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Blue Sapphire Celebration at Rowlandson

The November meeting at Rowlandson lodge #3360, who meet at the masonic hall at Ferryhill, was that of celebration.  Lodge members and visitors far and wide came to celebrate Derek Hartley’s 65th year of continuous membership in Freemasonry.  The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Michael Graham, had made a special trip down to the lodge meeting to be there to join in the celebration. The Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master, George Clark, had also made special effort to attend having previously presented Derek with his 50 and 60 year certificates.

After Michael and his Director of Ceremonies, Gary Quinn, were given a warm masonic welcome into the lodge Derek had his own item on the meeting agenda, having prepared a small talk with regards to the past masters of Rowlandson lodge.  Derek stood up in the West and presented a very interesting talk that he had put together.  He reflected on the Past masters and members of Rowlandson lodge who, in his 65 years of service to freemasonry, have had a positive influence on his experience in some way, shape or form.  Derek talked to the brethren about numerous past masters and brethren, who he felt were themselves ambassadors for freemasonry, ranging across the years in a very appreciative and positive light.  The brethren showed their appreciation in a manner usual amongst masons.

Michael then addressed the brethren and gave a detailed history that he had prepared about Derek’s years in Freemasonry.  The Hartley Masonic Journey started in Province of Northumberland at Vandeleur Lodge where both his grandfather and his Father were members. Derek’s father joined Rowlandson Lodge in 1950 and became Worshipful master of the Lodge in 1965. Roughly halfway through his journey to the chair of King Solomon he had time for one special evening.  This was the evening of 26th November 1958 when he had the pleasure of watching his son, Derek Hartley being initiated into Rowlandson lodge.  Derek was passed to the Second or Fellowcraft Degree on 25th February 1959 and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on the 27th of May of the same year.

On 31st October 1973 Derek was installed as Worshipful Master of the Rowlandson Lodge.  After coming out of the chair he served for 9 years as the lodge’s Director of Ceremonies, stepping down in 1987 before serving as lodge Secretary and then Treasurer.  In June 1983 Derek was recognised by Province and appointed Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden.  Derek’s Royal Arch Journey started in 1974 when he was exalted into Rowlandson Royal Arch Chapter, serving as their First Principal in 1984 where again he was recognised by Province when the Provincial Grand Chapter appointed him 3rd Provincial Grand Principal; another outstanding achievement which reflected on Derek’s work and enthusiasm within Craft and Royal Arch freemasonry.

Derek was an active member of the Hall Management Committee for many years, serving 12 of those years as Vice Chairman.  Derek moved to Ferryhill in 1938 at the age of 2, his father having been made Baths Superintendent at Dean and Chapter colliery.  He went to Dean Bank School and then onto the Alderman Wraith Grammar School in Spennymoor.  At 16 Derek started working for the Coal Board as a trainee Mining Surveyor and became a Certified Mining Engineer in 1958.  In 1966 Derek started working for Northumberland County Council as a Civil Engineer and after 4 years he became a Certified Civil Engineer and Qualified Highways Engineer, both in 1970.  In 1970 he moved to Durham County Council as Highway Engineer for major construction work and worked on such projects as the Castle Eden By-Pass, the Shiney Row Diversion, and the Stanley By-Pass. In 1974 Derek was made Divisional Surveyor for the Eastern Division of Durham County Council, which included such items as keeping the roads open during the winter, finally retiring in 1997.

Derek has been a keen golfer over the years playing at Brancepeth Castle Golf club, where he is now an honorary member.  He also used to play bowls at Neville’s Cross and he has been a lifetime supporter of Newcastle United and a season ticket holder since the 1960’s. His main disappointment being that having been to Wembley 3 times they have not brought home a trophy.  In whatever spare time was available Derek also used to attend the Professional Business Club in Durham, where he was a member.  Sadly, Derek’s wife Margaret passed away in 2017 after a long illness in St. Cuthbert’s Hospice, who Derek has raised £1,000 over the years in charity.  Derek has found strength from his two daughters and still regularly goes on holiday.

At Michael’s request, Gary Quinn stood up and read out the content of a special 65th year certificate signed by the Provincial Grand Master and the Provincial Grand Secretary.  Michael then presented Derek with the certificate, thanking him for all of his continued work in freemasonry in general and Durham Province in particular.  Derek looks forward to achieving his 70 year certificate.

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