The Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons

West Yorkshire

Season’s Greetings from the Provincial Grand Master

Season’s Greetings from the Provincial Grand Master

To all Mark Master Masons and Royal Ark Mariners who access this web site over Christmas, I would like to congratulate you all on your achievements during 2017 and wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous, but above all a healthy and successful New Year.

2017 saw the Installation of our new Deputy and Assistant Provincial Grand Masters and the appointment of a new Provincial Grand Secretary. Sadly the untimely death of W.Bro. Graham Cooper led to still further changes in the Secretariat and we now wish our new Secretarial team every success. Our thoughts over Christmas must also go to the families of all the other Mark Master Masons and Royal Ark Mariners who we sadly lost to the Grand Lodge Above during the year, including our Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Brian Emmett.

Our Festival achievements during the year have been outstanding, with the highlight being the MBF Charity Walk in May which raised over £45,000. Thanks to all the Walk sponsors, together with all the individual Lodges and Brethren who contributed so much to the Festival this year.  Events next year include the Northern Masonic Variety Show in April and a sponsored Barge Pull in May. More information on these events will be on this web site and I would once again welcome your support.

On the 16th December Aries Mark Lodge No 669 will celebrate its Centenary and I congratulate the Lodge on such a significant achievement. Major events in 2018 will include the Consecration of a new Rugby Football Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners in May, the Dedication of a new Provincial Banner in June and Welcome Royal Ark Mariner Lodge Centenary in September. It’s going to be yet another busy year.

So I look forward to working very closely with you all once again in 2018, but in the meantime my very best wishes for the Festive Season and thank you all for your tremendous support.

God Bless you all – and Mark Well.

Jim Steggles
Provincial Grand Master

Aries Lodge of MMM No.669 – Centenary

For the last 11 months Aries Lodge has been touring those Bradford area Lodges who had so kindly supported them during  the early 2000’s.

The year is now culminating in the Centenary Celebration, which is to be held on Saturday 16th December 2017 at the Midland Hotel, Bradford, commencing at 11.00am.
The ceremony will be conducted by the Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. James Steggles G.M.R.A.C.

The meeting and festive board will take place in the French Ballroom with a limit of just over 100.
We would like to extend a welcome to all Mark Master Masons within the Province, but early booking is recommended as the limit could well be reached.

An online booking form is available on the Aries Lodge website –

All inquiries can be made by email to

Northern Masonic Variety Show – 14th April 2018

Please find attached a poster for the Variety Show which will take place at Bradford Grammar School, a venue well known to us all, on Saturday, 14th April 2018.

This is a further reminder to place this in your diaries now for this key Fundraising event in aid of the West Yorkshire Mark Benevolent Fund Festival 2023.

A letter will follow providing full details of ticket price, timings and purchase contacts; in addition a new Poster will be forthcoming with the final role call of participants.


[wpdm_package id=’5252′]



RW Bro George Henry Philip Birch (Navigating the Province for 50 years as a Royal Ark Mariner)


Mariners from across the Province charted their way to the Masonic Hall at Wellgate, Rotherham in full sail, on a warm but blustery evening in June, to help R.W.Bro. George Henry Philip Birch celebrate 50 years of navigating the Province as a Royal Ark Mariner.

The date was 12th June 2017 and many present and past Rulers of the Province were in attendance to Mark the occasion. The Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. James Steggles, led the celebrations before R.W.Bro. Philip was presented with his certificates. This actually turned out to be two certificates, one from the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons on behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Master and one from the Mark Province of West Yorkshire.

The Provincial Grand Master informed the Brethren that Philip joined the Craft in 1961 when he was Initiated into Rotherwood Craft Lodge. He was Raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason the following year and installed as Master in 1976. He currently holds the rank of P.J.G.D.

The year after he became a Master Mason he made a very important decision in his Freemasonry when he decided to join the Mark. He was Advanced into Rother Lodge of Mark Master Masons and held every Office on the ‘ladder’ before being Installed as Master in 1978. At his Installation he appointed a certain Bro. James Bennet Truswell as his Inner Guard and during the year Advanced three Candidates, including his father and W.Bro. Roy Dobson. A good year indeed for Mark Masonry.

At the end of that year, due to the illness of his Senior Warden, he was elected to the Chair of Rother Lodge for a second year, which many Brethren thought to be a good thing because he would have chance to learn the ritual properly the second time around! During his second year as Master he Advanced a further three Candidates into the Order.

On 17th May 1967, Philip made yet another important decision by deciding to join the Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners.  He joined Welcome Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners, which at that time was attached to Pudsey Mark. Welcome R.A.M. was later detached from Pudsey and attached to Rother Mark Lodge No 651.

He became Commander of Welcome Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners in 1975, which meant that it was his first chair in Freemasonry and something very special indeed. It was also R.W.Bro. Bram Morley’s first chair and Bram always said that Royal Ark Mariner was his first chair and favourite Order.

Philip was appointed to Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank in 1986, and to Grand Rank in 1990, which was the year after he had also been appointed as Deputy Provincial Grand Master. He went on to become Provincial Grand Master for the Mark Province of West Yorkshire from 1994 to 1999.


The Provincial Grand Master then put 50 years in perspective by informing the brethren that in 1967 Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and Lyndon B Johnson was President of the United States, still fighting a war in Vietnam. The Torrey Canyon went aground off Land’s End that year, spilling 100,000 tons of crude oil into the sea and Donald Campbell was killed when his boat, Bluebird, left the water at over 300 miles per hour on Coniston Water, during an attempt to break his own water speed record.

The first ATM (Cash machine) in the UK was brought into service that year and Doctor Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant operation.  Ironically, the UK also made its second, and this time successful bid, to join the EEC (The Common Market). The summer of 1967 was later dubbed as the ‘Summer of Love’ with ‘Hippies’, ‘Flower Power’ and mini-skirts getting even shorter !!

Petrol was 5 shillings (about 27p) per gallon and a new Ford Cortina could be purchased for under £750. But more importantly, George Henry Philip Birch became a Royal Ark Mariner.

Several Brethren then related some of their experiences with Philip over the last 50 years, which proved to be very entertaining, before R.W.Bro. Brian Batty presented Philip with his 50 year Certificate from Mark Grand Lodge and the P.G.M. presented him with his Provincial Certificate.
ghpb50b After an excellent festive board, R.W.Bro. Jim Truswell proposed a toast to Philip, was also presented with a DVD of ‘Pathe News’ items from 1967. To the delight of everyone present R.W.Bro. Philip suitably responded with his usual wit and humour, of which even Noah would have been proud !!