Strengthening Freemasonry on the Mid-North Coast: A New Chapter for Lodge Raleigh 241 and Lodge Fitzroy
01 December 23
Strengthening Freemasonry on the Mid-North Coast.
A New Chapter for Lodge Raleigh 241 and Lodge Fitzroy
In an event marking a historic transition for Freemasonry on the Mid-North Coast, Lodge Raleigh 241, beautifully situated in the region's scenic hinterland, embraced a bright new beginning. On November 28th, 2023, this esteemed lodge celebrated its fusion with Lodge Fitzroy, carrying on the proud number 241. This merger symbolizes a forward-looking step in the evolution of Freemasonry in the area.
VW Bro Peter Collins, the Worshipful Master of Lodge Raleigh, addressed the gathering, reflecting on the lodge's rich heritage while expressing optimism for its future in partnership with Lodge Fitzroy. This move is seen as a strategic and positive development for both lodges, promising a stronger, more vibrant Masonic presence in the community.
Distinguished Masons, including the Regional Gand Councillor, RW Bro Phillip Robertson, District Grand Inspector of Workings, RW Bro Garry Chandler, and the Chairman of Operations, RW Bro John Jacobson, together with 35 Masons and a fraternal visit from Lodge Star of Wauchope, joined the assembly, acknowledging this momentous occasion. Emotions of pride and anticipation filled the air as the Junior Warden, in a symbolic gesture, declared a new beginning for the lodge.
Post-merger, members, their families, and guests gathered to celebrate this new chapter. The evening was a blend of reflection and excitement, filled with toasts and reminiscences of Lodge Raleigh's storied past and aspirations for the future.
W Bro Stan Gordon, the lodge's Secretary, provided a captivating overview of Lodge Raleigh's journey. Founded over a century ago, the lodge's origins trace back to the pioneering cedar getters and timber workers of the Bellinger Valley. Its rich history includes the establishment of Lodge Argyll in 1883 and its evolution through various constitutions and locations, including the iconic building in Bellingen, now an art gallery.
The lodge's history is marked by resilience and adaptation, from its early meetings by moonlight to its relocation and revival in the early 20th century. The laying of the foundation stone of their unique three-story lodge in 1911 marked a significant milestone, cementing the lodge's presence in the community.
Lodge Raleigh's history is a tapestry of tradition, resilience, and community spirit that spans over a century. The origins of Lodge Raleigh date back to the early days of the Bellinger Valley, a period when the area was just beginning to be settled by non-indigenous people. Among these early settlers, including cedar getters, boatmen, and timber workers, were men who were already practicing Masons.
The discovery of red cedar in 1841 attracted a wave of workers to the area, and it was from these pioneers that the foundations of Freemasonry in the Bellinger Valley were laid. In 1883, a group of these Masons came together with a shared vision, applying for a dispensation to establish a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons on the Bellinger River. This led to the formation of Lodge Argyll, with Bro Thomas C. K. McKell as the Worshipful Master, marking the start of a formal Masonic presence in the valley.
Initially meeting in private homes and later in a joint venture Temple in Fernmount, the Lodge navigated through various changes and challenges. It joined the United Grand Lodge of NSW under the English Constitution in 1888, adapting to the evolving landscape of Freemasonry. Despite financial difficulties in the late 1890s leading to a temporary surrender of its charter, the spirit of the lodge persisted.
In a remarkable revival, former members of Lodge Argyll reestablished Masonic traditions in the Bellinger Valley in 1904, forming Lodge Raleigh. The lodge faced early challenges, including finding a suitable meeting place and navigating restrictions from the Grand Lodge. However, these obstacles only strengthened their resolve.
A pivotal moment came in 1909 when Lodge Raleigh purchased land for a new building, a significant step towards establishing a permanent home. In 1911, the foundation stone for this new lodge was laid, a symbol of their enduring commitment to Freemasonry. The building, uniquely constructed on steep land with locally made sandstone bricks and timber, served as their home for over eight decades.
Throughout its history, Lodge Raleigh has been more than just a gathering place for Masons; it has been a cornerstone of the community, with its members actively involved in local development and philanthropy. The lodge's journey, marked by perseverance, adaptability, and a deep sense of brotherhood, reflects the core values of Freemasonry.
The union of Lodge Raleigh with Lodge Fitzroy is more than just a merger; it is a harmonious blending of histories, traditions, and communities. It opens the door to new possibilities, ensuring that the legacy of Lodge Raleigh continues to thrive, now as part of a larger, more dynamic Masonic family on the Mid-North Coast.