CALABAR LODGE - NO. 3434 (1910)
Calabar Lodge No. 3434 was the first English Constitution Lodge to be formed in the then Eastern Nigeria. The Petition was supported by thirteen founding Masons and sponsored by St. George’s Lodge No. 3065.
Calabar Lodge No. 3434 was warranted on 1st February, 1910, and the consecration ceremony took place on 27th April 1910 in the Temple of Macdonald Lodge No. 197 (I.C.) at Moor Road, Calabar. The Lodge minutes do not give the names of the consecrating officers but, at the head of the list of those present appear the names of J. Russell Leonard P.D.G A.P. (Barbados) and J. E. Green, P.P.G.Std.B. (Worcestershire). So it is reasonable to suppose that they were the principal consecrating officers.
The first Master of Calabar Lodge was E. Davidson, the first S. W. was W. J. Mason while the first J.W. was G. S. Edmunds.
Until the consecration of a new Temple at Calabar (which took place on 9th November 1912,) the Lodge meetings were held either in the Temple at Moor Road, or in the Supreme Court. All the information about Calabar Lodge which is recorded here, has been extracted from a little booklet entitled “Milestones in the first fifty years of Calabar Lodge No. 3434” which was compiled by the Hon. Mr. Justice Horace S. Palmer P.D.G. Reg., a Past Master of the Lodge.
This little booklet contains many interesting notes compiled by Justice Palmer following his perusal of the Lodge minute books, from the date of the Consecration to September 1959. The following extracts are of considerable interest :
“14th Sept. 1912. There was a lengthy discussion in Lodge, and it was decided to approach the other English Lodges in Nigeria to ascertain their views on the formation of a District Grand Lodge for Nigeria.”
“9th Nov, 1912. The building of the new Temple being completed, it was consecrated at this meeting by W. Bro. Davidson.”
“12th March 1913. At this meeting it was decided that it was not possible to accede to a request from Macdonald Lodge to become half owners of the Temple, as the ground lease had been granted to Calabar Lodge.”
“1st May 1913. This was the Installation meeting but the W.M. was absent, in fact the only meeting during his year of office when he was present was on the night he was installed. This had meant in effect that the running of the Lodge had been in the able hands of the I. P.M. W. Bro. Davidson, for the third year in succession.” (Note: W. Bro. Davidson had been installed on 20th May 1911 as Master for the second year. He was the Elder Dempster Lines Agent at Calabar).
“10th Sept. 1913 It was announced that all the Lodge Regalia had been lost as the result of a robbery.”
“5th Nov. 1913. The Lodge was informed that a District Grand Lodge of Northern and Southern Nigeria had been formed.””
“3rd Dec. 1913. W. Bro. Davidson was received as the first District Senior Grand Warden of the new District Grand Lodge.”
“9th June 1917. The Lodge sanctioned the institution of a Lodge of Instruction, and W. Bro. Bateman Jones was appointed Preceptor.”
“14th July 1917. It was pointed out that all lamps in use in the Lodge belonged to Elder Dempster &
Co. This eventually led to the installation of a lighting system which first came into use on 8th March 1919.”
Palmer explains that the dates in the margin are the dates of the minutes in which the information appears.
Before leaving the early history of Calabar Lodge, the following account from Gibson’s West African Masonic almanac and handbook (published in 1920) is quoted in full:
“On the evening of Tuesday the 5th August, 1919, there was held a Grand United Meeting of all Masonic Lodges in Calabar, Nigeria, under the English, Irish and Scottish Constitutions to celebrate the signing of the Peace Treaty. It was held in the Temple of the Calabar Lodge, and all the Brethren within reach of Calabar attended. The dais, as well as the body of the Temple, was crowded and the volume of sound from this large gathering was most impressive and inspiring.
W. Bro. Wheeler, the W.M. of Calabar Lodge, presided. W. Bro. Savage, the W.M. of Macdonald Lodge and W. Bro. Gibson the W.M. of Hope Lodge acted as Senior and Junior Wardens respectively. All other offices were filled by Past Masters of the three Lodges. W. Bro. F. B. Jones (P.D.G.S. Works) as Director of Ceremonies was responsible for the excellent manner in which the proceedings were conducted. W. Bro. J. Berkeley Macaulay, as Organist, greatly assisted in making the musical part of the programme a success. The prayers were the same as those used by the Grand Lodge of England Peace Celebrations at the Albert Hall, London. Three suitable and interesting addresses were delivered during the course of the evening by W. Bro. Duncombe D.G. Std. Br., W. Bro. Addy and W. Bro. Sinclair respectively. The meeting was closed with the singing of “Rule Brittania” and the National Anthem. Before separating, the Brethren partook of refreshments which were provided under the supervision of W. Bro. Sigismund Macaulay, with an enthusiastic band of young Masons. Everyone agreed that the evening was an extraordinary success and that it would ever remain in the memory of those present as a striking memorial of a great occasion. A collection in aid of the Masonic War Hospital was taken, which realized £50. 15. Od.”
A past Secretary of Calabar Lodge No. 3434, George Allen, M.B.E., J.P., P.D.G.W. was one of the oldest members on the Coast, having joined the Lodge in June 1934. In a letter dated Calabar, 4th March 1962 Allen wrote:
“This house in which I reside, was the home of Freemasonry in the Calabar area, for even the Macdonald Lodge was founded or “conceived” within its corrugated iron walls; then later Calabar Lodge founders met to discuss about founding Calabar Lodge. W. Bro. Davidson was Agent of Elder Dempster Lines, and a great Mason.”Note: The house in which Allen resided is situated at Oron on the other bank of the Cross River from Calabar. The connection between Oron and Calabar is by a ferry service which was the only approach to Calabar from the west. The ferry crossing takes approximately two hours.
Lodge Venue and Meeting Days
Second Saturday of every
month. Installation in
Masonic Hall Calabar road,
opposite Central Bank of Nigeria,
Calabar, Cross Rivers State.
Mail: P.O. Box 12, Calabar 54001 Cross River State.