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Masonic Fire

The Story of our Night of Consecration

This speech was written by WBro Doug R. and was delivered at our tenth anniversary meeting.

When Legion Lodge was consecrated in June 1975 it was a scorcher -the hottest day of the year. Black Tie was the order of the day and 120 masons, the maximum number for the temple, packed the Masonic Hall in Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne.  We were treated to a memorable ceremony in which all the Founders took part.  None will forget the performance of the Consecrating Officer, the Provincial Grand Master himself, RW Bro. J.M.S. Coates.  He  excelled himself that afternoon, considering that he was in his eighties and that the temperature  was almost unbearable.

Photo of Northumberland Hills The early proceedings at the festive board went without a hitch and the provincial team took their leave.  The rest of us settled down to enjoy the remainder of the evening when .... DRAMA! ... the door burst open and Ivor Burger entered to announce that the building was on fire and we should vacate vacate the premises.  The first reaction was disbelief and nobody moved.  However when the normally mild mannered Ivor yelled "Fire", we were all galvanised into action and beat a hasty retreat.  By this time smoke was billowing up the stairs which dispelled any lingering thought of a hoax.  It was at this juncture that Joe McGill's army training stood him in good stead. He remembered to rescue a bottle of whisky from his table!

A large crowd had gathered by the time the fire brigade arrived.  The fire was soon under control and damage was restricted to the end where youngsters had set fire to some rubbish.  There were a few minutes of panic when it was realised that a guest was not accounted for; it later transpired that he, realising the evening was over, had retired to a nearby hostelry to wash the smoke from his system

It was some time before the brigade would allow us to re-enter the building to collect our belongings, although there was no damage the smell of smoke made made it impossible for the proceedings to continue.

Rumour had it that Province suggested that the lodge ought not to take its firing so literally.  The lodge replied that we were only attempting to toast our visitors.  We shall never know how seriously the lodge would have been affected had the building been destroyed.  I prefer to think that Masonry is symbolic and that the fire was a token of the founders' burning desire to make Legion  the best in the province.

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