Since 1964, the Masonic Hall on Skipton Road in Barnoldswick has been home to two Craft Lodges and one Mark Lodge. Faith Hope and Charity No. 4102, West Craven No. 7354, and Gilkirke Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 812. Built in 1845, by the Rev Richard Milner, it was occupied by the Rev Canon Patten, MA, JP, a PM of Craven Lodge No. 810 and who was also the first master of Faith Hope and Charity Lodge No. 4102 for a period until his untimely death in December 1922.
In January 2016 we began to plan for the redevelopment of the site after an open acknowledgement amongst the brethren of both West Craven Lodge and Faith Hope and Charity Lodge that the building was no longer really fit for purpose. We also acknowledged that the old building would be far too expensive to innovate as it had been left to deteriorate beyond repair.
As you can see from the photos of the old building, it really was in a sad state. What the pictures don’t show is the damp on the inside, especially in the walls of the Temple, in the cellar that floods occasionally, and in the dire state of the facilities area including the kitchen, on the ground floor.
Out with the old and in with the new
While we lacked the money to develop the site, what we did have an abundance was land to spare. We set about finding a builder who could build us a brand-new Lodge building, and who would also develop the land for housing. In this way we could not only financed the construction of our new Lodge building, but also provide the Masonic Hall company with a little nest egg.
Much discussion and negotiation ensued amongst the shareholders, and finally after almost two years we came up with a plan that everyone was happy with.
That agreement amongst the brethren of the two lodges owning a building proof to be the easy part. The planning permit and building regulations stage. Around 18 months later we were ready to go, and then got stuck behind a requirement for a bat survey. We ended up needing two of these in the finish, as the first was apparently done to early in the year, and the bats wouldn’t have been nesting at that time of the first survey. Finally in December 2019, after all of the “I”s were dotted and the “T”s were crossed, we were ready to proceed with engaging the builder and a contract.
It took until the beginning of February 2020 for the contract to be signed by both parties following the usual solicitors delays. Together with the builder and his lads, a small team of brethren from Craft and Mark lodges assembled to carefully remove all fixtures and fittings, Lodge records and memorabilia so that they could be stored safely in a container trailer on a secure site while a new Lodge building was being built.
When the Health and Safety Executive officers spotted the scaffolding going up on the old building ready for demolition, they descended clipboard in hand and proceeded to carry out an asbestos survey. Spores were found in the cellar meaning that the old building was closed to any further demolition work until the regulations relating to asbestos removal were satisfied. In the meantime, the builder and this team commenced the site preparation works for the new building and for the houses on the adjoining land.
In total, some 6500 tonnes of soil were removed from the site during the excavation works, much of it being donated to the Barnoldswick Juniors football club in order to elevate the pitches to prevent future flooding.
The builder and his team have wasted no time in laying the foundations and erecting the new Lodge building. In the 2 months since early February we have seen the rapid rise out of the ground of our new much anticipated Masonic Hall. All regulations relating to the is removal of the asbestos in the old building having been complied with, the builders lost no time in carrying out the demolition. A suitable stone was found for the north-east corner of the new Lodge Temple and will be built into the wall during the interior fitting.
As of the middle of May, all of the exterior cladding is now complete and we are now awaiting the arrival of the framing and roof materials so that the builder can make the building watertight. He can then carry on and lay the underfloor heating and seal it in to the floor.
We held an on-site Masonic Hall Committee meeting with the builder to finalise the internal layout. The builder is completely confident that our new Lodge building will be ready for us to furnish with the Lodge fittings and fixtures around about the middle of August.
Assuming that restrictions on meetings are lifted sometime in September, West Craven Lodge will be the first to hold the meeting in the new Lodge room. Faith Hope and Charity Lodge are currently scheduled to hold their centenary meeting on 13 October, and desperately hope that circumstances allow for this to go ahead. With the current Covid-19 crisis in mind, none of these plans can be guaranteed, yet we are ever hopeful.
All three lodges in Barnoldswick looked very much forward to taking possession of a brand-new Lodge building and celebrating that opening with much fanfare and many many guests, friends, and family.