Many members of the Ipswich Province have taken advantage of the R.A.O.B. Convalescent Homes at Harrogate, and Weston-Super-Mare, and their women folk have been accommodated at Southport; and some aged members are in receipt of Grand Lodge Annuities.
The Grand Lodge of England at one time maintained two Orphanages, but to-day these children are cared for in their own homes, or in their own surroundings, which is better for them. In the history of the Ipswich Lodges we have only come across one orphan, who was taken care of by Bro. George Smith of the Pickwick Lodge; everything possible was done for this lad, but unfortunately he died at a very early age, after some years of mental illness.
Before leaving the benevolent work of the Order, a word or two about gifts in kind. This form of benevolence presents a very wide field, and the Ipswich brethren have taken full advantage of it. During the First World War, Soldier brethren were dispatched to the front with wrist watches, and words of comfort, and in the thirties, many needy members were supplied with a Sunday joint and other foods. Sick members have been recipients of eggs galore, and many other forms of gifts. In fact, there is hardly anything in this very wide sphere, that at some time or other has not figured in the benevolent work of the Ipswich and District Province. There is no doubt that these gifts are often worth more than hard cash, and especially in the case of illness, as they are valuable in speeding the patient to full health. Long may they continue.
In any cross section of the community, their will always be saints and sinners, therefore it is inevitable that the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes has its share of both, and we make no claim that all members are idealists, but the sinner can be adequately dealt with by the rules of the Order. Therefore we will dismiss them, and concentrate on a few of the members who, whilst they may not be saints, have contributed to the foundations and prosperity of the Order in Ipswich.
Undoubtedly the first notable figure was Bro. Aaon Mead, K.O.M, the Host of the Kings Arms, Cornhill, who founded the Gyppeswyck Lodge in 1891.
From the personal recollections of people who new him, it appears that he was a replica of John Bull, even to a fancy waistcoat, the only difference being a full beard. He must have been a forceful character, especially where charity was concerned. His pet hobby was the lifeboat fund, and he pushed this at every opportunity. Nearly every item that has been found concerning the R.A.O.B. and the lifeboat fund, mentions the name of Aaron Mead.
Leonard Leaney, C.P., retired from the Royal Navy as a Master at Arms, and came to Ipswich in 1908, where he became Mine Host of the Beehive, Majors Corner. He soon established himself in the eyes of the townspeople, for in April 1912 he was elected to the board of Guardians, that much maligned body, which despite the bad name always associated with them, consisted of public spirited people who gave their time and thoughts to the welfare of others less fortunate, and by and large, did a good job of work.
Bro. Leaneys work for the R.A.O.B. was outstanding, as can be seen from the minutes of the Pickwick Lodge. He was always on the look-out to see if any brother needed assistance, and where such a need did exist, was always the first to dip into his own pocket. With Albert Plume, he was responsible for the spade work involved in seceding from the G.L.E. Ltd., and for his efforts in this matter, he was presented with an illuminated address by the members of all the Ipswich Lodges, in April 1913, and a framed testimonial from Grand Lodge in November of the same year. Soon after the formation of the Ipswich District Primo Lodge in April 1914 he was taken ill, and died in September of that year, at the age of 67 years. Arthur Plume, R.O.H. another member of the Licensed Victuallers Association, and Host of the Black Horse. Bro. Plume was the secretary of the Pickwick Lodge from some time before January 1912, until September of that year. He was co-delegate to the Grand Lodge of England, Limited, with Bro. Leaney, and in all probability dealt with the correspondence regarding the secession to the G.L.E.
He was given the honour of becoming one of the founders of the new Lodge, and also received the Order of Knighthood on the night of the change over. He so obtained the esteem of his comtemporaries that they chose him as the first President of the Ipswich Certifying Council, and also the Ipswich District Primo Lodge. In 1920 he became the first brother to receive the degree of Roll of Honour. On his departure to live somewhere in London, in 1921, at which time he was P.G. Treasurer, one or two brothers started a testimonial for him, but this met with little response, and the idea was dropped.
Robert Rae, K.O.M., was a big man in every way, over six feet tall and well built, he was described to the writer as an enormous man. He came to Ipswich from the North of England (probably South Shields), to take the post of Machine Room Overseer, at the East Anglian Daily Times.
He was a member of the Pickwick Lodge from 1905, and his work for the R.A.O.B. matched his stature.
He became one of the founders of the new Pickwick Lodge in 1912, and first mooted the idea of an R.A.O.B. Club in Ipswich. He offered to purchase premises for this project, but before the plans could materialise, he was defeated in an election for honours, and he resigned his position as Trustee of the Lodge in 1923.
It is probable, as is often the case, that his good works were taken for granted, and lesser lights received the Honours. This attitude is not confined to Buffaloism, in fact it is part of everyday life, but it does provide food for thought when we contemplate bestowing honours. Bob Rae very rarely attended the Lodge after this, and after he retired from the E.A.D.T. in 1936, little trace of him is found.
Yet another publican who was no sinner was the late Brother Herbert Howard, K.O.M., Host of The Case is Altered, Woodbridge Road. From photographs, he appears to have been a kindly man, and would do his utmost for any cause in which he was interested. With Bros. Plume and Leaney, he assisted in the formation of the Ipswich and District Province, and became P.G. Primo in 1923. He was an idealist, as this entry in P.G.L. minutes shows.
December 1923...... Bro. H.Howard, I.P.P.G.P. was accorded a hearty vote of thanks, for the very able manner in which he has carried out his duties during the past year. In responding, Kt. Howard let the Province clearly understand that his activities having produced no tangible results, he was not prepared to take any active part in the Order in this Province in future. He also expressed a wish that the Lodge would not offer him a jewel, or sash of any kind, for his past services.
Happily for the Order, he continued to serve them well, but this very service hastened his own demise,
for in January 1927, Bro. Elias Woods, C.P., a founder of the Prince of Wales Lodge, and Deputy P.G.P. died very soon after taking office, and Bro. Howard, who was P.G. Funeral Marshal, rose from a sick bed to perform the funeral service. The severe weather on that day affected Bro. Howard so adversely that he died the following month. A fund was opened to establish a memorial to the brethren, but was allowed to elapse.
Bro. Harry Eade, R.O.H., was initiated in the Pickwick Lodge and was a founder of the Prince of Wales Lodge; he is a very distinguished looking gentleman, and having met him I have no wonder that the Prince of Wales Lodge had high ideals, they are characteristic of the man. He so held the esteem of his contemporaries that they not only elected him P.G.P. in 1932, but gave him a second term of office in 1937. There is no doubt that he carried out his duties with the utmost dignity, and it is unfortunate that his health will not allow him to attend our Lodges at the present time.
Bro. Eade was followed in office in 1933, by Bro. John Henry Mason, to whom this work is dedicated. Brother Mason was a living example of all that a Buffalo should be, and although every honour that the Order could bestow, was given to him, he never lost the common touch. He was twice P.G. Primo, in 1933 and 1939, was President of the R.O.H. Assembly, and the Examining Council. The Presidency of the Ipswich Knights Chapter eluded him only because he devoted himself to the Secretaryship of that body from 1935 to 1955. He was raised to the Second Degree in 1926 in the Pickwick Lodge, and was immediately appointed to the Benevolent Committee of the P.G. Lodge, and at the time of his death, he had given 30 years service to that Committee, and had been Chairman since 1935.
As a mark of the esteem in which he was held by all members of the Ipswich and District Province, the P.G. Lodge in 1955, took the unprecedented step of awarding Brother Mason Life-membership of all its committees.
No Brother has given longer, or better service to the Province. His career can be summed up in his own words to the writer, in a conversation early in 1956. It is nice to know that one is respected.
The most outstanding personality of recent years is Bro. John Baldwin, R.O.H., who emigrated to Canada in June 1955. One can only describe him as dynamic. Having set himself a goal nothing will stop him from reaching it. This quality does not lead to universal popularity, and not everyone saw eye to eye with him. However, facts are facts, and Jacks achievements have contributed to the prosperity of the R.A.O.B. in Ipswich.
Initiated in the Prince of Wales Lodge, he became Secretary of that Lodge in 1945, and his organising abilities soon made it the best attended Lodge in the Province. In 1947-8 the average attendance was over 40 members per week.
In 1946 he took over the Secretaryship of the P.G. Lodge, and with the assistance of Bro. Arthur Gosling, (who did all the donkey work), straightened out P.G.L. accounts, which at that time were in a very poor state, to say the least.
His dynamic qualities were in full play at the time of the inauguration of the R.A.O.B. Memorial Club and Institute, and without his forceful leadership it is doubtful if the Club would ever come into being. A typical example of John Baldwins methods was this incident:-
The committee had decided to buy No. 2 Friars Road as Club premises, but we were very doubtful about raising enough money for the purchase price, although we had made an offer to purchase, and it had been accepted. Jack led us on a tour of inspection, and explained where the bar, and other things, would be. He illustrated the positions by knocking holes in the walls with a large hammer which he was carrying. Do it first and ask questions afterwards, is his motto.
In March 1955, Jack decided to join his son and daughter in Montreal, Canada, and a farewell party was arranged at the Co-op. Hall, Carr Street, where on Wednesday April 27th over 500 people gave him a rousing send-off. All Lodges in the Ipswich Province were represented, and the Grand Primo of England, Bro. Harry Charlesworth, R.O.H., led the
speeches and presentations. Jack still keeps his interest in the Ipswich P.G.L., and although he is busy establishing himself in Canada, he is forever seeking information on our activities, and assists in our benevolent work.
The foregoing list of personalities is by no means exhaustive; there are many who have given years of of service to the Ipswich Provincial Grand Lodge, and the Minor Lodges that are its component parts, such as Bro. John Harnden, of the Stanville Lodge, who was a founder of the Lodge in 1930, and was mainly responsible for its revival in 1955; Arthur Allen, R.O.H., who was initiated on the Deban Lodge one week after it opened, and still gives valuable service to that Lodge. He has served P.G. Lodge in several of its officers, and has been a regular member of the Benevolent Committee for many years; the late Bro. Fred Rowe of the Cardinal Lodge; Dot Cotton (Deban); John Ingham, (Amphibian) and others who have passed on. Amongst our contemporaries there are many back room boys, whose names are very seldom heard, but are in the forefront when there is work to do. Typical of these is William Rose, of the Sir George Osborne Lodge; he has served on the Benevolent Committee for years, and it would be hard to imagine the Childrens Christmas Party without him.
We will leave this subject, with the hope that the deeds of those mentioned may inspire others to do likewise.
THE CLUB AND INSTITUTE
The idea that the Ipswich Province should have its own headquarters, was first mooted in the early twenties, and in 1923 it had reached the stage where premises were being sought, and Bro. Rae, of the Pickwick was ready to put up money for these premises. His contemporaries took him too much for granted, and with his departure from the scene of activities went the first attempt at starting a Club.
The idea was revived in 1944 by a group of brethren, mainly from the Sir George Osborne Lodge, led by the late Bro. S.R.Moss. A committee was set up in 1945, but this did very little except talk. However, it was through this first committee that Bro. J.Baldwin became interested in the scheme. A new committee was formed in May 1946, consisting of Bros. J.Baldwin, F.Edwards, A.Day, A.Wright, D.Clunie, A.Payne and E.Keeling, elected by P.G.L., with one brother from each Minor Lodge, which included Bros. S.R.Moss, W.J.Rose, J.H.Mason and A.R.Rampling amongest them. John Baldwin was elected as Secretary, and at once made himself felt. He appealed to all Lodges for funds, and by September 1947 over 600-00-00d had been promised to the committee.
During the first week of September we obtained a catalogue of sale for No.2 Friars Road, which was to be sold on September 25th 1947. We inspected the premises, and Jack Baldwin decided that it would do.
He immediately went around the town, cap in hand, to get the money to buy the place. It is true to say that if a lesser man had attempted this he would have failed, and indeed, there were many of us on the committee who thought that it would be impossible,
but we did not know the man Baldwin. With the help of Arthur Gosling, (who, by the way, is still Treasurer of the Club), he obtained it, and the R.A.O.B. Memorial Club and Institute Limited became an established fact.
Before the Deed of Sale was signed, and before we were sure that the necessary cash would be forthcoming, J.B. started to pull the inside out of the place.
No. 2 Friars Road was a very fine house until J.B. got to work on it. There was a very fine, wide staircase leading up from the entrance hall, and it was a pity that we could not leave it there, but Jack decided that that was where the bar would be, so down it came. We certainly had fun and games
in those first days. A grand piano was purchased at a sale; it took six of us to get it upstairs, and caused more amusement than any music hall act. I can still see Arthur Wright standing at the bend of the stairs, taking all the weight, which he did at arms length, above his head. We gave him every assistance, by standing aside, and laughing our heads off. However, no harm was done.
Jack Baldwin made us work like Trojans, and in a very short time we had the Lodge room ready on the first floor, and the bar down below.
It soon became evident that the R.A.O.B. membership was not strong enough to make the Club pay, and in 1949 the committee decided to admit Social Members so that the Club could pay its way. These members are still admitted, but under the rules of the Club they cannot serve on the Committee. This rule was challenged in 1954, when Bro. George Cauldwell was re-elected President. As he had fallen out of compliance with the R.A.O.B. he was no longer eligible to hold office in the Club. He was a very able Chairman, and did a lot for the benefit of the Club, and a strong attempt was made to let him retain the Presidency, but he resigned as he did not have the full support of the R.A.O.B. members.
In 1951, a firm of paint manufacturers, who were next door neighbours, made an offer for the Friars Road premises. This offer was too good to refuse, and so the Old Boys Brigade Club at 54, Foundation Street, was purchased, and Friars Road became a paint warehouse.
The P.G. Lodge holds its meetings at the Club, as do the Knights Chapter, and the R.O.H. Assembly. Three Minor Lodges are held at these premises, these being the Prince of Wales, Pickwick and Sir George Osborne Lodges.
The first President of the Club was John Baldwin, and the secretary was Bro. David Clunie, who has since left the district. Amongst the present members of the Club Committee are Bros. A.E.Wright, J.H.Mason, W.J.Rose and A.Day, who were all members of the first committee.
Strictly speaking, the R.A.O.B. Club and Institute is nothing to do with the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, but its rules are such that only members of the R.A.O.B. can serve on the management committee; therefore it runs parallel to the Order, and will always be associated with the Ipswich Provincial Grand Lodge.