HISTORY OF FREEMASONRY
The questions as to when, how, why and where Freemasonry originated are still the subject of intense speculation.
However the general consensus amongst Masonic scholars is that it descends directly or indirectly from the organisation of operative stone masons who built the great cathedrals and castles of the middle ages. (A more detailed outline of the history of Freemasonry in England can be found on the United Grand Lodge of England website - see links).
THE HISTORY OF CONCORD LODGE
Whilst the history of Freemasonry is subject to speculation the history of Concord Lodge is more clearly defined. Concord lodge shares with other Huddersfield Lodges a heritage that can be formally traced back to 1732. In that year the Anchor and Hope Lodge, No. 37, was created in Bolton this being the oldest lodge outside London. The Anchor and Hope lodge spurned the creation of other lodges in the Lancashire area and in particular the formation of The Royal Lancashire Lodge in Colne a small cloth manufacturing town similar to Huddersfield.
It was from Colne that in 1788 masonry extended over the border into Yorkshire with the formation of The Royal Yorkshire Lodge No 265 in Keighley. This was the daughter lodge of The Royal Lancashire Lodge and was brought about by members from Yorkshire who were finding the journey too inconvenient. In November that year several brethren who resided in the Halifax area were then granted authority to open a lodge there, this being The Lodge of Harmony and which met at the Angel Inn Halifax. The Lodge of Harmony subsequently moved to Huddersfield 48 years later.
The move into Huddersfield ultimately led to the formation of more lodges in the town. The first of these being The White Hart lodge No. 513 which was established in 1793 and later became The Huddersfield Lodge No. 290.
By the middle of the 19th century masonry was firmly based in Huddersfield. The Lodge of Truth No. 521 was created with membership drawn from the Huddersfield and Harmony lodges in 1845. Ten years later brethren from Peace, Harmony, Huddersfield along with members from Truth and Candour signed a petition to form Holme Valley Lodge No . 652.
The years after the First World War saw Freemasonry boom in the Huddersfield area and five more lodges were consecrated. Four of these being Connaught No. 3800, Unity No. 3930, Cambodunum No. 3953 and Salarden No. 3971. Membership grew so quickly that, that Albert Edward Lodge No. 1738 (Consecrated 1878) admitted 53 new candidates to Freemasonry along with a further five members joining from other lodges during the period between 1914 – 1920.
Membership was blossoming so much that members of Albert Edward Lodge, whose meetings were held at the Masonic Hall in Fitzwilliam St, recognised that their prospects of reaching ‘the chair’ were slight to say the least. It appears that four members in particular broached the subject of forming a daughter lodge. Whilst initially their wishes were dismissed they eventually gathered enough support that Concord Lodge No. 4126 was consecrated in 1920.
The first recorded meeting took place on January 27th 1920 at Fitzwilliam St when nineteen brethren of Albert Edward Lodge attended, six of these being past masters. The choice of the name Concord is credited to W Bro Hanson. There were already two lodges in the Huddersfield District called The Lodge of Peace No. 149 (est 1777) and The Lodge of Harmony No. 275 (est 1789). The name Concord completed the familiar Masonic trinity of Peace Harmony and Concord.
At this first meeting the formality of establishing who were to temporarily hold the respective offices of the Lodge, until the ceremony of consecration took place, was determined along with the adoption of the bye laws of the mother lodge Albert Edward Lodge. It was further resolved that a ‘Lodge Of Instruction’ be held every Tuesday evening with a regular Lodge night taking place on the second Thursday of the month.
Although meetings took place as outlined above, it was not until September that the consecration ceremony took place. The ceremony was performed by the then Provincial Grand Master (PGM) the R.W. Bro. Sir William Pick Raynor J.P. who himself was from Huddersfield. 103 brethren attended this ceremony which took place on the third Wednesday of the month in order to accomodate the PGM . During the ceremony officers were appointed and invested. It was at this meeting that the decision to hold a Lodge of Instruction each Tuesday with the Lodge Meeting taking place on the second Thursday of the month was confirmed.
The lodge flourished from the outset and in the first year of its existence there were 36 ceremonies in total of which 12 were devoted to initiating new candidates. In fact the lodge was so busy that six emergency lodge nights were added to the calendar. The lodge continued to attract new members and over the following years there was an unceasing stream of candidates seeking to join the ranks. Over the ensuing years Concord Lodge continued to cement its place within the District. Its commitment to supporting charities local to the area as well as nationally and also internationally was firmly established.
Meetings continued in accordance with the calendar as outlined above until World War II when finally it had to close for several months between December 1940 and May 1941 due to depletion of numbers. At the November 1940 meeting during a visit by Beaumont Lodge Kirkburton proceedings were disturbed by Anti Aircraft gunfire and many members had to leave to report for Civil Defence duties!
The post war years saw Concord Lodge return to its normal diary of events and settle into its regular routine. Membership continued to grow until it settled at a healthy level wtih meetings continuing for many years.
Unfortunately the financial pressures of maintaining the lodge building at Fitzwilliam St became increasingly problematic. Over a number of years other lodges who also occupied the building either moved to other premises or merged with other lodges due to falling membership. With the realisation that continuing to remain at Fitzwilliam St was putting the lodge under undue financial pressure much debate took place resulting in the decision to leave the building and move to its current home.
The last meeting of Concord lodge at Fitzwilliam St took place in October 2006. With October being the month in which a new Master of the lodge is installed this added much more significance and poignancy to the meeting.
IMAGES OF THE LODGE PREMISES AT FITZWILLIAM ST.
Prior to leaving Fitzwilliam St photographs were taken of the building to record a lasting memory of the rooms that had been the venue for hundreds of masonic meetings over many decades. Some of these images can be found below:-
Concord lodge soon became established at the new premises at New Hey Road, Huddersfield after being warmly welcomed to the building by the other lodges already resident there. The move to new premises also coincided with a decision to change the monthly Lodge night from the second Thursday of the month to the second Tuesday, a position which is still maintained to date. The lodge continues to thrive in its current home and looks forward to retaining its healthy position in the area by continuing to attract new members to its ranks.