The Lord Nelson Hotel, in the centre of Nelson, was the venue for Masonic meetings in the early 1920′s, and it was there on the 15th May 1924, that four brethren of The Queens Jubilee Lodge 2193 sat down to discuss the rise in interest in freemasonry which had resulted in long waiting lists for the two existing lodges, Queens Jubilee and Marsden 3978. Bro. James Chew, Bro. Arthur Bennett, Bro. John Leedham and Bro. Sam Brown agreed that the formation of a new lodge was necessary and they set in motion the train of events leading to the consecration of Pendle Lodge on the 20th March, 1925.
They moved quickly and at a meeting a week later, on the 21st May, 1924, invited W.Bro. James Jackson to be the first Worship Master and W.Bro. Thomas Fryer to be Senior Warden. The expertise of W.Bro. A.W. Jackson as Secretary was sought. At this meeting also two names for the new lodge were suggested: ”Nelson” and “Pendle”, and it was proposed that the lodge meet every second Thursday of the month (recessing for June, July and August). Queens Jubilee thus became our parent or Mother lodge and other brethren quickly joined those previously mentioned who were incorporated into a proposed list of officers for the new lodge.
On the 29th May, 1924, a list of founder members was drawn up and various fees decided upon, together with the Bye Laws. The subscription was to be two guineas.
At the next meeting on 12th June, 1924, arrangements were made for various brethren to see to designs for a lodge circular and a founder’s jewel; these were submitted and approved at subsequent meetings. The name of “Pendle” was chosen. A petition was forwarded to Grand Lodge in October and on January 15th, 1925, the Warrant was ready; Pendle Lodge No. 4703 on the register of the Grand Lodge of England. Each Brother taking office in the new lodge purchased and presented to the Lodge the jewel of his office. (which are still in use to this day). The Consecration was held on the 20th March, 1925 and Pendle Lodge has met continually since then, with the exception of September 1939 when war was declared. Installations are held in November. The Lodge meeting was held in the Lord Nelson Hotel and continued to grow even during the war years when meetings were sometimes interrupted by air raid warnings. Social functions were, however, cancelled.
After the war brethren began to work towards establishing a Masonic Hall in Nelson and on 4th March, 1947, the Nelson Masonic Hall Co. Ltd., was formed from representatives of the Nelson Lodges. After one unsuccessful venture W.Bro. A Rodgers, then secretary to the Masonic Hall Company, was largely responsible for acquiring the building in Bradshaw Street. When the building was consecrated as a Masonic Temple about three hundred Freemasons dined in celebration at the Imperial Ballroom.
In 1947 a Social Committee was formed, increasing occasions for social enjoyment and raising money for Charity. This work still continues and todays committee carries on the good work sustaining the fellowship of the lodge.
The 25th Anniversary of Consecration was celebrated in 1950 and mementoes of this occasion included an engraved glass and a booklet, some of which, together with those of the 50th Anniversary, still survive and are treasured. Membership of the Lodge increased and the Lodge had a long waiting list throughout the 50′s and 60′s, some candidates waiting more than five years for admission. W.Bro. Edgar Morphet, P.P.J.G.W., was initiated in 1953, followed by W.Bro. Jack Starkie P.P.G.Swd.B., in 1955. They, together with W.Bro Albert Hey P.P.J.G.W., formed a triumvirate which contributed greatly to the work of the lodge in recent times, and occupied many offices most effectively. During this period the Lodge was well served by dedicated members whose many years in office laid the foundations for the excellent reputation enjoyed by the Pendle Lodge to this day. W.Bro. L.G. Boden P.P.G.Sp.Wks. was an eminent mason and Director of Ceremonies, and W.Bro. J.Heyworth P.P.A.G.St.B. and Bro. F. Astin served as Treasurer and Secretary respectively for sixteen years. Bro. Tommy Mandon was Charity Representative for seventeen years.
W.Bro. J Fletcher began a custom which has puzzled many a new initiate. Our practices are thorough and detailed to the extent that we even practice giving greetings from various visiting lodges. In the past this did lead to over-enthusiasm and joviality until it was decided that this should be curtailed and W.Bro Fletchers fictitious greetings from “Chaffers Sidings” (a railway signal box close to the homes of several eminent brethren) signalled that no more greetings were to be received save that from the Junior Warden. The custom persists to this day, with many junior brethren making enquiries about this Lodge to the amusement of more senior brethren.
Another happy tradition to survive began in 1936 when the Worshipful Master invited the brethren of Wenning Lodge to pay a fraternal visit which was later returned. These occasions were so enjoyable that with the exception of the War Years they have continued since, always enlivened by the excellent hospitality and the natural “roses” rivalry. In recent years similar exchanges between Greta Lodge, Keswick, and Wilton Lodge Manchester have grown up whilst good relationships always appertain between members of all the Nelson Lodges, enhancing the spirit of our social boards.
The 50th anniversary was celebrated in 1975 and proved to be a memorable occasion, graced by a high-ranking delegation from Provincial Grand Lodge. At the subsequent banquet at the Keirby Hotel Burnley, the brethren had risen to and honoured the toast to the Provincial Grand Master, when to everyone’s surprise Lord Hewlett himself burst into the room and replied to the toast in person, congratulating the lodge on its achievements. He received a standing ovation.
Lodges change, albeit gradually, with changes in personnel: todays ethos owes much to the influence of those who guided the lodge through the eighties to the present. W.Bro. Brian K Ingham and W.Bro. Donald Carter served in the offices of Secretary and Director of Ceremonies for seventeen and fourteen years respectively. Other long-serving officers were W.Bro Harry T.H. Lord as Chaplain for eleven years and Bro. Frank Farrow as Organist for nineteen years.
During a period of increasing criticism of Freemasonry, Pendle Lodge, although experiencing some drop in membership, consolidated its position and prospered. We suffered a great loss in 1997, however, when our then Worshipful Master Bro. Geoffrey Boothman died in office, after a courageous fight against illness. During a short Masonic career, he had achieved many offices, but always regarded the mastership of Pendle Lodge as the summit of his achievements. He was widely known and much-loved throughout masonry.
Today the Lodge is strong and forward-looking. Younger brethren are encouraged to play a much more active role in all aspects of lodge affairs. Junior practices flourish and lodge meetings are allocated for demonstrations and lectures by the junior brethren. They have responded with enthusiasm and dedication, ready to step in where possible. We inherited a reputation for good ceremonial and ritual which we hope we have maintained; today the ethos is more vigorous and social boards are lively, enjoyable affairs.
In writing such a brief account I am aware of the dangers of mentioning some and omitting other distinguished brethren who have fully played their part in shaping the Pendle Lodge of today. In a longer account there are many who would take a rightful place – one look at a list of Past Masters is enough to prove this. To these unsung brethren I Offer my apologies.
I end by quoting the words I previously used in the 50th anniversary Brochure“It is hoped that the historian of the future, looking back on a century of work in Pendle Lodge, will find as much cause for grateful remembrance, confidence in the present, and optimism in the future as we have been able to see.”
W.Bro. Brian K Ingham, P.P.Gd.Swd.B.