About Ribble Lodge



 logo (thumbnail) The History of Ribble Lodge No 4558



The history of Freemasonry  in Preston goes back more than 200 years.
It was in 1769 that Amity Lodge moved from London to Preston, having been formed in the capital in 1767.      
Cooper's Inn was the meeting place until 1783, when the venue was changed to The White Horse which was in Friargate.

Amity Lodge moved into Yorkshire in 1810, leaving behind several Prestonians who had joined the Craft during the Lodge's 41 year stay in Preston and in 1811 these brethren founded Royal Preston Lodge which is the Mother Lodge of Ribble.


In 1921 a group of senior brethren from Royal Preston proposed the founding of a new Lodge for the purpose, according to the minutes, "of allowing for the reasonable progress of the younger members of Royal Preston Lodge".


Informal discussions were  held at the beginning of the 1920's and having been encouraged by the response, the first recorded meeting of the founders was held on 23rd of October 1922, just a month after the Preston Guild celebration had taken place.


Almost the first item on the agenda for that initial meeting was the name of the new Lodge and it may surprise the brethren of today to learn that Ribble was only the third choice of name.


The first choice was Derby and it may be fair to assume that this was inspired by the connection of Lancashire's premier family with Preston and its Guild Merchant.


The 17th Earl was a prominent mason, he had just renewed the entry of his name as a Freemason of the Borough on the Guild Roll, he was the son of the Guild Mayor for 1902 (who had been the first Worshipful Master of Stanley of Preston Lodge in 1896) and he was affectionately known as the King of Lancashire.


However, the choice of Derby was rejected by Grand Lodge, and our founders' next choice was Prince of Peace, which, Prestonians will recognise as the name given to the lamb which features on the centuries old coat of arms of our City.


This name was also rejected, and Ribble became a case of third time lucky, so far as our name was concerned.


The warrant was granted and this was announced to a meeting of the founders on the 25th of September 1923. 


At an earlier meeting, in December 1922, it had been resolved that the Mayor of Preston should be invited to be the first Worshipful Master of the Lodge.


John Dewhurst was W.M. of Royal Preston Lodge in 1892, and held the Past Provincial Grand Lodge Rank of A.D.C. He was a Preston businessman and controlled the family  business of Moor Brook Foundry. He was also a director of Vernons Mill in Penwortham, and had other interests in the cotton industry.


He was a member of the Manchester Royal Exchange for more than 40 years and was  a town councillor for Deepdale Ward from 1908 to 1924, when he became an Alderman.


He also served on the Fulwood Urban District Council and was a town's magistrate.

W.Bro. Dewhurst accepted the  invitation to become the new Lodge's first W.M., and he was the leader of the Founders who filled the principal offices at the consecration ceremony. 


Among other prominent masons who took office were W.Bro. Will E. Ord, P.G.Deacon who was I.P.M. for the evening, though not as a founder of the Lodge.


The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Bro John Hearn Burrell, led the consecration ceremony, which was held on 4th of January 1924, within the Bull and Royal Hotel.


It was decided to propose six candidates at the consecration, and the W.M.'s protege, Mr J.W.Jackson of 8 Eldon Street, was duly initiated at the first regular meeting of the new Lodge held on 23rd of January 1924.


Mr Jackson paid an initiation fee of 12 guineas and 19 members and 22 visitors saw the first ceremony.


There was much business to be conducted at the early meetings, there were often three degrees to be got through, and supper was generally taken between the 2nd and 3rd degrees with meetings beginning at 6 and lasted until nearly 10 o'clock in the first year.


The first installation was held at the Bull and Royal Hotel on 23 of April 1924 and the cost of the banquet which followed was 7/6d.


Normal Lodge suppers cost 2/6d. and this included two drinks, but 3/6d. was charged for visitors.


These prices may seem modest by to-day's standard, but of course, incomes were much lower in the 1920's.


The first Ladies Evening was held on 4th of March 1932, at the Bull and Royal Hotel. 172 guests attended at 9/6d. a head.


It's interesting to see where the money went......................


Dinner, including a buffet, cost 6/6d, There were 15 dozen paper hats and two gross medium size jazz balloons for the merrymaking, 25 cigars for the top table cost 17/ 11/2d. and 200 State Express were 13/8d.


The whist prizes and the lucky spots ran away with 23/10d. and a 1/4lb box of chocolates for the 120 ladies present, cost £3.9.s.2d.


The year after this, our installations of 1933 was a landmark when the Lodge's first initiate, Bro. James Walter Jackson, was installed as Worshipful Master.


In the next year, 1934, the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Lodge was celebrated with all the officer's posts being held by the founders.


The office of I.P.M. was filled by W.Bro.J.M.Worthington who was, of course, to bring credit and honour to the Lodge by being made Chairman of the Preston Group.


The following year, our first Founders and Past Masters night was held and has been held regularly each January since then.


In September 1944, our first meeting took place in the new Masonic Temple and our 25th anniversary was celebrated there in 1949 by 43 members and 85 visitors.


A further interesting meeting was held at the Guild Hall towards the end of the War when Freemasons in the American Forces, who had been regularly visiting our Lodge in the second half of the War, gave a demonstration of the American Working.


Ladies Evenings were resumed  after the War, and in 1949 the Lodge had the doubtful honour of holding  a Ladies Night at the old Guild Hall only a few evenings before it was burnt down.


 W.Bro. E.W.Wells was Master that year, a brother who has brought credit and prestige to our Lodge, being a Grand Lodge Officer, being the second member of the Lodge to be Chairman of the Preston Group, and also being a Group Officer for some twenty years.


1949, the year of our 25th anniversary,unfortunately saw the death of our first W.M., W.Bro. John Dewhurst, who had incidentally been a member of the craft for 58 years, and gradually the remaining founders were called until in March 1963, our last surviving founder, W.Bro. John S. Hornby, passed to the Grand Lodge above.