Bolton's 'secret' Masonic hall opens to public events

Bolton's 'secret' Masonic hall opens to public events

Masonic “secrets” on the staircase

The plush reception hall

One of the hall’s stained glass windows

Bolton's 'secret' Masonic hall opens to public events

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , crime reporter

ONCE thought of as an institution shrouded in secrecy, closed to outsiders, the masonic movement in Bolton is now promoting its facilities for private hire.

Tucked away in Silverwell Street, Silverwell Hall, home to Bolton Masonic Lodge, is now a popular venue for weddings and functions.

It is fair to say that passing pedestrians are hardly blown away by the hall’s outward appearance — possibly exactly as intended.

While other grand halls and wedding venues are set back in sweeping grounds, Silverwell Hall is on a street corner, with its dusty orange brick exterior more akin to a row of terraced houses.

Inside, however, it is a different matter.

Purpose-built in 1928 and oozing history, the large halls, lavishly-furnished club rooms and fascinating, yet still fiercely protected, lodge rooms are so eye-catching it is amazing that so few people are aware of the facilities.

All that is changing, though, according to manager Bob Taylor, who has run the hall with wife Christine since 1984.

He said: “We now have only 20 members and we used to have dozens more than that.

“A lot now go to golf clubs instead.

“It is increasingly difficult to get members these days.

“The hall is now used for weddings, birthday parties and outside functions, and from September to May, we are looking to fill it with as many people as we can.”

Silverwell Hall has long played host to weddings but these were normally only for lodge members. Now there are so few, many dates are available for the public.

There are some grand features at Silverwell Hall, not least the staircase visitors must climb immediately after going through the main door.

Rumour has it that the Italian architect who laid the stairs was so concerned about people watching him and stealing secrets that he covered each step up as it was completed.

Weddings take place in a reception hall, which can sit about 80 people, and has a portrait of the Queen overlooking the dining area.

Parties are then encouraged to move to the club room for a drinks reception.

The money the hall accrues from hosting functions is spent wisely as charity remains at the heart of the masonic movement.

Inside Silverwell Hall, posters proudly proclaim that the national movement raised nearly £7 million for good causes in 2011.

The Bolton Masonic Hall falls under the East Lancashire division, with the region’s current Grand Master Sir David Trippier, a former Conservative MP and Bury Grammar School alumnus.

Mr Taylor said visitors to the hall in recent years have come from as far afield as Hong Kong and Canada, but it has not lost touch completely with its more private past.

Guests are still barred from taking pictures of the two treasured lodge rooms, although they are allowed in.

Principal officers have seats on all three sides, with a gavel to hand to issue rulings.

Pennants from all the lodges associated with the hall adorn the sides of the room.

There have been thousands of masonic lodges, but Bolton is the home to the 37th created, Anchor Hope Lodge, which was formed more than 280 years ago in 1732.

The Freemasonry organisation traces its origins to stone masons from the 14th century.

It seems the recession, which has so publicly crippled the poor, is not something the most wealthy and influential are immune to either.

Perhaps the changing face of masonry is best illustrated by their recruitment drive tactics. At one time, a mason would have to be recommended by a friend already in the lodge, and all would vote by putting a white or black ball in the bag.

Only if the bag’s contents was totally white would the lodge embrace a new brother, and usually only people working in certain professions such as law or medicine would be considered.

Now you can apply online.

Comments (3)

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4:25pm Tue 27 May 14

bernie boy says...

A DRUG dealer has been jailed after he was caught supplying heroin in a major undercover police operation.

Nahzeeb Hussain pleaded guilty to three counts of supplying the drug to undercover officers, who were working as part of the police’s Operation Maxima campaign, which saw 10 people jailed in March.

Bolton Crown Court heard how on three occasions in April and May last year, officers called a mobile phone number referred to as “the Shiv line” and spoke to Hussain to place an order for drugs.


On each occasion the 24-year-old, of Brazley Avenue, Great Lever, then drove to meet the undercover officers in Farnworth and supplied them with small quantities of heroin.

When officers executed a warrant to search Hussain’s house in July they found a Samsung mobile phone, which was deemed to be the phone used for the Shiv line.

He initially told police the phone had been left at his house by a friend and entered not guilty pleas to any charges, before reversing his decision and pleading guilty to the three counts on the first day of his trial at Bolton Crown Court in April.

The court heard Hussain has previously served an 18 month sentence for conspiracy to supply cocaine when he was 17 Defending, Paul O’Brien said: “His role was fulfilling an operational function within a chain — he supplied drugs on behalf of another and he regards this as the biggest mistake of his life.”

Sentencing Hussain to four and a half years in prison, Judge Elliot Knopf, said: “This is not the first occasion that you have been before the courts for sentence in respect of supplying class A drugs.

“You should have learned your lesson and I hope you will take this on board going forward for your sake and your family’s sake.”
A DRUG dealer has been jailed after he was caught supplying heroin in a major undercover police operation. Nahzeeb Hussain pleaded guilty to three counts of supplying the drug to undercover officers, who were working as part of the police’s Operation Maxima campaign, which saw 10 people jailed in March. Bolton Crown Court heard how on three occasions in April and May last year, officers called a mobile phone number referred to as “the Shiv line” and spoke to Hussain to place an order for drugs. On each occasion the 24-year-old, of Brazley Avenue, Great Lever, then drove to meet the undercover officers in Farnworth and supplied them with small quantities of heroin. When officers executed a warrant to search Hussain’s house in July they found a Samsung mobile phone, which was deemed to be the phone used for the Shiv line. He initially told police the phone had been left at his house by a friend and entered not guilty pleas to any charges, before reversing his decision and pleading guilty to the three counts on the first day of his trial at Bolton Crown Court in April. The court heard Hussain has previously served an 18 month sentence for conspiracy to supply cocaine when he was 17 Defending, Paul O’Brien said: “His role was fulfilling an operational function within a chain — he supplied drugs on behalf of another and he regards this as the biggest mistake of his life.” Sentencing Hussain to four and a half years in prison, Judge Elliot Knopf, said: “This is not the first occasion that you have been before the courts for sentence in respect of supplying class A drugs. “You should have learned your lesson and I hope you will take this on board going forward for your sake and your family’s sake.” bernie boy
  • Score: 0

7:29pm Tue 27 May 14

wassupp says...

A FRAUDSTER from Westhoughton has admitted stealing more than £38,000 from a Bolton trailer firm.

Lisa Burrows, aged 36, of Cunningham Road, pleaded guilty at Bolton Magistrates Court to defrauding Indespension Ltd of £38,689 between March and December 2011.

She worked at the firm as a purchase ledger clerk and acted against their financial interests.

Burrows will be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on June 27.stole
A FRAUDSTER from Westhoughton has admitted stealing more than £38,000 from a Bolton trailer firm. Lisa Burrows, aged 36, of Cunningham Road, pleaded guilty at Bolton Magistrates Court to defrauding Indespension Ltd of £38,689 between March and December 2011. She worked at the firm as a purchase ledger clerk and acted against their financial interests. Burrows will be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on June 27.stole wassupp
  • Score: 0

8:10pm Tue 27 May 14

BibbleBobble says...

wassupp wrote:
A FRAUDSTER from Westhoughton has admitted stealing more than £38,000 from a Bolton trailer firm.

Lisa Burrows, aged 36, of Cunningham Road, pleaded guilty at Bolton Magistrates Court to defrauding Indespension Ltd of £38,689 between March and December 2011.

She worked at the firm as a purchase ledger clerk and acted against their financial interests.

Burrows will be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on June 27.stole
That's a shame, as Indespension are a despicable company that pay poverty wages, subsidised by the tax credit system, to their employees!
[quote][p][bold]wassupp[/bold] wrote: A FRAUDSTER from Westhoughton has admitted stealing more than £38,000 from a Bolton trailer firm. Lisa Burrows, aged 36, of Cunningham Road, pleaded guilty at Bolton Magistrates Court to defrauding Indespension Ltd of £38,689 between March and December 2011. She worked at the firm as a purchase ledger clerk and acted against their financial interests. Burrows will be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on June 27.stole[/p][/quote]That's a shame, as Indespension are a despicable company that pay poverty wages, subsidised by the tax credit system, to their employees! BibbleBobble
  • Score: 3

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