A Brief History of Unity Lodge
On the 19th. April, 1920 a number of brethren of St. Andrews Lodge, No. 819, S. C., held a meeting for the purpose of forming a new Lodge in Townsville. This meeting was presided over by Rt. Wor. Bro. W.H. Green who subsequently became the Foundation Master of the Lodge, later to become the first District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of North Queensland and eventually the Most Wor. Grand Master of Queensland.
When deciding a name for the Lodge a motion was put forward that the new Lodge be known as William Green Lodge, but Rt. Wor. Bro. Green declined the honour. Several other names were suggested and it was eventually agreed to leave this matter stand over till the next meeting.
The second meeting of members of the proposed new Lodge was held on the 28th. April 1920, in a room above the premises of Rees and Tice. At this meeting a suitable name for the Lodge was again discussed. Several names were suggested, such as Cootheringa, Pallarenda, Herbert, Livingstone St. Andrew, Robert Bruce, and Unity. It was unanimously resolved to name the Lodge Unity. The fee for foundation members to be two guineas and that for affiliation be one guinea. Two further meetings of the proposed new Lodge were held on the 2nd. May 1920 and the 10th. June 1920. At the latter meeting it was decided to hold the consecreation meeting on the 16th. July 1920 to be followed by the combined Installation meeting of Lodges St. Andrew, Balmoral and Unity.
Consecration of Unity Lodge No. 1236 S.C. on Friday the 16th. July, 1920
On the afternoon of Friday the 16th. July, 1920 Lodge Unity was consecreated in the Masonic Hall, Sturt Street West. At this meeting there were 118 members in attendance. In his address the District Grand Master, Rt. Wor. Bro. D. Guthrie, mentioned that Lodge Unity would be the last Lodge in Queensland founded under the Scottish Constitution. That evening the combined installation ceremonies of Lodges St. Andrews 819 S.C., Balmoral 907 S.C. and Unity 1236 S.C. were carried out. Although the attendance book recorded 193 signatures it is said that there were at least 250 brethren present at this meeting. It was confidently asserted that there had never been such a gathering in the Masonic Hall before. Rt. Wor. Bro. Green closed the first meeting of Lodge Unity in peace, love and harmony at 11.10 p.m. All afterwards adjourned to the Odd Fellows Hall (above where Woolworth's now stands in Sturt Street) for the festive board.
The first regular meeting of Lodge Unity No. 1236, was held on 20th. August, 1920. Ballots for initiation were taken for William John Norris and Raymond William Ogden. Bro. Norris was initiated at this meeting and became the first initiate of the lodge. He was granted his demit on 20th. August, 1938 and later affiliated with Townsville A.I.F. Memorial Lodge No. 377. Bro. Ogden was initiated on the 17th. September, 1920.
At the meeting of Lodge Unity No. 1236 held on 18th. March, 1921, the design of the Past Master's Jewel for all Past Masters was presented and accepted. The second installation of Unity Lodge was held on 9th. July, 1921 at 3:00 p.m. when Rt. Wor. Bro. R.J.T. Henderson, P.S.G.W. was installed. The meeting concluded at 5:40 p.m. The commencing time of this meeting was so arranged following advice from the then District Grand Secretary informing Unity Lodge that they could not hold their installation with St. Andrews and Balmoral Lodges. At the request of these two Lodges members of Unity Lodge joined them at their festive board after the installation night.
Installation meetings were held in July until 1930 when the month was changed to June due to the large number of Installations held in July. During its first year the Lodge met on sixteen occasions. In that period seven brethren were initiated and eight affiliated. In the early years it was the practice of Scottish Lodges to confer the Mark Degree on their brethren. Lodge Unity No. 1236 conferred the Mark Degree on thirty-nine members.
A special meeting was called on the 2nd. May 1921, for the purpose of deciding whether Lodge Unity No. 1236 would join the Grand Lodge of Queensland. The Wor. Master Rt. Wor. Bro. W.H. Green moved a motion that this lodge apply for permission to join that body. During the course of his remarks in support he stated that Lodge Unity No. 1236 was the only Lodge in Queensland working under the Scottish constitution. However, on putting the motion to the lodge by secret ballot it was lost.
An example of how far masons travel was given at the Lodge Unity No. 1236 meeting held on the 20th. April, 1923 when in the outwards correspondence a letter to the secretary of Caledonian Lodge No. 1300 S.C., Teintsin, China was read asking him to present Bro. J.D. Clark with his affiliate diploma.
With the subsequent formation of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland a motion was carried on the 16th. April, 1924 that dispensation be sought from the Grand Lodge of Scotland to ballot on the question of Lodge Unity No. 1236 applying for permission to go over to the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. Following the granting of such permission a motion was moved by Wor. Bro. C.J. Mindham that Lodge Unity desires to tender its allegiance to the United Grand Lodge of Scotland. The motion was seconded by Rt. Wor. Bro. W.H. Green. Several member spoke for the motion and several against it. On being put the motion was carried by thirty votes to one.
Not all masons in Townsville were happy to come under the control of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland, and on the 9th. February, 1924 a petition was sent to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a new Charter of Constitution and Erection to meet as a regular Lodge in Townsville. It was proposed that this lodge be called Loyal Scottish and the petition was signed by twenty-eight members of former Scottish Lodges living in the Townsville district. The petition was rejected by the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
On the 16th. March, 1925 an emergent meeting for the Mark Degree was held at the Masonic Hall, Sturt Street West. This was to be the last Mark Degree meeting of Lodge Unity No. 1236. This meeting was presided over by Rt. Wor. Mark Master Wor. Bro. D. Menzies with Bro. G.C. Cecil being obligated and advanced to the Mark Degree.
On the 20th. March, 1925 the last meeting of Lodge Unity No. 1236 was held under the Scottish Charter. It was proposed that the Scottish Charter No. 1236 be returned to the Grand Secretary, Scotland mentioning our appreciation of having been under their constitution for four years, and requesting that the charter be cancelled and returned to the Lodge. At this meeting the Lodge accepted Charter No. 300 from the United Grand Lodge of Queensland. The first meeting of Unity Lodge No. 300 was held on 17th. April, 1925. The first installation of Unity Lodge 300 was held on the 10th. July, 1925. Present were 31 Past Masters, 14 members of the choir, and 65 others.
The original Masonic Hall in Sturt Street which now serves as the Choral Society Hall
At a meeting held at the Masonic Hall in Sturt Street on 19th. November, 1926 a delegate of the new Building Committee enlarged on schemes to improve the present Hall or build a new Temple in the city. Unity Lodge was in favour of a new temple. On an appeal from the Temple Committee at the meeting held on 18th. February, 1927 Unity Lodge gave a loan of fifty pounds and pledged a further fifty pounds in installments.
The meeting held on 16th. March, 1934 was to be the last held by Unity Lodge in the Masonic Hall in Sturt Street and Unity Lodge made a donation of five guineas towards furniture for the new Temple. Readers may notice that all meetings up to this date were in a building referred to as the Masonic Hall. Future meetings held at the new building in Walker Street were at the Masonic Temple. Unity Lodge first met at the Masonic Temple in Walker Street on 20th. April, 1934.
The Lodge continued to progress until the years of World War Two, which in common with other Lodges took its toll on membership. At the meeting of Unity Lodge held on 20th. July, 1940 Wor. Bro. J. Popham moved, seconded Wor. Bro. F.J. Walker that Brethren serving in the various defence forces be exempt from payment of all dues for the duration of the war and for six months afterwards. The motion was passed unanimously.
During the war years Unity Lodge was favoured and honoured with the privilege of conferring three degrees on an American serviceman. This serviceman was about to take his first degree in America when he was called up for military service and posted to Australia. His father, being a keen and enthusiastic Mason in America began corresponding with the United Grand Lodge of Queensland, who then contacted the District Grand Lodge Secretary. After a great deal of correspondence this American serviceman was eventually initiated into Unity Lodge. On the evening he received his Third Degree, a presentation was made to him from his father in America.
Like most Lodges during the war years, Unity Lodge was pleased to welcome Masonic Brethren from the United States Armed Forces. To show their appreciation of the welcome they had received, these American Brethren arranged for an American Lodge meeting to be held in their area. They then conveyed members of Unity Lodge and another Lodge to this area where they performed a degree worked in American tradition. This meeting proved to be very interesting and enjoyable.
At our installation held on the 29th. June, 1968 Unity Lodge was honoured by a visitation from Rt. Wor. Bro. His Excellency, The Hon. Sir Alan James Mansfield, K.C.M.G., K.St. J., P.D.G.M., Governor of the State of Queensland. His Excellency was visiting Townsville on official business and had accepted an invitation to attend our installation. On this occasion His Excellency represented the Most Wor. Grand Master.
The 50th. jubilee meeting of Unity Lodge was held on the 20th. June, 1970 and the following officers were installed:-
Wor. Master Bro. C.H. Murgatroyd Senior Warden Bro. H.S. Hamilton Junior Warden Bro. D.H. Robertson Chaplain Bro. D.J. Ross Treasurer Wor. Bro. G.W. Stanbrook Secretary Wor. Bro. W.J. Ireton Dir. of Ceremonies Wor. Bro. V.C. Freeman Dep. Dir. of Ceremonies Wor. Bro. R.O. Hall Senior Deacon Bro. B.L. Thompson Junior Deacon Bro. B.B. Whyte Inner Guard Bro. K.C. Shannon Tyler Bro. H.K. Bowmaker Organist Bro. D.E. Govan Stewards :- Bro. G.A. Fraser Bro. R.L. Watson Bro. W.W. Johnson Bro. K. Faulkner Auditors :- Bro. H.S. Hamilton & Bro. D.H. Robertson
The first Past Master's Jewel presented to Rt. Wor. Bro. W.H. Green, Foundation Master of Lodge Unity No. 1236 Scottish Constitution and later to become Most Wor. Bro. Green Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland, was presented to Wor. Bro. K. Melchert during his term as Master of the Lodge. This Jewel is now the property of Unity Lodge and is passed on to the new Master during the Installation Ceremony in June each year to be worn by them during their term in office.
The presentation of this Jewel was made possible when the Grand Librarian, Rt. Wor. Bro. Henry Cook, asked V. Wor. Bro, A.R. Grant of Cleveland Lodge No. 74 and Wor. Bro. A. MacDonald of St. Andrews of Townsville Lodge No. 94 to pass the Jewel on to Unity Lodge No. 300.
Extracted by permission from "A Concise History of Unity Lodge No. 300 U.G.L.Q." compiled by Wor. Bro. G.H. (Gordon) Robertson who was initiated into Unity Lodge on 21st. May, 1971.