Members of Lockington Freemasons' Stability Lodge say it is sad to see the builidng close due to dwindling numbers in recent years.By Elaine Cooney
The Lockington Freemasons closed the doors of their lodge after 90 years in the community last month.
Stability Lodge master Geoffrey Shawcross said dwindling membership meant the lodge struggled to pay bills such as annual rates, insurance and electricity.
He said the lodge was down to 18 members.
‘‘In its heyday, we had 120 (people),’’ he said.
Mr Shawcross said most of the Freemasons would transfer to Kyabram’s lodge but a few would drop out of the group.
The Grand Lodge in Melbourne will sell the building.
The group recently gave $300 to Lockington’s Bush Nursing Centre.
Once the books are balanced and furniture are sold, the group will distribute its remaining money to Lockington’s volunteer organisations.
Freemasons Ian Capon and Keith Jeffreys said the news of the closure was ‘‘gut wrenching’’.
‘‘It’s terrible, the lodge has been here for 90 years and to close it is just shocking,’’ Mr Jeffreys said.
The Freemasons said they understood times had changed and there was more demand on people’s time.
Mr Capon said it was a different world now compared to the time he joined the Freemasons.
‘‘Now they have to milk more cows and need more land to make a living,’’ he said.
Mr Shawcross said the group tried to entice new members with open days and tried to break down the secrecy associated with the freemasons.
Mr Shawcross, whose grandfather Reg Glasson was a founding member of the lodge, recalled his first impression of freemasonry.
‘‘My grandfather had this black case and there was no way you’d get to see what was inside,’’ he said.
‘‘I sometimes thought there were spiders in it.’’
He said he asked his grandfather about the suitcase many times but was never told what it contained.
‘‘They (previous Freemasons) really made it a secret.’’
Freemason Tom Davis said people never spoke about being part of the group in public and when he joined was shocked to see familiar faces.
Mr Capon said if you wanted to ask someone the number of their lodge, the question would be ‘‘How old is your grandmother?’’.
He said in 1978, the Freemasons started to shed their secretive nature.
Mr Shawcross said the group helped instil confidence in men because they had to stand in front of others and recite ‘‘charges’’ (texts).
‘‘It makes good men better,’’ he said.
Mr Davis said he was encouraged to learn from texts when he saw they were able to do it.
He said he often drove around in his tractor reciting the verses.
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