ABERPENNAR LODGE No. 6354
FREEMASONRY in the Aberdare Valley was booming at the end of the Second World War, so much so that the only Lodge in the area (St David’s No 679) was struggling to accommodate all its members in the Aberdare Masonic Temple on meeting nights.
In 1945 and the ensuing year, 16 meetings were held at the Aberdare town centre premises, attracting an average of 60 members at each meeting.
The two installation ceremonies were attended by 95 members (1945) and 82 members (1946).
Evidence showed that numbers were expected to rise in the coming years and therefore the room would not be able to accommodate all those who wished to attend their Masonic duties under the banner of St David’s.
In 1946 it was therefore agreed that a new Lodge be formed at the Aberdare Masonic Temple in Canon Street.
It was to be named Aberpennar, the Welsh name for the former coal-mining town of Mountain Ash.
The town was given its name due to the rowan trees (or Mountain Ash trees) that grew in abundance in the area.
The Aberpennar Lodge (No 6354) was formed some 50 years after Brethren who lived in Mountain Ash had their request rejected for a Warrant to set up a Lodge in their native town.
But in 1946 it was felt another Lodge could be established in Aberdare, which would be of great advantage to the existing Masonic Temple.
Made up mainly of Mountain Ash members, it initially relieved some accommodation pressure at St David’s.
It also meant that more Brethren could hope to attain office in the Craft.
On June 13, 1946, St David’s Lodge received a deputation of members, designated the ‘Aberpennar Lodge Committee.’
The deputation was led by well-known Mountain Ash publican, W.Bro Shadrach Charles Lewis, himself a Past Master of St David’s (1933).
They presented a petition on behalf of the proposed new Lodge and this was duly accepted and agreed upon unanimously, and signed in support, by the Worshipful Master of St David’s, W.Bro Cyril J. Griffiths and by his two Wardens – Bros D.J. Davies and Idwal G. Thomas.
By September, news was received with great joy and excitement that the petition had been approved by Grand Lodge and the Consecration of Aberpennar Lodge took place at the Aberdare Masonic Temple at 3.15pm on Tuesday, October 29, 1946.
The Service of Consecration was conducted by R.W.Bro. R.P. St. John Charles, the Provincial Grand Master, assisted by his team of Provincial Grand Lodge Officers.
W.Bro Shadrach Lewis was installed as the first Worshipful Master of Aberpennar by the Installing Master, V.W.Bro. Edgar J Rutter (Deputy Provincial Grand Master).
The first team of Aberpennar Officers were W.Bro John T Bowen (IPM); Bro. John Slaney (SW); Bro. Gwilym Williams (JW); W.Bro Rhys Morgan (Chaplain); Bro. R G Beynon (Treasurer); Bro. Herbert Davies (Secretary); W.Bro J S Beynon ((DC); Bro. Idris Thomas (SD); Bro. P Jones (JD); W.Bro D W Howells (Organist); Bro. Frank John (Assistant Secretary); Bro. Joseph Parry (IG); Bro. David Jones (Tyler) and Stewards Bro. Maldwyn Jones, Bro. Emlyn Griffiths, Bro. David Griffiths, Bro. Stanley Lougher, and Bro. John Canton.
Elected as Honorary Members of the Lodge were: R.W.Bro R.P. St John Charles (Provincial Grand Master); V.W.Bro Edgar J Rutter (Deputyy PGM); W.Bro. Charles Palmer (Assistant PGM); W.Bro. Cyril Griffiths (St David’s WM).
The first joining member of Aberpennar, on November 26, 1946, was to be Bro David Elwyn Howells (Fforest Lodge No 2606). He was later to be installed as Worshipful Master in 1953.
The Lodge was presented with its own Volume of the Sacred Law, and suitably inscribed collars for its officers, by W.Bro. Idwal G Thomas (St David’s WM) in October 1948.
A year later, organist Bro. Ben Roderick presented the Lodge with Hymn Books, which are still in use to this day.
The Aberpennar Ballot Box was presented to the Lodge by Bro. William Ivor Reginald Perryman in April 1951.
He was present in 1939 when a tithe barn was demolished in South Devon and an old Oak beam was discovered carved with the Masonic sign.
Bro Perryman believed it had been carved by the same builders responsible for Bovey Tracey Church some 700 years earlier.
Part of that Oak beam was made into the Aberpennar Ballot Box, a replica of one that had been in existence in Devon for more than 200 years.
Aberpennar was presented with a full set of gauntlets by W. Bro. Herbert Davies (St David’s WM) in 1951.
It was also the year the Lodge was able to present Consecration Jewels to its Consecrating Officers and Founder Jewels to its founders.
The Lodge went on to receive its first Provincial Collar in June 1953 when W.Bro. Shadrach Lewis became Provincial Junior Warden and Bro. Ralph Ponting became the first Aberpennar initiate to become WM of the Lodge in October, 1954.
The official Aberpennar Lodge of Instruction was formed in 1955. Prior to this such events were held at various hostelries in the locality!
The first Perceptors were W.Bro. Shadrach Lewis and W.Bro. G Williams.
Through the years Aberpennar has had many distinguished Brethren and among them has been Bro. Edward Thomas, W.Bro. John Morgan and W.Bro Maldwyn Jones – each holding the post as High Constable of Miskin Higher before the office ceased to exist in 1969.
The Aberpennar Lodge Banner was officially dedicated by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. Harry Stockwell on February 23, 1965.
The Banner, which was carried into the Lodge for the first time by W.Bro. Harry E Sturge, depicts the River Dare and River Cynon, both of which runs through the Cynon Valley and join in Aberdare.
The colours of the Aberpennar Banner are red and green – the official colours of the former Mountain Ash Grammar School.
Two stone gavels, made from stone taken from King Solomon’s quarries, were presented to the Lodge in April 1967 by W.Bro D W Howells.
And the following year – on January 30, 1968 – R.W.Bro. Hywel Davies, the Provincial Grand Master, was himself initiated at Aberpennar.
He became a Master Mason on September 24, 1968, and was installed as Worshipful Master of Aberpennar in October, 1979.
He later joined Lord Swansea Lodge (No 8364) in April, 1981, Aberhonddu Lodge (8588) in February 1982, Lodge of Benevolence (No 7305) in June 1993 and Hendre Lodge (No 3250) in October 1993.
R.W.Bro. Hywel Davies went on to become founder of the Keystone Lodge (No 9521) in December 1993 before becoming Worshipful Master at Lodge of Benevolence on October 20, 2000, Worshipful Master of Hendre on October 26, 2000 and Worshipful Master of Lord Swansea on November 30, 2001.
He was installed as Provincial Grand Master (South Wales Eastern Division) by Deputy Grand Master R.W. Bro Iain Ross Bryce at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, on Thursday, September 16, 1999, having held the position of Assistant Provincial Grand Master since June, 1996.
Despite a busy Masonic diary, he still returns to Aberpennar whenever his schedule permits.
Rt W.Bro N Lloyd-Jones, the Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, visited Aberpennar Lodge and was made an Honorary Member on May 28, 1963.
Addressing the Brethren gathered, he said it was “a great thrill to attend a Masonic Lodge in my home town.”
He remained a member until his untimely death in August 1969.
The Lodge was presented with an inscribed WM’s apron in 1970 by W.Bro John Morgan and he was to be the first to have the honour of wearing it.
And a special Installation ceremony took place at Aberpennar on October 30, 1973, when the Master Elect, W.Bro. James Tovey was presented by his son Bro. David Tovey.
But one of the proudest moments in the Lodge history was the Consecration of its daughter lodge Afon Dar on Monday, May 22, 1978, at the Aberdare Masonic Temple.
The Installing Master was V.Wor Bro. Geoffrey M Ashe, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master.
The first Afon Dar Worshipful Master was W. Bro Henry E Struge, a Past Master of Aberpennar.
The 50th anniversary celebrations of Aberpennar, led by Worshipful Master Frederick Dixon, took place at the Aberdare Masonic Temple on Tuesday, September 3, 1996.
The Warrant of Constitution and the minutes of the first meeting, held on Tuesday, November 24, 1946, were read out by secretary Bro. Leslie Williams.
Bro. Elwyn Williams, on behalf of the Aberpennar Lodge of Instruction, presented the Lodge with a new set of square and compasses to commemorate the special occasion.
In turn, the Aberpennar Brethren presented W.Bro. Hywel Davies with a traditional Welsh miner’s lamp to mark his appointment at the time as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
W.Bro Gwyn I Davies also received a Masonic Bible in recognition of his many years service as Lodge treasurer.
There is nothing stronger than the bond between mother and daughter, and that is true of Aberpennar, its Mother Lodge St David’s and daughter Lodge Afon Dar.
That relationship has grown and flourished for more than 60 years and all three continue to live amicably together under the same roof.