Cockburn Lodge  image

 Cockburn Lodge. - The First 85 years.

  In 1931, informal discussions took place amongst several Freemasons, who were then school masters at Cockburn High School, Burton Road, Leeds, or who had been educated either at that school or its predecessor, the Southern Higher Grade school in Bewerly Street, Hunslet, to consider the formation of a Masonic Lodge, which would have close associations with the masters and pupils of the school, and who would give special consideration to candidates and brethren with such associations.

On 22nd. December 1931, the first formal meeting took place in the Headmasters study at the school. 13 Worshipful Brethren and Brethren were present at that meeting, amongst them W. Bro. M Honeyball, who, in addressing the meeting, informed the Brethren that he had written to the Provincial Grand Secretary, with an outline of the proposal, asking for his observations. He was informed that the formation of such a Lodge was feasible, but careful consideration would be taken by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master W.Bro. Richard Gill.

Later W.Bro. Honeyball and Bro. Norden, were invited to meet the Dep. Pro. Grand Master, where approval was given for the actions already taken and permission to proceed with the compilation of a Panel of Founders, and further informed that if that Panel was satisfactory, the Provincial Grand Master would sanction the formation of a Lodge.

The first meeting of the proposed founders was held in the Staff Common Room at the school on 10th. February 1932, with Bro. Norden in the chair.

19 W.Brethren and Brethren were present. At that meeting, it was decided that the proposed Lodge should meet at the Masonic Hall, Great George Street, Leeds, on the second Friday in each month, other than July and August, that the initiation fees would be 15 guineas for candidates with connections to the school, and 20 guineas for candidates with no connection to the school, and that the annual subscription should be 3 guineas. This is equivalent to £197.51 today.

The equivalent amount of a 20 guineas initiation fee in 1932 is close to £700 in 2007, (when this history was compiled), and £1316.70 as of today.

It was resolved that Alfred Lodge No. 306, should be invited to sponsor the Lodge, and by secret ballot amongst the founders, W.Bro. M Honeyball was elected Master designate.

Secret ballot votes were taken for election of the Wardens and W.Bro Peacock and Bro. Norden were elected Senior and Junior Wardens designate, respectfully.

At a later meeting of founders on 24th. February 1932, a letter from Lady Cockburn giving her approval and pleasure that the name Cockburn would be used to name a Masonic Lodge, was read. Thereupon it was unanimously resolved that the proposed new Lodge should be named Cockburn Lodge.

At the meeting of Alfred Lodge No. 306, held on the 4th. March 1932, two of our founders, who were members of that Lodge, proposed and seconded, that with the approval of a majority of the Brethren present, the Worshipful Master and Wardens sign the form of recommendation approving the petition to Grand Lodge for the formation of a new Lodge to be called Cockburn Lodge”. This was carried unanimously and affected.

In May 1932, the P. G. M. notified the founders that he sanctioned the formation, and this had been endorsed by Grand Lodge. The name was approved as the Cockburn Lodge and would carry the number 5362.

The badge of Cockburn High School was adopted as the badge of the Lodge, the school motto “Non Scholae sed vitae” – “Not for school, but for life” being considered eminently suitable. The first summons with this school badge at its head was printed in chocolate coloured ink, the school colours being chocolate and gold.

The consecration took place on 25th. November 1932 with the R.W.Bro. The Earl of Harewood as one of the consecrating officers. (Consecration Jewel)

W.Bro. Honeyball was installed as the first Master of the Lodge. At this meeting, there were no fewer than 167 Brethren present.

Fourteen days later on the 9th. December 1932, the first regular Lodge was held. Two candidates were initiated, the first candidate being Mr. John Jackson Penny. By 1939 he had become Senior Warden and would normally have become Master in 1940, but was by then serving in the Army overseas. However he continued to pursue his Masonic activities to such good purpose, that he was installed as Master of the Lodge of Hope No 4013, Meerut, India.
After the war in 1947, he resumed his rightful place in our Lodge being installed Master for 1947-48.

He was later to be one of the principal participants in the formation of our daughter Lodge, the Lodge of Stability No. 7374, and became their first Master. He is the only member of our Lodge to have been granted Grand Lodge honours on his appointment as Past Asst. G.Dof C promoted in 1973 to Past J. G. D.

In May 1933, our Lodge qualified as a Hall Stone Jewel Lodge, having made contributions of at least 10 guineas per member to the Masonic Million Memorial Fund.

In February 1934, the printing of our summons changed and in place of the Cockburn Lodge badge at its head, the design, as still used today was displayed. There appears to be no record of how or why this alteration was made and nothing to indicate the significance of the words “Rothwell enamel” included in the design.

By June 1933, a mere seven months after its formation, there was a candidates list of over 30 gentlemen wishing to join the Lodge.

In 1936, the wives of the Brethren presented to the Lodge the Cockburn Lodge banner which we display at all our Lodge meetings, and was unveiled at our 1936 Installation ceremony.

The outbreak of the war caused several changes between 1940 and 1942; Lodges were held at 2pm on Saturdays during the winter months. The subscription for a serving brother was reduced to half a guinea and the seniority of serving brethren should be preserved in every possible way.

By the middle of 1946, there were 39 names on the Lodge candidates list awaiting initiation, and accordingly except for acceptance of any lewis, the list was closed and remained closed for nine years until October 1955. Within a month of being re-opened no less than ten candidates names were placed onto the list and it was again closed for several years.

In those days, it was common for a candidate to have to wait six or seven years before he could join the Lodge and multiple ceremonies were held with more than one candidate at a single Lodge meeting.

In 1949, seventeen years after the fees and subscriptions had first been determined prior to the consecration, there was the first ever increase. The subscriptions were raised from 3 guineas to 3 and a half, (£105.15 today), and the initiation fee was increased to 25 guineas, (Fallen to £876.23 today), and the preferential fee for those connected to Cockburn High School was withdrawn.

Early in 1953, W.Bro. J Penny announced that he was inviting a number of Freemasons to consider the formation of a new Lodge and asked the committee of our Lodge if Cockburn Lodge would give the project the necessary support.

At our Lodge meeting on 14th. May 1954, the Worshipful Master W.Bro. A Brown proposed and W.Bro. R.D. Mathews seconded that a daughter Lodge of Cockburn, to be named the Lodge of Stability, be formed. This was carried unanimously.

A year later, in June 1955, the Lodge made a donation of 25 guineas to the newly formed Lodge of Stability for the purchase of Lodge furniture. The Brethren will bear in mind, that this amount was some six times the annual subscription for that period.

The letter of thanks sent by the Lodge of Stability is still worthy of note today. It reads:-

“On behalf of the Lodge of Stability No 7374, I wish to thank the members of Cockburn Lodge No. 5362, for the most kindly thought in presenting a cheque for 25 guineas towards the purchase of Lodge furniture.

I look upon this generous gesture as a cementing of the blessing which Cockburn Lodge gave to its daughter when agreeing to sponsor its creation.
From the outset the utmost goodwill was fostered between members of Cockburn Lodge and the founders of its daughter Lodge and I am certain that this feeling will continue throughout the years to come”

Signed J.J. Penny, Master

Here commenced the now long established custom of an official visit by the Master and Wardens of the Lodge of Stability to our Lodge by invitation of the Master, each year.

In 1957, we celebrated our silver jubilee, but the celebrations appear to be limited. It was accepted that the Worshipful Master would have made, and iced, a cake, to be distributed during the course of the Ladies evening. No other action to celebrate our first 25 years is in our records.

At our ceremonies in March 1960 and March 1961, the then P.G.M’s joined us at the Festive boards to receive the toast to Provincial Grand Lodge. These visits were without any prior notice, and whilst it was our joy and delight, it was slightly to the consternation of the Senior Wardens responsible for the Toast to Provincial Grand Lodge.

From it’s formation until November 1967, the Lodge elected and used the services of a professional Tyler, employed by the Leeds Masonic Hall Co. Ltd., but ever since that time the office of Tyler has been progressive, and is an annual appointment of the Worshipful Master.

It was not until March 1967, that the custom of making a Remembrance collection, or alms collection as we now know it, commenced.

A year later in March 1968, the first lecture by junior Brethren was given in open Lodge. This was organised and directed by W.Bro. Rowland Wood, and was the commencement of the many lectures given with such great success over succeeding years by W.Bro Rowland Wood, and since 1975 by W.Bro. Leslie Thornby, and latterly since March 1991 by W.Bro Dick Mitchell, and W.Bro. Wilf Jowett.

The early seventies saw very little of note. There were few seeking to join the Lodge, and numbers at meetings were also at a low.

By 1978 a sub-committee chaired by W.Bro. J.G.Breer was established to look at the desirability and feasibility of moving away from the Masonic Hall in Great George Street, caused by the dis-satisfaction with the conditions and the costs. After prolonged negotiations over many months, the proposal that the Warrant of the Lodge be removed from Great George Street to the Masonic Temple Bruntcliffe Road, Morley, was balloted for and duly carried at the Regular Lodge meeting on 9th. June 1978, with only one dissentient. Approval for this alteration was given by both Provincial Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge. Accordingly, the first meeting to be held here in these rooms was held on 8th. September 1978, there being 74 Brethren present.

The move to Morley does not affect our Master being a member of the Leeds Masters’ Circle, and the holding each year of a Masters’ night attended by Masters of the Leeds Lodges continues.

In January 1980, the Lodge adopted the permissive alternative wording with reference to the penalties in the Obligations of the Three Degrees.

The 25th. November 1982, saw our Golden Jubilee, under the Mastership of  W.Bro. Ken Price.

The 25th. November fell quite soon after Ken’s Installation, and a special dispensation was obtained to hold a Golden Jubilee Commemoration Lodge and Festive Board.

A 10…….. yes ! 10 ! course festive board was arranged, emulating that of the original Consecration Festive Board.

I understand that the “Oysters” were a bit “dubious!!!!! “

So, what’s happened since then?

Well, to sum up, In January 1988, W.Bro.’s Walter Todd and Melvyn Wood, became joining members. &W.Bro. Graham Hoyle was initiated at the same meeting.

September 1990, The Junior Brethren gave their their first demonstration of a 1st. Degree Ceremony and W.Bro. Dick Mitchell presented Bookmarks for the V.S.L as a fitting memorial to the late W. Bro. George Taylor, of whom     W. Bro Mitchell stated, “ he was privileged to have been his brother and delighted to have been his friend “

February 1991, and for the first time, bad weather prevented a “quorum” being formed. Special dispensation was given to hold the Regular Lodge the following Friday.

In March 1991 W.Bro. Dick Mitchell gave his first of many Junior Brethren lectures, which happened to be the 25th. Consecutive. The “Junior” Brethren who took part on that occasion were.:- Bro. Dennis Todd; Bro. Wilf Durkin; Bro.M Treymaine; Bro. G.Hoyle; Bro. R.Bower; Bro.M.H.Barker; and Bro. P.Kent.

In March 1993, W.Bro. Frank Clayton was Master. March is of course the month when the Leeds Masters visit Cock burn, and on this occasion there were 15 Masters of Leeds Lodges; 69 visiting Brethren; making a total of 107 Brethren at that meeting. Such a wonderfully high number meant that special arrangements had to be made for both the bar and Festive Board

During the years of the Second World War, Jewels were, often, of necessity made of cardboard. In February 2000, the widow of W.Bro Harry Passmore presented to the Lodge via W.Bro. Dick Mitchell, some of his Masonic artefacts. Amongst these was a R.M.I.B Festival Jewel of 1943- made of cardboard. With an inscription on the reverse promising a proper Jewel when the war ceased; - AND – the proper Jewel. (Cardboard Jewel)

In March 2001, no fewer than 4 W. Brethren received Provincial Honours; - W.Bro. G.D.Lambert; W.Bro. M.Bumby; W.Bro. P.Stephenson and W.Bro. W.H.Todd.

This was again the case in March 2002, when a further 4 W.Brethren received Provincial Honours namely: - W.Bro. D. Todd; W.Bro. R. Mitchell; W.Bro. W.H.Todd and W.Bro. M.R. Barker.

October 2002 saw the Lodge presented with a certificate as being recorded as a Grand Patron of the Grand Charity in recognition of its generous support.

In October 2005, we were delighted when W.Bro. Eric Stephenson was presented with Maundy Money by H.M The Queen at Wakefield Cathedral.
And so to the 25th. November 2007. The 75th. Anniversary of the Lodges’ Consecration. That date, this year, fell on a Sunday. As most of you will know I’m sure, you cannot hold a Lodge meeting on a Sunday. So to mark the occasion, 100 Brethren, wives, partners, family and friends held a Sunday Lunch at the Gomersall Park Hotel. An excellent meal and function was held, and more importantly, the sum of £592 was raised, and passed on to W.Bro. Graham Hoyle, the Lodge Charity Representative.

And so, that takes us to the first 75 years of Cockburn Lodge.

In reading through the Minutes Books, it made me realise that like everything else in life, there have been highs and lows at Cockburn.

Brethren come and Brethren go, fees go up, and never come down.

But more than anything else, what did stand out was the abundance of Brotherly Love conveyed by the warmth and fraternal wishes recorded monthly in those Minutes.

June 2013 saw another piece of history being made when we saw 3 generations of “Barkers” as members of the Lodge. Not that you need reminding, but they are W.Bro Malcolm R Barker; W.Bro. Michael H Barker and Bro. Jonathon Curtis, referred to, on that occasion, as the past, the present and the future.

And that takes us up to January 2015 when our W.Bro. John Atkinson was presented with his Jubilee certificate, to mark his 50 years in the Craft.

So, to this Tercentenary year for Freemasonry, where our Lodge continues to develop and progress.
Long may it continue to do so.