Ashbury Lodge Number 1459, based in the City East Area, recently celebrated its 150th Anniversary, which is a milestone that only a few lodges have reached;
The Lodge was opened in due form by the Lodge’s current Worshipful Master, WBro Simon P. Jackson.
After the usual lodge business was conducted, there was a ballot for the next Master Elect, which in this case was WBro. Tony Stephenson.
There was a report, and WBro John Lees, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremony, was admitted and announced that the Assistant Provincial Grand Master (APGM) Paul O’Carroll for the City East Area, accompanied by his Provincial Deputation, were outside the Lodge and demanded admission.
Once the delegation was seated, W. Bro Jackson offered the gavel to the APGM WBro.O’Carroll, who happily accepted it and introduced the Provincial deputation individually.
The next business on the summons was for W. Bro Simon P.Jackson to give a prcis of the Lodge’s rich history. WBro Jackson explained that the Lodge has had a deep connection with the railway industry since its inception
and was named after James Lloyd Ashbury Esq., MP., who was the Governing Manager of the Ashbury Carriage and Wagon Works, Openshaw. He was well-known and highly respected in West Gorton, Openshaw, and Bradford. James was the son of John Ashbury, the wheelwright who had invented a railway carriage and, as a result, had become very wealthy. Although James Ashbury was a man of considerable presence, being impressive both in physique and in beard, he was not a fit man and took up yachting in 1867, partly to restore his health. He quickly developed an enthusiasm for the sport, which was matched by his wealth. Despite his relatively short active association with the Club, his contribution to the Royal Harwich was considerable, and he became Commodore of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club in 1870.
Ashbury Lodge was consecrated at the Justice Birch Hotel in Manchester on November 26th, 1873; there was a full attendance of Provincial Grand Officers to assist the Right W.Dep.Provincial Grand Master with the Consecration Ceremony when Bro. John Ingham was installed as Worshipful Master.
There were eight Founders of the Lodge present, four being members from its Mother Lodge, the Duke of Athol Lodge No.210, who took their respective offices. They were:
John Ingham WM Duke of Athol No.210 and Egerton No.1030.
Thomas Aspinall IPM Unanimity No.287
N.C.Underwood SW Peace No.322
James E.Hall JW Richmond No.1011 and St.George’s No.1170
James W.Abbott Treas Egerton, No.1030
John Cragg Sec Duke of Athol, No.210
George Cragg SD Duke of Athol, No.210
James Moores JD Duke of Athol, No.210
It should be noted that there were not enough members to fill the various offices, which was a golden opportunity for young Masons to grasp the nettle.
The First Regular Meeting was held on December 24th 1873, when only six officers signed the attendance book, and Thomas Wallis was appointed Outer Guard. Eleven visitors were present, five of whom were from the Duke of Athol No.210. The business of the meeting was to initiate the following four candidates: John Taylor, John Shepherd, Edwin William Burrows, and John Whitelegg.
The First Installation Meeting was held on November 26th 1874, when the membership had grown somewhat, as 10 Officers and 19 members signed the book. The visitors numbered 19, including the Rt.W.Dep.Prov.Grand Master, William Romaine Callender, M.P., Fraternity Lodge No. 64..
The Provincial Grand Chaplain, W. Bro Russell Conn, then delivered an excellent oration incorporating music from the sixties, which was superbly played by the Provincial Grand Organist, Brian Wilson.
WBro. O’Carroll thanked Bros. Jackson and Conn for their excellent contributions and addressed the Brethren.
After which WBro. Worsley presented a check of 1459 to the APGM for the 2026 Festival. He then received a surprise promotion to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden, which was given to him by the APGM on behalf of the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master. The APGM returned the gavel to W. Bro. Jackson before retiring from the Lodge with his delegation.
Following the completion of the business on the agenda, the W.M. closed the Lodge, and the masons retired to the Social Board. The brotherhood shed the darkness with the purity of its light, with 45 brethren witnessing the moment whilst enjoying a harmonious and vibrant social board.
Story by Bro. Francesco Toto