The First 100 Years

Brethren being Commercial Travellers and finding it difficult to associate themselves with Lodges which met during the week gathered together with the intention of forming a Saturday Lodge. We must remember that company representatives or commercial travellers as they were called in those early days did not have the benefit of company cars and would leave home on Monday morning and not return until Friday, and so it was that under the sponsorship of Elkington Lodge, No. 1016 the Founders of this Lodge met; the first Saturday Lodge to be formed.

The Masonic Temple was then in New Street and was bounded by Pinfold Street and Ethel Street. The external facade is very similar in appearance today. On the first floor of the Temple at the corner of Pinfold Street a large curved window can be observed. This was the snooker room and Brethren being Council members could easily be summoned from the Town Hall should their presence be required. It was here that on Saturday 4th February 1899 the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire met to consecrate Loyal Travellers Lodge, No. 2733.

It was thirteen years since the last consecration had taken place, that of the Swan of Avon Lodge, No. 2133, and naturally there was a large attendance of five hundred and twenty Brethren to witness the proceedings. Owing to the unavoidable absence of Lord Leigh, the Provincial Grand Master, The Very Worshipful Brother Sir Edward Letchworth, Grand Secretary, entered the room with other Grand Officers - opened and consecrated the Lodge in due form assisted by Worshipful Brother George Beech, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, and Officers of Provincial Grand Lodge.1899 RA Matthews.jpg

Worshipful Brother Richard Alfred Matthews Worshipful Master Designate, was duly installed as Worshipful Master. On this occasion there were thirteen propositions for initiation and five joining members. After the Lodge was closed the Brethren dined in style at the Grand Hotel. The charity box contained the sum of £4.

Our early Brethren were clearly determined that their new Lodge should get off to a good start, and at the first meeting after the consecration, no fewer than thirteen gentlemen were proposed into Freemasonry. This was followed by an emergency Lodge meeting on the 18 March 1899 when four gentlemen, having been elected at the previous regular Lodge meeting and being in attendance, were initiated into Freemasonry and so the pattern was set. At the fourth regular meeting on 7th October 1899 there were five Passings and four Initiations. In December of that year after five raisings, the Lodge was called off and after refreshment there were three further Passings. Unfortunately the times of opening and closing were not recorded.

Undoubtedly at this time the major topic of conversation at the festive board would have been the Boer War; particularly the siege of Mafeking which lasted for seven months. Condolences were passed to Bro. Woolcot at the March meeting on the death of his son whilst on active service. At the same 1900 ES Sumner.jpgmeeting five gentlemen were initiated, three names to mention are Teasdale, Wetton and Brown who later became Masters of the Lodge and gave long and enthusiastic support.typhoo 3.jpg (thumbnail)

At the February meeting in 1900 Worshipful Brother Edward Smith Sumner affectionately known as “Pa” Sumner was installed as Worshipful Master. He was a commercial traveller in the tea trade who founded a tea merchants company called Typhoo which became known world-wide and was sold in 1970.

It is amazing how a new Lodge could find so much money for the various charities. The monthly charity-box contained an average of about £1.50p. Apart from the usual donations, there were donations to the Boys Orphanage Wolverhampton, Commercial Travellers Schools, Birmingham Itinerant Fund, the Birmingham Mail Fund and the Free Home for the Dying, totalling around £200.

The Senior Warden’s chair was endowed for the benefit of the Boys Masonic Institution at a cost of fifty guineas. Later in 1901 the Junior Warden’s chair was endowed for ten guineas in favour of the Girls Masonic School.

In these early years, beside the usual Past Master’s jewel the Lodge was very keen to present jewels to the Director of Ceremonies, the Retiring Secretary and Organist each at a cost of 5 guineas. I wonder where they are today. In February 1901 a letter was sent to the Grand Master from the lodge expressing their deep regret at the loss to the country sustained by the death of her most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria and their sincere sympathy with his most Excellent Majesty King EdwardVII Most Worshipful Grand Master and his Gracious Consort Queen Alexandra in their personal distress.

Instead of the usual closing hymn Worshipful Brother A.E. Mathews sang in capital style 'God Save The King'. On account of Queen Victoria’s funeral no banquet took place and the Brethren retired touched by the dignity of the meeting.

On Saturday 5th November 1902 the first ladies night was held and Worshipful Brother Isaiah Guy thanked all the Brethren for their support, 81 ladies and brethren attended under the lodge banner, the first mention record of the banner. It was at this meeting the initiation fee was increased from three to eight guineas. Four guineas for a joining member and 1 guinea for country members and a dining fee of £0.6s.6d. (32.5p)

Gifts over the next months were presented by various members in the form of a charity box, gauntlets for the Master and Wardens, a copper plate for the printing of summonses and the Lodge charter in the form of a scroll; the ballot box was not presented until 1903 by the senior steward Brother Barton who later became Master in 1910. Worshipful Brother Hans Graff, a German by birth, a very energetic Freemason and a founder member, was appointed Director of Ceremonies at the consecration and remained in that office until his installation in 1904. A Brother who appeared to take the Lodge in his charge, a strong personality and a friend of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Worshipful Brother George Beech, he instigated and founded the Lodge of Instruction in 1904. The first meeting was held at Brother Rodway’s café in the Horsefair on the 9th September 1904 where the meetings were held for many years, but alas in 1907 after missing 3 meetings a letter of resignation was received from Hans Graff and accepted with regret.

With ever increasing numbers the Lodge was unable to promote members to office and in September 1907 our first daughter Lodge Concord No.3239 was consecrated; the first Master & Founder member was Worshipful Brother Edward Smith Sumner.Holte Fleet Hotel.jpg

Our earlier Brethren enjoyed and entertained the Ladies to its annual summer picnic, this would take the form of a trip to Holte Fleet & Ombersley under the direction of the Worshipful Master. Brethren and guests travelled by train from New Street station, Birmingham, to Worcester then took the steamer from Worcester Bridge had a hot lunch (salmon, Iamb, duck, chicken etc.) and tea at the Holte Fleet Hotel. Tickets were priced at £0.l0s.6d inclusive (52.5p).

1907 was the year our first Grand Officer was initiated. Mr. E.C. Newman was a Pharmacist at the chemist shop on the corner of Bennetts Hill and it was here he noticed with some interest gentlemen with dignity entering the building opposite. Making enquiries as to what they were doing and being informed of the basic principles he asked if he could join. Not having a Masonic reference he was invited to attend an Officers meeting, the outcome was an asset for many years in the Lodge being Almoner for 21 years and Preceptor.

At the Lodge Meeting on Saturday 21st January 1909 there was a ballot for one Percy David aged thirty six years, a Merchant Service Captain. At previous meetings there had also been a Solicitor, a Manufacturer, a Jeweller, a Linen Buyer, a Carpet Buyer and a Master Plumber, however the majority were Commercial Travellers. There was also a Metal Merchant, School Master and an Ironmonger.

The Lodge continued in strength but the minutes were brief.

The Great War 1914 - 1918 made little difference to Lodge procedures except that banquets were ordered to be modest. It was inevitable that resignations were received from Brethren called to active service, but they were advised by Brother Secretary that their resignations were accepted with great regret. He informed them that should circumstances permit on rejoining the Lodge at a later period everything would be done to reinstate them as early as possible to their present position in the Lodge whilst the rejoining fee be of a mere nominal nature. Such was the speed that our Brethren were enlisted for war service it was not uncommon for wives to advise the Secretary of a brother’s absence.

Quote from a minute recorded Saturday November 6th 1915, “Mrs Marson wrote saying that her husband Brother H.W. Marson had enlisted in His Majesty’s army and would therefore be unable to attend Lodge for the present, but hoped when the war was over to be in his place again”. In spite of all the turmoil a membership of over seventy was maintained. The Great War ended and an armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th month in the year 1918. Nothing special was recorded in the minutes other than a special prayer of thanksgiving by Brother Chaplain Wor. Bro. E.J. Collins who had been the very first Immediate Past Master of the lodge at its consecration. The country began to get back to normal. After Lodge meetings the festive board was re-introduced and Ladies Nights followed the first meeting in December.

In 1927 the Temple in New Street was sold and the Lodge moved into new premises in Broad Street called the “Peace Memorial Temple” in memory of all the Brethren who gave their lives in the Great War and the hope for everlasting peace, a new home for 102 subscribing members.

At the April Officer’s meeting it was discussed as to which new candidates should be admitted for the year 1928. It was decided that three candidates only were to be taken for the coming session. These were to be balloted for. The proposer’s name would go into the ballot box and those successful would be sent nomination forms. No forms would be sent out to unsuccessful candidates

Since the Lodge consecration there had been eight meetings per year but it was proposed and approved that the May meeting would be discontinued from February 1931 and  remained at seven until 2013.

Edgbaston Assembly Rooms, Francis Road, Birmingham.jpgThe new Temple in Broad Street soon became inadequate with the consecration of many new Lodges. In 1939 with the outbreak of World War II the building was compulsory purchased for use by the newly formed Ministry of Food. This gave the Province the opportunity to purchase the Edgbaston Assembly Rooms in Hagley Road. The Lodge moved in January 1940. Lodge meetings had to adapt to changing circumstances. Evening dress was exchanged for morning dress or uniforms. Owing to the blackout restrictions the time of meetings were varied according to the time of year commencing as early as 11.30am allowing Brethren to be home before dark and be with their families.

In 1944 Worshipful Brother W.E. Smith presented a petition praying for permission to form a new Lodge and be supported by our own Lodge which was carried unanimously. On October 30th of the same year St. Christopher’s Lodge, No.5999 was consecrated. Thirteen out of sixteen Founders were members of Loyal Travellers. As the end of the war was imminent, blackout was lifted and the Lodge returned to its normal meeting dates as they are today. Previously the Lodge had met in December and January. Now the Lodge also met in September and May.

Our Lodge continued to strengthen and remained very busy on Masonic business; indeed on several occasions the candidates list was closed.

1953. The Worshipful Master R.T. Parkes reintroduced the wearing of dinner dress and Worshipful Brother E.C. Newman retired as Almoner after twenty one years of faithful service.

1959 Diamond Jubilee. Yet again our Temple in Francis Roadproved inadequate and in October 1971 our Master Bro. N.C. Stephenson opened the Lodge in the new Provincial Temple at Clarendon Road, Edgbaston. Work began on this site in 1968 by Elvins & Sons Ltd, the company which had built the Broad Street Temple in the mid nineteen-twenties.

The Pro. Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother, The Rt. Hon. The Earl Cadogan dedicated the new Masonic Temple, Clarendon Road, Edgbaston on 1st December 1971. Due to alterations to the road system this was amended to Stirling Road as it is today. Under the guidance of Worshipful Brother Hubert Banner-Adkins Provincial Grand Secretary, the Loyal Travellers Chapter No.2733 was consecrated by the Grand Superintendent Excellent Companion J.R. Napier affectionately known as “Jock”. In 1974, at the next regular meeting the Lodge Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Brian Harold Holdsworth and Worshipful Brother Albert William Okey were exalted into the Holy Royal Arch.

It was in October 1979 that our good friend Worshipful Brother H.E. Worrall passed to the Grand Lodge above. Wor. Bro. “Bert” had given devoted continuous service to 34 Masters as Secretary and 36 years as Ladies Night Secretary. He was not a Past Master of this Lodge but became a founder of St Christopher’s Lodge, No.5999 in November 1944 becoming Master in 1946 and afterwards serving as Secretary.

Not only will Wor. Bro. Banner-Adkins PAGDC be remembered for his work as Provincial Secretary from 1981- 1987 but also his founding and chairing of the "Twenty Group of Lodges", his outstanding achievement in organising his trips abroad to America and the Far Eastern countries where Warwickshire Masons met their Brethren in distant lands and enjoyed the privilege of attending Lodges whilst the ladies were entertained in turn by their ladies, and not forgetting his famous cheese & wine parties all in the cause of raising funds for our New Temple at Stirling Road.

The Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother, The Right Reverend Vernon S. Nicholls graced our Installation in 1986 and to the surprise of all present appointed Worshipful Brother Harold Holdsworth to the rank of P.Prov.S.G.W. for his dedication to Masonry in general and being Chaplain for 23 years (remaining in this office for a further 6 years before retiring due to ill health) and further appointed Worshipful Brother H.W.G. Mills to P.Prov.S.G.W. stating that his 21 years service as Almoner was also the mark of a dedicated Mason.

In 1988 the Provincial Grand Master desirous of recognising faithful service to Masonry and as a reward to those Brethren who were not privileged with Grand Rank introduced the Provincial Grand Master's Certificate of Merit and at the Provincial Meeting in the Town Hall Worshipful Brother Harold Holdsworth was the first ever to receive this honour followed closely by his longstanding friend Wor. Bro. Dennis G. Vaughan. Again in October of the same year the Provincial Grand Master R.W. Bro. Vernon Nicholls presented his 50 year certificate in Open Lodge to Wor. Bro. Harold Holdsworth. Three new gavels for use by the Master & Wardens were accepted by the Worshipful Master on behalf of the Lodge from Mrs. Dorothy Holdsworth to mark this special occasion.

On the 6th October 1990 the Worshipful Master Wor. Bro. Kenneth White had great pleasure in welcoming the Provincial Grand Master Rt. Rev. Vernon S. Nicholls together with every acting Provincial Officer to dedicate the new Loyal Travellers banner. The original banner had fallen into disrepair through old age and constant use and the brethren of the Lodge contributed towards a replacement. The dedication ceremony was made all the more impressive because of the magnificent turnout and the splendour of the occasion beautifully completed by the benediction given by Canon K.L. Stock Prov. G. Chaplain.

The Lodge continued to prosper with a steady stream of candidates over the next few years. The standards of ritual remained high due in no doubt to the influence of the Lodge of Instruction. This was first started by Wor. Bro. Hans Graf who took it forward until 1907. It then became the responsibility of the acting Worshipful Master. Later two Past Masters took control. It was not until 1944 that we saw our first Preceptor and here follows a list of all of those brethren to whom we owe so much.

PRECEPTOR                                     LOI SECRETARY

E.C. Newman 1944-48                      C.Bloore 1960-68

G.H. Thompson 1948-52                   G. Twamley 1968-70

RE. Rowley 1952-58                         J. Mills 1970-80

S. Rowe 1958-67                              A.A. CoIley 1980-83

H.W.G. Mills 1967-74                        D.F. Macey 83-89

A.W. Day 1974-78                             A. Smith 1989-91

R.T. Poole 1978-79                           E.P. Rogers 1991-93

B.H. Holdsworth 1979-99                  D. Shiel 1993-94

D.F. Macey 1999-09                          M.JA. Perrott 1994-98

                                                       D.Edge 1998-01

Throughout its history the Lodge has been honoured by the promotion of several of its members to Grand Rank in the United Grand Lodge of England. The first was Wor. Bro. E.C. Newman Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, and then Wor. Bro. T. Gower King Past Grand Standard Bearer. Worshipful Brother H. Banner-Adkins. Past Junior Grand Deacon was next for his services to the Province whilst he was Provincial Grand Secretary. In 1998 the lodge was honoured by the promotion of Wor. Bro. K.G. Holdsworth to Past Grand Standard Bearer.

In looking back over our first hundred years it is apparent that we owe a great debt to many Masons who have established the high standards of Loyal Travellers Lodge. May we all learn from their contribution and seek to ensure that the Lodge continues to progress and that its high standards are maintained throughout our next hundred years.

It has been a great privilege to research the history of this lodge, in reading the minutes I have felt the great warmth and enthusiasm of our predecessors for Freemasonry and for this wonderful Lodge.

To conclude I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to the centenary committee Worshipful Brothers R. Hancox, K.G. Holdsworth, P.A. Lucas, D.F. Macey, and Jack Mills for their loyal support in preparing for this great day and I dedicate this history to the memory of my late father Wor. Bro. Harold Holdsworth P.Prov.S.G. W. who lived and practised the principles of true Masonry.

W.Bro. Brian Harold Holdsworth,

Chairman of the Centenary Committee1999