Five Head South For An Advancement In Masonic Knowledge

15th November 2023

Five intrepid members of the Light Blues Club of Northumberland made the arduous journey south of the River Tyne to Gateshead Masonic Hall, in the Province of Durham, to visit one of the oldest Lodges in the Northeast, Lodge of Industry No.48, prompted by need to understand its fascinating history and make an advancement in Masonic Knowledge.

A much overlooked giant of the Industrial Revolution was Ambrose Crowley III, a Midlands iron master who, in 1691, took on the lease of a corn and fulling mill around what we today know as Winston Mill. He expanded this to create a major integrated ironworks, as he had the contract to supply the Royal Navy with ironworks.

Winlaton Mill is an important early example of the factory system of production, with the site integrating iron making, manufacturing, offices, storage and housing, where he also introduced modern welfare for his workers. In about 1707 he added a site at Swalwell, which became famous for producing steel and especially chains.

It is from Swalwell that Lodge of Industry can trace its roots, being an operative lodge probably before 1717, though sadly its earliest records were lost before 1770, probably as a result of the difficulties following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. It has the distinction of being the only Lodge working under UGLE which was founded as an operative Lodge.

It is known that in 1735 it applied for a warrant from what was the the Grand Lodge of England to the then Provincial Grand Master for Durham, granted on 24th June 1735. It has a centenary warrant from 1867 and a bicentenary warrant from 1935.

The members of the Light Blues Club were treated to an enthralling lecture by W.Bro Martin Talbot, of Finchley Priory Lodge No.7059 entitled “Lest we forget – Freemasonry and the First World War”, accompanied by various First World War artefacts.

During his informative and enlightening lecture, Martin touched on the assault, by the Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, including the exploits of Captain Norman Dillon MC, of 14th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, as well as details of 3 Masons killed during the war – ERA Ernest William Armstrong; First Engineer William Cutter and Corporal Thomas William Wilkinson.

He mentioned the feats which led to Private Michael Wilson Heaviside of 15 DLI gaining the Victoria Cross, whose grandson and great grandson are masons in Chester le Street, as well as details of Rudyard Kipling, who devised the phrases ‘Their name liveth for evermore’ and ‘Known unto God’ which are inscribed upon memorials and headstones, as well as of the Masonic Peace memorial, now known as Freemasons Hall.

Of especial interest to the Light Blues members was his mention of the then Provincial Grand Master for Northumberland, Colonel Charles Napier-Clavering, and Captain Roy Craig Dunford. He explained that after a distinguished military career the PGM had retired, becoming PGM in 1909, but was then recalled to military service during WW1, commanding the 1st Bn Somerset Light Infantry and he commended to all present the book on the PGM by our own librarian, WBro Ian Brown.

Captain Dunford was a members of Golfers Lodge no 3512 and was fatally wounded on 15/9/1916 in the action at High Wood, dying of the wounds then inflicted on 10th November 1916 aged 35. When a German counter attack developed the 1/6 Northumberland Fusiliers sent a bombing party to the NW edge of the wood and contained the attack long enough for supporting units to come to their assistance and hold the line. It is possible that he was recommended for the Victoria Cross for this action, but records are not clear.

Martin was able to show a photograph of King George V at St James Park on 17th June 1917 when in front of a crowd of 40,000 the King presented a posthumous award of the DSO to his widow, Mrs Helen Walker Dunford.

After acclamation for an outstanding talk everyone retired to a superb Festive Board, where Bro Shaun Pattinson succeeded in the TLC draw for a bear by correctly guessing she was named ‘Alice’, but she has yet to be seen accompanying him on Masonic visits. Amazingly other Light Blue members then also won prizes in the raffle.

An excellent fraternal night enjoyed by the Light Blues, accompanied by W.Bro Alasdair Watson, Assistant Provincial Grand Master.

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