LODGE PACIFIC. (1915 ~ 1965)
The Dedication Ceremony was solemnized in the Presbyterian Church, still existent on the corner of Wharf and Florence Streets, opposite Tweed Heads Bowls Club, on Wednesday,February 10, 1915.
The Ceremony was conducted by V Wor Bro Hamblin, DGIW, assisted by V Wor Bros Stewart and Robins, DG Lodge Officers. The Dedication was carried out with the words:
“To God, to Masonry, to Benevolence and to Universal Charity. I thus solemnly dedicate the Lodge Pacific and may the Great Architect give his blessing.”
The First Installation Ceremony was then held at the Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Florence and Wharf Streets, where Lodge meetings were held for the first year.
The Installation Banquet was held at the Literary Institute in Stuart Street, a considerable distance away for that era.
The meeting date for the new Lodge was set as the Wednesday on or after the full moon. The light of the moon was of great assistance in assisting travel at night by horse or boat.This was a common practice in country lodges. The Installation was attended by eleven officers, seven members and sixty visitors, which was a great start for the new lodge.
THE FOUNDATION OFFICERS
WORSHIPFUL MASTER ....................................W Bro G T HARVEY
SENIOR WARDEN...............................................Bro E DUNCALF
JUNIOR WARDEN................................................W Bro C MORLEY CHAPLAIN............................................................Bro J HUNTER TREASURER........................................................Bro G COLLIER SECRETARY.........................................................Bro W AYRE
SENIOR DEACON.................................................Bro H W DUCAT
JUNIOR DEACON..................................................Bro J NORVILL ORGANIST..................................................... ......Bro R BARBER INNER GUARD..................................................................Bro H SIM TYLER...................................................................Bro J GIBSON STEWARDS........Bros ……………………MATTERS, McDONOUGH, W JOHNSON, L DUCAT
Wor Bro C. Morley and Bro W Norvill were not invested due to their absence.
The first regular meeting was held on March 3, 1915. Wor Bro C Morley and Bro C. W Ducat were affiliated and Wor Bro Morley was elected and invested as Junior Warden and Bro H Ducat as Senior Deacon. Both of these men were prominent businessmen in the then fledgling town and remained in business until well into the 1950’s. At this meeting mention was made of land suitable for a Temple, being for sale in Boyd Street for $180. On March 31, the committee reported that a deposit had been paid on the block of land. Members were asked to assist with financial donations and loans.
The Lodge being formed during the intensifying stages of World War I, the enlistment of a large number of young men from the district was being felt in the town and the Lodge.
On June 30, 1915, members were advised that those on active service were exempt from Grand Lodge dues and rehearsals were not to be held in other than approved places. Intoxicating liquors were banished from the ‘south’ until after the war. The amount of money spent on liquor was to be devoted to a fund to assist the war effort.
Of those answering the call were Bro Thomas HAMILTON-SMITH (Member No 25)and Bro John HAIR (Member No 38) Both Masons had affiliated from Lodge Tweed. Bro Hair embarked from Sydney, on HMAT ‘The Star of Victoria’. Br Hamilton -Smith paid the Supreme Sacrifice. Both Masons are remembered on the Honour Roll, recently relocated to the Tweed Heads Masonic Centre.
By September 29, 1915, a committee had been formed to draw up a scheme for the erection of a Temple and on October 27, Bro H F Hatter- sley submitted plans. These were sent to Grand Lodge for approval. Subsequently Mr Hattersley’s tender of $1120 was accepted.
Lodge Pacific’s Temple in Boyd Street was consecrated on March 22, 1916 by R Wor Bro Wearne. The room was dedicated to Masonry, Charity and Benevolence. R W Bro Wearne congratulated the Lodge on the fine lodge room and adjoining supper room that had been built within one year of the Lodge’s Dedication. He knew of only one instance where this had happened. R W Bro Wearne commended the brethren who had given donations and loans and those who had helped fundraise.
The first Installation in the new temple was performed the same night, 22 March, 1916, with Wor Bro Charles Morley placed in the Chair of King Solomon. The same year an organ was purchased at a cost of $64 to enhance ritual work. Ever mindful of those Masons enlisted in WW I and serving on the front an Honour Roll was to be organised and Christmas Greetings and a gift parcel was sent to each one. The cost was met by voluntary subscriptions.
The Installation of W Bro Ducat was held on 27th March, 1918. At the meeting of 21st August a “challenge” was received from Lodge Tweed to send the W.M. And Officers to Murwillumbah on 19th September to work a First Degree. The “challenge” was accepted in what was perhaps to be the first Fraternal Visit on the Tweed!
During this year 16 candidates were initiated and 7 affiliates accepted. As well, seating accommodation for 70 was acquired. The year 1919 was not without problems. Although the Declaration of Peace was hailed across the country many of those returning suffered extensive injuries both physical and psychological, commonly referred to as ‘shell shock’, now referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A local problem also surfaced. Although locals treated the area as one town, the state border caused problems until its removal in 1960. None the less was the major one in 1919, when the border crossing was closed during a severe influenza epidemic in Queensland preventing all traffic from crossing it. As the only doctor, school, bank and Masonic Lodge was in NSW, many difficulties arose. Organist at Lodge Pacific, Bro Jolly, could not be invested
Bro Macpherson, Secretary of Lodge Pacific and Manager of the Tweed Heads E.S.& A Bank solved the banking problem by the use of a small box with two ropes attached allowing transactions to be carried out by pulling the boxes across the border from Tweed Heads to Coolangatta and back!
In 1920, the stench caused by the use of acetylene gas lighting , was re- moved by the installation of electricity at a cost of $186.
During 1921, twenty–two candidates were Initiated and the same year saw the first Masonic Ball. These continued as a social scene feature along with Lodges Dawn and Coolangatta, until well into the 1980’s.W Bro S A Thornton occupied the chair in 1921 and 22 candidates were Initiated and the formation of a Choir was discussed.
The first Valuer General’s report gave an unimproved capital value of the prop- erty in 1922 as $600 and the improved capital value at $1800. During this year twenty candidates were Initiated including Bro Arthur Ronald Pike, well known Tweed Heads painter whose son John William (Jack) was lost as a 20 year old on the sinking of the HMAS Sydney off Western Australia on 19 November 1941.
During the October Meeting of 1922, the Lodge was ad- vised by Grand Lodge of Queensland of the formation of Lodge Coolangatta No 298 (Qld). The Lodge was dedicated on 24 November. Unfortunately this Lodge had continuing problems finding suit- able accommodation until 1949 when two Defence Department huts, situated on Kirra Beach, were relocated to Lanham Street
By September of 1923, membership had climbed to 147 and it was decided to form another Tweed District Lodge in the interest of Freemasonry.
Lodge Dawn 511 was dedicated on 28 November 1923 with most of its foundation members being members of Lodge Pacific 298. Lodge Pacific donated $50 to the new lodge for initial expenses and agreed to allow it the use of the temple and furniture for $4 a month.
This era saw considerable growth in Freemasonry with Lodge Wollumbin 446 (Murwillumbah) dedicated in 1923 and Lodge Uki 497 dedicated on 24 May 1924. A lodge at Chinderah was proposed in 1927 but never formed. It was not until 1953 that another lodge was formed with Lodge Murwillumbah Remembrance 862 being dedicated.
Although alcohol was still disallowed at Lodge Pacific ‘souths’ and Installation Banquets, smoking was obviously permitted with an expenditure (24 March 1926) of $5 for Installation cigars!
By the end of its first two decades of existence, 256 Masons had passed through Lodge Pacific. The number comprised 25 foundation members, 169 initiates and 62 affiliates, but as 182 had withdraw, only 74 members remained.
1935 commenced with Wor Bro Clarrie Johnson in the chair. He went on to serve district lodges as organist until his death on 1st August 1985, a total of 50 years. During his year several administrative changes took place that exist to current times. Bro Trembath was Tyler and Caretaker on a retainer of $4 a month and Bro Mitchell was Organist on $2 a meeting. The decision was made to abolish these paid positions with the Tyler becoming a progressive position and the organist a voluntary position. The only paid position then became the Caretaker on $2 a month.
Lodge Dawn’s secure tenure and use of the building continued to be a point of dissention. A Deed of Trust was discussed but it was 18 years before this eventuated with Lodges Pacific and Dawn.
At the regular meeting in June 1937, it was decided to change the Installation from March to May. No reason is given and of the 15 in attendance, 9 voted for the change that remains to this day.
With the onset of World War II, in 1939, ad- vice was received from Grand Lodge that dues would not be charged for brethren serving overseas until the termination of their service and the following six months. Due to the heavy enlistment of men, meetings from September 1942 to May 1945 were held on even months only.
The problem of Lodge Dawn’s leased tenancy was again discussed in May 1945 and an agreement in principle was to form a joint building committee, but Dawn was not yet prepared to join.
The post war years were occupied with renewed hope, increased Ma- sonic activities and much building discussion. In June 1946 a committee was formed to plan repairs and the raising of the building. With a cost estimate of $3600. The decision was made to wait until it could be done at a cheaper rate in the belief that the shortage of building materials after the war had elevated prices.
By May 1947, Lodge Dawn expressed in writing the again concerns over building tenure and were now prepared to join a joint building operation and to make a substantial contribution towards improvements. However the plans for the building often caused dissention between the lodges.
Lodge Pacific’s membership reached 77 by November 1950 and further building suggestions were discussed to double the size of the supper room (‘south’) with an extension towards Boyd Street and a possible ex- tension of the lodge room to the east. Grand Lodge deemed this unsuitable. During April 1951, George Hanna of Murwillumbah, and a Past Master of Lodge Uki, submitted a tender of $8000 to raise the building with the eastern extension of the lodge room deleted. (George Hanna was later to design and build the 1960 Murwillumbah Masonic Centre) The available funds of $1200 were beyond the scheme and donations and interest free loans were sought. As the ownership was still invested in Lodge Pacific, Lodge Dawn was hesitant to contribute. By August 1951, the problem was solved and the building was transferred to the ‘Tweed Heads Masonic Building Company’ with two trustees each from Lodges Dawn and Pacific.
At the request of M W Grand Master, the June 1953 meeting was designated the “Coronation Meeting” and V W Bro E Bailey delivered an address on the connection between the Royal Family and Freemasonry.
Thanks to very generous offers in 1954 from Bro G.H Yates and his son, Wor Bro J H Yates, who established the motor vehicle business that be- came Tweed Motors and whose home still stands on the corner of Beryl and Florence Streets, two loans of $2000 each were offered for 10 years at 4%. With support from Lodge Dawn, Lodge Pacific’s building fund and smaller member’s donations and loans, building renovations commenced.
The Lodge’s 39th year finished with the words of the Worshipful Master, W Bro C K Martyn: “Most of the experiences that can befall a lodge, but the only one which we have not suffered was destruction of our temple such as befell our fellow brethren in Murwillumbah and other lodges in distant parts of the state” Referring to the 1954 floods.
1955 commenced with a membership of 75 and W Bro W Garbett in the chair.
A highlight was the celebration of the first combined Masonic ANZAC Meeting and held in the newly raised temple on the 27th April under Lodge Pacific’s Charter an Coolangatta joined in by invitation. An impressive “Ceremony of the Vacant Chair” was conducted. A very fine social evening, men only, was held in the new supper room on the buildings lower level. (We now welcome family and friends not only to the supper but the ANZAC Ceremony in the Lodge Room as was attended by 70 in 2015.)
With the raising of the Masonic Temple and the replacement of Robert’s Store (later Bird’s Store and formerly, the temple’s original builder, Hattersly’s workshop), by the existing Stanley Court Units, the face of Boyd Street was changing and continues to do so. The district’s first Lodge of Instruction was formed by W M A J Norvill in May 1955. By 1956, 355 men had experienced Freemasonry in Lodge Pacific.
In November 1956, Grand Lodge decreed that no Mason was permitted to associate with the Order of De Molay, based on the Masonic model but admitting young people from 12 to 21 years of age.
What was perhaps the first Masonic Church Parade was held in the Methodist Church on 30 March 1958. The widely circulated Freemason Journal was reintroduced in 1959
I would like to thank Rt Wor Bro Ross Johnson for supplying this information to us, a truly remarkable task. Thank you Ross