This lodge history is very largely based upon the work of W.Bro.W.Brain.
There can be no doubt that the man chiefly responsible for the formation of the Hull Old Grammarians Lodge was W.Bro. Benno Pearlman P.P.G.W., and it is only fitting that a little should be said about this remarkable man.
Benno Pearlman was a successful solicitor with a high professional reputation. He had for many years taken an active part in civic affairs and was an Alderman of the City of Kingston upon Hull. He had always taken an interest in his old school, for which he had great affection, and had been for many years the Chairman of the School Governors.
His Masonic interests were widespread. He was Initiated into the De La Pole Lodge No. 1605 in 1903 and was a Founder Member of the Thesaurus Lodge No. 3891 whose Chair he occupied three times. He later became a Founder Member and first Master of the Andrew Marvell Lodge No. 5642, and was also a Past Master of the Montefiore Lodge. He was subsequently made an Officer of Grand Lodge and because of his energy and personality was a dominant force in all these Lodges.
We know that for some time, certain Old Boys of the Hull Grammar School who were Freemasons, had been in the habit of meeting regularly at each others homes and that their talk had eventually covered the possibility of forming a new Lodge for Hull Old Grammarians and Masters of the School. Who first had the idea cannot be ascertained with certainty, but this quotation from an address given by one of our Founders, W.Bro. Geoffrey Hindson in 1936 is very persuasive:
“W.Bro. Benno Pearlman was the Lord Mayor of this City in the year 1928-9 and he was constantly exercising his mind during that year as to what he could do best to promote the welfare and happiness of his fellow citizens, and in particular how he could express in fitting form his gratitude and devotion to the Hull Grammar School where he had received his early education. He himself was a Freemason of many years standing and deeply conscious of the inestimable privileges possessed by those who faithfully carried out its principles and tenets in their daily lives. He conceived the idea of forming a Masonic Lodge to be associated with the School and to bear its name, in this way forming a further and closer bond of union between the old scholars of the School and uniting them in our great Brotherhood. This idea can only have risen in the mind of W.Bro. Pearlman from his firm conviction that Freemasonry affords that education in conduct and morals which is a fitting continuation of similar principles instilled during boyhood days at School, and appealing to the best that is in us to make this world a better place for ourselves and our fellow men.”
W. Bro. Pearlman subsequently claimed that the formation of the Lodge was his greatest achievement in his year as Lord Mayor of the City. Certainly it was he who invited all Old Grammarians who were members of the Craft to a meeting at the Guildhall, where he explained his project. His views received enthusiastic support and a decision was taken to petition the Grand Lodge of England for a Warrant. In all, twenty-nine Brethren agreed to become Founder Members. They included eleven Past Masters, six of whom were Past Provincial Grand Officers.
After this meeting events moved rapidly. The Kingston Lodge No. 1010 agreed to act as Sponsors, the Prayer for the formation of the Hull Old Grammarians Lodge of Freemasons was granted and a Warrant was issued on 3rd June, 1929.
The Consecration took place at the Central Masonic Hall, Park Street, Hull on Monday the 4th November, 1929 and 147 Brethren signed the Attendance Book. The Consecrating Officer was the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, The Most Honourable the Marquess of Zetland, P.C., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E. He was accompanied by the Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. Miles J. Stapylton P.G.D., eight Officers of Grand Lodge and twenty-nine Present and Past Officers of Provincial Grand Lodge.
The Lodge was Constituted and Consecrated according to Antient Custom and with Solemn Rite by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master. He then vacated the Chair and the Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master Installed W.Bro. Hubert Johnson P.P.G.W. as the first Master of the Lodge.
The Officers were then appointed. W.Bro. Benno Pearlman P.P.G.W. was the Immediate Past Master; Bro. J.E. Forty, the former Head Master of the School, was Senior Warden and the Junior Warden was another Master of the School, W.Bro. F. N. Williams P.P.G.A.D.C. James Edwin Forty (Jimmy to those many hundreds of Old Grammarians who loved and respected him) deserves special mention. He had been Headmaster of the School from 1893 until his retirement in 1926 and in that time had built up an almost dead Grammar School into a live institution with a distinctive place in the City. He was a Past Warden of the Humber Lodge No. 57 of which he had been a member for nearly thirty years and was one of the key figures in the formation of our Lodge.
The list of Officers contained other Brethren who were to play a notable part in the formative years of the Lodge, including W.Bro. Geoffrey Hindson, the first Lecture Master and Bro. Frank Glew who eventually succeeded him in that appointment. The Treasurer was W.Bro. Harold W. Locking P.P.G.W. and his brother, Bro. Herbert 0. Locking was Secretary. That these two brothers each continued in their Offices for sixteen years was of inestimable value to the Lodge.
The first Regular Meeting of the Lodge was held on the 19th November 1929, when Robert James Porter, a very popular Master of the School, became the first Initiate.
In its first year the Lodge grew rapidly. There were twelve Initiates and three Joining Members, so membership increased to forty-four. In the second year, when W.Bro. James E. Forty was Master, there were eight Initiates and in the third year, when W.Bro. Benno Pearlman was in the Chair there were five. At that time the Lodge met eight times a year, its Regular Meetings being held in the first four and last four months of the year, so it was necessary to hold a large number of Emergency Meetings in order to Initiate, Pass and Raise all these candidates. There were four such meetings in the first year, six in the second and ten in the third. After this the number declined but the necessity for holding them did not entirely disappear for some years. At many of these meetings and at the Regular Meetings, two candidates were taken together, and it was not unknown for two different Degrees to be worked on the same night.
Lodge Meetings were first held in the small Temple, then upstairs at the front of the Masonic Hall in Park Street, Hull, with Installations and other special meetings being held in the main Thesaurus Lodge Temple, downstairs. This intimate upstairs Temple was very suitable for a small Lodge, as it appeared well filled by an attendance of forty to fifty. Meetings were held in the evenings at 7.00 p.m. and evening dress was worn, white tie and tails by the Officers and dinner jackets by the Brethren.
Because of the seven o’clock start, meetings naturally finished later than they now do. Even so it was customary for many members to stay long after the Parting Toast and enjoy a protracted sing-song round the piano. Some Brethren would then go on to the Masonic Club, and to arrive home in the early hours was not uncommon. This however was typical of Masonic Life in the City at that time, even though it contrasts with present customs.
A few of the events in the first ten years of the Lodge may be mentioned.
In 1932 a Committee was formed to consider all matters relating to the formation of a Royal Arch Chapter, but there is no mention in the Minutes of its deliberations or conclusions. In 1933 the Initiation Fee was raised from fifteen to twenty guineas, although the annual subscription remained at three guineas. It may seem incredible to us in these days of inflation, but these fees then remained unchanged for thirty years. In 1934 the membership had grown to fifty-seven of whom 14 were Country Members. In December of that year the Minutes proudly proclaim a record attendance of forty-one members out of a possible forty-three.
In 1935 Benno Pearlman took the Chair of the Lodge for the second time. This was almost certainly due to his wish to preside over the Lodge when it joined in the celebration of the Grammar School’s 450th Anniversary. An Emergency Meeting was held on 29th September, 1936 which was attended by the Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. W.L. Wade-Dalton P.G.D. and many other distinguished guests. An address was given by W.Bro. Geoffrey Hindson who that year was the Provincial Senior Grand Warden. In it he paid tribute to the School and not only praised its past but looked forward to its future with hope and confidence. He then gave a brief account of the formation of the Lodge, some of which has been quoted earlier. The Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master then unveiled two Honours Boards, one containing the names of the Founders and the other those of the Masters of the Lodge. He also congratulated the Worshipful Master on his appointment as Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. For the first time there was a Grand Lodge Officer in the Lodge.
In 1936 the Lodge expressed its confidence in the future by increasing the number of Regular Meetings to nine. The additional meeting was in May.