Meltham Oddfellows' Hall.
The village of Meltham presented a gay and lively appearance on Monday last, it having been announced early in the morning of that day that Wm. Leigh Brook, Esq., of Meltham Hall, had kindly consented to lay the foundation stone of the intended Oddfellows' Hall, and that Mr. Aitken, a talented Oddfellow, from Ashton under-Lyne, would also assist at the ceremony. The announcement not only excited the curiosity, but the good feeling also, of a great majority of the inhabitants of Meltham.
At the time appointed for the procession, three excellent bands of music struck up a lively march, when the largest body of the best attired men ever witnessed in Meltham, (most of them wearing the insignia of the order,) moved forward from the front of the Waggon and Horses Inn, at four o'clock, p.m., and, taking a circuitous route, arrived at the site of the intended hall at five o’clock precisely. During the time of the procession, the ringers of Meltham, never lagging in their duty on such occasions, entered the tower of Meltham Church, and sent forth a merry peal to mingle with the music of the bands below. The members of the different lodges in the neighbourhood having arranged themselves round the site of the building, the following gentlemen presented themselves on the spot where the ceremony was to take place, viz :— Wm. Leigh Brook, Esq., Charles Brook, jun., Esq., Uriah Tinker, Esq., Mr. Aitken from Ashton, with some of the younger branches of the family of Charles Brook, Esq., of Healey House. The foundation stone having been laid in its permanent bed by Mr. L. Brook, assisted by Mr. John Pogson, the contractor, the former gentleman addressed the assembly at considerable length and in a most energetic and impressive manner, pointing out the good these societies, rightly conducted, were calculated to effect ; and after invoking the blessings of divine providence upon their undertaking, he proceeded to observe that it required but a very brief knowledge of the history of the working of the New Year Lodge of Oddfellows, at Meltham, to prove that the ratepayers ought to feel thankful that such a society existed in the village, and that it was desirable that they should give such societies their countenance and support. He reminded them of the number of families saved from destitution by the agency of these societies, and of the valuable assistance rendered to the widow and family in case of the husband’s death. From these and other considerations, himself and his brother (Mr. Charles Brook) had come to the conclusion of becoming enrolled as honorary members of this valuable society. (Applause.)
Mr. George Creaser moved, and Mr. Benjamin Armitage seconded, a vote of thanks to William Leigh Brook, Esq., for his kind and valuable services, of which the assembled company testified their high approval by several rounds of applause.
The assembly was subsequently addressed by Mr. Aitken, of Ashton-under Lyne, who congratulated the Oddfellows on the warm friend they had found in Mr. W. L. Brook, their respected president. He then proceeded to advocate the principles of Oddfellowship — which had become now almost universal — and urged on the rising generation the desirability of joining these societies, whereby they could secure a certain provision against old age, sickness, or distress, and finally, as a means towards seeming this desirable result, he called upon the fair maids of Meltham to withdraw their smiles and favoured glances from every young man who had not wisdom enough to make some such provision for after years. (Applause.)
On the motion of Mr. George Creaser, seconded by Mr. Benjamin Armitage, three hearty cheers were given for Mr. Aitken, which was followed by three for the musicians, three for the Queen, after which the ceremony was brought to a conclusion by the band playing the national anthem ; and we are happy to learn that no scenes of disorder marked the evening’s enjoyments which followed, nor did anything occur to mar or damage the harmonious proceedings of the day.