A short history of the foundation of Beacon Lodge by W Bro. Malcolm Priestley PPGReg, mostly taken from an article written in 1960 by the late W Bro. Cyril Sunderland PPJGD.
Beacon Lodge is the daughter Lodge of De Warren No. 1302 and was consecrated at St. John’s Place, Halifax on the 4th June 1920 by Sir William Raynor JP PGM with 11 PMs 12 Brethren and 13 additional Brethren present (all former members of De Warren Lodge), as well as many other Brethren and visitors.
De Warren Lodge had been constituted in 1870, sponsored by its mother Lodge St. James’s No. 448. In the early 1900s De Warren joined St. John’s as joint owners of the Masonic Hall at Blackwall.
By 1919 De Warren had 132 members.
De Warren had applied for Beacon Lodge to be accommodated at Blackwall, but permission was refused by the joint owner Lodges of Blackwall, and preliminary arrangements were made for Beacon to meet in premises belonging to South Ward Liberal Club in Brunswick Street and Hopwood Lane, Halifax “on the 4th Friday of the month”. But these premises were sold for a tramway club and Beacon never did meet there and agreement was reached for the use of a room at St. John’s Place.
An exceptionally large influx of members into De Warren 1302 during the period at the end of the first World War (one WM initiated no fewer than 24 Brethren during his year of office in 1918-19, giving 78 obligations at 41 Lodges) increased the membership of De Warren Lodge to 132 by the end of 1919. The formation of a daughter Lodge therefore became almost inevitable. A petition for a Warrant was applied for on the 8th December 1919, with 23 petitioning Founders, all members of De Warren Lodge.
Fortunately agreement was reached for the use of the Lodge and practice room at St. John’s Place by the new Beacon Lodge. Beacon Lodge was consecrated in this Lodge Room on Friday, 4th June 1920 by Sir William Rayner PGM. From De Warren there were present 11 Past Masters and 12 Brethren as Founders and 13 additional Brethren, being Master Masons of less than 3 years standing and consequently unqualified as founders, but proposed at the time of the Consecration for Membership as "Founding Members' and elected at the subsequent Lodge. All these 36 Brethren were members of De Warren Lodge and Beacon Lodge must remain forever indebted to its Mother Lodge for the sure foundation laid by these numerous Foundation Members.
Few Lodges can have had for its first WM a finer Freemason than WBro Arthur Alderson. Initiated in De Warren Lodge in Dec.1889, he occupied the Chair in 1895 and during his year as WM initiated Sam Naylor who became the first IPM of Beacon Lodge. He served Beacon Lodge as WM for 17 months to bring the Installation date to November. When he relinquished office the Lodge presented him with silver Fruit Stand in appreciation of his services. His 14 Candidates also presented him with a silver Salver, engraved with their signatures, amongst them two Past Masters and that of the celebrated tenor Walter Widdop. The details of W Bro Alderson’s cabinet making business are recorded in Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale Companion.
The Consecration procedure of the new Lodge by the PGM and his team and the Festive Board thereafter are recorded in the Consecration/Banquet booklet, copies of which are still in the Lodge archives. The Festive Board was indeed a banquet with 6 courses including soup, fish, and steak jardinière, roast lamb/roast beef/beacon pudding with custard, cheese and biscuits! And a hundred Brethren!
Beacon Lodge moved to Southwood in Halifax in the early 1990s, where we had hoped to celebrate our Centenary on Thursday the 4th June this year, exactly 100 years since our foundation. Many more facts relating to the history of the Lodge remain to be formally recorded. Under the present emergency a proper celebration of the Centenary event has been postponed, however at a “Zoom” virtual meeting of the Lodge on 4th June 2020 it was possible to remind ourselves of the event 100 years ago of the original consecration. Much water has passed under the bridge since 1920 and there is much to relate from the history of the Lodge during the years 1920 to 2020, which I hope someday to record in an appropriate manner.
In spite of the tragic consequences of the conflict of WW1, the influenza epidemics of 1918-19, the Second World War, other economic downturns and health issues, Beacon rose to a membership of 75 at its height in the 1950s and 1960s. Membership is not so numerous now, but as the past shows, the future can bring upturns and reward unknown to those who steadfastly carry the banner through hardship and distress. MI Priestley, in grateful acknowledgment to Cyril Sunderland.