For over 50 years, since 1887, The Fairfield Lodge, No. 2224, met at The Pavilion Hotel, Long Eaton. In 1920 they were joined by the Fairfield Chapter, followed by The Harrington Lodge No. 5098, in 1929 and the Trivona Mark Lodge in March 1943.
Unfortunately the landlords of The Pavilion Hotel required the premises for other purposes and “notice to quit” was served in 1944.
The only accommodation available at that time was at the Queen’s Hotel, Long Eaton, and the 4 Lodges moved in on June 1st, 1945. The premises consisted of a small upstairs room, used for a Temple and an Ostlers room over the stables across the yard for a dining room. The Temple had a seating capacity of an absolute limit of 100, but only 50 able to dine in the Ostlers Room.
These limited facilities naturally turned the brethren’s thoughts to a “place of our own” With this end in view on April 25th, 1945, The Long Eaton Masonic Hall Committee held its first meeting at “The Blue Bell” Hotel, Long Eaton.
The first financial appeal was launched in 1945 and brought in quickly £681 17s. The membership of the Lodges and Chapter also contributed by increasing their annual subscriptions by 10/6d. Other methods of raising money were planned which proved very lucrative.
It was not until the autumn of 1952 that something very promising in the way of premises was found by Wor. Bro. Nelson Sutton, P.M., of the Fairfield Lodge, who had discovered an old Victorian villa, built about 1886, situated in a very select neighbourhood, standing in its own grounds, of 2/3 of an acre of lawns and gardens. A perfect setting for a Masonic Hall, with plenty of scope for conversions, extensions and capacity for a spacious car park—aptly, it was named “Cleve Lodge.” An offer of £3,500 for the whole of the estate was made and accepted by the vendors.
This called for immediate action. On October 1st, 1952, a new committee of 26 members was formed and another appeal was made to raise a further sum of £5,000.
The first Building Committee was then unleashed and instructed to press forward and prepare plans and estimates.
The Committee appointed Bro. Dennis Taylor, L.R.I.B.A., a very young F. C. Mason of the Harrington Lodge, as architect for the scheme. A plan and estimates were soon submitted by Bro. Taylor and passed on to the full committee for consideration. These consisted of a two storey building at a cost of £5,000. Later amended to £4,000, with an austere dining hall – to be adorned at a later date when funds were available.
The Long Eaton Council passed the plans for approval at their September Meeting in 1952, however the first application for a Building Licence from the Nottingham Office of the Board of Trade brought a polite refusal with a reminder that “Masonic premises were at the bottom of the building queue.” The second application met with the same fate. Nothing daunted, a small committee of three, including our architect, obtained a personal interview with the department concerned on December 15th, 1953 to plead our cause and intimated we were prepared to build a single storey structure if necessary.
At this interview we were informed that we could spend up to £500 until the end of December, 1953 free of licence. A further sum of £1,000 also free of licence could be spent in 1954. This was good news indeed; at last a beam of light pierced the gloom, a ray of sunshine streamed through the forest glade and our slough of despond was behind us.
Consequently on the morning of Christmas Eve, 1953, four brethren were early on the site, and over a glass of sherry they alone witnessed Long Eaton Masonic history being made, as the first soil was removed on this great scheme.
The work proceeded with all speed, the first floor being reached by April 7th, 1954, after a delay of six weeks waiting for steel girders and windows. By May 31st the roof was on. A further licence for £1,750 had been granted with a hint that all building licences would soon be dispensed with.
Once the roof was on, the Dedication Day was fixed for September 25th, 1954, leaving about four months for completion, this was accomplished with 14 days to spare, a truly magnificent building and a credit to all who participated in its erection.
At last the day of the Dedication of the building duly arrived, and at 3 p.m on Saturday 25th September 1954, exactly nine months after the first soil was lifted, the ceremony being performed with all due solemnity, reverence and dignity by The Right Worshipful The Provincial Grand Master, Brigadier General E. C. W. D. Walthall, O.S.M., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.L., with the assistance of The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Captain B. A. Mallender, P.G.D., The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother The Venerable H. E. FitzHerbert, P.A.G. Chaplain, and The Officers of Provincial Grand Lodge, in the presence of 170 members and their guests. A splendid oration was delivered by the Provincial Grand Chaplin, Wor. Bro. Rev. H. C. Snowden.
The ceremony was followed by a high tea in the new dining hall at which The Provincial Grand Master thanked all those brethren who were responsible for the magnificent building.