WBro Wellock with WBro Kirwilliam.

The small Lodge room at Whalley Masonic Hall was at full capacity when WBro Alan H Kirwilliam, PSGD, The Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Northern Area of the Province of East Lancashire, accompanied by VWBro Derek Nelson Thornhill, JP, PGSwdB, PDepProvGM and WBro Bob Allan, PProvJGW, the District Chairman for Burnley and Pendle District, signed the Tylers attendance register of Whalley Arches Lodge  No. 7489 on Monday 9th March 2020, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary in Freemasonry of WBro Rennie Wellock PJGD. 

The Worshipful Master of Whalley Arches Lodge, WBro Jeffrey Bradshaw, PProvJGW, opened the Lodge and after concluding the preliminary business of the Lodge, a report was received. 

The ProvDepGDC, WBro Philip Collier, was admitted and announced that 

WBro Alan H Kirwilliam, PSGD, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Northern area of the Province of East Lancashire, was without and that he demanded admission.

The Worshipful Master welcomed WBro Kirwilliam to the Lodge and offered him the Gavel. WBro Kirwilliam said that he was very pleased to be in attendance today and that he had on previous occasions declined the kind offer of the Gavel but, on this very special occasion, he would be delighted to accept.

Salutations were given to WBro Alan H Kirwilliam, PSGD, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Northern area of the Province of East Lancashire and WBro Jim Sutcliffe, PSGD, PAProvGM. 

Salutations were given to VWBro Dreck N Thornhill, JP , PDepProvGM.

WBro Kirwilliam then announced that the next item of business was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the initiation onto Freemasonry of WBro Rennie Wellock PJGD. Addressing WBro Wellock, WBro Kirwilliam said that 50 years in Freemasonry is a great achievement that is testified by the numbers present this morning and be assured they are all here to support you. The Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies was then directed to place WBro Wellock in the centre of the Lodge.

WBro Kirwilliam first extended his personal congratulations and those of the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of the Province of East Lancashire, Sir David Trippier TD JP. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VWBro John R Farrington and, of course, all present this morning, He hoped WBro Wellock would enjoy this happy occasion and that all present were here to support him.

The Lodge Secretary, WBro John Whitney, PProvJGW, was invited to read the minutes of Abbey Lodge 2529 on the occasion of WBro Wellock’s initiation into Freemasonry.

WBro Kirwilliam then invited WBro Jim Sutcliffe, PSGD, PAProvGM, a very close personal friend of WBro Wellock, to deliver a tribute to his friend of many years.

“The APGM will cover WBro Rennie Wellock’s masonic career but there are bits or lots more that could be said. He was initiated on Thursday 13th November 1969 proposed by his next-door neighbour, WBro Brian Ashton who later became his business partner at Park Hill Service Station, a Mobil Petrol Station and motor engineers. Strangely enough his next-door neighbour on the other side was initiated into Abbey Lodge in 1972. 

Leslie Hiles the Deputy Grand Superintendent and an Assistant Provincial Grand Master at the same time was quite rightly “Leslie” to us. Like Rennie he got his hands dirty in developing the Masonic Hall. He built a bar in the Tyler’s room as Rennie did with a Mr Stuart Smith in the Festive Board Room. Rennie Wellock was very much my Mentor which started when he took me to Burco Dean in Burnley to be interviewed in Leslie Hiles’ Office. All this was preceded by a Sherry Morning held at what is now the Eagle at Barrow. This was quite a “posh do” attended by the Great and the Good and their wives annually with a gold watch as first prize in the raffle donated by a local jeweller with other prizes donated by the local businesses. Even then Abbey Lodge was involved in the Community and prospective candidates introduced by Social Events. 

At his Initiation Rennie was aged 37 and was employed as a Quality Engineer, Rolls Royce, Barnoldswick. No doubt he will remember the Lodge carpet being rolled up after the Ceremony and trestle tables being brought into the Lodge Room for the Festive Board of sandwiches and bottled beers. The front room was very much a changing room with a grand piano in situ. The small changing room was a barbers shop which when vacated become Leslie Hiles dropping off point en-route to and from Lea in Preston. Over time the changing room became a Festive Board Room until Rennie, Stuart Smith and others got rid of a snooker table etc to transform the upstairs room into what is a perfect Festive Board Room for Whalley freemasonry. 

Whilst the Festive Board Celebrations were basic the Installation meals at the Moorcock and Whalley Abbey were special. The wine was always Rothchild’s Mouton Cadet which we all enjoyed usually to excess. Nothing has changed there. Having been raised on 12th March 1970 he was appointed Junior Deacon on 14th May 1970 and had rapid promotion until he became WM in 1974. Rennie was the DC of Abbey Lodge for many years, A District Officer in the Rossendale District that covered Whalley, Padiham, Todmorden, Bacup, Rawtenstall and Haslingden Masonic Halls. As Deputy Chairman and Chairman Rennie managed to build a special team of freemasons, family and friends with District functions held at the New Astoria in Rawtenstall and District Walks starting at the various Masonic Halls, all raising monies for Charity but also building that team of special friends. We knew at that time that the Rossendale District was special and that Rossendale was the centre of freemasonry in East Lancashire and as we now know the Province realised that by moving the Office to Rawtenstall. 

Rennie & Joan have led a busy life which included many trips to Australia and cruising around the world with Ken and June Lawson. Hong Kong must be their favourite destination and Rennie can describe every piece of it as his first ever cruise, a free one, was to Hong Kong when he did his National Service.

Rennie’s started working life at Rolls Royce in Barnoldswick working as an engineer developing aircraft engines. On 5 February 1971 the New York Times headlines read “Two Astronauts Land on Moon” and a sub-heading read “Rolls Royce is Bankrupt and blames Lockheed Project”. His great engineering skills served him well as he left Rolls Royce to start his business with WBro Brian Ashton. 

As next-door neighbours we enjoyed gardening together, spending more time talking and building bonfires than digging. A great pride was his asparagus which unfortunately were dug up by Joan’s Dad who thought that they were weeds. We also enjoyed Friday nights at the Black Bull where we bought fish and chips to eat on the way home. We still don’t know what happened to the newspaper but maybe one of our ex neighbours does. 

Happy Days, Happy Memories and there is more to come!” 

Following the tribute, WBro Kirwilliam described life, culture and music in the “swinging sixties”, including a fact that a small Masonic flag was taken to the moon with the Apollo 11 Astronauts..

WBro Kirwilliam then read the personal letter and certificate from the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master and presented the illuminated Certificate and personal letter to WBro Wellock who was then escorted around the Lodge by the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies to the acclaim of the Brethren. 

To conclude the formal proceedings a 50 years lapel badge, to be worn with pride, was presented by the Burnley and District Chairman, WBro Bo Allan.

WBro Wellock, WBro Kirwilliam the Worshipful Master, visitors and members of the Delegation.

Following the Alms collection, the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies asked WBro Kirwilliam if he wished to retire, accompanied by VWBro Dreck N Thornhill, WBro Bob Allan and on the special occasion, WBro Rennie Wellock. WBro Kirwilliam having given his assent, a retiral precession was formed and these esteemed Brethren retired from the Lodge to the acclaim of all present.

WBro Wellock with WBro Kirwilliam and the Worshipful Master, WBro Jeffrey Bradshaw.

Article: –          John Wilkinson

Pictures: –        Eric Bond