Coolangatta Masonic Temple
Lodge Coolangatta No. 298 (UGLQ)
Consecrated in 1922
A Short History of the Coolangatta Masonic Lodge
(1922 – 1972)
In The Beginning
Diligent search and inquiry has failed to bring to light information of any moves at the local level for the formation of a Lodge at Coolangatta, except a reference in the minutes of Southport Lodge in 1922 that this lodge was in favour of a Lodge being established at Coolangatta.
It is indeed unfortunate that by December 1971 not one of our Foundation Members or early initiates or affiliates was still living.
So we have had to turn to the Minutes for information of-events in the early history of Coolangatta Lodge. In this regard, references to many matters well known at that time are passed over briefly in the records, and we can only conjecture what the full story might be.
Wor. Bro. R.C. GRAHAM
Wor. Bro. A.E. POWELL
Bro. A. CASEY
Bro. C. DE JERSEY
Bro. E. BALL
Wor. Bro. E. P. MOORE
Bro. T. N. MUSTCHIN
W. Bro. T. C. POPPITT
Bro. W. JOHNSON
Bro. H. E. TWIGG
Bro. L. RICKETTS
Bro. J. ASH
Bro. G. SHAMBROOK
Bro. J. T. MATTERS
Bro. J. RIDDELL
Bro. S. MAUNSALL
Bro. F. B. MARSHALL
Bro. H. G. THROWER
Bro. F. FOSTER
Bro. T. BICK
Bro. G. FABIAN
Bro. T. DUNCALF
1920’s – This We Do Know
On SATURDAY, 18th NOVEMBER 1922 in the Coolangatta Town Hall, Most Worshipful Bro. Charles Stumm, K.C., then Grand Master, consecrated Coolangatta Lodge according to Ancient Custom. Following this ceremony, Rt. Wor. Bro. G. Weatherlake, Senior Grand Warden, installed Wor. Bro. R. C. Graham as Foundation Master. Other Officers, together with Foundation Members are shown on the reproduction of the Consecration Card seen below.
Records show that a total of eighteen Lodges from many places in Queensland and northern New South Wales sent delegations. Even a Lodge from London was represented among the visitors. At that meeting it is recorded that William Lockwood (Joining Brother) as well as Samuel Hislop and Raymond Teske had applied for membership. These were duly balloted for at the next meeting, and the latter two became our earliest initiates.
As early as April 1923 the inconvenience of holding meetings in a Town Hall was discussed, and it is on record that the first moves were made to procure a suitable piece of land where on to build a Temple as soon as practicable. For this purpose the W.M., I.P.M. and Secretary were instructed to act towards this end, and by August of the same year a decision was made to purchase a piece of land in Tweed Street. This land, having an area of 30 perches was bought for Thirty Pounds, a considerable price for those days. But by May 1924, the members, for reasons unstated, sold this land.
References in minutes of Meetings from the beginning had been made to two matters that had cropped up on a number of occasions. These were the date of Installation and as to whether the Lodge should be “wet” or “dry.” The latter was resolved first, the decision being “dry.” Now the Installation was changed to the month of September.
At this time also, it seems certain that financial worries beset the Lodge, and every occasion to practice economy was taken. Sums of Seven Shillings and six pence for refreshments and Four Shillings for cordials were the average expenditure for this part of the Meeting. As well, the matter of the unsuitability of the Town Hall had not been forgotten, and it was no surprise to read that in August 1924 it was resolved that future meetings should be held in the Methodist Church. With the permission of this body, a trapdoor was cut in the floor of the Church and from a tiny room built on the ground below, furniture was raised and lowered every meeting by members dressed for the meeting. As well, heavy church seats had to be both stacked around the walls to clear a space for the Lodge, and replaced again that night by our brethren. The Town Hall must have indeed been unsuitable, if this was preferred. It was at this period of our history that we read that it was agreed that “Meetings in future will be held on the First Thursday after the Full Moon at 7.00 p.m.” Both the foregoing came into operation in October 1924 — “to the greater comfort of the brethren” as is recorded in the Minutes.
A change of Secretary is noted in 1924, the original Bro. Mustchin being replaced by Bro. Hislop. The latter continued in this office until 1927, when he was elected as Junior Warden. The new Secretary then elected was Bro. Sackett.
Meetings were now to proceed without much of interest to relate, although a decline in Degree Work was evident from the early closing of Lodge on many occasions.
Here, it is with regret that we find that the Minute Book covering the period April 1929 to March 1937 cannot be found any where. What happened to it is not known. Thus a considerable part of our History is forever lost.
The next move of consequence is noted in Minutes of October 1937, where mention is made of the receipt of Plans from Grand Lodge for a “Country Temple.” From this we deduce that the matter of a Lodge building of our own had not been forgotten. At the same meeting members were told of a reply from the Railway Department, accepting our tender of One Hundred and Twenty-Five Pounds for a piece of land, described as “Resub 1, Sub. 2, Allotment 3, Section 19, Town of Coolangatta.” This land has been identified as the piece upon which our present Temple stands.
At once a Building Committee was formed consisting of V. Wor. Bro. L. Ricketts, Wor. Bro. G. Shambrook, Wor. Bro. Brotherton and the W.M., Wor. Bro. F. Neilson, as well as Bro. Girvan and the Secretary, Wor. Bro. S. Hislop.
A note in the minutes of December 1937, referring to a letter from Grand Lodge is intriguing. Here a reference is made to “dual control” and advising our Lodge against such a proposition. It is thought that it could refer to a proposal by the Order of the Eastern Star that they assist financially with the raising of funds for a Temple, with the agreement that they share ownership.
With the careful husbanding of funds the position was reached that seemed to warrant a start to a Temple and Guarantors were sought from amongst Members, but with the intervention of World War II the scheme was shelved. Indeed with so many of our members in the Forces, the Lodge was hard put to remain active, and Dues fell off considerably, serving members of the Forces being exempt from payment of Dues.
Masonic Installation — Coolangatta Lodge
September 23, 1930
The installation of Bro. Albert Boetteher as Master of Coolangatta Lodge was performed by the retiring Master, Wor. Bro. H Brotherton on Saturday night, the ceremony being attended by a distinguished company of Grand Lodge Officers of Queensland. These included Most Wor. Bro. W. H. Green, Grand Master, who was accompanied by Right Wor. Bros. A. R. Neilson (S.G.W.), W. B. Darker (J.G.W.), and A. J. Hardy (G.D. of C.) and Wor. Bros. J. A. Boden and P. C. Sapsford (G.D.’s), F. N. Walker (G.S.B.) and G. S. Parker (G.H.)
The following officers for 1930-31 were duly invested by Wor. Bro. A. Boettcher (W.M.): Bro. L. Peak (S.W.), Bro. J. Brown (J.W.), Wor. Bro. W. Johnson (Chaplain), Bro. T. Harris (Treasurer), Wor. Bro. G. W. Sackett (Secretary), Wor. Bro. L. Ricketts (D. of C.), Bros A. E. Page (S.D.), Carlin (J.D.), H. E. A. Stanford (I.G.), W. Davies, T. M. May, and T. A. Graham (Stewards) and Wor. Bro. C. Lewis (Tyler).
Wor. Bro. H. Brotherton was the recipient of a P.M.’s jewel presented by the Most Wor. the Grand Master, and Wor. Bro. Sackett was presented with a secretary’s gavel by Wor. Bro. Brotherton to mark his fourth term of office as honorary secretary.
An adjournment was made to “St.Leonard’s”, the residence of Bro. L. Peak, where a banquet, was served.
The Tweed Daily, Murwillumbah.
However in November 1943, believing that the end of the conflict was in sight, Grand Lodge was again consulted regarding the erection of a building containing Flats on the lower floor and a Temple above. In their reply, Grand Lodge did not appear impressed, but invited the Lodge to prepare Sketch Plans and submit same to them for consideration. To add to the problems of the Lodge, the Methodist Church, needing its single building for its own purposes, urged that we vacate their premises at the earliest date convenient, but, placed no urgency on their request. No doubt this acted as a spur to members, for we find a note of urgency in records of discussions regarding “our Temple” as it was now referred to in meetings.
From now on the dream of a Temple of our own became a task to be attacked with vigour and determination. This dream was quite soon to become a reality. Indeed the story of Coolangatta Lodge until 1949 was the struggle to have our own home. It might also be said that paying for it was another task until the debt was cleared in 1969.
In rapid succession, action to have a Building Committee draw plans; to have guarantors offer themselves to cover the proposed indebtedness; and to find a building which we could have removed and then erected on our land, became the target for the Lodge. No doubt the knowledge that many buildings no longer needed by the Defence Department were being offered at Auction at most reasonable prices seemed the answer to our needs. Accordingly, in October 1947 Rt. Wor. Bro. Ricketts and Wor. Bro. Girvan were commissioned to attend an Auction at Gatton, at which two large huts situated on Kirra Beach were to be offered to the public.
To the delight of all, they returned with the good news that they had been successful in securing these buildings for the reasonable figure of $800. At once, members who could do so, were urged to make interest-free loans to the Lodge, so that, with Grand Lodge help, the venture could be begun without any further delay. Tenders were called for the sectioning, removal and re-erection of the huts, and a brother mason — Bro.Vickers — was the successful tenderer.
However, our troubles were not over, as, after getting the buildings to the site, the tenderer withdrew from the contract. It was left to V. Wor. Bro. Ricketts, Wor. Bro. Girvan and a number of other keen brethren to take up the task. So the erection was completed, many modifications being required due to the very nature of the materials found in the purchased buildings. The painting and furnishing of the Temple was a task of some magnitude, and were member, among others, the devotion and effort of Bros. Alf Lewis and Bro. Leo Brett, without whose efforts the painting would never have been completed on time. It is said that they completed painting only hours (three) before the time of DEDICATION — 3.00p.m. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8th, 1949. The truly magnificent efforts of this band of stalwarts cannot be too highly commended, and it is unfortunate that their Trojan efforts were not fully recorded, even if they were at the time, acknowledged and appreciated. For any omissions we apologise.
So, at 3.00 p.m., Most Wor. Bro. Eustace Jones, assisted by Grand Officers, performed the ceremony of Dedication almost twenty-seven years after the Consecration of the Lodge. At 7.00 p.m. on the same afternoon, a team of Past Masters of the Lodge, led by V. Wor. Bro. W. (Bill) Johnson, installed Bro. Claude Jarvis into the Chair of K.S.
1950’s – 1970’s
In 1950, a move was made by a group of brethren to have a Daughter Lodge formed in Coolangatta. This was initiated as a consequence of a number of members believing that their progress towards the Chair of K.S. was unduly slow. The matter was resolved in November 1950, when the Master, Wor. Bro. Dee had a Special Meeting convened to consider the move. The result was that a clear majority considered that the proposition was not in the best interests of Masonry in the area, and no more was heard of this design.
This has been the story of Coolangatta Lodge to 1949, and this “temporary”. building we erected has become a more “permanent” home than we intended or hoped. We have appreciated it nevertheless, even if paying it off has proved somewhat onerous. We are proud to say that all repayments to Grand Lodge were honoured on time and we express appreciation of the financial assistance they were pleased to make available to us. Succeeding Masters have attended to the maintenance and made improvements, assisted, of course, by their Officers and other brethren.
For the reason stated earlier, it has been difficult to obtain much information, other than that contained in the minutes, to trace our progress. We hope that we have been accurate in what we have presented.
But we can now add various photographs and Installation Cards that have been offered to us. These, we hope, may recall to the reader anecdotes and remembrances of bygone days.
And finally, Brethren, we wish to place on record some thoughts as we enter the second half century of our existence. We share with our friends across the border the claim to be the most easterly Lodges in Australia, while we ourselves believe that we are the most southerly in the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland.
Our association with Lodges Dawn and Pacific has been harmonious and our work in the cause of Masonry Universal has been rewarding. Our Annual Masonic Ball is a highlight of the social life of the Twin Towns, and of this we are justly proud.
We are grateful for the opportunity to extend the Right Hand of Fellowship to so many Masons from such a number of Lodges and Constitutions — and even lands across the sea. It has been our privilege to make most welcome hundreds of Masons who each year make this area their holiday venue. On their part they have regaled us with accounts of Masonry in many places spread throughout the World.
Coolangatta Lodge will always be honoured to receive our Visitors.
Some Pen Pictures
To single out any Brethren for special mention can be fraught with the danger that one has not completely covered the question. But no-one will cavill with a mention of V. Wor. Bro. “Bill” Johnson. He was, without a doubt, our “Grand Old Man.” As foundation Senior Deacon he gave strength to the infant Lodge, and it was no surprise that he was elected Master in 1925. From that time onward until his death in 1956 he was a legend amongst Masons in the Twin Towns. His years of service as Tyler alone would have given him a special place in our memories, but his service as “backstop” was a comfort to many a Master, as it was taken for granted that he could fill any gap in any degree with distinction if required. His pipe was his ever present badge and it was not uncommon for the aroma of his favourite “weed” to waft through the portal. His wise counsel was sought by many a Master and Officer who called on his judgment in matters Masonic. Our regret is that he did not live long enough to enjoy more years in the chair that was presented to him on his eightieth birthday.
In another way we specially remember Rt. Wor. Bro. Len Ricketts. He was the Lodge’s Foundation Inner Guard and followed Old Bill in to the Chair. A perfectionist at all times, he made a name for himself as a ritualist par excellence. We well remember his dignity and sense of perfect timing in Floor Work, and many a Master that followed him valued his help and example. It is in connection with the erection of our Temple that his devotion was amply illustrated. To him a difficulty was but a hurdle to be surmounted, and he was to be seen on the site helping and directing from early morn till dark on numerous occasions. His loss to us in 1965 was mourned by all.
If we can add another, Rt. Wor. Bro. Shambrook, the triology is complete. “Silver” as he became affectionately known in later years, was the Foundation Organist and followed Len Ricketts into the Chair in 1927. It is worthy of note that all three, Old Bill, Len and George served second terms in the Chair during those difficult War Years referred to previously. However Rt. Wor. Bro. Shambrook’s big smile and unfailing good humour gave heart to many an officer who, when beset with problems, talked them out with George, and departed with renewed hope, for “Silver” could ever see a brighter side. His work for the Lodge in Degrees gave us a fine example. He is well remembered as Scribe E. of Pt. Danger R.A.C. Over many years. He went to a well earned rest in April, 1967.
History originally written by brethren of Lodge Coolangatta No. 298 (UGLQ)
for the Golden Jubilee Celebration Booklet (1972).
Supplied by Rt.Wor.Bro Ross Johnson (Lodge Pacific No. 298)
Golden Jubilee – Office Bearers, 1972-73
Wor. Bro. B. W. HALSTEAD
Wor. Bro. K. TOFT
Bro. C. MCMILLAN
V.Wor. Bro. H. R. LANE
V.Wor. Bro. J. C. ANDERSEN
V.Wor. Bro. C. A. BARRETT
V.Wor. Bro. M. SCOTT
Wor. Bro. G. T. LAUDER
Bro. J. BOWTHORPE
Wor. Bro. W. P. BARNAART
Bro. W. SULLIVAN
Bro. G. PIOCH
Rt.Wor. Bro. E. H. TAYLOR
Bro. R. ORCHARD
Bro. F. MILLS
Bro. L. SHUGG
Bro. C. SHUGG
Bro. R. KENNEDY
Bro. A. PETERS
Bro. A. G. ARCHER
Bro. R. MILLS