining members. In 1929 the installation ceremony moved from May to October and has remained so ever since. In September 1931 the front page of the lodge summons was redesigned to include two columns upon which the names of all the past masters are recorded. Unlike rural lodges which have many generations of one family in their records, city lodges tend not to be so fortunate and Olympic Lodge is no exception. The records show that no more than two generations are recorded. Two pairs of founding members share the same name, and two of the first joining members were blood brothers.
In March 1972 Ken Forshaw was initiated into the lodge, the start of a Masonic career that saw Ken rise through the offices and become WM in 1980. His career continued with Ken becoming chairman of the 5 Liverpool Group of Lodges. In 2006, Olympic Lodge moved to the premises within Woolton Golf Club where it continues to meet in the Masonic Suite which, in February 2008 was named The Geoffrey Hirst Masonic Suite. Geoffrey had been a member of City Lodge No 2514 and as a past captain of the golf club worked with the then group chairman David Hawkes to secure premises with the golf club.
Fred then continued with the risings and then closed the lodge so that everyone could retire to the festive board during which Mark had great pleasure in taking wine with all the brethren and in his response to the toast, so ably proposed by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, Mark congratulated the lodge and again mentioned the magnificent cheque received. Mark reinforced the efforts that brethren needed to make to encourage family and suitable friends to join the fraternity and encouraged members of the Craft to continue their journey in Freemasonry by joining the Royal Arch.
At this point, Mark asked the brethren to bear with him as he had something to do! Leaving the top table Mark walked to the side of the room where unseen by most people David Boyes had collected Stephen Cornwell from his table in order to present him to Mark. Stephen was shaking and Mark said that he had been a naughty boy and he had been brought to the headmaster!! However, there was to be a joyous outcome as Mark thanked Stephen and his wife for all the work they had done behind the scenes to bring the centenary celebration to fruition.
Mark then promoted Stephen to PPGSuptWks to the spontaneous and rapturous applause from the brethren. Stephen was shell-shocked and emotional.
In concluding his response, Mark said that it had been a truly magnificent day and thanked Malcolm Bell and David Boyes for their work, again congratulated the lodge saying that their founders would be very proud.
Prior to the last toast of the evening, Fred presented some gifts to Mark, Philip and Andrew which were very gratefully received. The Provincial Grand Tyler Paul Egan proposed the last toast and the brethren retired to their homes.
Story and pictures by Colin Roberts.