Extract from the Essex County Standard 8th August 1903

---------- CONSECRATION OF THE COMRADES’ LODGE No. 2976 ---------

On Thursday, August 6, Colonel Lockwood, M.P., Provincial Grand Master of the Freemasons of Essex, visited Colchester for the purpose of consecrating a new Lodge to be called the Comrades’ Lodge, No. 2976, which have been formed by Brethren connected with Colchester Garrison, with a view to providing a Masonic centre for military Brethren or those who have been formerly connected with the service.

The gallant Colonel arrived at Colchester at 4 p.m., and was met at the North Station by W.Brother John J.C. Turner, P.P.S.G.W., and conducted to the new Masonic Hall, Abbeygate Street, where the ceremony was to be held. Here were gathered the Founders and their friends to the number of between 60 and 70, and as most of them were in uniform the spectacle, as the Provincial Grand Master entered the Lodge Room as a very brilliant one. The Provincial Grand Master appointed to assist him in the ceremony the following Brethren:-

In opening the proceedings the gallant Colonel said the origing and motive of the new Lodge were to him, as an old soldier, deeply interesting. It was composed of those who were or had been soldiers, and he could not imagine a stronger bond of union. When there was a proposal some years ago to establish a lodge of this character in London he confessed he had some misgivings as to the wisdom of the step. Any fears had however proved groundless, and he therefore trusted that a Lodge like te one they were about to establish would have a prosperous career. That there were dangers surrounding a purely military Lodge must be patent to those who like himself had the privilege of serving the Sovereign, but those were soon overcome – indeed, they did not arise – if a strict regard was paid to the laws and constitutions of the fraternity. He had the greatest confidence that so interesting a Lodge as this, working in such an interesting Masonic centre as Colchester, would be one of the brightest ornaments to the Province, and he need hardly tell them how proud he would be of it, as composed of men who had, like himself, served the Sovereign at home and abroad, and how he would look to them to uphold the banner of Masonry in the same way as they had the banner of the Sovereign (Applause.)

The Warrant from the Grand Master, authorising the formation of the Lodge, having been read by the Provincial Grand Secretary, the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Bro. the Rev. H.J. Shildrick, delivered a practical oration on the nature and principles of the institution. He said he would only touch upon those salient features of Freemasonry which in outline delineated its character, and were in themselves sufficient to emphasise its high moral tone. In the first place, great stress was laid on the duty of love and reverence towards the G.A.O.T.U. It was the thought that it was a religious Order that differentiated Freemasonry from organisations of a purely benevolent character, and raised it to a position of equality with those great systems of morality whose aim had been the amelioration of the condition and the realisation of the lofty destiny of mankind. The solemn service in which they were now engaged riveted their attention to this fundamental law. They lived not for themselves only. They were not an aggregate of selfish beings, impelled by low motives. They never left out of sight their fellow-creatures, children of a common Father. They had a work to do, a duty to discharge towards them. They were not merely members of a Club, but of a religious organisation. They were working for the advancement – the moral, social and intellectual advancement – of the races of mankind. Passing from the intellectual to the moral, how exacting (continued the Chaplain) are the requirements of our Order? Honour, probity, sincere friendship, confidence, loyal citizenship, are some of the cardinal virtues enjoined upon us. Can there be a doubt, when these are sincerely practised, of the ultimate result not only on the individual but on all brought in contact with Brethren? Thus there is working in the world an immense power for good, which fully justifies the existence of the Craft, and the position which it rightly seeks to hold. There is yet another factor which has to be considered, and which the precepts of our Craft may lay special stress upon – the spirit of brotherly love. We meet as Brethren. We are prepared to look on the best side of character; we are ready to allowance for another’s weakness and eccentricities (if they exist); we are ready to forgive, and we seek to cement estranged friendships. The one bond which may not be severed is brotherly love. We can never set too high a value on this quality. It is the joy of our own lives. It is the witness to the world of the consistency and sincerity of our profession. And this effect has been achieved not merely among our own kith and kin, but is of world wide extension. The Chaplain quoted a striking utterance by a distinguished Indian official as to the effects of Masonry in India, and, resuming, said such words set before them Freemasonry as a world influence. The testimony shows, he said, that a real work is now being done, the value of which it is impossible to estimate in its future bearing on social and civic questions. To promote a good understanding between men, of whatever race, and foster the spirit of brotherhood, is surely the key to the solution of many, if not most, of our difficulties. Could the principles of our Craft rule triumphant, how much of the jealousy and suspicion which now set up the barriers between social intercourse, and alienate the hearts and minds of men and nations from one another would be dispelled. Today this aspect of question has a peculiar significance, because many members of the “Comrades” Lodge, in the discharge of their duties, will have a better opportunity than most other brethren of demonstrating this feature of our Order in our Colonies and distant dependencies. They will hold intercourse with men of different language, of different customs, of different religions, and of different social ideas. Yet, if the spirit of brotherly love actuates them in all their dealings there is established at once a common tie. We are persuaded that our brethren will gladly welcome these opportunities of showing the genuinous of their own Masonic convictions and their pride in working in the vanguard of our Order in giving wider scope to the operations of its beneficent aims. Our hearts are with them today and will be with them in whatever part of the world heaven may place them, and we have confidence – that the Craft is safe in their hands, and that in their day and generation, as opportunity is given, they will bring honour and good report to their Order. Having alluded to the generosity of Freemasonry, the Chaplain concluded thus : Brethren of the “Comrades” Lodge, your very name help to point the moral of my words. Within the walls of your Lodge, in social intercourse and in Masonic duties, you will prove yourselves true Comrades one to the other. When sorrow, sickness, adversity, or any other troubles comes, then you will more than justify your name by a spirit of sympathy and kindly benevolence. May the G.A.O.T.U. abundantly bless you and grant to brethren of this Lodge a long and useful career in good service towards your fellow men.

At the close of the ceremony of Consecration, the Provincial Grand Secretary, W.Bro. Thos. J. Ralling installed as first Master of the Lodge W.Bro. Bertram E. Essex R.A.M.C., P.M. 1926 P.D.G.D.C. Malta, who appointed and invested his Officers for the year as follows:-