Monday, 4 May 1914 and a red letter day for Rother Lodge of Mark Master Masons being the day it was consecrated, exactly 3 months before war was declared. The Consecration took place in the Council Hall, Rotherham, the then Mayor, Bro. Peter Bancroft Coward being one of the Founder Members. The Consecrating Officer was the Pro Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother George Edward John Mowbray, 3rd Earl of Stradbroke, assisted by the then Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Yorkshire, Right Worshipful Brother Frederick Cleeves, also a Founder member.
Now we come forward 100 years to Thursday, 15 May 2014, when the Lodge was very well attended to celebrate the Centenary. It was opened in due form by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Terry Beatson. The usual formalities completed, upon a report Past Rulers of the Province of West Yorkshire were admitted. Upon a further report, the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles together with the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Very Worshipful Brother Robert Corfield and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Fred Clough and other officers of Provincial Grand Lodge were admitted. The Provincial Grand Master, having been offered the Gavel accepted but this was to be of a short duration. A further report brought forth the Assistant Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother H Keith Emmerson, accompanied by the Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Worshipful Brother David Davis, and he duly took the Chair.
In his opening remarks, the Assistant Grand Master thanked the Brethren for the warmth of their welcome and had a special word for the music of Organist, W. Bro. Malcolm Forrest. He reminded all that at the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge on the 10 June will see a change in our Rulers following the announcement of the retirement of the Pro Grand Master, M.W.Bro. Benjamin Addy. To accommodate the business, the start time has been brought forward. He also reported that, to improved accuracy and efficiency, and reduce the cost of administration within the Order a new “Keystone” on-line data base has been established of which all Lodge Secretaries are aware. The Finances of Grand Lodge are now improving, with operating surpluses across the Board, very welcome news.
The Centenary warrant was then read by W.Bro. David Davis, Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies and presented to the Worshipful Master, W. Bro. Terry Beatson by the Assistant Grand Master, R.W.Bro H Keith Emmerson. His duties not yet complete, he then presented Centenary jewels to all the Brethren of Rother Lodge. At this point the Worshipful Master was restored to his place in the Lodge and confirmed that there had been an extraordinary Agenda item added after the Lodge was opened, the confirmation of both Right Worshipful Brother H Keith Emmerson and Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles as Honorary members of Rother Mark Lodge No. 651. The Worshipful Master accordingly presented both with Centenary Jewels.
We have heard a number of thoughtful Orations from our Provincial Grand Chaplain, and his master piece at Rotherham was no exception. He reminded us that the Lodge was named after the river Rother which also gave the Town its name. The Lodge banner also took its style from the unofficial Rotherham Town Banner but with the addition of the Mark Keystone and Working Tools, the motto being ’Thus Industry Flourishes’; and so too has Rother Mark Lodge over the past 100 years. Past Provincial Grand Masters, three of them, who have also been members of the Lodge have epitomised the 3 Grand Principles of Freemasonry namely;
- Brotherly Love Love thy neighnour
- Relief Charity; and
- Truth a belief in a supreme being
He pointed out that the Mark order also teaches us humility, a belief in oneself, a reliance on ones fellow man, perseverance in the face of adversity, faith in a supreme being, that education is the reward of labour and that dishonesty can never succeed. Finally and most significantly, that each Mark Mason, by practising outside the Lodge those Principles we are taught within it, will be looked upon by those outside as outstanding men and pillars of Society, this is what we must endeavour to achieve for the benefit of our fellow man.
Extracts from the minutes of the Consecration meeting were then read by the Secretary, Worshipful Brother Terry Roebuck and a synopsis of the Lodge history, part of which is dealt with at the start of this report, by Worshipful Brother John Stuart Beaven. Worshipful Brother Roy Dobson then presented a Donation to the Cleeves and Whitehead Trust; appropriately this represented the Lodge number being £651.
At the Festive Board, the Toast to Grand Lodge was ably presented by W.Bro. Terry Beatson who thanked R.W.Bro. H Keith Emmerson for attending and also congratulated him on his future preferment as Deputy Grand Master on the 10th of June. In his response R. W. Bro. H Keith Emmerson said he had been looking forward to the visit and had not been disappointed. He then proposed the Toast to Rother Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 651 congratulating the Lodge on its Centenary, thanking the Lodge for Honorary membership which he would treasure, and trusted that W.Bro. Terry Roebuck had not been too inconvenienced when the Centenary Jewel had been pinned to his breast, almost literally!
The responder was R.W.Bro. Philip Birch and all waited with baited breath, we were not disappointed. At the Consecration of Ainsty Lodge of Mark Master Masons No.1739 in 1995 when R.W.Bro. Philip Birch officiated he was asked to write a letter to the Worshipful Master who would be in Office when the Lodge celebrated it’s Centenary, later saying that he hoped to be at Ainsty Mark when the letter was opened!!. The Provincial Grand Master replying to his Toast, said that as he and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master were also members of Ainsty Mark Lodge, they also hoped to be present when R.W.Bro. Philip Birch’s letter was opened!! He went on to thank all who had been involved in the organisation of the evening which had been a stunning success. The response to the toast to the visitors was in the very capable hands of W.Bro. Philip Drury who entertained us with his Michael Caine impression. Books were very popular in 1914 and the bestselling Author was Harold Bell Wright, the first Author to publish a novel with 1 million sales, not a lot of people know that! He ended with a delightful twist requesting all the Visitors to join him in a Toast to the Rother Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 651. A very fitting ending to a most enjoyable Mark occasion.
Smile, be happy and enjoy your Mark Masonry
W. Bro. Duncan Smith P.G.S.D.