EXTENSION OF THE ODDFELLOWS' HALL.
Saturday was a notable day in the history of Meltham Oddfellowship, and in honour of the New Year Lodge (No. 230) of the Manchester Unity the inhabitants of the district turned out in large numbers, despite the showery weather, to witness the proceedings in connection with the laying of three corner stones on which is to be made a much needed addition to the Oddfellows’ Hall. The existing building is a plain three-storied structure. The assembly-room or hall is on the upper floor, approached by a stone staircase at one end. The two lower floors are let off as dwelling-houses. A panel-stone in the front bears the inscription “Oddfellows’ Hall, 1851.” The extensions now in course of erection consist of an additional open stone staircase to the assembly-room, ladies’ and gentlemen’s retiring-rooms and lavatories, a ground floor kitchen, with lift to the upper floors, and a fireproof heating chamber. The exterior of the new building is to faced with local stone and Crosland Moor dressings. The first elevation, which will be of an ornamental character, is to he treated in the Classic style, the entrance doorway having bold projecting pilasters and entablature. The first-floor window to the staircase will have moulded mullions and transomes, and a moulded cornice over. The second-floor window to staircase is to have moulded mullions and transomers, and an ornamental circular pediment with scrolls and ball finals. The front will be finished with a shaped Elizabethan gable, on which will be inscribed “Enlarged 1894.” The work is being carried out by the following firms :—
Masons, Messrs. John Moorhouse and Sons ; joiners, Messrs. Moorhouse and Taylor ; plasterers, Messrs. James Wilkinson and Sons ; plumber, Mr. J.W. Kaye ; painters, Messrs. J. Preston and Sons ; ironfounder, Mr. James Kilburn, all of Meltham ; and the slaters’ work by Mr. W.E. Jowitt, of Huddersfield, from the plans and under the superintendence of Messrs. John Kirk and Sons, architects, Huddersfield and Dewsbury. The total outlay will be about £1,000. It may be interesting to state that the corner stones have been supplied by Messrs. Jas. Brierley and Co., of Warwick Quarries, Netherton, who were represented at the stone-laying by Bro. Joseph Radcliffe, D.G.M. of the Huddersfield district, and that the inscription which each of the stones bore was carved by Bro. Hugh Ramsden, G.M. of the Huddersfield district.
The route proposed to be taken by the procession had been decorated with flags, &c., the bells of the Parish Church were rung by hand for the second time since the Jubilee year, and every one seemed determined to make things as bright and cheerful as it was possible under the very depressing meteorological surroundings. It had been announced that the Immediate Past Grand Master of the Unity (Bro. C.F. Claverhouse Graham) would be present, and no doubt in consequence of this fact a very large number of district officers and brethren attended. Unfortunately Bro. Graham missed the railway connection at Normanton, and on arriving at Sowerby Bridge found he could not get to Meltham until just before four o’clock. The train due to arrive at 2-12, however, was met by a large gathering of members wearing the sashes and regalia of the order, and an informed procession being formed they marched, headed by the Meltham Mills Band, to the Oddfellows’ Hall.
INITIATION OF FIVE HON. MEMBERS.
It was here that the first ceremony in connection with the day’s proceedings took place, viz., the initiation of the following gentlemen as honorary members of the lodge :— The Rev. J.R. Jagoe, vicar of Meltham Mills ; Mr. W. Wrigley, J.P., Mr. James Kilburn, J.P., Mr. E. Hildred Carlile, and Mr. Charles Lewis Brook. The lodge having been opened with the usual formalities, the ceremony of initiation was proceeded with. The Past Grand Master of the order was to have been the lecture master, but in his unavoidable absence, under the circumstances already stated, Bro. E.B. Wood, Grand Master of the lodge, ably performed the duties. The Noble Grand’s chair was filled by Bro. J.W. Waterhouse, and the Vice-Grand’s by Bro. Lee Roebuck. They were supported by the Grand Master of the district, Bro. Henry Haigh ; the Deputy Grand Master, Bro. Walter Middleton ; and the Provincial C.S., Bro. J.H. Preston. The prospective hon. members were introduced to the lodge by Past Provincial Grand Masters T. Earnshaw, A. Broadbent, and M. Addy, the latter of whom gave the usual instructions to the newly-initiated brethren.
THE PROCESSION AND RECEPTION OF THE PAST GRAND MASTER.
A procession was afterwards formed consisting of the past and present district officers of the Holmfirth district (in which Meltham is situate), the past and present officers of the New Year (Meltham) and Friendship (Meltham Mills) Lodges of the Manchester Unity and a large number of visiting brethren. The juvenile Oddfellows belonging to the Meltham and Meltham Mills lodges were also present in force wearing their regalia, as well as the members of the Meltham Mills Fire Brigade, under Deputy-Captain J.W. Lockwood, several members of the Sons of Temperance Lodge, with representatives of their juvenile society, and of the local lodges of the Order of the Golden Fleece, of the Ancient Order of Foresters, and of the Order of Druids. The members of the Meltham Mills Junior Band also enlivened the proceedings with the lively strains of their music. The regalia, especially of the Foresters, a member of which body was mounted on horseback, attracted much attention along the route of the procession, which was by way of Calm Lands as far as Meltham Mills, through the pleasure grounds there, back past Durker Roods to the village, then past the church up Mill Moor as far as Mr. Kilburn’s foundry, and returned by way of Station-street to the railway station. Here the procession stopped to wait for the arrival of the Past Grand Master, who was met by Hon. Bro. W. Wrigley, J.P. (who entertained him during his stay), and Hon. Bro. C.L. Brook, and was received with great enthusiasm. The discharge of fog signals on the railway announced his arrival, and amid the clangour of the church bells, and the loud cheering of the brethren and the spectators, Bro. Graham marched between the ranks of those forming the procession — who had lined each side of the road — and took his place at the head. Immediately the progress was resumed to the Oddfellows’ Hall. All along the route taken by the procession the greatest interest was manifested, and the day is one that will live long in the annals of Meltham Oddfellowship.
THE CORNER STONE LAYING.
There was a large gathering at the stone laying, which was presided over by Pro. Grand Master Henry Haigh, who, at the outset, heartily welcomed the Past Grand Master of the Order to Meltham.
Prov. C.S. J.H. Preston then presented a beautiful silver trowel and mallet, provided by the lodge, to Bro. Graham. He remarked on the great honour that had been conferred upon him in asking him to make that presentation. They were all grateful that Bro. Graham, after an arduous 12 months’ labour, came to little Meltham, in the Holmfirth district, a very remote part of the Manchester Unity. (Applause.) During his year of office as Grand Master, Bro. Graham had travelled no less than 10,000 miles in the British Isles, visiting various lodges and districts, and they thanked him for his efforts on behalf of Oddfellowship. In Meltham district he believed they had over 1,000 members of friendly societies, and between 200 and 300 juvenile members, out of a population of between 4,000 and 5,000, and he hoped the result of Bro. Graham’s visit would be to increase the membership, not only of the lodges of the Manchester Unity, but of the rest of the lodges of the district. (Applause.)
P.G. Wellington Watson presented Hon. Bro. W. Wrigley with a similar trowel and mallet also on behalf of the lodge, and, in doing so, expressed his pleasure that they had made such a valuable addition to their ranks that day.
Mr. J.S. Kirk afterwards, on behalf of himself and the contractors, presented Hon. Bro. E. Hildred Carlile with a trowel and mallet, sincerely hoping that that gentleman would live for many years to see the usefulness of that hall. (Hear, hear.) He hoped the cause would prosper. He was sure that was a very important undertaking, and he sincerely hoped it would be a very great success. (Hear, hear.)
Each of these presentations was greeted with applause, and the recipients in turn laid a corner stone “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Under the cavity of the first stone, laid by Bro. Graham, were placed copies of the local press (including the Huddersfield Chronicle) for the day, a balance-sheet of the lodge for 1893, the district quarterly report for March 31st, 1894, and a list of the trustees, officers, architects, and contractors.
An appropriate prayer was offered by Hon. Bro. the Rev. J.R. Jagoe, and afterwards, at the call of P.G. George H. Dawson, thanks were enthusiastically accorded to the gentlemen who had taken part in the proceedings.
Bro. Claverhouse Graham, in responding, expressed his regret that, because of circumstances over which he had no control, his arrival had been delayed in a way that had caused some inconvenience. He remarked on the great enthusiasm that prevailed, which he had never seen exceeded wherever he had gone — (applause) — and congratulated them on the honorary members they had initiated that day. He was sorry he did not arrive in time to welcome those gentlemen as brethren, but he thanked them in the name of the unity for joining the lodge, and he trusted they would never have cause to regret joining an order like the Manchester Unity. They would be of service socially and materially, and he trusted they would ever feel as he should ever feel a burning interest in the working of the Manchester Unity. (Applause.)
Hon. Bro. W. Wrigley, in responding, pointed out that the Oddfellows not only promoted their own interests, but, as in that work, did what they could to benefit the neighbourhood in which they resided.
Hon. Bro. Carlile, after thanking the contractors for the trowel and mallet, wished success to the cause of Oddfellowship in Huddersfield and district. The work they were undertaking day would be of great benefit in the future. He thanked for the warmth with which they had received him as a brother, and felt sure he should not regret having taken the step he had done.
The proceedings in the open air, which had been considerably interfered with by the rain, then concluded.
THE EVENING MEETING.
ADDRESS BY THE IMMEDIATE PAST GRAND MASTER.
An excellent tea was afterwards served in the National Schools, and in the evening an enthusiastic meeting was held in the Oddfellows' Hall, under the presidency of Hon. Bro. W. Wrigley, J.P., who was supported by the Immediate Past Grand Master of the order (Bro. Graham), the honorary members, and officers of the lodge.
The Chairman remarked that he had only been an honorary Oddfellow between three and four hours — (laughter) — and he thought it would have been more fitting that some of the men who had grown old in the service should have taken that position. (“No, no.”) He was pressed to do it, and would do it to the best of his ability. (Hear, hear.) They had the Past Grand Master of the order at Meltham. They felt this to be a very great honour. (Hear hear.) As an outsider he (the chairman) always had the greatest appreciation of the work of these societies. He believed they helped people to help themselves, to respect themselves, and to help each other. (Hear, hear.) This, it seemed to him, was at the foundation of our national prosperity. Their society not only did this work for the people who belonged to it, but for the general public it was lessening the poor rates to a very large extent. (Hear, hear.) He remarked that the work they had inaugurated that day would supply what had been long felt to be a great want. With the limited means of entrance and egress there might have been some serious mishap at their hall. They were, therefore, doing something not only for Oddfellows to be proud of, but for the public at large, and they deserved the thanks of the community for their public-spirited enterprise. (Applause.)
Bro. Thomas Henry Mellor (secretary of the lodge) presented the following report :—
Hon. Bro. E.H. Carlile gave the sentiment of “The Manchester Unity and Board of Directors.” After some jocular remarks on the origin of Odd-fellowship Bro. Carlile said they were met that day, most of them as Oddfellows, in connection with one of the most stupendous societies the world had ever seen or was likely to see — (hear, hear) — and it was no light thing to have taken any hand in the development of such a society. It started amidst prosecution, opposition, and distrust, and even daring the present century there had been a feeling of great misgiving as to the work of this and similar societies. In spite of this they had progressed wonderfully. The society of which they were the privileged members was one of 24,000 societies, but taking its rank high up, and in some respects highest up of all. It showed to-day a membership of 720,000 out of a total membership of 4,000,000 for the whole of the 24,000 societies. It point of numbers it took second place to the Foresters, but in the matter of funds it was first of all, having £11 per head of membership, and a total capital of £8,000,000 sterling. They had in the Meltham township two branches of the society, of which they might well be proud. They had between them a membership of 600, and they were both among the lodges that had a surplus to their credit, and always intended to be so. (Applause.) These friendly societies had done more, perhaps, than anything else to improve the well-being of the people. He coupled with his sentiment the name of Past Grand Master Graham, whose visit, at great personal inconvenience, they appreciated very highly indeed. (Applause.)
Past Grand Master Graham, who was enthusiastically received with the customary honours of Oddfellowship, commenced by jocularly remarking that if the gentlemen on the platform were specimens of the kind of “juveniles ” they introduced into the Manchester Unity — (laughter) — one was not surprised to find that the lodges in Meltham and in the district were amongst those of which the Manchester Unity had cause to be very proud indeed, (Hear, hear.) He hoped they would not consider that any small amount of trouble or inconvenience he had been put to was at all commensurate with the gratification he felt at being present on so interesting an occasion. He complimented them on their choice of brethren to represent them at the A.M.C., and could assure them that they did their work well. (Applause.) He also expressed his delight at the remark of Hon. Bro. Wrigley that they were not only doing their duty to Oddfellowship, but that they were rendering yeoman service as citizens in the township in which they resided. One of the noble qualities of Oddfellowship was to never dream of thinking alone of No. 1. They thought of No. 1 certainly, but they never forgot there was a No. 2. (Applause.) During his year of office as Grand Master he travelled 10,000 miles and visited 72 districts. They had several demonstrations and had Grand Master’s weather every time. Now that he had descended from his pedestal, however, the meteorological arrangements had no regard for him, and what was more serious, did not mind them at all. (Laughter.) He was delighted to see other orders represented in the procession, and was glad to find that the feeling of brotherly kindness and friendship with other lodges was so strong amongst them. He was a Forester as well as an Oddfellow, and it was a great satisfaction to them to know that whilst the Oddfellows of the Manchester Unity were only 1,65b behind the Foresters in point of membership, they were £3,000,000 ahead of them so far as funds were concerned. They did not say. this boastfully, but in order that by the emulative principles of friendly societies they might all progress and become a greater force for good in the country. (Hear, hear.) He pointed out that last year they received £1,454,000 from members in monthly or fortnightly contributions of 6d., 8d., 10d., 1s., or 1s. 2d., and no less than £1,136,000 was spent in the relief of sickness, when the breadwinner was on his back; in aid of funeral donations, when the bread-winner was taken to his last home ; in grants to widows and orphans in the day of their bereavement as the consolation and comfort that a brother took to them in those days of darkness, and even in those days of despair. He expressed his delight that a clergyman had joined them that day, remarking that this growing sympathy of the clergy with them and their work was one of the signs of the times, and asked if even a clergyman, who visited his sick, and understood the value of such a society as theirs, could fully realise what good was done by the distribution of this sum of £3,000 a day (Sundays included). Perhaps the most gratifying feature of these grants was that they were the honestly earned reward of the members’ frugality, which rendered them the sweetest contribution that it was possible for one man to give to another. (Hear, hear.) They had added to their capital during the past year £290,000. One was startled on going back 20 years to find that from 1874 to 1894 the Manchester Unity had received no less than £15,500,000 in contributions, that it distributed £11,000,000 amongst the members of the order, and that in that period it accumulated and saved £4,500,000. In 1859 it was calculated by the registrar that friendly societies were saving the country in poor rates £2,000,000. Remembering that their membership had increased by over 400,090 members since that time, that their wealth had increased during that period by more than £6,000,000, and remembering the strides that other friendly societies had made, he thought they might say without any exaggeration that to-day friendly societies saved the country at least £4,000,000 in poor rates. There was a poor rate of £14,000,000, of which the poor only received £8,000,000, the rest of the money going in buddings and officialism. He thought the extension of their society was to be greatly desired, and that by what they had already they had proved themselves citizens of no mean country. (Applause.) In 1875 Sir Stafford Northcote estimated the saving to the poor rates by the working of friendly societies at 6d. in the pound. It was more recently estimated by Mr. Goschen at 9d., and now he claimed (in view of the rapidity of their advance) that the saving could not represent less than 1s. per pound in the poor rate. They claimed their right to be heard when legislation affecting friendly societies was to be dealt with. He spoke of the widespread character of the reals of Oddfellowship on which, like that of the Queen, the sun never set. Referring to the juvenile lodges, he said he same to this district with nothing but praise. They were amongst their soundest lodges and districts. They were a compliment and a credit to the Manchester Unity, and he should not have come if he did not feel that he could give a good word to those who, for years, have tried to work for the benefit of the order. Theirs was one of the old lodges that had to struggle in the darkness without any actuarial light, without any assistance to tell them how to act, without any sympathy from the country, without any support from the Government, and with everything against them. The younger lodges had come in to the advantage of their experience, and it was because of their labours and determination to stand by a good cause that they were to-day in such a solvent position right through the unity, and that they were acknowledged to be head and shoulders above all the friendly societies in the matter of solvency and wealth. It was, therefore, a pleasure to him to come there, and if they would invite him to come again when the next ceremony took place in connection with the building, he could assure them that if at all possible he would be with them. (Load applause.) The juvenile lodges were a very important element in the order. They had 90,000 juveniles who held £95,000. It was the transfusion of this young blood into the Manchester Unity that was making the unity its lodges and districts younger instead of older, the average age having grown one year less during the past five years. He had given them a glowing picture of the order. It was not perfect, but they had determined if possible to make it so. It had been one of the great glories of the Manchester Unity that if any reforms were necessary they had never ceased their efforts until they were carried. Another glory was that when they had discovered a reform of themselves — when Mr. Henry Radcliffe of immortal memory, one of the people from their own locality, developed those tables which had been the salvation of friendly societies, and when they had done anything since — they had left the book-open wide, and had given them to the world, because they had felt that what was good for them was good for everyone, and their desire was to do their utmost for their own members and for the brethren who might join any other order. To-day, they were in the proud position of the Government using the Manchester tables for the calculation of their annuities. Twenty-two millions of lives was the average upon which every life was calculated, and so clear and close in the calculation of the duration of human life had they become that they could almost tell, not individually but collectively, when everyone of the members of the Manchester Unity would die. Although their funds were not centralised, and he should be very sorry if they were, yet if anything happened to their lodges or district they knew that every loyal member would be taken up by the unity, and would be a member to the end of his days. He spoke in favour of the formation of women’s lodges, and went on to discuss a question, that had become a difficult one, viz., what to do with their old brethren. It was one of the glories of their unity that they owned 26,000 brethren over 65 years of age, and 2,000 of these were over 80. No society in the world owned as many, the Foresters, with a slightly larger membership, having only 14,000 brethren over 65 years of age. The question of pension was on everybody’s lips, for they were all desirous of doing for the older brethren what they coaid not do for themselves. A large number of brethren had come to the conclusion that they would never be able to pay this pension, though it was now partly paid under the guise of sick pay, because doctors and brethren were good. (Hear, hear.) There was a large body of thought growing in the Manchester Unity to the effect that the time had come when they should ask whether they were not entitled to receive for the old men some thing of what they had saved the country in the poor rate for so many years. For the first time at the last A.M.C. that sentiment was applauded, although the members had not yet decided that they would receive State aid for their older members. The age was fixed by some at 60, and it was said that on reaching that age every man who had been a consistent member of a friendly society should be entitled to a pension, and receive for the rest of his days, whether he could work or not, whether he was ill or not, the sum of 5s. per week to ease him down the road of life. They had determined to solve this question. They were determined that their older brethren, from whom they had derived such valuable experience, should be members of the order to the end of their days, which should not be ended in the workhouse, and that they should not have a pauper’s funeral, or be dependent upon others who had perhaps enough to do. Every reform that the Manchester Unity had started had been carried to a successful issue, and he hoped they would never rest until this reform was carried, and until they could say that in the Manchester Unity, at any rate, there was not a single old member who did not receive a pension at the hands of his friends. (Applause.) In conclusion, he urged them all to be soldiers in the ranks, and not leave the few to do the work.
Bro. J. Sanderson then presented the Past Grand Master with a beautiful case of cotton thread (made at Meltham Mills) on behalf of the Loyal Friendship Lodge for Mrs. Graham.
Past Grand Master Graham said, in response, that he was overwhelmed by their kindness, and should never forget the warmth of his greeting by the brethren of Meltham and district.
The Chairman expressed, on behalf of the meeting, thanks to Past Grand Master Graham (who was compelled to leave at this juncture in order to catch a train at Huddersfield) for his presence and their high appreciation of the speech which he had delivered to them.
Prov. C.S. Preston gave “The Health of our Honorary Members.” He remarked that this phase of Oddfellowship was developing throughout the country. He hoped those who had been initiated that day would give them the benefit of their advice and experience, that they would go right through the chairs, and that some of them at any rate would be able to come down to address them as Past Grand Masters of the Manchester Unity. (Applause.) He subsequently announced that Hon. Bro. Carlile and Hon. Bro. Wrigley had given donations of £50 and £20 respectively towards their expenses in the alteration of the hall — (applause) — for which gifts they were exceedingly thankful. He also remarked that he believed the largest lodge in the Huddersfield district was the Lilly of the Valley Lodge, Berry Brow, which had a membership of over 400. This was an offspring of the New Year Lodge, which in its turn was originally an outcome of the older lodge at Holthead. (Applause).
Hon. Bro. the Rev. J. R. Jagoe said he felt it a privilege and honour to be admitted as an Odd fellow, for he recognised in that society an outcome of that Christianity which they all professed. He was sure the principles that were read at their initiation, if acted upon by each member throughout the world, would help to improve the condition of men generally, and would be a great blessing in many respects. He spoke of the great value of those societies in increasing self-respect amongst the members and of its value in its grants in cases of the sickness or death of its members. He regarded the movement amongst the juveniles as especially worthy of commendation, and desired to see the extension of their benefits amongst women. He thanked them for the honour they had done him, and hoped he might prove worthy of that honour. He expressed a hope that brighter days were in store for them all. (Applause.)
Hon. Bro. J. Kilburn also thanked them for the way in which they had received him amongst them and hoped neither he nor they would have any reason to regret the step taken that day. He could discover nothing that was not beneficial in the charge, and thought that if everybody belonged to the society and carried out its principles the millennium would indeed have arrived. He had always felt a strong sympathy with the Oddfellows of Meltham, because they had not only cared for themselves, but had displayed great public spirit.
Hon. Bro. C.L. Brook, in a thoughtful speech, said be felt he should never regret joining their lodge, and the only regret he felt at the moment was that he did not join it sooner — (applause) — because he thought that society and the various other friendly societies were founded on two great principles which, if carried out as they ought to be, would vastly improve the condition of society in this country and all over the world — he meant the principles of self-help and of helping others. He concluded by wishing great prosperity to the order, and especially to the New Year Lodge (No. 230), of which he was proud to be a member. (Applause.)
Hon. Bro. E.H. Carlile, in responding, expressed his thanks to the contractors for then-present. He hoped the duties of the honorary members would not be so arduous as to prevent them receiving promotion in the order — (hear, hear) — and any promotion that fell to his lot he should value very much indeed. (Applause.) He remarked jocularly that he should very much appreciate being past-grand master of the unity. (Laughter and applause.)
The Chairman also thanked them for having received the hon. members so heartily. If he acted up to the initiation charge he was sure he should do nothing of which either he or they would be ashamed. He thanked them for the trowel and mallet they had so kindly given him, and should keep it as an interesting memorial not only of the laying of those foundation stones but of the day of his initiation into the New Year Lodge. Like Bro. C.L. Brook, if there was anything he regretted it was that he was not initiated earlier. (Applause.)
“Our Visiting Brethren” was given by P.P.G.M Tom Earnshaw and responded to by P.P.G..M. Mellor Addy.
P.G. Wellington Watson gave “The Architect and Contractors,” and Mr. James S. Kirk replied. In doing so the latter gentleman referred to the generous way in which the chairman had offered them the site on which the enlargement was to be made. (Applause.).
The speeches were pleasantly interspersed with musical selections by Bro. Stead’s party, several solos being admirably given by Miss Stead, and on the proposal of P.P.G.M. Abm. Broadbent, seconded by P.G. David Bottomley, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to them.
A vote of thanks to the chairman, on the proposal of P.G.G.H. Dawson, concluded an enthusiastic demonstration that speaks well for the strength of Oddfellowship in the district, and should mark a distinct and unmistakable step in advance.