Portishead Masonic Hall

A Brief History of Portishead Masonic Hall

In 1911, Eldon Lodge had been around for some 33 years, meeting at the Royal Hotel when Great Western Railway ceased using the old ticket office overlooking the King Road.

An agreement was made with GRW to rent the old building for the use of masonic meetings and July 8th 1911 saw the first meeting in the new lodge room. Just prior to this, we saw the Eldon Royal Arch Chapter consecrated  and it was decided that they would move across to the masonic centre for their meetings as well.

April 1880 it was decided to pay the GWR to bring the train down to the pier for the convenience of visiting brethren, so one can see the resolve to develop Portishead as an integrated part of Somerset Freemasonry. A quiet train journey: terminating at a peaceful village for a day of masonic enjoyment. Image in these times asking a Train Provider to change their timetable to suit masonic needs.

Eventually, all trains stopped at the main Portishead station and the elder brethren of today remember walking down the railway lines to the lodge, especially with petrol rationing, sometimes using a lantern loaned by the Station Master.

During the First World War we saw soldiers billeted in the bottom room of the lodge to assist the war efforts, in those days the Tyler was a paid role and his duties included looking after the lodge, both inside and out, tending the gardens and ensuring the catering was in place. Also looking after the soldiers billeted there.

In December 1914, lodge records show W Bro Condick was forwarded 6 rabbits for consumption at the lodge supper, there may have been some richer local masons but restrictions were in place for all to endure.

May 1922 saw the consecration of one of Eldon's daughter lodges, the Severn lodge no. 4399. W Bro William Pugh Williams was the first WM.  There were 32 lodge members who showed interest in becoming Founder members of this lodge. This year also saw Portishead Masonic Temple as hosts for the Provincial Grand Lodge  of Somerset.

Eldon Mark 807 (A Mark Master Mason Lodge) was commenced in 1924, Eldon and Severn brethren were supported by the Lygrove Mark Lodge and the Canynge Mark lodge for this venture.

November 1925 - Rumours were circulating concerning the building of a Power Station next to the lodge, a committee was formed to ensure this was not going to be detrimental to the building and eventually all were happy. However, this must have stirred some of the brethren because in March 1926 a sum of £42:15s:00d was paid to install electricity into the lodge building, it being previously lit by gas lamps with coal fires for heating.

1930 could have seen a major change in history as an independent committee was formed outside of freemasonry, it was empowered to find funding for the “Weatherly Memorial Hall”, designed to be a memorial to Fredrick Weatherly who died two years previously and preliminary consent was given to the masonic lodge that they could hold meetings at this hall. A site was found in Stoke Road and £4000 required for the work, the lodges gave money in advance but no further funding could be found so the project was shelved.

The Portishead lodges however grew in stature and in March 1933 a motion was passed to purchase the building from the GWR, £1200 was allocated for the purchase and major building alterations, some of this money was loaned by the members who were paid back over the next few years.

Eldon's second daughter lodge, Gordano Lodge was consecrated in May 1946 and the first WM was W bro John Sargent. Seven guineas was the fee to become a Founder Member.

Being no longer able to meet in Calcutta, Lodge Marine232 joined Portishead Masonic Hall thanks to discussions by W Bro’s Honey and Preston with the elder brethren at Portishead. Marine as the name suggests was a Maritime Lodge so were very “at home” by the sea.

Many members earned their living from the sea and Bro Peter Tambling (a current member of Eldon Lodge) is very keen to tell us that when he was initiated into Freemasonry the brethren waved a white flag from the Temple roof and the boats docked around let off their whistles for about half an hour making for a very noisy initiation!

In May 1999, a petition was signed by the WM and Wardens of the Eldon Lodge to sponsor a new lodge called the Olympian Lodge, designed for all of the super fit sportsmen in the Province of Somerset. W Bro Arnie Mason was the first WM.

Over the years the lodge was became increasingly expensive to maintain. This coupled  with the imposition of new environmental laws and parking issues the signs were there that the building was more of a hinderance than a benefit so in 2004 the Portishead Masonic Hall closed and the lodges moved to pastures new. The site now holds the new building a self-contained RNLI station.

The Portishead Cornerstone a.k.a "The Brick"

During the works to demolish the old building, Bro Darracq Shawe obtained a brick from the building and has had it mounted on a plinth. It shall henceforth be known as the  “Portishead Cornerstone” or simply "the brick" and the Lodge  is grateful to Bro Darracq for presenting this stone and with the assistance of the past we hope to help all the old lodges for the future. It is  hoped that the Brick will be used as a light hearted way to encourage fraternal visits in the years to come between those lodges that formerly met at Portishead Masonic Hall (Eldon, Severn, Marine, Gordano &  Olympian Lodge).