Freemasonry in Widnes began on 10 November 1871 when nine gentlemen met in a room at the Simms Cross Hotel, with the intention of ‘considering the desirability of forming a lodge within the district’. These consisted of eight brethren from the Lodge of Loyalty No 86 in Prescot, with the other brother being from the Lodge of Lights No 148 in Warrington.
Just after the turn of the 20th century, Widnes Freemasons had acquired their own premises in Victoria Road and a second lodge, Widnes Lodge No 2819, was formed in July 1900. Widnes Lodge amalgamated with the Knowsley Lodge No 3581 in 2006 to form the Widnes and Knowsley Lodge No 3581. Unfortunately, this lodge closed in May 2013 due to falling membership.
By 1920 a further two lodges, Lodge of Fellowship No 3799 (now the Hale Lodge of Fellowship No 3799) and Goodwill Lodge No 3896 (now Goodwill (inc Wilmere) Lodge No 3896), had been formed and more spacious accommodation was needed. Premises were relocated to St. Paul’s Chambers, above what used to be Boots the Chemist.
In 1937, with six lodges now in the town, a move was made to find a suitable location in Widnes for a purpose built Masonic Hall. Eventually, agreement was reached to purchase land in Kingsway, Widnes and the current Masonic Hall was built and was officially opened in 1959. Since then, the number of lodges using the premises peaked at 13 but has now settled at eight due to amalgamations. There are four chapters and several other Masonic orders using the premises. The number of members is currently standing at about 300.
Each lodge, presided over by a worshipful master and two wardens, has between 20 and 60 members. All lodges are governed by a regulatory body for the Province of West Lancashire, www.westlancsfreemasons.org.uk under the auspices of the United Grand Lodge of England. www.ugle.org.uk
There are many social occasions organised by lodges in the group, at which wives, family and friends enjoy meeting and creating life long associations in informal surroundings.
Freemasonry is not a benefit institution for its members or their dependents but, from its earliest days, it has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged. Its concern for the community as a whole, not just its own members, is expressed in charitable giving and by voluntary endeavor. An extensive list of non-Masonic charities, both local and national, which are supported by Freemasonry, is freely available. www.grandcharity.org