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Barberton Lodge No. 2719

Consecrated 24th June 1898

Meeting at: Barberton - Masonic Hall, 32 General Steet

Meeting Dates: 3rd Wednesday (Ex Dec) (3rd Sat June) Inst Jun

Contact 083 625 6906

See also the updated Lodge History presented at the Centenary of the Lodge

Reference: 'A History of Barberton Lodge - Compiled by Navarre de Villiers Snr'

Lodge History

Barberton Lodge History

'On 24 June 1898 the Barberton Lodge was consecrated. Fourteen years before to the day, Barberton was christened, appropriately enough by breaking a bottle of 'square face' gin over the Umvoti reef. Fabulous strikes turned men from sober cynicism to the bubbling euphoria of champagne. Gold was not a dream, you could see it, feel its comforting weight in your hand. So the camp grew almost overnight into a rollicking, swaggering Wild West gold rush town. With a canteen to every 15 inhabitants and a pub every mile on the road to Sheba you were never quite sober enough to lose your optimism. Stock Exchanges, newspapers, billiard saloons, barmaids, including the enterprising Cockney Liz who sold her 'claims' by public auction every Saturday night, all these reinforced the dream. For a few short years the town lived on in this fever of excitement. At one moment a man was poor and despondent, the next rich and arrogant. But gold is a fickle mistress she refuses to be confined to a humdrum connubial couch. Reef after reef disappeared. The honky tonk pianos began to lose their joie de vivre. Now only pointsettia, bougainvillaea and hibiscus painted the town red. The financiers, prospectors and barmaids left. In the Barberton Club sadder but wiser men thoughtfully sipped their gin as they remembered how they had bid - or regretted that they didn't - for Cockney Liz.

Amongst the few who remained was A W Bailey, co owner of the Barberton Herald and conductor of the local orchestra. Another was the pharmacist, J W Winter. These two, and Bros Gregory, Heller, Williamson and Wasserberg petitioned for a lodge under the English Constitution'.

This was not the first petition to United Grand Lodge for a lodge in Barberton. Indeed it is on record that one in 1886 failed, presumably because it was then Grand Lodge policy not to grant warrants for lodges in areas not under British jurisdiction. So the Grand East of the Netherlands granted a warrant for Jubilee Lodge, and by 1898 the Scots were also established, with Lodge St John in the South. For many years Barberton Lodge was a tenant of the premises shared by the other two lodges, but in 1930 the lodge decided - against considerable opposition - to build its own masonic hall. The project was successful and, with subsequent additions and improvements, has provided a satisfactory home for the lodge for over 80 years.

Except for periods of recess during the South African and First World Wars, the lodge has made steady progress. Three families have made a major contribution, the Duncans, the Tecklenburgs and the de Villiers. The Duncans provided the Master ('G G') in 1903, followed by his son Errol in 1934 and 1958, and his grandson 'Lal' in 1962. Errol Duncan attained Grand rank and Lal was Treasurer of the lodge for 27 years. Of the Tecklenburgs, 'A J '(the WM in 1955) was followed by a son, a nephew and a second son in 1966, 1973 and 1974 respectively. And the de Villiers family has the truly remarkable record of 'J van O' as Master in 1930, his son Navarre in 1978 and 1979, and five sons of the latter in 1982, 1983, 1989, 1993 and 2010 respectively.

Reference: 'A Century of Brotherhood' by A A Cooper & D E G Vieler