Lodge Pacific No. 298 History
Part 1 (1880’s – 1910’s)
Freemasonry on the Tweed
Freemasonry on the Tweed had its beginnings on 31 January 1885, with Lodge Tweed (now Tweed United No. 136) having its Charter granted from the United Fraternity of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of England.
The petition to grant this was from a Sydney Lodge, Lodge Robert Burns No 817, English Constitution, now 21, dated 25 October, 1884. and endorsed by John Williams, District Grand Master of NSW. It is a fitting tribute that Lodge Pacific 298 holds a special Robbie Burns Night in January each year.
The link with Lodge Robert Burns was due to the first Worshipful Master of Lodge Tweed being Wor Bro William Collins, publican and licensee of the Junction Inn at North Tumbulgum, across the river from the current Tumbulgum Hotel, who was a member of Lodge Robert Burns.
Lodge Tweed met at the Junction Inn, North Tumbulgum, when the village was the main centre on the Tweed River. Roads were virtually non existent with the river being the main means of transport. By 1886, a hall was built out of flood reach, at the rear of the hotel, it was declared open on 9 November, 1886 by Bros French and Collins.
The Masonic Hall at Tumbulgum went on to be the social centre of the Tweed, hosting a great variety of functions.
“Tumbulgum will soon be able to boast of the largest public building on the Tweed; the Masonic Lodge is about to erect a hall 60×30 of weatherboards, to be all lined with spruce pine and finished properly. The hall will be nearly twice the size of the School of Arts in Murwillumbah which is only a shell.”
(Northern Star, Lismore NSW,
Wednesday January 6, 1886)
In 1888, all Lodges in NSW were amalgamated as the United Grand Lodges of NSW and Lodge Tweed was issued a new charter as The Tweed Lodge No 136, on June 24, 1888.
On Sunday, October 15, 1893, the hall was destroyed by fire. The only fittings in the hall were some forms belonging to the Lodge. All other furnishings had been removed in preparation for a relocation to Murwillumbah as the Lodge’s meeting place.
Inquiries after the fire resulted in the verdict:
“The hall was maliciously and feloniously destroyed by fire.”
(Brisbane Courier, Friday 3 November 1893)
Lodge meetings were then held in Murwillumbah, firstly in the Presbyterian Church and later the School of Arts. Due to membership difficulties, the Charter was surrendered from 1897 to 1901.
Alexander Eastaughffe operated the General Store in Murwillumbah and was the Worshipful Master of Lodge Tweed 136, from 1892–94 & 1897–98.
On re-granting the Charter, a Masonic Hall was erected in Condong Street, Murwillumbah, in 1909. Several of the foundation and subsequent members of Lodge Tweed 136, were residents on the lower Tweed.
- Alfred Green (Sub-collector of Customs)
- Alexander McIntyre (Engineer)
- Cyril Fanning (Carpenter)
- William McGregor (Pilot), all of Tweed Heads.
Several from the Cudgen area included:
- Leopold Herscher (Storekeeper)
- Otto Vetler (Publican)
- John McFee (Schoolmaster)
- Charles Ritchie (Farmer)
A very distant member was Alexander Hastings Gruer (Master Mariner) of Brisbane.
Members from the lower Tweed had considerable difficulty attending lodge. Travel was done mainly by boat as the roads were poor with three ferries to cross. Some rode horses or travelled in the luxury of a sulky. In most cases it meant two days to attend a meeting.
With Lodge Tweed’s relocation to Murwillumbah increasing the travel distance for those Masons and the interest of an increasing number of prospective Masons from the Lower Tweed, coupled with the growth of Tweed Heads, by 1911 moves were being made to establish a Lodge at Tweed Heads. Around 1912, Wor Bro George Harvey, a Murwillumbah jeweller, chaired discussions about the formation of a new lodge.
A meeting was held at the Tweed Heads Literary Institute, Stuart Street, Tweed Heads, opposite the current Primary School, on December 13, 1914. The meeting resulted in the petitioning for the granting of a Charter, by Lodge Tweed 136, for a new lodge. Of the 24 petitioners, 19 were Lodge Tweed members or former members.
Lodge Foundation (1910’s)
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 VW Bro Hamblin, DGIW, assisted by VW 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 Installation was attended by eleven officers, seven members and sixty visitors, which was a great start for the new lodge. 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 Foundation Officers
W Bro G T HARVEY
Bro E DUNCALF
W Bro C MORLEY
Bro J HUNTER
Bro G COLLIER
Bro W AYRE
Bro H W DUCAT
Bro J NORVILL
Bro R BARBER
Bro H SIM
Bro J GIBSON
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 a affiliated from Lodge Tweed. Bro Hair embarked from Sydney, on HMAT ‘The Star of Victoria’. Bro Hamilton-Smith paid the Supreme Sacrifice. Both Masons are remembered on the Honour Roll, recently relocated to the Twin Towns 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 Hattersley submitted plans. These were sent to Grand Lodge for approval. Subsequently Mr Hattersly’s tender of $1120 was accepted.
Lodge Pacific’s Temple in Boyd Street was consecrated on March 22, 1916 by RW Bro Wearne. The room was dedicated to Masonry, Charity and Benevolence. RW 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. RW Bro Wearne commended the brethren who had given donations and loans and those who had helped fundraise.
Although several blocks away from the main town centre, Boyd Street was an important thoroughfare in the mid 1910’s, with the NORCO butter factory at the southern end across from the river, (currently the site of the Holden Dealership), and at the northern end, Robert’s, later Bird’s store, (currently the site of ‘Stanley Court’ units) and the newly built Masonic Temple.
As indicated in the photo, the lodge building was approximately 1.5 metres off the ground with a landing at the central front door, leading to steps running northward. Quite a substantial building on the streetscape.
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.