Coquetdale 5122

Coquetdale Lodge -

Masonic Temple at Beamish Museum


Laying the Foundation Stone

Official Ceremony

Once the Stone had been laid, it was quite some time before I could get close enough to take photos due to the interest, not only from Masons, but also from the general public - I wonder how many potential Masons there were at Beamish on this day.

This was an exceptional day, the weather was great, and the turn out of Durham Masons was a truly wonderful sight to see.


What a grand sight.



A frontage of a Masonic Temple from Sunderland, was rescued and was brought to Beamish Open Air Museum after having been carefully taken down stone by stone.

Various items were donated from Lodges throughout the region (and further afield), and these would help to furnish the Temple once completed. The Square Carpet was donated from Heart of Glendale Lodge 4005.


The Temple (once completed) will be adjacent to this example of an early Barclays Bank - W.Bro Angus Hutton couldn't resist the chance to see if there was any chance of a withdrawal.

Not everyone could get into the official procession, but were just as proud to be in the crowd and giving their support, in song as well as in body.



The Trams only stopped running once the ceremony had started, so you still had to keep your wits about you - we didn't want any nasty accidents on such a glorious day




On the left is the Dais in readiness for the ceremony.


The Story of Brother Masons at the Laying of the Foundation Stone

Below is the short story of how two Northumberland Masons joined in with their Masonic Brothers from the Durham Province on a very special day at Beamish. The story was published in the 'Northumberland Mark' newsletter { volume 5 - Issue 1 }, in the spring of 2001. I wrote the story after the event, but it wasn't published until 2001. 'Gus' was WM in Coquetdale Lodge No.5122 and I was SW in No.5122 when we made the trip, but we were also in Coquetdale Mark Lodge No.1115, and is why this was published in the Mark newsletter.

Bro. Robin Murray MO
Coquetdale Mark Lodge No.1115

'Gus, WM of Coquetdale 5122, came to pick me up at around 8.15 am; this was so that we could get to Beamish in good time in order that we could purchase entry tickets. We hadn't managed to get tickets prior to the event, mainly because of the lack of the appropriate contact in the Durham Province.

Gus had found out about this historic event via top-table festive board discussions whilst out visiting, though he had, how shall I say, misplaced the relevant info, and we therefore decided to try our luck and turn up on the day.

It was a shame that more information about this Durham event hadn't filtered its way through the official grapevine to the brethren in Northumberland, at least more of us could then have supported our brothers on this marvellous occasion. We don't get the chance very often to show the public the pride we have in being a mason, so when the opportunity came up, it was too good a chance to miss.

On arrival, we were like nervous robbers evading capture. We were anxious about what we should do first, go to the gate and ask there about tickets, or catch the eye of a fellow mason and ask what, we the brothers from up North, could do in way of support, or indeed, could we join in at all? After all, we may have been interlopers in a private Durham festival, and not allowed to be there.

We bit the bullet and went to the gate man. As always the welcome from a fellow brother was warm and helpful. We purchased the relevant tickets and were directed as to where to go. This actually turned out to be the changing areas for the Provincial Officers and Reigning Durham Masters. Some-what inappropriate for two Northumbrians, though no one complained.

We decided to make a sortie into Beamish village to weigh up the lie of the land, so to speak. We actually wanted to find out where the laying of the foundation stone was to take place. On entering the village for the first time, it was eerily quiet, the calm before the storm. There were only a handful of people wandering around. Though when you take into account that the proceedings were not due to start for around two-and-a-half hours, I suppose it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise.

We found the location quite easily; it was right outside the Bank, on the main street. The banners were up and the foundation stone was supported in its frame ready for the formalities. Someone said Beamish hadn't got planning permission as yet, for the lodge building, so was this a case of being a bit premature?

After finding our ultimate goal, we decided to explore the local bank. The doors were open and we thoroughly enjoyed our private tour of the vaults etc. We got chased from here by the local constabulary (there's that robber feeling again), or was it an estate worker, I can not say for certain, some of these uniforms from yester-year were strange looking things. Apparently the bank wasn't open to the public, the front doors had only been opened to allow the electric cables access for the microphones etc. for the ceremony. Give a country yokel an inch and we take a mile!!

When we realised our errors (the bank incident and the faux-pas over the changing room etiquette thing), we returned to our own changing room (Gus's Renault van), and put on our regalia.

Our initial impressions of a nice quiet country village were soon to change. There seemed to be no end to the continuous stream of motor vehicular traffic, old time speak for cars and vans etc. (the spirit of Beamish is catching!). It must be said though, that Gus's works-van tended to stand out from the crowd of gleaming autos.

The procession through the village to the foundation stone was actually restricted to Provincial Officers and Reigning Masters, therefore what we were allowed to do, along with our Durham Brothers, was line the route of the procession.

We thought we had picked out a good spot, right next to the stone, in an open area behind the band. This proved to have been a bad move. We hadn't allowed for the choir whose spaces we were taking up and we had to move back. This didn't prove to be a major obstacle for my WM., he's l0ft tall and built like a proverbial brick out-house. He could see over the heads of the crowd without much trouble. Me?, I am a little un!, and even on tip-toes could only see the heads of the marchers as they went past.

The ceremony was good, I think. I never actually saw a thing, and as I was standing next to a loudspeaker that came and went, I only managed to pick up snippets of what went on. Some poor soul had taken ill over the road, and the helicopter which came to airlift them to hospital didn't help with the hearing thing either. Though we shouldn't complain too much about this, as they were on a mission of mercy. The choir and the band were good, I didn't need any help in hearing these as I was on top of them and I actually managed to join in with them on a couple of occasions (I'd misplaced my programme with the words of the ceremony and hymns etc).

The crowds were expected to be around the 3,000 mark, or at least that is what we were told. I think someone miscalculated somewhat. There must have been at least 5,000 there. It was a sea of people. Some bright spark had commandeered a forklift type vehicle and was happily taking photographs from a great height. I would love to see how his shots came out, mine consist (in the main), of all awful lot of heads. They said that the lodge, when built, would be the only one in the world in an establishment like this. They said that it was the intention to have a fully functioning temple, though I wasn't sure exactly what this meant. They said it would take 3 years to complete and that the furniture of the lodge was being donated from all over. I believe the carpet is being provided by the 'Heart of Glendale' Lodge in the Province of Northumberland, so it showed that we all had a part to play in this project, both today and in the future.

At the end of the stone-laying, the procession marched back to the assembly area in the field, adjacent to the car park, for the end parts of the ceremony. An awful lot of brothers missed this; they were intent on getting to the local hostelry for a cooling drink as the day had turned into a real scorcher. Both myself and Gus ended up looking more like lobsters than masons. Having changed at the trusty Renault, we joined our brothers at the Inn. It was hard to believe, but the landlord actually had a real fire burning in the grate, this must have been a ploy to get more money from the brethren or was it for the opposite effects e.g. keep it so hot that they wouldn't come in to buy a pint? We couldn't figure it out, though in our cases, it had the latter effect. We couldn't be bothered to stand in the heat to get a second pint.

We filled the rest of the day exploring the other delights of Beamish before heading home with a stop-off to see the 'Angel'. As a final point, when we returned to the site of the stone laying, before setting off for home, it had gone, not a trace was left, no one would have known we had been there. Though with a turn out like todays, they will one day though, eh!!!


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