147 brethren assembled at the Savoy Hotel Blackpool to celebrate the centenary of Peace and Unity Lodge No 3966. On this auspicious occasion which has been 10 years in the planning, the brethren were honoured to have the presence of Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Tony was accompanied by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Randerson and North Fylde Group Chairman Peter Greathead, together with a full Provincial team and contingent of grand officers.
Before the lodge was opened the director of ceremonies asked the brethren to stand in silence and in tribute to respect departed brethren.
The secretary then read the dispensation granting the lodge permission to hold this special meeting on the anniversary of their consecration on the 11th November 1919. The WM Paul Cumming welcomed everyone then proceeded to open the lodge and seamlessly moved through the degrees to the third degree.
The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell entered and announced that Tony Harrison was outside the door of the lodge and demanded admission.
Tony entered the lodge in a colourful procession of Provincial pageantry preceded by his sword and standard bearers and accompanied by Provincial Senior Grand Warden David Edwards and Provincial Junior Grand Warden Paul Storrar, together with a retinue of distinguished grand and acting Provincial grand officers.
Malcolm formally introduced Tony to Paul. Paul then offered the gavel of the lodge to Tony, who on this occasion accepted it. Tony then proceeded to install his officers in their respective positions in the lodge. Once all the officers were in place Tony opened Provincial Grand Lodge and set the scene by saying that the evening’s meeting was to celebrate 100 years of uninterrupted working of Peace and Unity lodge.
After the DC gave the customary salutations, Tony closed the lodge to the first degree and proceeded by asking Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor to read the centenary warrant to the assembled brethren. After the conclusion the warrant was presented to Paul. Tony then invested a very proud master with his centenary jewel and in turn the members of the lodge donned theirs.
Tony then asked Provincial Deputy Grand Chaplain Reverend Canon John Hall to give an oration, which started by saying that the lodge has come to epitomise what it is to be home for so many over the past 100 years. Those brethren returning from wars and conflict have discovered the stability that brotherly love has afforded throughout the generations. John continued by saying that love and affection has provided a lasting bond between very different men with different experiences of life.
In a surprising turn of events, not least for the recipient, Tony promoted Ken Buckley to Past Provincial Grand Warden in respect of his distinguished service and dedication to Freemasonry. The national anthem was then sung and Provincial Grand Lodge was closed. Tony then returned the gavel of the lodge to Paul.
Paul in turn thanked Tony and all the provincial team for attending the centenary and for making it such a memorable occasion. He presented Tony with a cheque for £2,000 for the MCF 2021 Festival.
Paul called on the services of Ken Sykes to present a short history of the lodge. Ken started with the time shortly after the cessation of hostilities of World War One. Several Lodges were founded in the Fylde area of which Peace and Unity was one. Their mother lodge is West Lancashire Century Lodge No.2349 which had been consecrated on Tuesday 15th April 1890 and was the 100th lodge in the Province at that time.
The lodge was consecrated at 3.00 pm on Tuesday 11th November 1919 at the Palatine Hotel Blackpool, which afterwards became its home. The hotel stood on the site now occupied by Coral Island and was opposite the Central Railway Station. Both hotel and station have sadly now long been demolished. The month and date were chosen with care to coincide with the Armistice which had taken place 12 months previously on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. This event greatly influenced the choice of name which so aptly seemed to fit the occasion, the objects of the founders and of Masonry.
In 1819 HMS Foudroyant (used as Nelson’s flagship from 1799 to 1802) came out of active service and became the guard ship in Plymouth Dock. (Renamed Davenport). She became a gunnery training vessel. In 1891 she was sold and it was decided to exhibit her at various seaside resorts. On June15th 1897, during a violent storm, she ran aground on Blackpool sands, damaging North Pier in the process. After many failed attempts to re float her she broke up in the December gales. Souvenirs were made of the flotsam and timber, but some of the wreck was used to make furniture. Peace and Unity’s WM, senior warden and junior wardens’ chairs and pedestals being one such result.
The meeting at an end, the brethren retired to the Derby room in the hotel which was decked out with Christmas decorations for a suitably lavish festive board.
In the response to the toast to his health, Tony said how wonderful an evening it was and he thanked the grand and acting officers for attending and supporting him. Tony continued by saying how important membership was to the future of Masonry. Tony thanked the lodge and all the brethren for their support of the 2021 festival.
Tony moved on to the centenary of the lodge saying: “I am sure that those illustrious brethren of West Lancashire Century Lodge in 1919 who decided that there should be a new lodge in Blackpool could not have foreseen the future of the lodge as it is today.” Tony continued that: “It was a time of uncertainty as the Great World War had waged across Europe. Many men made the ultimate sacrifice for King and country. There would have been employment difficulties, but the brethren in Blackpool felt that it was time to found a new lodge as many men at that time wanted to become Freemasons and continue their bond of friendship.”
Tony also said: “The lodge struggled during the early days as it will have had its ups and downs through which the brethren of the lodge have worked well and worthily for Freemasonry and the community.” Tony finished by saying that the lodge has had many illustrious and distinguished members in the Craft and Royal Arch and now stands proud in West Lancashire and indeed in the United Grand Lodge of England
A raffle was held during the evening which raised the fantastic amount of £736. To bring the fabulous evening to an end the Provincial Grand Tyler Jim Finnegan delivered the tyler’s toast.