It was an honour for all those who attended to witness the centenary celebrations of Ormskirk Priory Lodge No 4007 at Ormskirk Masonic Hall.
The lodge was honoured by the presence of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, who was joined by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Phil Gunning and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Frank Umbers. Tony was also accompanied by the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman Graham Chambers and Vice Chairman Malcolm Alexander.
The lodge’s WM John Wallbank welcomed Tony and offered him the gavel, which Tony graciously accepted. Tony then appointed his officers and once they had taken their positions, he opened Provincial Grand Lodge. Tony then addressed the lodge and explained the purpose of the meeting before asking the Provincial Grand Chaplin Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst to give an oration.
Godfrey spoke about the local Ormskirk area and its part in the Great War with horses being trained to play a major part on the battlefields of World War One, with more than 200,000 horses that went to the war with the soldiers which were trained near Ormskirk.
With Liverpool being chosen as the main port for importing horses to be used and no suitable site for the training of horses in the city, Lathom Park was chosen. Horses were transported to Liverpool from various places including Ireland, South Africa and South America, before being transported to Ormskirk and then onto Lathom Park by rail. These horses were then sent onto active service either in the front line or at reserve depots, to be used to pull artillery guns, wagons and by the cavalry.
After the war many lodges were formed, with Ormskirk Priory Lodge being one of them, the lodge was consecrated on Wednesday 26 November 1919 at 3:30pm at The Church House in Ormskirk, with the consecrating officer being the then Deputy Provincial Grand Master Louis S Winsloe. The consecration ceremony had some added splendour with the musical brethren performing and later entertaining at the festive board.
The membership in the lodge after the Second World War and up until the mid to late 1970’s was always between 75 and 90 members and the lodge meeting regularly had between 75 to 100 Masons present, as with most lodges Ormskirk Priory has suffered a decline in membership in recent years with currently under 15 subscribing members.
The oration was of great interest to everyone present and when Godfrey had finished Tony thanked him for the informative oration. Next the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell escorted John to Tony, who surprised John and the brethren present when he deservingly appointed him to a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in recognition of the many years of service that he has given to the lodge. This was followed by a re-dedication prayer by the Provincial Chaplain before the Provincial Grand Lodge was closed and the National Anthem sung.
The ceremony now being completed, John had the privilege to present Tony with six cheques totalling £4,007 the same number as the lodge for various charities. £1,200 to the MCF 2021 Festival and this with previous donations gained the lodge Vice Patronage status. £607 to the Ormskirk Masonic Hall, £550 to Derian House Children’s Hospice, £550 to Queenscourt Hospice, £550 to The Not Forgotten Association who give help, holidays, recreation, entertainment and challenges for injured service personal, £550 to Twinkle House who provide free support sessions for young people with disabilities aged 0-19 years.
Tony thanked John and the members of the lodge for the generosity shown by the members to such a wide range of Masonic and non-Masonic charities,
After closing the lodge in prayer and harmony everyone retired to the dining room for the festive board. During which the groups ‘Travelling Gavel’ which Ormskirk Priory was the first lodge to have possession off, was handed over to Lodge of Chivalry No 3974, who had the most members visiting at the meeting.
The Travelling Gavel is an incentive within the group to get lodges visiting other lodges, to claim the gavel the master and at least two members from a lodge within the group need to be present, with the lodge with the most members visiting claiming the gavel.