Greymouth Lodge – No 1233

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Meetings

The Lodge meets on the 1st Tuesday of the month, February (except September) until December at 7:00 pm at the Freemasons’ Hall, Shantytown, Rutherglen Road, Paroa, Greymouth.  Installation is always on the first Saturday in September, at 1:30 pm, again same venue.

General

The town of Greymouth, once called Crescent City, is the largest on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, population of 9000. 250km N.W. of Christchurch, 100 S.W. of Westport, and 40km. N.E. of Hokitika.   For 100 years the service centre for the largest coal mining district in New Zealand, a large dairying industry, and a “passing through town” for 1.2. Million = tourists p.a., 46% of that number being international, visiting the spectacular scenery that the Coast has to offer….the many lakes, the sea and beaches, the wild bird life, the beautiful Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and huge areas of native forest, in the distance of 630 kms. from Karamea in the north to Fiordland in the south, home to only 31,000 people, and not a single road traffic light!

The Lodge

Today, one of only two English Constitution  Lodges left on the Coast, the other being Phoenix Lodge, 1690 at Westport.  Between 1865 and 1948 a total of 22 “blue lodges”, 9 Royal Arch Chapters and a variety of allied Masonic orders were consecrated, when the area in the gold mining hey days of the 1860/70’s boasted a population of 45,000.   Many miners came from Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia and the United States of America bringing their masonry with them.   No Irish Lodges, all were either English or Scottish in persuasion.

As of 2016, 6 Lodges remain on the Coast, two English and four of the New Zealand Constitution.

Greymouth Lodge was consecrated May 25th 1868, the second Lodge of the district, the oldest being The Pacific Lodge of Hokitika, 1229 E.C., 1865 in Hokitika, and still operating in = Christchurch.   Originally met in the Albion Hotel, the first W.M. was Bro. Andrew Edward Ancher, the “father of Masonry” in Greymouth, 18 foundation brethren and a further 10 initiated that day. A noon tyle and a 2am. finish….quite a day! Charter arrived from England two years later….of interest 1233 was charter number originally of The Dunedin Lodge (now 931, E.C.) meeting at Blenheim,  U.G.L. of E. renumbered their Lodges in 1863. By 1871 Lodge met at local Gilmers Hotel, Greymouth,  1873 they built their own rooms which were destroyed by fire in 1887, along with sadly some of the early records of the Lodge. More temporary homes and in 1890 re-built rooms, of interest between 1868 and 1890  the Lodge had processed 361 brethren, and reached a membership high in the 1930′ s of 167 brethren….today struggles for members and the roll is down to 24, but like all Lodges can look back on a very colourful history, it remained loyal to its original constitution, when others of Scottish and English heritage left to join  the newly created Grand Lodge of New Zealand in 1894.

Although, in terms of active members, a small Lodge with few new candidates being attracted from a very small population base, the Greymouth Lodge has been able, from its Greymouth Masonic Charitable Trust, to donate $270,000 to local community, educational, charitable and cultural organisations over the last 23 years. The Lodge shall celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018.

The highlight of each year is the September installation ceremony where it is  not uncommon to have over 60 Freemasons attend, including brethren from all four masonic constitutions in the country, i.e. English, New Zealand, Scottish and Irish Grand Lodges.