Compiled by the Committee of the Lodge
Under the guidance of W.Bro. Bob Morgan - Master 2003
W.Bro. John Bonham PPGSuptWks

Using the history of the first 50 years by W.Bro. J. Lindsay PPGD
W.Bro. L.L. Thompson PM
as a guide


On becoming Secretary in 1998 I had given little thought to the Lodge Centenary some five years away. In the year 2000 with the 2000 Festival drawing to a close and the Lodge coffers not looking too good I suddenly realised major fund-raising would be required.

A committee was formed and after much debate, a fund-raising plan had been drawn up. This included a number of events such as quiz nights, dinners and dances, the aim to raise a substantial sum for charity and to replace the Lodge banner - the original being in a bad state of repair.

I believe this aim has been achieved but only with the help from members of Comrades Lodge, their families and friends was it possible. To all of you I give my thanks.

I would also like to thank a number of individuals. Their names are in no particular order and if, when you read this, you feel I may have missed you out, I apologise.

To all the Masters and their wives for their help and support.

To W.Bro. Lloyd Pettican, his good lady Christine and Bro. Mike Beeton, for organising and running the quiz nights. W.Bro. Peter Dowling and W.Bro. Bob Morgan for the treasure hunt. W.Bro. John Bonham for the use of the amplifier. W.Bro. Maurice Newbolt MBE and Bro. Andy Ketley for the hog roast. Bro. Barry Jones for the Christmas disco.

W.Bro. Bill Littlewood, Bro. Tony Harkin, Bro. Tony Scott-Bouttell, Bro. Jim Murdoch and Bro. Paul Masters for running the raffles, also those who donated prizes. W.Bro. Joe Tattersall for suggesting the Burns night suppers and modestly to myself for running them as well as the Christmas Dinners and Carol Concerts.

To our Treasurer, Bro. Richard Davis, for the support he has given over the past three years, keeping a firm hand on the accounts and for the journeys he has made looking at firing glasses and Centenary jewels. This has helped tremendously.

To the Lodge Charity Steward, W.Bro. Alan Dunn, for his patience.

W.Bro. Arthur Cooke for his donation towards the banner - this made it possible.

W.Bro. Eric Rollins for the banner stand. Perfection again!

W.Bro. Peter Dowling, the D.C. and all of the members of LoR and LoI for their financial support.

To W.Bro. John Bonham and W.Bro.Morgan for compiling this booklet and Bro. Martin Carey and Bro. Barry Jones for producing it.

To W.Bro. Dennis Warden, Secretary to the Board and W.Bro. Harry Traverse, Treasurer to the St. Giles Masonic Association for all their help with the bookings of St. Giles. The two catering managers, W.Bro. Clive Welch and Vernon Reid, the catering staff of St.Giles for excellent fayre.

To Anna Fernandes and her staff at the Banners and Regalia Department of Grand Lodge for their meticulous work.

To Martin Cherry of the Library and Museum at Grand Lodge, without whose help in confirming our mother Lodge, we would still believe we are the daughter of United 697 and not that of Angel 51 (United's loss and Angel's gain!)

To the Provincial office, W.Bro. Ken Harvey and W.Bro Andrew Bishop and their staff, without whose help, advice and understanding my job would have been much more difficult

Finally to Marilyn, who has been the best secretary any Secretary could wish for.

My thanks to you all.

W. Bro. J. Ramsey, Secretary (1998-2004)

The First Regular Steps ...

Angel Lodge No. 51, and not, as for so long believed, The United Lodge No. 697, sponsored a Daughter Lodge early in 1903 to meet the needs of servicemen of this Garrison town. Accordingly an inaugral meeting was held on 8th May 1903 to consider requirements and make the necessary arrangements.

W.Bro. Bertram Edward Essex, P.M. of Lodge 1926 (P.D.G.D.C. Malta) was unanimously elected as Chairman of this meeting and subsequently Master of the new Lodge.

Several names were submitted to choose from, including that of "Comrades" proposed by W.Bro. John Bilton P.M. This name was selected as the best and approved. The 3rd Monday in every month was chosen as the meeting day. The place of the meetings chosen being the Colchester Masonic Hall.

Twenty-five Founders' names were recorded in the minutes, as follows:

W.Bro. Bertram E. Essex P.M. 1926
W.Bro. Wm. Michael Roddy P.M. 107(IC)
W.Bro. John Bilton P.M. 1536
W.Bro. Major G. Waterman P.M. 413
W.Bro. Capt. C.H. Preston P.M. 563
W.Bro. John A. Wilson P.M. 1424
W.Bro. George Hare Lister P.M. 2444
Bro. A.H. Rowlinson 1890
Bro. George Reid 483
Bro. W.M. Lorraine 697
Bro. Ralph C. Taylor 151
Bro. Arthur Wm. Bond 1331
Bro. James Blacemore 1926
Bro. A.T. Mears 1923
Bro. Arthur T. Walstow 153
Bro. John J.B. Rampton 1923
Bro. Frederick Bowstead 2736
Bro. Amos Halls 697
Bro. Edgar G. Woolnough 2597
Bro. Thomas Adamson 1341
Bro. George Burridge 2436
Bro. Alfred Mitchell 1066
Bro. A.J. Griffin 697
Bro. Wm. Welsh 697
Bro. R.D. Simms 1449

W.Bro W.M. Roddy was elected as first Senior Warden. Bro. Wm. Lorrraine was elected as first Junior Warden. Bro. George Reid was elected as Secretary. The petition for a warrant was submitted to United Grand Lodge of England and promptly granted.

The necessary formalities and preparations were soon accomplished and Comrades Lodge No. 2976 was duly consecrated on 6th August 1903, at Masonic Hall Colchester, by Col. Mark Lockwood, M.P., P.G.D., Right Worshipful Grand Master of Essex, assisted by the following Provincial Grand Officers:

W.Bro E. Ash Ball Provincial S.G. Warden
W.Bro. R.T.H Bailey Provincial J.G. Warden
W.Bro. Rev. H.J. Shildrick Provincial G. Chaplain
W.Bro. T.J Ralling Provincial G. Secretary
W.Bro. Albert Lucking Provincial G.D.C
W.Bro. J.C. Turner P.P.S.G.W.
W.Bro. R.J. Mitchell Provincial G. Organist
Bro. Charles Wood A.R.C.O. Angel Lodge 51

W.Bro Bertram E. Essex was installed as W.M by W.Bro. T.J. Ralling, Prov. G. Secretary.

W.Bro, Major George Waterman was invested as I.P.M

Worshipful Master then invested the under-mentioned as the first Officers in this Lodge:

W.Bro. Wm.Michael Roddy Senior Warden
Bro. Wm Lorraine Junior Warden
Bro. Ralph C. Taylor Treasurer
Bro. George Reid Secretary
Bro. Thomas Adamson D.C.
Bro. A.H. Rowlinson Senior Deacon
Bro. A.J. Griffin Junior Deacon
Bro. A.T. Walstow Inner Guard
Bro. G. Burridge Steward
Bro. T. Mears Steward
Bro. W. Welsh Steward
Bro. A. Wright Tyler

The Installation Ceremony was followed by a banquet presided over by the W.M., supported by the R.W. Prov Gd. Master and the consecrating Officers. The R.W. Prov Gd. Master expressed his pleasure at seeing such a brilliant array of service uniforms and gave a very inspiring address to the members of this new Comrades Lodge.


The ceremony was fully reported in the Press locally, of which there is a copy attached in the Minute Book; such a practise is no longer encouraged, or indeed, permissable.

Comrades Lodge soon got down to work and held its first Regular Meeting on 17th August 1903, when eleven candidates for initiation and ten joinging members were balloted for. The second candidate on the list of Initiates was Colour Sergeant James Hearn of the Suffolk Regiment, who at the time of writing the ‘first 50 years’ had been the Director of Ceremonies for 13 years and at the age of 82 seldom missed a Lodge meeting.

The confidence of Angel Lodge No. 51 in their daughter was soon apparent from the records and reflected in the honour conferred on its first W.M., W.Bro. Bertram Essex, during his Mastership, when the R.W. Prov. Gd Master appointed him Provincial Grand Junior Deacon.

W.Bro. Claude Egerton Green, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, paid a visit to the Lodge during its first year and was welcomed.

The Lodge was again favoured with a visit from the R.W. Prov. Gd. Master on its first birthday, when he complimented the W.M. on the progress made.

In 1905 this Lodge made a start in its charitable work in contributing 25 Guineas to the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls, whose annual Festival was presided over by Col. Mark Lockwood, M.P., R.W. Provincial Gd. Master of Essex.

During the earlier years of this Lodge the influx of Service personnel was heavy, consequently every endeavour was made to meet their needs. This resulted in the Lodge often working three degrees at one meeting, a practice now discouraged as not in the best interests of Freemasonry.

Around this period of the life of the Lodge the records are somewhat sketchy, scarcely conforming to minimum requirements or to regulations, so are of little value for the purpose this Committee was engaged on.

In 1909 a niminal roll of members was printed and circulated as a means of enabling members to keep in touch with each other.

During 1914 the misfortune of war came, causing many Brethren of the Lodge to leave the town at short notice for service overseas. Difficulties arose in the roll of officers, but soon gaps were filled. A fresh influx soon arrived and the prevailing conditions caused Dispensations to be applied for, to such an extent that they became a fetish. The war years took its toll of our members oversees, some never returned, having made the Sumpreme Sacrifice for their country.

The passage of time brought more normal working and a better environment but the needs of the service were still uncertain and members kept on the move. During 1925 the Colchester Lodges formed a Masonic Library Committee, thus creating a link in each Lodge for the benefit of younger brethren who are desirous of extending their knowledge of Freemasonry.

Around this time, it was the custom for the Provincail Grand Lodge to hold its annual meeting in different parts of the province, sometimes at the residences of the Provincial Gd. Masters, whose invitations were always eagerly accepted and, whose kindly hospitality was greatly enjoyed, or at the large towns where this Lodge was always strongly represented, generally going as a party by bus. This custom was eventually stopped because the growth in Essex Masonry is now beyond the limits of any available accommodation, hence the necessity of holding these annual meetings in London.

In 1932 the Colchester Masonic Hall Co. Ltd invited all Colchester Lodges to take a financial interest in the company, allocating a directorship to each Lodge.

During 1933 the garrison was very depleted, thus affecting the number of candidates seeking entry to the Lodge, so after careful deliberation, it was agreed to alter the Bye-laws so that civilians could be admitted to the Lodge for the first time. This enabled brethren to propose relatives into their own Lodge. Some misunderstandings arose in the consequence, but in time the change worked quite satisfactorily to the benefit of the Lodge.

By 1937 the Lodge decided to have a Royal Arch Chapter and made a formal request for a Charter. This was granted and Comrades Chapter No. 2976 was duly Consecrated in 1938 and has since proved itsef worthy of the trust in this important order of Royal Arch Masonry.

The lack of Maonic teaching and practice withheld from certain countries, coupled with the suppression of Christian beliefs brough fresh International troubles to the world in 1939, in the form of World War II, causing frustration to many Lodges including our own. Again many of our members were sent overseas on active service., whilst others were called to duty in the various spheres of national service at home, thus causing loss of opportunity of progress to some and anxiety to others in filling vacancies.

In 1940 this Lodge was obliged to elect a P.M. to occupy the W.M. chair for the second time, the third occasion this had been necessary in our first 50 years. This fell to the only available P.M., W. Bro J. Aylott, P.P.G.Sw.B., as the other P.M.s were engaged in some form or other of national service at that time.

During the war period this Lodge had the same experience as that of the 1914-18 war, an influx of candidates, some of them, by the nature of the the time, of a transitory type.

The cessation of hostilities and the return to more normal times left the Lodge without knowledge of the whereabouts of several of its members, so that whilst conforming to directives issued by United Grand Lodge, we have no authentic knowledge of some and have to assume the worst.

In that ever important part of Masonic work, Charity to our fellow men as it should be practised in our daily lives, though little spoken of, Comrades Lodge has not been remiss. Records show ample evidence of this. The summonses regularly received show this Lodge as Patron of the four principal Masonic Institutions.

At the time of writing the first 50 years, the Lodge had for 13 years, been enjoying a Ladies Night as an annual event.

In 1950 the Lodge sponsored the formation of a daughter Lodge, subsequently followed by the Consecration of Colcestria Lodge No. 7123, on the 16th February 1952, when W.Bro. Major H.C. Keating, P.D.G.W. (Malta) was installed as its first Master.

Colcestria went onto sponsor her own daughter Lodges: Lucas & Lisle Logde No.8456 in 1972 and Meridies Colcestria Lodge No. 9715 in 2000, the first daylight Lodge in Essex.

Thus it is apparent that apart from normal losses, which are inevitable, the nature of our original composition lends itself to a somewhat transitory membership. Many members have fallen in the service of their country and on occasions like this a milestone in our history “Let us remember them” and give thanks to TGAOTU for favours already received.

Records also show that others were more fortunate in having received some recognition of their various forms of service, as our membership roll includes recipients of the undermentioned awards:

1 Order of the British Empire
5 Members of the British Empire
4 Military Crosses
1 Distinguished Flying Cross
1 Distinguished Flying Medal
2 Military Medals
1 British Empire Medal
4 Mentions in Dispatches

During the early 1930s Comrades Lodge members were introduced to Essex United Service Lodge No. 3804, which is composed largely of Royal Naval personnel and associated groups. This resulted in an interchange of visits in strength between the two Lodges. These visits continued until restrictive regulations prohibited them in wartime. Fortunately they have recommenced and continue today – some 70 years on.

A Past Masters Jewel is presented to every Master on completion of his year of W.M. and this has been brought up to date without exception.

It will also be of interest for all to know that a number of jewels are displayed outside the door of the Lodge, donated by the relatives of the late W.Bro. Roddy.

W. Bro. R.G.A. Morgan
Master June 2003

Proceeding onwards...

1953 saw the 50th Anniversary meeting which was held on 21st September and for which the dining fee was £1. The Lodge at this time met ten times a year.

In 1955 a Founders Jewel was presented to the Lodge from Comrades Lodge No 2740, Bro. Adam Hogg McDermed was passed in this Lodge having been initiated and raised in a Scottish Lodge, Leven St. John No.170.

1956 was the last year a meeting was held in December.

At the October meeting in 1957 a lecture was given on Swedish Freemasonry. This was the last year that a June meeting was held and the Bye-laws were also updated during this year.

During 1960 several members contributed towards the cost of new Wardens’ Columns and a carved Coral stone was donated to the Lodge by Mrs Stopford in memory of her late husband W. Bro. G. F. Stopford, who was initiated into Comrades Lodge in April 1923. In September of this year Bro. F.R. Duncan presented the Lodge with two stands for the Wardens’ Columns. The last of the founder members, W.Bro. Major Burridge, passed away at the age of 91 years.

The late 50s & early 60s saw the passing away of a large number of members which left the Lodge numbers in a depleted state.

In 1961 the widow of the lat W.Bro. Major Arthur Turner donated a portrait of W.Bro. D.F. Douglas in his robes as Provincial Grand Haggai and the past Masters & Officers of the Lodge presented a plaque bearing the crest of the Lodge, which was to be hung in the dining room.

In September 1962, to commemorate his 50 years in the Lodge, W.Bro F.R. Duncan presented the Lodge with an Inner Guard’s Jewel.

The 60th Anniversary meeting was held on Monday 20th May 1963. W.Bro Keith Lewis was the candidate at this meeting and W.Bro K.J. White was in the chair.

W. Bro. Barrett officiated at the organ for the first time at the October meeting in 1965 and was appointed honorary organist in 1966.

In 1967 there was the first mention of the new Masonic Hall for which £40,000 was required in donations from the Lodges in Colchester to provide funds for the new building.

In 1968 the Lodge was honoured by W.Bro G.H Thomas, who was Master of the Lodge in 1950, being awarded P.A.G.D.C.

During 1968 Bro. Bunting was presented with a solid silver cigarette box and a silver rose bowl to mark his retirement as Secretary after 13 years service to the Lodge.

At the April meeting in 1970 the death of W.Bro. Len Scales was announced, the Master of Essex United Service Lodge, who in 1931 set up the first year of exchange visits with that Lodge, which has continued from that date apart from the war years. The death of W.Bro. C. Raper was announced – he had been Master of the Lodge in 1960.

Dispensation was given in October 1971 to hold our meetings at the Masonic Hall, St.Giles Church, Stanwell Street. This year also saw the death of W.Bro. W.K. Forman, who was initiated in 1939 and Master in 1948.

Due to the miners’ stirke in 1972, the lodge had to be lit by candles & oil lamps during the month of February. During the year work was in progress at St. Giles and dining was at the Embassy Suite. Comrades Daugher Lodge, Colcestria, sponsored a Daughter Lodge, Lucas & Lisle No. 8456, which was consecrated in October this year. The death of W.Bro. W.A. Jolliffe was announced. He was Master in 1943 and D.C. of the Lodge for 17 years from 1955 and the death of W.Bro D.G. Cornes was also announced – he was Master in 1946.

Alteration work in the Temple was completed in 1975 and was opened in September, but due to the cramped conditions at the May meeting, we were not able to invite Essex Service Lodge as a whole, but they were represented by W.Bro. F. Herbert.

In 1976 Comrades Lodge again sponsored the formation of a daughter Lodge. In june of that year the consecration of Claudius Lodge No. 8700 took place. W.Bro K.J. White was installed as its first Master, followed by W.Bro. J.A. Sutherland in 1977 and W.Bro. J.S. White in 1978, all being founder members of Comrades Lodge. They are still members of Comrades Lodge – the latter two now being honorary members.

The Formal opening of the Masonic Centre on 29th October 1976 by the M.W. Grand Master, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.

In 1977 the Lodge was honoured when W.Bro. K.J. White received Grand Rank; P.A.G.D.C. He became an Assistant Provincial Grand Master in 1982 and continued in this post until his retirement in 1992. He currently holds the rank of P.S.G.D.

The 75th Anniversary Meeting was celebrated in September 1978 and visiting Lodges was Comrades Lodge No. 2740 from London and Comrades Lodge No. 4745 from Cosham, Hampshire. 11 members of Comrades Lodge No. 2976 visited Lodge No 4575 during the year.

During 1986 the death of W.Bro. J. Allsopp was announced. He was Master in 1966 and for many years the unofficial Lodge of Instruction was held at his home, Heron Lodge. A complete set of of working tools was presented to the Lodge in 1987 by the unofficial Lodge of Instruction in memory of W.Bro. J. Allsopp, the case of which was made by W.Bro. E. Rollins.

Broken Columns were presented in 1990 to the Lodge by the W.Master in memory of W.Bro. S. Giffard, who had been Master in 1972 and Assistant D.C. from 1979 until 1986.

In 1991 W.Bro. E. Barrett was presented with a crystal bowl to mark his 25 years as Honorary Organist to the Lodge and was made an Honorary Member of the Lodge in May 2000.

The 275th Anniversary Jewel was purchased in 1992 and appended to the Worshipful Master’s collar in memory of W.Bro. J.W.J. Bird. W.Bro. H.W.M. Salmon, the Lodge’s oldest member, reached his 100th year in 1995 but died the following year. He was Master in 1953 and Assistant D.C. in 1956 and 1957. The death of W.Bro W.Bugg was also announced in 1995 – he was Master in 1969 and Assistant D.C. from 1974 until 1979 and D.C. 1980 until 1987. In 1996 the Lodge Bible was restored in memory of W.Bro. W. Bugg.

The death of W.Bro. G. Partridge, Master in 1997, was announced.

W.Bro. E. Rollins made a small collection box in hardwood which he presented to the Lodge in 1997 to which a small memorial plaque was appended in memory of W.Bro. G. Partridge. The Lodge contributed £100 towards the new curtains in the chapel and dining room and an account was set up for the Lodge’s forthcoming centenary.

During 1998 a letter was presented to W.Bro. K.J. White from the P.G.M. commemorating his 50 years in Freemasonry. He was also presented with a cut glass bowl as a gifts from the Lodge. W.Bro. P Humphrey presented the Lodge with the Bronze Award for the 2000 Festival at the May meeting and congratulated the Lodge on its efforts. W.Bro. J. Sutherland was made an honorary member at the November meeting.

W.Bro. W. Littlewood was presented with a letter from the P.G.M. and a cut-glass bowl from the Lodge to commemorate his 50 years in Freemasonry at the February meeting in 1999 and a Lodge committee was set up to arrange and oversee the Lodge’s centenary in 2003.

Several social events were held during the year 2000 in aid of the Lodge’s centenary appeal and after further contributions to the 2000 Festival the Lodge received the Silver Award.

The first year for cluster meetings at the St Giles centre was in 2001 (Comrades is I n the Abbeygate & United Lodge’s group).

Comrades Lodge, being founded for military personnel, has had many members from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces join them over the years, and in 2002 there were still members who are ex-servicemen, but this was the first time for many years that a serving member was initiated, Bro. N. Tattersall.

The Grand Lodge embroidery department were given the commission to make a new banner for the Lodge and the Centenary Warrant was applied for.

Looking towards the next 100 years the Lodge membership is now on the increase with a good mix of ages and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. Lodge records show that during its first hundred years 977 Brethren had been registered as members.

W. Bro. J.W. Bonham, P.P.G.Supt.Wks.
July 2003

The Members of Comrades Lodge, Centenary Year 2003


From left to right - Back row: Bro J.G. Perrins, Bro.T.V. Gower, Bro. R.G. Graham, Bro.B.J. Regan, Bro. N. Tattersall, W.Bro. P. Lough, Bro. J.M. Murdoch, Bro. A. D.Harkin, Bro. P.B. Masters, Bro. D.J.Peck, Bro. R.C. Collinson, Bro. N.Savin, Bro. A.J.Scott-Boutell.
Centre row: Bro. B.A. Jones, W.Bro. A.A.J. Cooke, W.Bro. J. Ramsey, Bro. R.E. Davis, W. Bro. A.B. Dunn, Bro. I.J.Cooke, Bro. M.W.Beeton, W.Bro. M. Carey, Bro. B.J.W. Matthews.
Front row: W.Bro. L.J. Pettican, W.Bro. P.Dowling, W.Bro. J.W. Bonham, W.Bro. K.G.A. Lewis, W.Bro. K.J. White, W.Bro. R.G.A. Morgan, W.Bro. R.O. Coxon, W.Bro. J.A. Sutherland, W.Bro. C.H. Hudson, W.Bro. E.D. Rollins, W.Bro. J. Tattersall.