Following WW II, there was a surge in the numbers of men wishing to be made Masons. This was as great as that rise in demand seen after WW I. The result was a second ‘Golden Age’ in the 20th century for Freemasonry. Many new lodges were consecrated in the years after the end of the war.
Ribbleton Lodge No 6386 was consecrated in May 1947 and was a response to the rise in demand to become Masons. The lodge was the brainchild of Rev Richard Harris, vicar of St Mary Magdalene in Ribbleton. He and a number of Masonic parishioners petitioned for the new lodge which was duly consecrated by the then Provincial Grand Master Arthur Foster. He duly installed Thomas Lund as the first WM. Thomas was an uncle to Tom Blackburn, who was very well known in Preston and the Province of West Lancashire.
The consecration took place in Ribbleton Lodge’s own premises. The upper floor of Ribbleton Barn had been made available to the lodge by George Moorcroft, a member of the lodge. This building has always been referred to as ‘The Barn’. The lodge paid a small rental and leased the building on the understanding that George Moorcroft had undertaken to leave The Barn to the lodge in his will. Unfortunately, this was never committed to writing!
The building itself had its own history, being used as an Auxiliary Fire Station during the war. The Barn remained the home of Ribbleton Lodge until 1976 when maintenance become very costly and the lodge relocated to Preston Masonic Hall.
In the month after consecration, Ribbleton Lodge received 29 applications to become members. This resulted in many double ceremonies being performed. Such was the demand that a daughter lodge soon followed and Vanguard Lodge No 7170 shared The Barn for some years.
Three members who were initiated into Ribbleton Lodge whilst it was based at The Barn are active members today. Barry Wright, David Moss and Mike Jones have served the lodge with dignity and honour for many years.
During the 80’s and the 90’s, Ribbleton Lodge developed a friendship with the Lodge of St Kilwinning in Largs through a past master, John Wright. The lodges exchanged visits every year with one visiting the other on alternate years.
The golden jubilee of Ribbleton Lodge was celebrated in 1997. Fittingly, the nephew of the fist master Tom Blackburn presided over the ceremony. Tom was then an Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
By the turn of the century, Ribbleton Lodge, in common with other lodges, experienced declining membership. A chance meeting in 2004 at Old Huttonian Lodge No 7614 with Leslie Howarth of Priory Lodge No 6027 led to plans to amalgamate. Priory Lodge had been consecrated in March 1945 with the first master being D J Davies. Incidentally, Leslie Howarth was the son of Sid Howarth who was simultaneously the master of Preston Guild Lodge No 4408 and Mayor of Preston in 1941.
Since amalgamation, membership has declined in common with most lodges in Preston. Work commitments, resignations and the inevitable call to higher service had an impact. The lodge had manfully continued with just 11 dedicated Masons. All the Priory Lodge members had left or passed away. A decision was made in 2022 to close the lodge and surrender its warrant and that of Priory Lodge.
10 of the 11 members have become joining members of Preston Guild Lodge and the lodge has been honoured to receive them and many members have taken up active roles in the combined lodge. The spirit of Ribbleton Lodge will continue as the banners of Ribbleton Lodge and Priory Lodge will be placed in prominent positions when Preston Guild Lodge meets.