Taken from a "Zoom meeting talk" by W Bro. Brian Lawless
It was in the autumn of 1920 that 17 members of the Mother Lodge, Victoria Lodge No. 2669, were selected to form a new Lodge. The reason was typical of the day, following shortly after the first world war with Victoria Lodge's membership becoming too large to afford the opportunity of promotion for the more junior Brethren without a wait of many years.
The Founding Master was W. Bro. Walter Rhodes, a Past Master of Victoria and well respected in Bradford business circles. The Founding IPM was W. Bro. James Tipping – also a Past Master of Victoria Lodge and well known locally for his work in the field of education.
The documents that I have referred to for this presentation do place on record the valued assistance received from W. Bro. T. M. Woodhead and W. Bro. G. Bearder – both Past Masters of Victoria. Not themselves founders of the Lodge of Faith but were instrumental in both the practical and administrative work vital in forming a new Lodge.
The name Lodge of Faith was decided on to reflect the founder's faith in the future, faith in the ideals of Freemasonry and faith in the founding and future Brethren. There is a note in the old records indicating that even in the early years, some would refer to the Lodge as Faith Lodge and not correctly as the Lodge of Faith – there are members here tonight who will know that frustration continued down the years!!
The charter for the new Lodge was granted and dated 13th December 1920. The necessary Lodge furnishings, regalia and jewels were bought for £340.00, excluding the banner, which was presented by the Founding Master W Bro. Walter Rhodes. The first holders donated the silver collar jewels, each jewel having the name of the holder engraved thereon.
And so to the consecration itself – held on 11th March 1921 at the Freemasons Hall, Westgate, Bradford – not a great deal of time Brethren from inception in Autumn 1920, the granting of the Charter in December 1920 to the consecration in March 1921 – I suspect the Secretary, W. Bro. J.W. Shelton would have been a busy chap!
Records show that luncheon was a priority on the day of consecration, followed by a full rehearsal at 2pm. At 3.45pm, the consecration ceremony was opened with the Provincial Grand Master, Rt. W Bro. Sir William Raynor, J.P., as W.M.
The ceremony was a success, and during the ceremony, it was proposed that the following would be elected Hon. Members and Hon. Founders. R.W. Bro. Sir William Raynor, J.P., Provincial Grand Master, W Bro. Richard Gill, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W Bro. Thomas M. Woodhead P.G.D.
And so to the Festive Board – attended by 125 Brethren. There were 10 toasts that evening, including the toast "Our Mother Lodge", responded to that evening by the W.M. of Victoria Lodge W Bro. E.W. Kirby. It subsequently became a tradition throughout Lodge of Faith's life to invite the Master of Victoria Lodge to the installation ceremony and give the first response to the toast to the visitors at the Festive Board.
In those days, our predecessors knew how to dine! This occasion was no exception with the menu, including Tomato soup (no doubt with rolls!), Salmon, Sirloin of Beef, Roast Leg of Mutton and all the trimmings, Roast Guinea Fowl with chips, Peach Melba, Cheese Straws and coffee with cheese and biscuits!
The following 82 years saw the Lodge of Faith – in common with so many Lodges nationally – experience fluctuating times of great success with thriving membership to be followed by more difficult times while changing social and economic climates and public perceptions of Freemasonry.
One of the highlights for the Lodge must have been when, together with the majority of Bradford Lodges, they moved into a new Masonic home – the Connaught Rooms on Manningham Lane – the largest purpose-built Masonic Hall outside London.
The rooms were opened on 28th September 1928. The Lodge of Faith certainly played a full part in the Masonic area of Bradford and the Province throughout its existence and responded well to the very challenging times during the mid to late 1990s when not only the Lodge's future but its meeting rooms were called into serious doubt.
The members in those difficult days kept the profile of the Lodge high, hosting a presentation of the Prestonian Lecture and being prominent when called upon to support the many Provincial initiatives such as community work, periods of Festival and charitable giving.
By the time the Connaught Rooms' very existence was being called into question, the Lodge of Faith, and two other Friday Night Lodges, namely Eccleshill No. 1034 and Fraternity No 5679, were suffering from very real problems, chief among which was low membership numbers.
There being many personal friendships amongst members of all three Lodges, it is a tribute to all concerned that discussions were started based on forming one healthy Lodge from the three individual Lodges' dwindling numbers. Coupled with the fact that a new Masonic home would have to be found, those were indeed trying times, but a successful outcome was achieved.
Inevitably, the Lodge of Faith No. 4223, as an independent Lodge, came to an end. The three Lodges, to be known as Lodge of Eccleshill, Faith & Fraternity No. 1034, were amalgamated on 21st March 2003 in the Connaught Rooms, Bradford. Shortly afterwards, the Connaught Rooms closed, and a new Masonic home for the Lodge was found at Hoyle Court, Baildon.
A lasting memory of Lodge of Faith appears proudly on the EFF banner, which was dedicated on the 14th July 2006 in a ceremony presided over by W Bro. Stuart G. Carley, Assistant Provincial Grand Master at that time.
Worshipful Master and Brethren, today, those of us who were once members of Lodge of Faith remember our history with pride. We are equally proud that we have been able to play our part in the creation and achievements of Eccleshill, Faith & Fraternity.
Tonight we remember and salute the Founders of 100 years ago but look forward to the future as they would have wished.