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A Brief History of Woolmer Forest Lodge

 

The first Masonic hall in the Bordon area was a small wooden hut dating from the 1914-1918 war which was owned by the Brewery and situated at the rear of the "Prince of Wales" Public House adjacent to the Whitehill cross roads junction. This was the home of Woolmer Forest Lodge until 1953 but was always subject to the whims of each successive Landlord. The hall was also hired out to the local community for various social functions. Conditions for Masonic meetings deteriorated after the Second World War to such an extent, that in 1953 the Lodge was forced to find alternative accommodation. Other venues were explored but none were found to be suitable. It was finally decided to relocate the Lodge in 1954 at the Petersfield Masonic Hall, which at that time was situated behind the "Red Lion" Public House, in the Portsmouth Road. This is where the Lodge remained for the next ten years. In 1957 Bordon Garrison Lodge was Consecrated at the Alton Masonic Hall and afterwards took up residence at the Church of England Institute Hall, in the grounds of the Bordon Garrison.

 

Negotiations commenced in 1957 to obtain land in the Bordon area on which to build. The site where the recently demolished Hall stood was then purchased for a little over £450.00. However, for various reasons, no further work was carried out until early 1963 when a planning application was made to errect the Temple, Robing room and a gents toilet facility. Work commenced later in the year, mostly by members of the Masonic community. Prior to completion, Bordon Garrison Lodge made a donation of £500.00 which enabled a Committee Room to be added to the south side of the new building. The project was completed and opened in August 1964, by the then Provincial Grand Master Major-General R.L. Bond, C.B.E.

Old centreOld temple facing east

Old temple facing west

Following the opening of the premises, attempts were made to hold Festive Boards within the Robing area, but these proved unsatisfactory and both Lodges were required to travel to hotels, in various locations, as far apart as Alton, Hindhead and wherever suitable accommodation could be found. It was not unusual at this time for the after proceedings to seat between 60-80 Brethren. In 1973 plans were submitted to construct a Dinning Hall, kitchen, ladies toilet facilities and a small bar (which was later turned into a stage). Also a pitched roof over the Committee room area between the two buildings. When planning permission was approved, work commenced on the site, much of which was carried out by various Brethen. The new addition was completed at a cost of just over £6,000.00 in November 1974 and was named the "Farminer Hall" as a tribute to the late W.Bro. PJ Farminer, PAGDC who had been instrumental in making the project possible.

 

In the following years central heating was installed in the whole of the building at a minimal cost, by a small band of Brethren working at weekends and evenings.

 

As the Masonic community grew with the formation of more Craft Lodges and other Orders of Masonry, Lodges began to hold their Ladies Festivals as well as other social events at the premises. It soon became obvious the bar facilities were inadequate to cope with the demand and more space was required for entertaining guests. In 1983 plans were submitted to extend the east end of the dining room to form a lounge, bar and to enlarge the kitchen, also to change the existing bar into a stage area. This project was completed at a cost of £12,000.00, and opened in March 1984 by the then Provincial Grand Master RW. Bro. Thomas Bennett Langton, M.C.

 

Early in the following decade improvements were made at a minimal cost to relocate the main entrance and foyer from the north to the west side of the building and also to modernise both the Ladies and Gents toilet facilities. All the work involved being carried out by a small group of Brethren prepared to give up their time and energy to improve the property. From the commencement of the work in 1963, to the demolition of the property in 2003, most of the work carried out was by truly Operative Masons from all the resident Lodges in the complex. It is also worthy of note that from the completion of the temple in 1964 to the present day, all the finance was raised by loans or gifts from Brethren, donations from the Lodges, proceeds from raffles, dances, social functions and the Centre's 300 Club. The Management was never required to take out a Bank loan.

 

In 2003 negotiations commenced with representatives of Bordon Masonic Properties and Garner Holdings, who were the owners of the site on which the new Tesco Store is now situated and also the land on which the new Masonic Hall is now standing. Garner Holdings, were anxious to acquire the freehold land on which the old Masonic premises were situated in order complete their negotiations with Tesco. Consequently, they undertook to design, plan and construct the present centre to our requirements on the current site, this was opened in May 2004.

Bordon centre Scaled

New temple facing eastNew temple facing west