The 8th October would have been the celebratory meeting of Ocianus Lodge’s fiftieth anniversary, which occurred on 12th June this year.
In 1969 a group of Brethren, members for the most part, of lodges meeting in the West Masonic Temple, Ferguson’s Lane, Newcastle, held a series of meetings after coming to the conclusion that there was a need for a new lodge in Newcastle. They held the view that it should have a membership of no more than forty; to adhere to the highest standards of ritual working, and to exercise a disciplined attitude to Masonic Ceremonial and Custom.
The Founders, it seemed were determined to establish the Lodge as a ‘base’ for homecoming and retired Brethren who were, or had been, members of the Service Forces, and who may have been prevented, by circumstances of age or distance, to regularly attend meetings of their Mother Lodges’.
It was proposed that the Lodge would meet seven times a year, and only initiate one candidate at a time. Subscriptions were to be maintained at a high level, so that the Lodge would be financially independent from Initiation and Joining Fees.
Most of the Founders were ex-members of the Royal Navy, and the next task would be to choose an appropriate name and motto for the Lodge.
In the Petition to Grand Lodge, the Founders chose the name OCIANUS, God of the Water, and of all River Gods. This was the name inscribed on one of a pair of Roman Altars dredged up from the Tyne during the construction of the present-day Swing Bridge in 1876. The other Altar bore a dedication to the God Neptune. It seemed that the choice of the name Neptune was rejected, as there was already a Lodge at Wallsend, with that name. The Founders stressed that the name Ocianus reflected their interest in nautical matters, and that the variant spelling, which correctly should be Oceanus, identified the Lodge particularly with the history of Newcastle upon Tyne, especially its River. The Petitioners also provided Grand Lodge with two alternative names if the first choice met with disfavour : The Lodge of the Seven Seas; and, Anchor Lodge.
The choice of a motto for the new Lodge was not without some controversy. Application had been made to the Museum of the Antiquities of the Universities and of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne for permission to photograph the Roman Altar to use on the Lodge Summons. This permission was forthcoming, but a dispute arose over the choice of Latin Motto! The Founders wanted to use “Victrix, Pia Fidelis, Felix”, which translates as ‘Victorious, Dutiful, and Faithful, Happy’. Professor Charles M Daniels of the University provided some background to this when he indicated that the use of ‘Felix’ was incorrect. It turned out that Roman Legions’ titles were not mottoes, as such, but ‘battle honours’ conferred upon them by the Emperor.
The Sixth (VI ) Legion was sent to Britain by Hadrian in 119 AD, to reinforce the garrisons based at York, and partly to replace the legendary Ninth (IX) whose fate is even today still matter of much conjecture. When in Newcastle, which was then known as Pons Aelius) the Legion erected and dedicated two Altars and placed them on the bridge across the Tyne. The Sixth Legion received the title of ‘Victrix’ at some unknown point in time, Later, it was granted the title ‘Pia Fidelis’ by the Emperor Domitian, for their loyalty to him during a revolt by the Governor of Upper Germany, Saturnius, in 89 AD. Thus the full titles of the Sixth Legion would have been ‘VI Legion, Victorious, Dutiful and Faithful,’, but never ‘Felix’. It would seem that this part of the title was never granted, and there was even a question raised whether a Roman Legion could be ‘Happy!’.
The Charter, or Warrant bearing the number 8329 was granted on 29 April 1970. It was agreed that the Officers for the year 1970-71 would be as follows:
WM W. Bro. Geoffrey James Wright
IPM W. Bro. William Frederick Pescott
SW W. Bro. Charles Stewart
JW Bro. Ian Michael Boyes
Chaplain W. Bro. Ronald P. Garside.
Treasurer W. Bro. Hugh Patrickson
Secretary W. Bro. Eric Jole
D.C. W. Bro. Derek Leslie Grant
S.D. Bro. Frederick Atkins Knight
J.D Bro. Donald Buttle
I.G. Bro. Albert Terry
Tyler W. Bro. Frederick C Lumley
The Consecration of the Lodge was carried out at the West Masonic Temple, Ferguson’s Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne on Friday 12 June, 1970 at 4.30. pm by the Provincial Grand Master, R W Bro. J.M.S. Coates, assisted by his team of Provincial Grand Lodge Officers, after which the Master was Installed, and the business of the Lodge concluded.
When the West Masonic Temple closed, in 1978, the Lodge found new premises at Darras Road, Ponteland.
Many thanks to W.Bro John Pescott, of Ocianus Lodge and W.Bro Ian Brown, the Provincial Librarian and Archivist for this article.
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