Clifton Lodge No 703

Clifton BannerThe oldest surviving Lodge in the Fylde. The original number was 1005 and changed to 703 in September 1863. The Warrant was issued on 29th April 1857 and the Lodge was to meet on the third Saturday of every month, although, in the early days it was not uncommon for meetings to be held two and three times in one month. In November 1888 the ceremonies were a First Degree, a Second and four Thirds – six in one night! Meetings lasted between four and five hours and in one case six and a half. In 1893 Grand Lodge issued a dispensation for the Lodge to close during the months of July, August and September. The influx of visitors to Blackpool, no doubt, having influenced the Brethren to petition Grand Lodge. This dispensation is still applicable today. In 1889, the Lodge finally decided to meet at Adelaide Street, having previously met at the Railway Hotel, the Clifton Arms Hotel, the Royal Hotel (now Woolworths Building), the County and Lanes End Hotel (now Harry Ramsdens) and the Palatine Hotel (now an amusement arcade).

It is worthy on note, that the instigator of building a Masonic Hall was Bro. Hopwood, Worshipful

Master in 1880 and the Treasurer and Secretary of the Lodge during the 1890’s. The Ladies Committee have always supported Clifton Lodge in all its endeavours, and as early as 1901 and again in 1908 bought shares in the Masonic Hall and presented them to the Lodge. In the Lodge minutes dated February 1898 a proposition as passed to take £100.00 from the Charity Account and invest it in shares in the Blackpool Masonic Hall Ltd., income from which to be donated to Masonic Charities. In June 1983 W. Bro. Partington was re-appointed Director for Clifton Lodge to the Board of Directors of the Blackpool Masonic Hall Ltd., and, at that time, was appointed Chairman of the Board – a position he still holds today.

Members of Clifton Lodge, with the Brethren from other Lodges, all wearing full regalia, were at the ceremony of laying the foundation stones at Blackpool (North) Pier in 1863, the new Promenade and carriageway in 1870, and in 1877 the Victoria School at Tyldesley Road, which had the “playground” on the roof. The following year they were present at Holy Trinity Church, St Paul’s (1898), All Saints (1904), and St Stephens on the Cliffs (1911). It was shortly after this date that parades of Masons, in full regalia, at foundation stone laying or other similar ceremonies was prohibited by Grand Lodge. It seems a pity that in these days of “openness” the public should be robbed of what would be, at the very least, a very colourful ceremony.

Amongst its members, Clifton Lodge has had eight Mayors of Blackpool. Sir John Bickerstaffe, the builder of the Tower, was a one time member. Bro. Dr. John Cocker was the Worshipful Master in 1860 – 61. Clifton Lodge membership, during the early years, must have read like a “Who’s Who” of Blackpool.