The Athenaeum in Liverpool is a fine institution, founded in 1797, whose prospectus was to provide books for the acquisition of general knowledge. Indeed, there could be no other fitting location than to celebrate the occasion of the centenary of the University Lodge of Liverpool No 4274, than in the temple of Athena, dedicated to teaching and education.
The brethren, guests and visitors thronged into the newsroom where over a 100 chairs were laid out ready for the opening of the lodge. In due course, master Liam Buchanan, who by serendipitous discovery just happens to share the same surname as founding member of the lodge Professor Buchanan, requested the brethren to assist him to open the lodge ‘Ante opera initia’, a reference in the lodge history to Reverend F I Powell who wrote the opening and closing odes in 1922, when he was appointed chaplain of the lodge.
Liam, assisted by Wayne Warnick and Adam Lindop, senior and junior wardens respectively, opened the lodge with polished aplomb. Having completed the necessary opening in the second and third degrees, inner guard Cameron Molyneux announced there was a report. Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell was admitted and announced that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, accompanied by a Provincial delegation and other distinguished guests stood without. Liam acclaimed that on behalf of the lodge he would be delighted to receive them.
Provincial Grand Organist Derek Hughson provided the music throughout. Tony, accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Phillip Gunning and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews led the procession. As the Provincial Senior and Junior Grand Wardens could not attend, Paul Storrar and Liam Warner deputised accordingly.
Continuing the procession was Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Canon John Hall, Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor and Provincial Grand Sword Bearer Andrew Ridal who was resplendent in carrying the ceremonial sword. Also in attendance were; Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Robert Fitzsimmons, Provincial Senior Grand Deacon Stephen Williams, Provincial Junior Grand Deacon Stephen Oliver, Provincial Grand Standard Bearers Kenneth Tooey and Raymond Cooper, Provincial Grand Pursuivant Gavin Egan and Provincial Grand Tyler Jim Finnegan.
Other distinguished guests who made up the very impressive delegation were the Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire James Hilditch, accompanied by grand officers and Gladstone Group Chairman John James. Many of the brethren commented they had never seen such a distinguished procession within a lodge before, which just added to the dignity of the occasion.
After salutations were attended to, Liam rose and offered the gavel of the lodge to the Provincial Grand Master who on this occasion accepted and occupied the chair of King Solomon. Tony then proceeded to install Provincial officers into their respective positions and once the lodge was properly arranged, resumed labour in the first degree.
Entered apprentices and fellow crafts were then admitted, who had the honour of entering the lodge and saluting the Provincial Grand Master, with lodge director of ceremonies Matt Casson on hand to ensure all of the salutes were crisp and perfectly executed.
Provincial Grand Lodge was then formally opened. Tony requested that the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor read out the centenary warrant from United Grand Lodge. Having read the warrant, Peter then explained that at this point all subscribing members of the lodge could then wear their centenary jewels, handing the centenary warrant to Tony. This was then presented to master Liam who accepted the warrant graciously. Tony then called upon the Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev John Hall, who proceeded to deliver a fine tribute to the lodge, drawing on the lodge history from its consecration on 28 October 1921 to the present day, interspersed with humorous anecdotes.
Tony had one further announcement to make and explained that he had a pleasant duty to perform and called upon the lodge secretary Alan Moore to be placed in front of the master’s chair. This took everyone by surprise, most of all Alan. For his outstanding service, Tony appointed Alan to the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. Alan was very moved by the unexpected promotion which everyone agreed was very well deserved; the brethren and guests showing their delight by applauding loudly.
Provincial Grand Lodge was then closed and master Liam, having resumed his rightful position, thanked Tony for the wonderful ceremony. He was also delighted to present to Tony cheques for honouring the charities. Tony thanked Liam and explained to the assembled brethren that the lodge had decided that in celebration of 100 years of fellowship, they would like to donate £1,068.50 to the AMULL (Association Of Medical, University and Legal Lodge) Charity, £1,068.50 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £1,068.50 to the Tithebarn Masonic Home, and £1,068.50 to the Whitechapel Centre in support of the homeless.
Tony congratulated the lodge for its amazing generosity in raising £4,274 recognising this sum as the same as the lodge number. In addition, the younger and student members have also undertaken 4274 hours in voluntary activities over the last two years leading up to the centenary celebration.
Under the direction of Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell, Tony, the Provincial team and distinguished guests retired. Liam, having resumed his rightful position in the chair, closed the lodge ‘post opera perfecta’ and the remaining brethren and guests retired to the splendour and fine surroundings of the Athenaeum dining rooms.The stewards and brethren of University Lodge looked after the many guests and visitors, ensuring that wine glasses were always charged. All enjoyed a fine meal consisting of butternut soup, breast of guinea fowl and seasonal vegetables, with a delightful white chocolate cheesecake desert, followed by a selection of English and continental cheeses, rounded off with coffee and mints. The Athenaeum restaurant’s claim to be one of the finest in Liverpool is richly deserved.
Provincial Grand Master Tony, in responding to a toast to his health, thanked the Provincial team for accompanying him and in particular Paul Storrar and Liam Warner for standing in. He also thanked lodge secretary Alan Moore, firstly on his well-deserved promotion and secondly for his wonderful compilation of the history of the lodge which had been especially printed for the occasion, which many visitors took a copy home to read about this fascinating lodge.
Provincial Junior Grand Warden Liam Walker then rose to propose a toast to the guests, with a very humorous speech explaining that he was slightly nervous of proposing the toast in the company of the very many learned and wise, academically qualified brethren of the University Lodge of Liverpool. Liam’s speech was superb and he was awarded the honours due enthusiastically.
As always, all good things must come to an end and Provincial Grand Tyler Jim Finnegan brought the evening celebrations of the centum of University Lodge of Liverpool to a close with the tyler’s toast.