History of Goldsmith Street

Front-of-Building-with-tram

1876 - 1914

The first moves to build a Masonic Hall seems to have started in 1876 when there were five Lodges meeting in Nottingham and a further four meeting elsewhere in the Province.

A committee was set up to get a "home of their own". It was decided that the share capital be fixed at £6,000, and in August 1876 property in Goldsmith Street was purchased for £1,228 and 10 shillings. Plans were prepared and a prospectus printed and sent to all the Brethren in the Province. In January 1877, the Directors were authorised to obtain Specifications and Estimates and by February, these had been approved.

Nothing seems to have happened until a meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on 20th September 1878 when R.W. Brother The Duke of St Albans was installed as the Provincial Grand Master and it was agreed that a committee be formed to consider the building of a new Masonic Hall.

On 24th January 1879, this committee issued a report recommending the project. In February 1880, the site had been paid for, plans approved and a tender accepted. On Saturday 2nd July 1881, the building was completes and dedicated by the Grand Secretary, V. W. Brother Colonel Shadwell Clerke, assisted by the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Brother The Duke of St Albans, and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master.

The building was built where the present Corinthian Temple and Corinthian Dining Room now stand, at the junction of Goldsmith Street and Masonic Place and with the entrance on the front of the building.

Shortly after it opened, it was decided also to open a Club on the premises, and within two years it had enrolled over 200 members.

Soon the Brethren wanted to enlarge the property. Tentative enquiries were made about the houses in Belgrave Square - but there was much opposition from the tenants. At the outbreak of the war, in 1914, any further plans came to a halt.

1918 - 1931

With the end of hostilities in November 1918, a sub-committee was appointed to look into the possibility of building and, shortly afterwards, this committee purchased five houses in Belgrave Square for £3,750, obtaining the Freehold from The Nottingham High School for the sum of £2,000. It was estimated that the new building would cost in the region of £60,000 so, for the next five years, members set about raising the money. In July 1928, the tender of J.W. Stamp & Co. ltd. for £55,202 was accepted.

On Tuesday 11th December 1929, the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Brother The Duke of Portland K.G. laid the foundation stone for the new building. Before it was laid, the Provincial Grand Lodge met at the Albert Hall, Nottingham and after the meeting, Masons marched through the streets to Goldsmith Street.

It is interesting to note that the General Purposes Committee laid down that all members should wear top hats. But with the shops of Nottingham sold out of "toppers", many Brethren walked in the procession bare-headed. After the Ceremony lunch, held the Nottingham Palais de Danse, was available to all subscribers at a cost of 5 shillings (25p in today's parlance!).

On the 30 July 1931, the new Masonic Hall was completed and dedicated by the Grand Secretary, V.W. Sir Colville Smith, in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Brother The Duke of Portland K.G. and assisted by R. W. Brother Viscount Galway, the Deputy Provincial grand Master, V. W. Rev. H.T. Hayman and other officers of Grand Lodge. At last the Freemasons of Nottingham had a home and headquarters of which they could be proud!

1939 - 1945

During the war years, 1939 to 1945, it is sad to note that the Hall received a direct hit during the blitz of Nottingham - on the night of 8th May 1941. A bomb dropped down the centre of the building causing considerable damage. The front of the building had to be reinforced and shored-up with huge wooden buttresses to prevent the fabric from collapsing. Workmen must be congratulated that, in a very short time, they cleared the debris and supported the stairway and damaged floors.

1955 - 1965

By 1955 the Directors of the Masonic Hall Company (1924) Ltd. turned their thoughts to the need for a further extension of the Hall building. Naturally, they looked to Belgrave Square as a possible site. The freehold of the Square was owned by the Governors of the Nottingham High School. All the houses and their land, being let on 99-year leases, were not due to expire until the late 1960s. However, in the mid 1960s, the School sold their freehold interest to Messrs. Joseph Burton & Sons Ltd who had premises in Masonic Place and on Talbot Street. All five houses were occupied but at least the beginnings of a site for the extension of the Hall was secured. The Presbyterian Church approached the Hall Company to ask if it would join with them in the purchase of more houses and land in Belgrave Square. Agreement was reached but the proposition met with a firm refusal from Messrs. Joseph Burton & Sons Ltd. since they required the site for their own extensions and also to provide them with vehicular access from Belgrave Square to their existing warehouse.

1967 - 1971

In 1967 a dramatic change came about, Burtons now wanted to sell. The Hall Company acted promptly and bought the remaining ten houses and land. The Church then decided they only required sufficient additional land for a small car park. It was mutually agreed that a joint application should be made to the local authority to close Belgrave Square as a public highway. Thus in 1970, after three years of hard negotiation, they secured possession of all the occupied properties and the way was clear to make a joint application. The application was successful and Belgrave Square ceased to exist as a public highway. As ownership of the former highway was shared equally by the Church and the Hall Company, it was agreed that the Church should have sole ownership of that section of road running north-south. The hall Company to have the entire width of that section running east-west. This gave the Church a small car park and the Hall Company a private road to the proposed extension and car park.

When application to build an extension was made to the planning authority they stipulated that any additional to the existing Hall must incorporate parking facilities for a minimum of one hundred cars (how the planners have changed their attitude to car parking!)

The extension as it is now, is the result of a third set of plans and drawings. Plans ranged from providing no more than administration offices for the Province with the addition of committee rooms to an elaborate two-phase design which would have cost in the region of £500,000. The architect was instructed to prepare anew design which should provide such accommodation as could be envisaged as being required for the next 25-30 years.

Construction work started on 29th March 1971 with the completion date of 31st July 1972. The Foundation Stone was laid on 4th September 1971 and on 1st September 1972; the completed building was dedicated by R.W. Brother C.H.V. Elliott TD MA, Provincial Grand Master.

The total cost of the extension was £250,000. That included the site, the construction and all the furnishings.

The late W. Brother John Marriott, PGD, was mainly responsible for securing the purchase of those first five houses in 1957. Unhappily he died before clearance was obtained of the larger site. His widow and daughters donated the fine gates at the entrance to the approach road to the Belgrave Suite.

The 25-30 year period envisaged by the designers of the Belgrave Suite expired some ten years ago and the further development of the car park site has make significant contributions to the long-term security of the whole site for use by the Freemasons of Nottinghamshire.