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Diamond Celebration at Trinity

The year started out with celebration for the members of Trinity Lodge, who meet at the masonic hall at Archer Street in Darlington.  Clarence Stoddart (Clarry) was celebrating 60 years of continuous membership of Freemasonry in general and Trinity lodge in particular, having been initiated 30/12/1963.  Clarry, who now lives in Cheshire, had made special effort to travel over to attend Trinity lodge for the regular January meeting and to share this special occasion with the rest of the members.  The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Andrew Foster, was in attendance and was formerly and warmly welcomed into the lodge by members and visitors, in manner usual among masons.  Andrew was delighted to have the opportunity to attend and present Clarry with a 60 year certificate to mark his service to Freemasonry within Durham Province, advising that usually this privilege (awards 60 years and above) falls to the Deputy Provincial Grand Master.  Andrew was honoured and delighted to be offered the opportunity to attend the celebration and present the certificate as on this occasion the Deputy Provincial Grand Master was unable to attend. 

Andrew sat at the front of the lodge with Clarry and discussed Clarry’s membership of 60 years, initially highlighting that his 50 year certificate was presented by John Webster, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master.  Clarry informed the brethren that he was proposed into Freemasonry by his father in-law, John Firby, who was a member and past master (1963) of Trinity Lodge.  Clarry recalled John telling him that if he proposed his membership that the ask was for him to attend as often as he could and progress through the offices to become a Worshipful Master when that opportunity arose.  Work commitments meant that Clarry had to move to the North West around the time that he was Junior Warden of Trinity Lodge.  Clarry never faltered in his promise to John, despite moving away he used to book time off from work on Wednesday afternoons in order to attend Trinity Lodge meetings and give his absolute best for each of the offices he held including when he attained the chair of Kind Solomon; 27/12/1976.  Clarry also proposed his brother, Harold, into Trinity Lodge who became master in 1989.

Clarry also shared other memories with the brethren including a time years gone by where he recalled things were certainly more formal within Freemasonry.  Clarry had been told by the lodge Director of Ceremonies (DC) that he was the DC for their ladies night.  Ladies nights back then saw the ladies in their fancy dresses wearing long sleeve gloves as part of their ensemble.  The role of ladies night DC came with numerous duties and planning to ensure the evening ran smoothly including liaising with the band master and attendees, filling out the dance cards with requests.  On this particular occasion Clarry had been asked if the band could play The Twist, to which he thought would be acceptable.  The band played The Twist and it appeared to go down well.  Shortly after this dance Clarry was pulled aside and quietly informed “we do not have dances like that at this lodge”.

There was another celebration that shared the evening when Derek Wilde was initiated into Trinity Lodge.  Clarry welcomed Derek to Trinity and told him that he had joined a very good lodge.  Clarry also presented Andrew with a personal cheque towards Durham Benevolence for £500 to which Andrew thanked Clarry for and reassured it was gratefully received and will be faithfully applied.  Celebrations continued downstairs at the festive board before the night concluded.

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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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Leonard Middleton Barrett 70yrs Long Service

During Lambton Lodge’s recent October meeting, held on Friday 13th, RW Brother John Paul Thompson led a team of his Provincial Officers into the Temple at Durham Masonic Hall. The room was packed to celebrate the recognition of 70 Years long standing service across 2 provinces by W Bro Leonard Middleton Barret.

Leonard had attended the prep school at Sunderland before heading to Cambridge to study medicine. Following his national service in Germany, he returned to England and took up a position as a Trainee General Practitioner. He was initiated into Lambton Lodge in October 1953 where his father was a member. Leonard also became a Vale of Nidd Lodge member at Pateley Bridge in the Province of Yorkshire West Riding, where he has recently returned to the chair for the second time after 50 years!

After 35 years in the craft, Leonard was exalted into Chapter, a practice that the PGM added he doesn’t recommend today! The PGM pointed out that during his service as a freemason, Leonard has witnessed the service of 16 Prime Ministers and 2 Monarchs. Leonard was then presented with 2 Citations to recognise his Platinum award for long service over 2 provinces. The Deputy Provincial Grandmaster of Yorkshire West Riding, W Bro Brian Littlejohn, presented Leonard with the second certificate for long service.


Following the presentation of the certificates, Leonard’s response was “We don’t do speeches in Lambton…this is a fuss over nothing” he then went on to give thanks to the Great Architect of the Universe.

The lodge presented John with a donation of over £2,000 which was raised personally by the WM for a virtual walk whereby he had totalled up the distance of walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

At the festive board, John George Lambton’s traditions were upheld, snuff was circulated and responses kept short. Leonard was also presented with a special reserve whisky by the master.

Stronger Together

Stronger Together

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Outstanding Service

The Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson, had the pleasure of heading up his Mini Team to a special celebration at Benfeldsyde Lodge.  Peter Hough received a well-deserved promotion to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden for 60 years of service to the craft and recognition for all his meticulous work in running the building at Blackhill Consett.

After a second-degree demonstration ceremony Peter was asked to join John for the informal seated chat on the carpet, in front of the master’s pedestal on Saturday 7th October 2023. Peter moved to Consett at the age of 5 from Manchester and was educated at a local school with Eric Heaviside. He then went on to serve his time at Consett Iron Company and was initiated into the lodge in 1963.

After the chat, Eric assisted John to invest his old school mate Peter, with his new apron and collar.

At the festive board Peter was presented with an engraved glass, garden ornament and etched slate to mark 60 years of outstanding service to the Lodge. Peters’ wife Christine was also presented with flowers from the lodge for supporting her husband over the years.

Stronger together

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Willington’s Diamond Celebration at 4028

On Wed. 13 September the Lodge once again opened its doors to welcome members and visitors.  Past Assistant Grand Master, David Hay and his Director of Ceremonies, Nigel Watson were also present to celebrate  a Diamond  celebration in recognition 60 years of continual membership  and Service for Ronald David Coates. It is probably no coincidence that David  also  attended for the presentation of a 50 year citation to David in 2013.

 It was also the evening of the Fraternal visit from Tow Law Lodge. In total there were 21 members  and 61 visitors in attendance.

 David was married and has two children. He worked for the railways and then joined his mother in the family business at Willington  Post Office where he served for many years as Postmaster until he retired. He is fondly remembered by the townspeople.

 As part of the evening David presented a short history of Willington in the 1800s which was well received and enjoyed by the audience.

 David has a long and distinguishes career as a freemason. It began when he was initiated, into Willington Lodge, at the age of 23 years and has had a continual working involvement ever since.

 The citation was the presented to David by David Hay and an outline of David’s life, career and Masonic career was given as follows:

 Having taken a very active interest in the Lodge David went on to be Master in 1976 and has since served as Secretary, Assistant Secretary and  Treasurer  at various times and is an active ritualist who helps out and fills in when other members are not available.

 In recognition of this he was awarded the position of Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 1986 and was promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2014.

 David was always a member with a keen interest in Freemasonry and continued with this by Joining Willington Chapter in 1972. In this he was promoted Provincial Grand Steward in 2009.

 David is always known to be available to offer advice and help others and many have benefitted from his vast experience.

 Everyone then retired to the festive Board where a very enjoyable meal was served by the wives of the brethren.    

 Following the formal toasts David responded to a toast proposed to him by Geoff Dunn. He thanked everyone for their support and concluded by saying,” That we should stay healthy and enjoy the craft”.

 The raffle very commendably raised £770  of which 50% will be  donated to Durham Benevolence and %50 to Butterwick hospice.

 The evening closing and many Brethren remained to chat and enjoy the companionship and friendship which we have all missed due to the Pandemic.

Stronger Together

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Tyne Dock Lodge Awards

The Master and brethren of Tyne Dock Lodge welcomed the Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master, George Clark to a very special meeting of the Lodge where the original intention was to present long service awards to three of their members. Due to circumstances only one was able to be present.

After the usual introductions George was introduced to the recipient of a 65 years, long service award, Trevor Charles Murray.

George outlined the remarkable life that Trevor has enjoyed so far including his initiation into freemasonry in Hedworth Lodge in 1958. Trevor attained the master’s chair in that lodge in 1970 and 30 years later joined Tyne Dock Lodge, also going through the master’s chair.

Trevor led a very active life being a seagoing engineer and he related many humorous stories of his time at sea. After retiring from his seafaring days, he ended ashore as superintendent of swimming pools in South Tyneside.

The other 2 recipients, both of whom were to receive 50 year’s long service awards were Martin Harry Dinning and Peter Boyack. Arrangements will be made to present them at a venue and time to suit them both.

The festive board was enjoyed by everyone present and George in his reply thanked everyone for their hospitality, and once again congratulated Trevor on his achievement.

Stronger Together

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