Lodge Tweed (United) No. 136 History
Part 1 – Origins
1880’s – Tumbulgum
Lodge Tweed is the oldest lodge on the Tweed, it was consecrated on January 31, 1885 on a charter granted from the United Fraternity of Ancient Free and accepted Masons of England under a petition received from a Sydney Lodge (Lodge Robert Burns No. 817 E.C. Now (No. 21 U.G.L. Of NSW) dated October 25, 1884 and endorsed by John Williams, District Grand Master of NSW.
The Lodge was formed when Tumbulgum (the Junction) was the main meeting place in the district, roads were non existent and the river was the main means of transport. It was the meeting place for cedar getters and the early settlers.
The first W.M. was Wor. Bro. William Collins, publican and licensee of the Junction Inn, who was a member of Lodge Robert Burns. He later became licensee of Club House Hotel, Murwillumbah. Other officers were: S.W. Henry French (storekeeper), J.W. Alfred Green (customs officer), S.D. William Warner Julius (sugar manufacturer), J.D. Henry Robert Cazalar (sugar manufacturer). Treasurer Leopold Hirsohn (storekeeper), Secretary Robert Duncan McLennon (Clerk), I.G. Otto Vetter (publican) and 15 foundation members. The first meetings were held at William Collins Junction Inn (built by Capt. Logan) across the river at North Tumbulgum.
By 1886 a hall was being built out of flood reach on the hill behind the inn, and was declared open on the November 9 that year by Brothers French and Collins. The Lodge continued until the amalgamation of all Lodges in NSW as the U.G.L. Of NSW came into being in 1888.
The Tweed Lodge was issued charter as The Tweed Lodge No.136 on June 24, 1888 and the first meeting under that charter was held in the Masonic Hall, Tumbulgum on July 28. However, only after five years use, the hall was totally destroyed by fire (1893), and the Lodge was authorised to transfer its place of meetings to Murwillumbah.
With the railway coming to town, and talk of a bridge over the river, Murwillumbah was going ahead in leaps and bounds. So the Lodge held its meetings in the Murwillumbah School of Arts, however the lodge was struggling to exist and was forced to surrender its charter in 1897, but this was re-issued on October 3, 1901. Mainly due to the interest and agitation of V.Wor. Bro. Isaac Mcllraith (manager of the first butter factory).
Wor. Bro. Elijah was installed as W.M. in the Presbyterian Church, but because of the hard times no refreshments were served after the meetings until a suitable Lodge room could be found.
In July 1902 a building committee was formed consisting of Bro. Frost, Grime, Higgins, Sharp, Mcllraith, Solomons and Skinner and some time later a hall was erected in Condong Street, on land offered by Bro. Skinner. This hall was used until 1909 when a temple was erected on the same site. Bro. J. M. Holston donated all furniture needed.
By 1912 all debenture holders were paid off and the temple became virtually free of debt. However on nights of installations there was insufficient accommodation for proceedings, so banquets were held elsewhere.
Eventually in 1929 the supper room was extended to permit its use on installation and other special nights. Everything went smoothly for the next 25 years when disaster struck in the 1954 flood, the temple was washed away. The Lodge then met in the Anglican Parish Hall in Nullum Street and later in the Tweed River Agricultural Society’s pavilion at the showground.
The Murwillumbah 1954 Floods
The disastrous flood of 1954 washed the Murwillumbah Masonic building,
which had recently been re-stumped and renovated, off its foundations.
1960’s – The New Murwillumbah Masonic Centre
A building committee was again formed and land was purchased at the southern end of the showground opposite the old general cemetery. A tender was accepted from Hanna and Edmed for $18,438 to build the present temple and the foundation stone was laid by R. Wor. Bro. D. K. Lucas, chairman of the Masonic Hall Trust on June 4, 1960.
The new temple in Banner Street was opened by the then Grand Master of NSW Most Wor. Bro. Harry Richards Maas on October 8, 1960, the 75th anniversary of the founding of Masonry on the Tweed. Because of the destruction of two temples, there are virtually no written records, the register of members being the only original documents. I doubt if any other Lodge has met under so many different locations and circumstances.
In 1892 the secretary wrote to the Grand Lodge of England for any information regarding the formation of the Lodge at Tumbulgum. This was when information was obtained of its formation and of meetings held at the Junction Hotel.
A total of 779 brethren have passed through the books, and it is interesting to note it was not until 1966 that the Lodge failed to initiate at least one new member in each year. Lodges Pacific 298 (Tweed Heads), Wollumbin 446, Uki 497, Dawn 511 (Tweed Heads), Twin Towns Daylight 981 all owe their existence in someway to Lodge Tweed.
Many distinguished people from all walks of life have passed through the Lodge over the years —a Mayor of Brisbane (Bro. William Galloway) two mayors of Murwillumbah (Bro. Peter Street and Wor. Bro. Isaac MclIlraith) two Members of Parliament (Bro.Fred Stewart and Bro. A.E. Budd) and Bro. E.F. Nicklin, father of a former premier of Qld. The longest serving members of Lodge Tweed have been Bro. A. A. Budd (64 years), Bro. L.D. Plumb (62 years), Bro.C. Daniel (51 years).
1980’s – Lodge Tweed Centenary
The centenary of Lodge Tweed was celebrated in 1984 under Past Master, Wor. Bro. George King, highlights of which included a magnificent debutante ball, a visit by Most Wor. Bro. Harold Coates, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of NSW, who was welcomed at a civic reception by Tweed Shire Council.
1985 Lodge Tweed Centenary Masonic Ball
Lodge Tweed No. 136 Historical Newspaper Articles
1990’s – George King and Camp Quality
The Masonic Welfare Association of Lodges 66 (Mullumbimby to the border) under the leadership of Wor.Bro George King in 1992 started to raise many thousands of dollars to host Camp Quality, which in 1994 was held at the Smokehouse Complex in South Tweed.
Originally Written by: Ron Johansen
Tales of our Times No. 143
Tweed Valley Times (March 1994)