BLYTH MASONIC BUILDINGS

History

            The first record of Freemasonry in Blyth was in 1856, when Blagdon Lodge was formed. It met at the Ridley Arms, which then stood at the town end of Ridley Avenue. From 1884, meetings took place in the Mechanics’ Institute, now the Public Library until the present building in Beaconsfield Street opened in August 1898. It cost £1,100 to build. A Masonic Club was formed on the ground floor, the annual subscription was one guinea (£1.10). It was not until 1902 that electric lighting was installed and the late 1930s before a telephone was fitted!

The land for the hall was donated by The Right Hon. Viscount Ridley, who was then the Provincial Grand Master. His family had earlier given permission for the name Blagdon to be used by the first Masonic Lodge to meet in Blyth.

In 1932 the building was extended. A new Lodge Room was added, the old one becoming the dining room with capacity for 130 people. The tie rods, still seen in the dining room, were installed in 1904 to overcome the bulging of the walls!

Given the maritime traditions of the town, it was appropriate that materials salvaged from local ship breakers’ yards were used in the refurbishment. The Members’ Bar was fitted out with furnishings from the first class Smoking Room of the SS Corinthic. Launched  in 1902, the ship belonged to the White Star Line. It operated the London to New Zealand route. Tradition has it that fittings from the Cunard liner RMS. Carmania, also broken up in 1932 at Blyth, were also used in the  newly extended building.

In 1932, a limited Company, Blyth Masonic Buildings Limited, was set up to operate the premises. Ownership of the hall was transferred from Blagdon Lodge to the new Company. Blagdon and the four other Lodges now formed in Blyth (Croft, Waterloo, Blyth and Cowpen) being the shareholders. Four further Lodges were formed after the Second World War and became equal shareholders.

       The Masonic Hall operated throughout World War II. In 1941 the Dining Room was given over as reserve hospital to cater for a possible influx of air raid or mercantile casualties. There is no record of the facility being put into use, It was returned to Masonic use in January 1945.

The Members Bar.

       In times of both peace and war, hospitality was always extended to Masons serving in the Armed Forces.  There was a close association with the Submarine base and naval personnel were frequently granted honorary membership.. The models of submarines and the ships crests on display in the bar area were presented in appreciation..

       The building continued to operate as both a Masonic Hall and a gentleman’s club for many years. Only in the last few years has it ceased to be open during the day. However it is open most evenings for both Masonic and club activities.

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