Warranted 1878. A Masonic Lodge Meeting in Clevedon, Somerset.
The late 1860's saw the pier, docks and railway system built in Portishead which enabled many influential people to live and work in the local and surrounding area. The next obvious step was for a masonic lodge to be established in Portishead.
Eldon Lodge was consecrated in September 1878 with the meetings held at the Royal Hotel. The railway link from Portishead to Bristol and also the light railway from Weston, Clevedon and Portishead made transport much more accessible and the Lodge soon swelled its numbers. By January 1890 there were 33 listed members of Eldon lodge and 5 years after consecration the members listed 72 in number. During the 1st World War, several brethren fought and died for King and country while the other members of Eldon and Portishead as a whole assisted with supporting the war efforts.
The old railway link between the pier and the old railway station was closed and in March 1933 the Lodge entered into negotiations with GWR Company with a view to purchasing the old GWR Railway office. July 1933 saw the first lodge meeting held in the new building. The early records of Eldon lodge document a tradition of providing support for the local people and especially at Christmas it was commonplace to give gifts to the poor and needy of Portishead and Pill. This tradition has carried on throughout our 136 years of history and although times have altered how charitable donations can be made we are still supporting the community through donations to local Charities.
After the 2nd World War during when several Eldon brethren made the great sacrifice, freemasonry and Eldon Lodge in particular saw its greatest increase in numbers as servicemen returned home looking to continue that camaraderie they had experienced during their service. In 1944, the membership of the lodge reached its peak of 164 brethren. Since the early 20th century to present, we have had many brethren who have attained long service in excess of 50 years and become "Masonic Veterans".
Eldon has always had a rich maritime history being located so close to the sea at Portishead with many brethren earning their living from the sea. Due to development in the area and unforeseen circumstances the old GWR building has been sold to the RNLI and a brand new life boat station is shortly to take it's place. The lodge currently meets at Clevedon along with 5 other lodges but our affiliation will always be with the sea. When we have our meetings, we always sing "The Eldon Song" to our visitors, which fittingly draws its inspiration from an old sea shanty duly written by Bertram Short, a long standing Eldon member who played the organ at our meetings.
Whilst we are no longer a lodge of over 160 members, we still have our proud tradition which is maintained by our current membership.
Eldon Members of Note:
The Weatherly family is very well known of old in Portishead largely owing to the renowned works of Fred Weatherly (most notably the song "Danny Boy") with several of his family members going on to become members of Eldon Lodge.
BS Thomas, born 1893 in Pill, became and Eldon Member in June 1922. He was a Political Officer in the forces posted to Jordan late 1922. From 1925-32 he was Finance Minister and Wazir (advisor) to the Sultan of Muscat and Oman. During these times, he undertook several expeditions into the desert and became the first European to cross the RUB AL KHALI desert (the largest stretch of sand in the world) on his own trusty camel called Khuwara. Awarded the OBE and the CMG for services to his country.
William Kingdon Thomas became a member of Eldon Lodge in 1881 and became known as the Father of the lodge. He was the father of both Eldon Lodge and Royal Clarence Lodge in Bristol, because of his dedication and support over many years and was also the Provincial Grand Secretary of Bristol. He was also a founder member of the Charles Dickins Society in Bristol.
A few images of Portishead and Eldon Lodge's history: