On 9 February 1893, a petition signed by eleven Freemasons and recommended “for the favourable consideration of the MW the Grand Master” by the Master of Royal Athelstan Lodge, No 19, was presented at Freemasons’ Hall.

The petitioners prayed the MW the Grand Master – the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII – to grant to them a Warrant for the purpose of forming a Lodge “to unite in brotherly association, members and friends of the several telegraph companies and others interested in the advancement of submarine telegraphy and electrical science from various parts of the world.”

The Petition named the Marquess of Tweeddale, KT as the first master, Sir George Elliot, Bart, Pr. G. M. South Wales, Eastern Division, first Senior Warden and Major Alexander Wood first Junior Warden.

  • The application was successful and a Warrant was granted on 18 February 1893.

    The application was successful and a Warrant was granted on 18 February 1893.

    That the establishment of such a Lodge was justified is borne out by the fact that by the date of the first regular Installation meeting in November, 1894, sixty-one brethren had joined the ranks; that is, in addition to the eleven founders there had been added twenty-five Initiates and twenty-five Joining members. Several deaths and resignations had occurred during the same period, about which more later. The Lodge members had elected seven honorary members in the persons of the Consecrating Officers and the WM of our Mother Lodge.

    In a letter from the Marquess of Tweeddale to Bro Ansell, the founding Secretary, his Lordship said that if it would help he would be willing to be named as first Master “it being understood that I should not be expected to perform the duties but should be allowed to delegate them to a Deputy.”

    This proviso must have been agreed to assume significance when the Lodge met in June 1894 to elect a Master for the ensuing year. The first meeting place of the Lodge was The Ship and Turtle in Leadenhall Street and after correspondence with the Grand Secretary and the Landlord of the Inn, it was agreed that the Consecration would take place on Tuesday, 30 May 1893 at 4.30pm, the ceremony to be followed by a banquet at 7.00pm. Invitations were sent out and the final arrangements agreed with the General Secretary, VW Bro Sir Edward Letchworth who, assisted by other Grand Officers, would perform the ceremony.

    At the Consecration Meeting there were, in addition to the eleven Founders and six Consecrating Officers, forty-nine guests, many of whom held Grand or Provincial Grand Rank.

    A report of the proceedings and after-proceedings appeared in The Freemason for 17 June 1893 and according to Bro. William Thomas Newitt writing from Madras in the following month, must have been “a very grand affair”. It would appear, from the same letter, that Bro. Newitt – the first to be elected a Joining member – should have been numbered among the Founders, but was prevented by reason of his departure from the country on the business of The Eastern Extension Australasia & China Telegraph Company Limited. He writes, “Unfortunately you fellows did not move fast enough for me and so I had to leave without signing”. However he continues, “I appreciate very highly the kindness shown in making me the senior member of the Lodge”.

    After the Consecration of the Lodge and the Installation of the WM, the bretheren proceeded to elect a Treasurer. The Minutes state that the ballot “proved unanimously in favour of Bro. Bullock” who was invested in the office he was to hold for the next thirty-seven years until 1930, apart from the year 1902/03 when he occupied the chair as Master.

    The Master appointed and invested his officers and the remainder of the Meeting was taken up with reading proposals for seven Joining Members and fourteen prospective candidates for Initiation. A Committee was appointed to frame the Bye-Laws (sic). Then, “there being no further business, the Lodge was closed in harmony at 7.10pm”.

    The formalities over, the Founders and their guests “retired to the banqueting hall where a most excellent menu was provided”. The basic price of the meal was 12/6d per head and the total wine bill came to £57.3.0, a considerable amount for “sixty-six gentlemen” when one considers that wine was 8/- a bottle and whisky 3/- a pint. These lavish standards continued throughout the year and were the subject of a letter following presentation of the first year’s accounts.

  • Then came the speeches.

    Then came the speeches.

    Lord Cremorne, replying to the Toast to Grand Lodge, said that “Grand Officers were glad to witness the accession of so important a lodge having all the elements of prosperity and influence. Freemasonry obtains to be universal and nothing was more universal that telegraph cables”. He “was sure he only expressed the desire of every Grand Officer present in wishing every possible success to Telegraph Cable Lodge”.

    Other speakers stressed the universality of Freemasonry and telegraph cables and, in proposing the health of the WM, Bro. Parkinson said, “London as a centre was connected by telegraphy with the most distant parts of the earth. Precisely as the telegraph disseminated messages of peace and goodwill and spread civilisation over the earth so the light of Freemasonry side by side spread morality and brotherly love throughout the world”.

    In reply the Marquess of Tweeddale stated that he “felt a deep debt of gratitude to those who had honoured him and selected him as the WM of a Lodge destined to become one of the most useful and interesting in England, whose members may become dotted all over the world and do a great deal towards spreading the good work of masonry throughout the wide world”.

    The first Regular Meeting was held just two weeks later on 14th June, 1893 with Bro. Moll the IPM in the Chair, Bro. Bullock as Senior Warden and six other Founders present.

    The first resolution of the Founders was to propose that the Consecrating Officers and the WM of our Mother Lodge be elected to honorary membership. Later Minutes show that all accepted.

    The Book of Constitutions of that time permitted a Lodge to ‘Initiate’ no more than five persons on the same day (this has since been reduced to two) without dispensation from Grand Lodge. Dispensation had been sought and obtained to ‘Initiate’ twelve – in the event only eleven presented themselves and were initiated into the mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry.

    Joining members were elected and proposals for membership read. The Lodge, having opened at 4.05 pm closed at 6.50pm.

    The existence of the Telegraph Cable Lodge was being made known in quarters where it would be interest. In a letter dated 6 July 1893 from Batavia, a Bro. G. Gilbert Wren serving there says “In the last issue of The Electrician received here “I notice a paragraph about the formation of a Telegraph Cable Lodge in London”. He asks if brethren in the cable service abroad might join and says, “I would feel particularly honoured if I were allowed to join this Lodge”.

    Bro. Wren was accepted and elected a joining member in November 1893. He remained a member until his death, at over hundred years old, in 1955.

Brother Oskar Moll's Jewel

Past Master’s jewel for Telegraph Cable Lodge, No. 2470 presented to Bro. T. A. Bullock in 1895 and again in 1903