Curiosity and fascination turned into admiration and pride as leading dignitaries previewed the exhibits in the Museum of Freemasonry at Blackpool Masonic Hall as part of the hall’s tercentenary celebrations marking 300 years since the formation of the first Grand Lodge on 24 June 1717.
On the very day of the tercentenary and with artefacts dating back to the 18th century through to present times, Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was delighted to officially open the newly displayed collection assembled in the lower dining suite of the magnificent Victorian Masonic Hall on Adelaide Street, Blackpool.
Accompanying Tony were Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox and chairman of the Blackpool Group John Turpin, supported by other dignitaries including Blackpool Group officers and leading figures of the Masonic Halls and Club Management Committees.
“The Masonic Club Committee and Halls Committee have done a wonderful job in ensuring that Blackpool’s Masonic Hall continues to provide an inspirational home for Freemasonry and to present a symbol of the time-honoured principles of our marvellous fraternity. I am privileged to have this opportunity to officially open the Masonic Museum”, were the words by Tony before unveiling a plaque to honour the occasion. He went on to say: “There is a magnificent collection of artefacts here that will intrigue Masons and non-Masons alike.”
Strikingly displayed and providing well-researched and illustrated memorabilia, the collection traces the history of Freemasonry since its formative years and a number of unique pieces reveal personal and poignant stories, be they a hand-stitched hessian apron from a World War I prisoner-of-war camp, an ancient apron retrieved from the rubble of a bombed home in Liverpool during World War II, or items that record the demise and resurrection of the ancient order of Free Gardeners.
With an array of items from around the United Kingdom and further afield, and representing a diversity of Masonic Orders and eras, there are countless items of interest.
Vic Charlesworth, curator of the much-acclaimed Masonic Museum at Warrington Masonic Hall spoke of the valuable contribution that the collection makes in preserving the history of Freemasonry and, full of admiration for the assortment of artefacts, expressed the view: “It is a superb collection and I look forward to working closely with Blackpool Masonic Hall to further enlighten Masons and the wider public on the rich and varied history of our fraternity.”
Chairman of Blackpool Group John Turpin added: “We anticipate a tremendous interest from visitors when the museum is first opened to the public during the Heritage Open Days that will take place at the beginning of September this year. I have no doubt that it will prove a major asset to the hall.”
Jack Monks, Vice President of Blackpool Masonic Club, summed up the occasion by saying: “Brethren have put in a great deal of time and effort into assembling and displaying the collection and the club management committee is extremely proud of the result. We recognise however that this is only the start and anticipate many more rare items are likely to be donated over the coming years to further enhance the interest and educational value of the display. We are also extremely grateful that the Provincial Grand Master has been able to fit this official opening into his busy schedule. It is a measure of the importance that he places on the history and traditions of Freemasonry.”
Further details on exhibits and viewing opportunities can be obtained by contacting the Blackpool Masonic Hall at; firstname.lastname@example.org