It was a sad occasion when the brethren and guests of Argosy Lodge No 3740 met for the last time at Woolton Golf Club. This fine old lodge was closing and surrendering its warrant after being granted its warrant over 101 years ago.
The word ‘argosy’ derives from an Italian word ‘ragusy’, dating from approximately 1570, which means ‘a large merchant ship’, especially one with a rich cargo. And so it was in 1914 that Argosy Lodge No 3740 was consecrated on the grand register of the United Grand Lodge of England and held its first meeting on Friday 2 October.
There is little information about the 17 men from other lodges who decided to form Argosy Lodge; however 12 of the men were from Mariners’ Lodge No 249. The first worshipful master was Dr Robert Buchanan who was a member of Harmonic Lodge No 216. Robert Buchanan was born on 23 July 1864 and died on 19 April 1925. He was a doctor of medicine and member of the Royal College of Surgeons. In his early life he was an apprentice joiner and then went on to study medicine at Liverpool University and worked in the Liverpool Royal Infirmary. He eventually published a book on Toxicology, which is still available today. During the Great War he served as a captain in the 1st Western General Hospital.
According to internet records, Argosy Lodge first met in Hope Street and had their meetings on Friday evenings, eventually moving to the Exchange Hotel in 1916. From the first meeting of the lodge up to the end of 1919, 64 people had joined the lodge and then another 58 joined at the start of the Second World War in 1939. During the Second World War there were some slight changes to protocol when attending the lodge, members were permitted to wear uniforms or morning suits and this continued until 1948. The wearing of white gloves was relaxed and in 1944 meetings were changed to a Saturday afternoon. In 1940 there was a request from the Grand Master for Masonic jewels to be donated and melted down and the festive board to be just light refreshments.
And so with its rich tapestry of history the brethren came together for one final occasion. Bill Cardwell opened the lodge and Andrew Whittle, Chairman of the Woolton Group was saluted. Andy responded by saying it was with sadness that he was attending the meeting. Salutations were then given to Vic Albin who suitable replied.
After the propositions to close the lodge and surrender the warrant were voted upon with unanimous agreement the worshipful master informed the gathering that Terry Redmond would like to say a few words. Terry said he would like to reflect back on the history of the lodge and thank the founders of the lodge. Terry also said that whatever the members decided to do he would be happy to join them.
Andy Whittle then enquired of the treasurer that all debts had been discharged and informed the members that if any brother now wished to visit a lodge they may only visit once as an unattached Mason, until such time as they join another lodge. Andy requested that the minute book be handed to the Woolton Group Vice Chairman for use by the group in the future. The worshipful master was then asked to close the lodge.
Andy Whittle stood and said: ”By command and on behalf of the Grand Master and the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire, I now request that the DC causes the delivery into my hands the warrant of the lodge.” The warrant having been delivered, together with the minute book, Andy informed the gathering that Argosy Lodge No 3740 is now closed and has ceased to work. He went on to say that it was noted by the Grand Master and the Provincial Grand Master that some members of Argosy Lodge had found new homes and those who were yet to find a new home would remain members of the Woolton Group, or close by so as to keep in touch with the fraternal bond that has been enjoyed for so many years.
The members of Argosy Lodge lined up in the South and retired from the lodge to form an honour guard. The penultimate members to leave were the two wardens who carried their columns and were followed by the worshipful master and Andy Whittle holding the warrant.
With heavy hearts the members and guests retired to the dining room. And so ended the rich tapestry of Argosy Lodge. At the festive Board Andy Whittle proposed a toast to Argosy Lodge brethren, present and past and the final toast was given by John Hibbert the tyler.