About Us & Our Masonic Lodge History 1

Masonic Lodge History

Our masonic lodge history is prior to our Lodge becoming Lodge St. James (Number 45) it was known as Lodge St James (Number 574) Scottish Constitution. This Freemasons Lodge was originally held in Eaton’s Hotel in Muswellbrook in 1868 prior to it moving to Wallsend, near Newcastle in 1874.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser reported on the opening the Lodge in Muswellbrook in 1868, which was the beginning of our Masonic Lodge History. The exact paper can be viewed here where they reported:

Our Masonic Lodge History: Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 1868 Opening of Lodge St. James


Opening of St. JAMES’S MASONIC LODGE – On Wednesday, the 17th inst, the Masonic Lodge of St James, under Scottish Constitution, was duly opened and inaugurated bv Geo. O. La Roche, Esq., R.W.M. of St.  Andrews Lodge, SC., Singleton, who came, with his officers to Muswellbrook specially for that purpose, under  a dispensation from the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for New South Wales. The ceremony of opening the lodge and installing its officers took place at HighTwelve, according to ancient usage. Mr. Chittenden, organist of St Andrew’s Lodge, Singleton, kindly pre-presided at the harmonium. The following officers were installed :-Mr. A. C. Quaife, as R.W.M, Mr. George  Thompson, as W.S.W.; Mr. Jos. Forster, as W.J.W.; Mr.B. A. Nardin, as Treasurer; Mr. W. Denshire, Secretary; Mr. J. Wigram, a- S.D.; Mr. W Eaton, as J.D.; andMr. C. Cook, as I.G. After the ceremony the brethren present marched in regalia to the Scots Church, where the Rev. Mr. Ross preached an eloquent and Impressive sermon, admirably suited to the occasion. The text was “Behold how good a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” At the close of the service the brethren marched back to the lodge-room, at Eaton’sHotel. In the evening a public dinner was held in host Eaton’s large room, which was very tastefully decorated with flowers and evergreens. Between forty and fifty gentlemen sat down-the brethren of the craft wearing their regalia. The chair was occupied by R.W.M. A. CQuaife, of St. James’s Lodge ; upon his right sat Mr.Geo. 0. La Roche, R.W.M. St. Andrew’s Lodge, S.C.,Singleton ; and upon the left Mr. T. Evans, W.M., Lodgeof Hope, B.C., Murrurundi. The vice-chair was occupiedby the W.S.W. St. James’s Lodge. The dinner, which was a most sumptuous one, was done ample justice to by the company, and the several toasts were drunk with all the honours usual upon such occasions. We are sorry we cannot give a report of the speeches, no reporter having been present; suffice it to say that the usual Masonic and other toasts were given and responded to in due form by various gentlemen present.-We noticedat the table among the visitors A. Bell, Esq., M.P. ;Francis White, Esq , J P. ; F. W. Thrum, Esq , J.P.;and various other gentlemen of note. And at half-past nine the company separated, after having spent a very pleasant evening. We may mention that the balcony infront of the lodge room was decorated most tastefully with evergreens and flags, and a large motto with the words “Success to St. James’s Lodge,” beautifully worked in leaves upon calico, was extended over the verandah beneath the balcony. This motto was worked by some ladies, who are ever foremost in assisting in any good undertaking. We carry out the tenor of the motto, and wish ” Success to St. James’s Lodge,” which we trust will, now that it has started, go on and prosper, and become firmly fixed, and which we trust and believe will prove a boon to the district, by uniting many in the bonds of mutual love, peace, and harmony.

MUSCLE BROOK. (1868, June 23). The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893), p. 3. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18733267

Johnson’s Hotel was first meeting place in Wallsend for Lodge St. James 574 met which later became the Terminus Hotel. In 1883 the location was changed again to the Protestant Hall (later called the Mechanic’s Institute) until 1902. The meeting location was then changed to the Trotter’s Hotel which was subsequently rebuilt and is now the Colliery Inn which is still there today just down the road from our current Masonic Hall.

James Fletcher a Past Master and a key individual in our Masonic Lodge history

James Fletcher a Past Master and a key individual in our Masonic Lodg history. Image courtesy of the University of Newcastle

The image above is a bust of James Fletcher, who was the Master of Lodge St. James (Number 574) in 1880 who has a multitude of streets, buildings, a hospital and a suburb named after him.

The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales was formed in 1888. When this occurred the Lodge became Lodge St James (Number 45) New South Wales Constitution.

Our Lodge continued to flourish, so in 1902 the “Empire House” in Metcalf St. Wallsend, near Newcastle, was purchased, quickly renovated prior to its dedication & consecration in December that year. This building was used for many years.

The Lodge’s numbers continued to swell despite other Masonic Lodges being formed. Eventually it was obvious that a larger building was required. Money was raised by the Lodge, the old building was demolished prior to a new building being raised on the same site. The other surrounding Lodges were extremely helpful and some provided free use of their own Lodge premises.

The magnificent new Lodge rooms were consecrated and dedicated in Metcalf St.on 20th March 1924 with 190 members and 300 visitors present. The building is still being used today, no doubt aided by the constant care and maintenance by a small group of dedicated Lodge members. Our Masonic Hall & associated rooms are still arguably the best or best kept in the region.

The Masonic Hall has been continually improved and continually meets United Grand Lodge of NSW & ACT requirements.

The Pride of Lodge St. James

Our Masonic Lodge prides ourselves on accuracy in regards to ceremonial procedures, protocols and philosophy.

It is a tradition feature of our Lodge to hold monthly meetings & weekly practice and/or management meetings.

Our monthly Lodge meetings tyle at 7pm, Tuesday night at the Wallsend Masonic Centre.

The information on our Masonic Lodge history is taken from the content created on our old Lodge St. James website. We acknowledge the hard work of our fellow Masons in producing it.

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One thought on “About Us & Our Masonic Lodge History

  • chadwatson688

    Good read and great black and white photo of (what I choose to imagine is) the first Master Masons motorcycle group, posing on their bikes outside the first meeting place for Lodge St. James…a pub…I love it!