On compiling this short history every effort has been made to ensure that it is factual and correct. The hard part has been in obtaining the early years as most of our early members have now ceased labour.However it is inevitable that some error due to insufficient data or incorrect information will have crept in. In particular just what extent was the involvement the Association had within the Dunedin area, this proved most difficult to obtain factual accounts of involvement. It appears that many Railway Men were involved within various Lodges in the Dunedin area and were invited to participate with workings of degrees, but, it cannot be established that there was a branch of the Craftsmen's Association. However, It appears that many Railway Men living in the far south were members of the Association.

For any ‘errors’ that have eventuated, all I can do is apologise and make a request that they be pointed out so that they can be corrected..

While most of the research and what has been written has been produced by myself it is not all my own work, I have just formulated and compiled it into a ‘brief' history of the Association. Many others have been part of this over the last fifty years, without their contribution this could not have be formulated and many would be unaware of the efforts they made in the past would be a help in the future. Along with the ‘Foundation Members’, many other well known members. over the past fifty years gave numerous hours of work in making this Association creditable in the eyes of others, especially within the ranks of Grand Lodge. It was a considerable task, they were met with many obstacles and over the years suffered many trials and tribulations, but the members who founded this Association did their task well. Their aims were unpretentious, but they were of the right kind, in the work force, on the floor of the Lodge and also in the sphere of administration. It could be said they were complete Masons. Well, that's quite a statement but you can be assured their hearts were in the right place.

Fifty years represents a milestone, in any venture and for an Association within Masonry is a great achievement as many a warranted lodge has not made this goal.

So as we celebrate this anniversary many a thought should go to those departed members who made it all possible. I am sure that many treasured memories will be relived and shared with others, and that's really what it's all about ---sharing.

I hope that this short history will serve as a memento of a very important event the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Railway Craftsmen's Association of New Zealand

Wor. Bro. Noel. M. Mangin, R.H.. September 25th 1999


History: The word really refers to the past, a record of past events.

In this case the past fifty years. To begin this ‘Short History' let's start with what we have as of to day (September 1999) and then let's travel back in time on how it all came about.

Today the Railway Craftsmen Association of New Zealand as it is now called, is made up and incorporates the three districts that were in existence in that time. This amalgamation took place on the 30th of October 1993 at the A.G. M. of the Southern District of the North Island. This being the only district that was still active, but in fact only just. An invitation was extended to the other now closed, two Districts and to all interested Railway Brethren to attend this A.G.M Meeting, with the view to see which way this Association was heading, with the option to either winding up the association or form the one Association Nationally. The main reason was dwindling membership, insufficient interest and mainly no real contact with members. In other words a complete lack of communication. A decision was needed

One hundred plus concerned members from all over the country attended and expressed their feelings. The result of this meeting was above all expectations, as most members in their heart of hearts had doubts that it could survive. All had misjudged the depth of feeling and how dear to the hearts this association was to each and every member. The meeting was very emotional and it was very clear to all present that there would be no winding up of the Association and the following result was that one combined organization would be established.

This was confirmed and the three districts consisting of The Northern and Southern district of the North Island and the Southern District of the South Island would become one and to be called Railway Craftsmen's Association of New Zealand. With this established the Association continued to operate but not with too much effect, however at the AGM in 1996 there was a general shake up within the Committee and Officers that make up the working of the Craft. A set of Rules for the "New" regime was put in place, along with a policy of more contact with its members and a more flexible membership. In the past membership was restricted to Railwaymen and Superannuitants in Freemasonry only. This was now opened to past and present Railway men and in some cases Honorary Members are considered.

Today we are very active with at least two ceremonial meetings a year and this year 1999, there are some eight Railway Craftsmen who are Masters of their Lodge. At these "ceremonial "meetings whether it be an Emulation or a "Live" working, .the members who are partaking in the ceremony or giving Charges, carry them out as they are done within their own Lodges. This provides a great variation as well as interest. along with a lot of pride. In most cases there has been no provision for a practice. The most pleasing result of the amalgamation is that the fellowship that was once so much a part of being a member has been rejuvenated.. The Membership is about 175, a far cry from the 300 to 400 members the Southern District North Island alone could boast of in the late forties and early fifties.

That is the situation to day. We are now fifty years of age. Just what has been achieved,? It would have to be respect, and it is right through out masonry. This respect is not just given, it had to be earned. Now lets go back in time, fifty years and have a look at how it all began., where this respect was born. You will see, further on in this article, by the attached history that was written for the twenty fifth anniversary, just how the Association was born, and explains how it came to fruition, and as you will see it was born out of complete fellowship.

But to the actual beginning. The Railway connection really all began in Dunedin and in time the interest spread North.

The Dunedin District is a bit of a mystery, after many discussions with many members, who have been associated with the Dunedin Lodges it appears that during the 1940s and 1950s there were a considerable number of the N.Z Railways employees who were members of various Lodges. These members as far as can be established were often asked once a year to take part in Degree Workings. These Workings were done as Railway Meetings under the Worshipful Masters invitation of various Lodges who offered the opportunity to brethren who were employed by N.Z. Railways to partake within the ceremony.. These meeting were most popular, and many a happy occasion took place. The Railway contingent in this part of the country was very strong within the craft at this time, (1940s and 1950s) To establish if there was an association, and to what form it took has proved very hard to confirm. However, sorting through many Lodge Programmes confirms there was. For instance in 1969 Lodge Maori No.105, there was a "Fraternal Visit of the Railway Brethren". Stated within the Programme is Southern District (5.1) Railway Craftsmen's Association.. Incorporating the districts of North Otago, Central Otago , Dunedin, South Otago and Southland. Also within are listed past and present Presidents, Secretaries, Committee Members and also Area Representatives. So it can be safely said there was an Association formed. However what is very noticeable on this programme was that The Worshipful Master of Lodge Maori received the "Visiting Railway Brethren", not the Railway Craftsmen's Association.. The ‘further business’ of the evening was an ‘Address’ by W. Bro. J.F. Wilson. P.G.O. of the Morning Star Lodge No. 192 (Now Lodge Roslyn Morning Star.) No degree working was performed, this is most noticeable in a considerable number of Lodge Programmes from many various lodges over many years. As far as research has revealed there were many Lodges who did offer ceremonial duties to various Railway Brethren , but only as individuals and not as a collective recognised association.

Southern District North Island, Outside the Otago Southland Area, this was the first Association to be formed. But, the earliest records, other than the brief history that was presented for the twenty fifth anniversary for this district shows that it began in 1949.. However, there is no way to actually confirm just when and where the formation took place. All that can be stated with complete certainty is that of the first ceremonial meeting date. What day or month it was brought into fruition is not available. There most certainly would have been a meeting to agree that there would be an Association formed. When this took place is unsure other than it must have been between the months of May and August 1949. Authenticity is the problem. There has to be a beginning, a starting date.

The date of the First meeting is the only one that can be used with complete accuracy, even though it is possibly a few months out as to the actual formation of the Association. It is a real tragedy that these early records are not available, which include the minutes of the inaugural Meeting, the first A.G. Meeting.. After many exhausted avenues, whether talking or corresponding with many senior members, asking if they could help in locating these, it has been to no avail, which is most discouraging. Perhaps they have been lost forever, hopefully not. So until they are recovered then the date of the first Inaugural Ceremonial Meeting of the 29th September, 1949 will have to be a substitute date.

On Saturday the 5th October 1974 the Southern District North Island celebrated it's 25th Anniversary at the Masonic Hall Udy Street Petone. The host lodge was Hautonga Lodge No: 366 included within the Anniversary Programme was a brief history on how this Association was born.. It was the most dedicated and articulate work of two Railway Brothers, R. .D. Clark and the late A. J Burtton. Today their past efforts are most important as it is the only reliable record that could be found that gives the complete insight of this Associations beginning. For that reason alone it is here by duplicated in its original form as the two brothers presented it.


On 23 April 1949 a number of Railway brethren from the Manawatu and Wellington areas travelled toNapier to attend the initiation of a fellow railwayman, A. G. (Bert) Newport, at The Victoria Lodge No.21. Napier.

W. Bro. A. W. Egan, in his reply to the visitors, toast, made the observation that it was unfortunate that Railway brethren were unable to associate in a Masonic manner with any degree of regularity. He instanced Dunedin where a meeting of local brethren was held annually, and although no Masonic work was conducted, a chairman was appointed for the evening and items of Masonic interest were discussed.

Whilst returning to Palmerston North after the meeting, four brethren discussed the possibility of arranging a meeting of Railway brethren under the Charter of a regularly warranted lodge. These four Brothers H. C. Wilson, G. W. Leathley. J. W. Bennett and W.J.Brown (the latter not a railwayman) "sent out feelers" in Palmerston North as to the feasibility of arranging a meeting of this nature. The response from the local brethren was such that it was decided to proceed with the idea. At a meeting held in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church Hall, a committee was formed under the chairmanship of W. Bro. R.J.Bowie with Bro. H. C. Wilson as Secretary.

W. Bro. Egan, from Wellington, attended several meetings. After reaching agreement as to the form of the function, an approach was made to R. .W .Bro. P. W. Morris, Prov. .G. M.. Ruapehu District, and R. .W Bro. H. A. Lamb, Grand Secretary. Grand Lodge approval was readily given and arrangements were completed for the initial meeting.

Lodge Awatea No.258 agreed to allow the Railway brethren to meet under its charter, and the first meeting took place in the Masonic Lodge Rooms, Church Street, Palmerston North, on Saturday 29 September 1949. The Master, Wro. Bro. F. C. Jones, after welcoming the 217 Railway brethren, representing 90 Lodges, handed the gavel to Wor. Bro. Bowie, who, assisted by Railway brethren initiated Mr. Kenneth Nelson Thomas Palmer an engine driver. Regrettably, Bro. Palmer did not survive a great number of years to enjoy his Masonic career.

Railway brethren taking part in this historical meeting were.

W,M W.Bro. R,.J. Bowie P.M. Lodge Awatea No 258
I.P.M W.Bro. A.W. Egan P.M. Lodge Oamaru No.260
S.W W.Bro. T.A. Gichard P.M. Lodge Moutoa No 195
J.W. W.Bro. A.S.C. Franklyn P.M. Lodge Waitohi No.111
S.D. Bro. W. Ridley P.M Lodge Huia No.1711
J.D. Bro. W.A. Scott M.M Lodge Clinton No.183
I.G. W.Bro. W.S. Allen P.M Lodge Te Henui No.281
D.C. W.Bro. J.B. Meachen P.M Lodge Victoria No. 21
Chap. W.Bro. J..A. Scott P.M Lodge Unanimity No. 3
Org Bro. A. Sutton M.M Lodge Victoria No. 21
Tyler Bro. J. Heaphy M.M Lodge Awatea No.258
Although it was not intended that the function should be repeated the obvious success of the evening prompted the committee to continue with the aim of making it an annual event.

Thus was born the Railway Craftsmen's Association. which is probably the largest Craftsmen's Association in New Zealand. Those eligible to become members were Railwaymen and Superannuitants.

R.W.Bro. E. J. Guinness, P.Dep.G.M., graciously accepted the position of Patron of the Association and it was a source of pride to Railway brethren when R.W.Bro. Guinness was elected to the high and exalted rank of Grand Master in 1950.

Meetings were held. annually under the charter of each of the five Lodges then meeting in Palmerston North-Awatea, Pakama. Huia, Manawati' Kilwinning and Ohakea Services

In 1954, Lodge Awatea moved to their new premises in Fitzherbert Avenue and the Railway Craftsmen's Association had the privilege of working the first ever degree in the new Lodge Room. At this meeting W. Bro. W. S. Allen, PM., Lodge Te Henui No.281, initiated two Railwaymen, Messrs. D. F. Ross and A. C. McVicar.

To mark this occasion, the Assocation presented a handsome Almoner's chair to Lodge Awa tea.

It is worthy of note that, as we celebrate our 25th year of progress, our first meeting was held during Lodge Awa tea's 25th anniversary year.

Following M.W.Bro. Guinness's call to the Grand Lodge Above V.W. Bro. J. A. Colquhoun, P.G. Lect., accepted the office of Patron' a position he continued to hold for a number of years.

In 1957, Grand Lodge directed that as the Association did not hold a Charter of its own, it was not proper for it to work degrees, although brethren could assist in such working provided the host Master retained control of the Lodge.

In 1962, the Palmerston North brethren advised that, due to retirements, transfers, etc., they were unable to organise the meeting that year. A hurriedly convened meeting of Wellington brethren, under the Chairmanship of W Bro. E. F. Hamilton, arranged an informal function in the Woburn Workshop's Social Hall in an endeavour to keep the Association alive. A similar function was held in 1963, after the brethren in Palmerston North advised they were no longer able to arrange the annual function. However, brethren expressed the wish that, if possible, future annual functions be held under the Charter of a Lodge, so the Wellington brethren set about finding suitable premises in the local area.

Lack of sufficient space precluded the Association from meeting in the Wellington city area, and an approach was made to Jellicoe Lodge No.259 for the use of the new premises in Udy Street, Petone. Jellicoe Lodge not only consented to the Association using the premises but also graciously agreed to act as host Lodge for our 1964 meeting. The Association has continued to hold its annual meetings in these premises under the Charter of various Lodges in the district.

Following this meeting, R.W.Bro. F. W. Pringle, P.Prov.G.M., graciously accepted the office of Patron of the Association, an office he still holds. It was a source of pleasure to the Association when R.W.Bro. Pringle was elected to the high and exalted rank of Past Grand Master in 1970, the second of our Patrons to be so honoured by Grand Lodge.

It was also during this year that membership ot the Association was opened to brethren who were members of the Craft at the time of their resignation from the Department

Financial profit has not been the aim of the Assocation. Although the annual cost has been kept to the minimum possible, a small credit balance has been built up over the years. Part of this balance has been used to make small but regular donations to the Grand Lodge Fund of Benevolence, the Wellington Almoners Associations and more recently to the Woburn Masonic Homes project, in all approximately $450 being distributed in this manner.

The membership roll lists some 300 brethren, currently spread from Kaitaia to Bluff but all of whom have been stationed at some time in their Railway career in the southern half of the North Island. It is interesting to note that 50 of these brethren have served their respective Lodges as Master and nine brethren have been honoured by Grand Lodge for their services to Freemasonry;

This short history would not be complete without reference to the work done by past committees, both in Palmerston North and Wellington, to enable the Railway brethren to meet in Peace, Love and Harmony. To name some would be unfair to others, all of whom have devoted untold hours in arranging the annual functions and carrying out the administrative work of the Association-to each of you, our grateful thanks.

The time is also opportune to record the Association's thanks to the Provincial Grand Masters of the Ruapehu and Wellington Districts and their Grand Lodge Officers for their guidance and assistance during the past 25 years. Without the support of these worthy brethren the Association would not be as strong as it is today.

As we celebrate 25 years of progress we have, with some degree of pride, honoured the objects of those brethren who guided the Association through its formative years. It is therefore fitting that these objects be repeated at this time to guide us through the second 25 years:

1 -"To further the teachings and aims of Freemasonry among Railway brethren.

2 "To meet one or more times a year.

3 "To encourage Railway brethren to maintain an interest in their respective Lodges and in the Craft in general."


An interesting point is that this 25th Anniversary was held in Hautonga No 366 the Worshipful Master was W. Bro. B Cornick.

Hautonga along with Kotoku No 392 both had their final meetings on the 15th June 1994 and amalgamated with Stokes Valley No 460 on July 1994.


Northern District North Island: Early in 1950 a number of masons working for the NewZealand Railways learned that railway brethren in the Wellington Province had banded together to work a degree with a Railway Man as candidate. At that time a number of Freemasons were employed in the railway workshops at Otahuhu

Discussions commenced amongst these brethren, and resulted in a formal meeting being arranged on 23rd May 1950. All masons of the various branches who were on the staff of the NZR Auckland District. were invited to attend. A committee was formed with W.Bro. T.Norman Clayton being elected chairman. As a result of this meeting a general meeting of the interested brethren was held, there being 30 members present.

It was moved by Bro Kidd seconded by Bro. Friend: that a Railway Masonic Association be formed with the object of having one Lodge Meeting a year. It was Carried.

Registration fee was set at five shillings. The actual Inaugural lodge meeting of the association was held on 28th October, 1950..The Host lodge being The Oliver Nicholson Lodge No.326. W. Bro Clayton took the chair for an evening of lectures.

The association was founded on known Masonic principles, and started with 30 members who were at the first meeting , by the end of the first year there was a membership of 259.

Like the other branches the Northern District North Island had three main objects:

1 "The desire to meet together once in every year;

2 "A sincere wish to render themselves more extensively serviceable to fellow brethren;

3 "To ensure that railway brethren transferred to the Auckland District received the hand of a brother and were introduced to suitable lodges.


Northern District South Island. A meeting was held in the Arnbulance Hall. District Traffic Office Moorhouse Avenue. Christchurch at 7 p.m. on Saturday 22nd March 1958 for the object of the formation of a Railway Craftsmen's Association.

Bro. W.M. Find lay opened the meeting before an attendance of 61 members. Welcomed the members who were well represented from all branches, then handed over to Bro L. G. Wise (the temporary chairman)

Bro, Wise spoke on the aims of the proposed Association. Wor. Bro. J H Webberley spoke on behalf of the Auckland Association W Bro. W A Scott spoke on behalf of the Wellington Association

Wor Bro W A Glading moved that an Association be formed ,to be called Northern Districts (S.I) Railway Craftsmen's Association. Registration fee of fifteen shillings would be required with no annual subscription to maintain membership.

Thus another branch of the association was born., making the total of four districts taking into account the Dunedin district.


Although the dates and the years is hard to obtain, it was in 1955,1957 and 1962 that Grand Lodge issued an order that the Association's activities were not that of a Lodge and a ruling from the Board of General Purpose that as the association did not hold a charter of their own it was not proper for them to work degrees

The following is the answer from Grand Lodge after a request from the Northern District North Island as to where they stood within the rules.

The reply received, dated 7th November 1955. is as follows:--

1. A visitor to a Lodge is admitted by virtue of his membership of a particular Lodge and attention is drawn. to Rule I. of the Book of Constitution which states that visitors when signing the attendance book shall state their Masonic Rank and the number of their respective Lodges.

2. With the exception of those Masonic Associations which have been officially recognised by Grand Lodge. ( and may be admitted and announced as such. ) a visitor should be admitted as a member of a particular Lodge who, in accordance with Rule 121 of the Book of Constitution, (and permitted to visit under Rule 123) has been duly vouched for by one of the Brethren present or duly examined and should thereupon be admitted and announced as "A Brother (or Brethren) duly vouched for". The attention of Masters is drawn to No.15 of the "Antient Charges & Regulations" on page 8 of the Book of Constitution and to No.58 of "Collected Rulings & Notifications" of the Boards approved by Grand Lodge on 26th November, 1952.

3. Ceremonies within the Lodge should not be carried out by groups as such but there is no objection to individuals delivering certain addresses or charges if invited to do so by the Master provided this does not contravene number 10 and 13 of "Collected Rulings & Notifications".

4. Greetings at the Third Time of Asking should be given only by Masters or other representatives of Lodges."

This directive had a disastrous effect, It pointed out that we were not a "Lodge". We were not an approved Association and in fact could not even give "greetings".. The effects were that fraternisation was very restricted, meetings became too formal, which defeated the intentions of the Craftsmen Association.

It completely changed the morale within the various Railway Craftsmen Associations especially within the Otago, Southland area. Ultimately, it led to its demise. . It also had a great effect on the other three branches and took a considerable effort by many members, some who were Grand Lodge Officers to take the issue In hand, and put a case forward as to what the Association was all about. It was a tremendous task, involving a considerable amount time and work.. From the very few limited records regarding this matter, it was still a issue in 1962... However from what can be obtained from these records, common sense did prevail and the outcome is as we operate today, by the generosity of Lodges who act as a "Host" Lodge, in some cases it even involves the transfer of a Charter. We hold great respect within Grand Lodge today. However this respect had to be earned, and a great deal of sincere thanks must go to those members who were responsible and fought for the Association's well being.

When the Northern District North Island ceased to be is also unsure, but from an extract from within the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting on the 12th September 1978, concern as to its welfare was expressed.

Extract: At the meeting a feeling that the Association didn't get enough support from the members and that something wasn't done the Association could well cease to exist in the next few years. This could be interpreted as the "writing on the wall" as this branch did cease to exist. However the actual date, month or year is unsure.

Northern District South Island also suffered the same fate, With the breaking up of the old Railways Departments into separate companies, most of the Railway Masonic Brethren left the service and the Railway Craftsmen Association after some thirty three years it ceased to function.

At the Installation of the Crown Lodge No: 138 ,the Secretary W. Bro A. K.Beckett, announced that the Northern District South Island, Railway Craftsmen Association was formally wound up. The remaining funds, sorne $400.88 were passed on to the Canterbury Masonic Charities Trust.

There are still many members in this area and on Saturday 12th September 1998 the Christchurch members arranged a meeting to be held in the Crown Lodge, a Lodge that in the past had been most friendly to the Craftsmen This meeting proved to be a tremendous success and once again the fellowship flourished within the craft.

So three branches may be closed , but they gave some thirty years plus of pleasure and happiness to many members, many who have since ceased labour, many still belong to the amalgamated Association today.

Over those past fifty years many a work mate has not only worked along side each otherin their chosen occupation but have also stood along side each other on the floor of theLodge. There have been Father and Sons as well as Brothers. and over the years theRailway Craftsmen's Associations has played a very big part in their Masonic life.


In compiling this short history I talked to many senior members and other various members of the craft through out the length and breadth of New Zealand to find out why the feeling of belonging is so very strong , and I think I got as near to it that I could when talking to a very senior citizen of this Association. He summed it up beautifully as he related his version.

Quote~:-- I will never ever forget that night I was initiated Being a Railway Man there were many work mates there to see me take the "Goat" by the horns so to speak They came along with all the members of the Lodge, gave me plenty of banter, then entered the lodge room for my ceremony and I was left outside with the Tyler. I was absolutely astonished when the Tyler wanted to prepare me for the ceremony, I did not believe he was serious. I was sure like the others he was joking . He wasn't! How ever he persuaded me and I become a member. From that night on ,due to the care and kindness shown by this brother I have made many friends all over New Zealand and many other parts of the world. They say it all starts at the door of the lodge. Well it did for me.
So we are now the ripe old age of fifty years and the objects of the association are still the same as they were at the start.
1 "To further the teachings and aims of Freemasonry among railway brethren.

2 "To meet one or more times a year; to encourage railway brethren to maintain an interest in their respective lodges and in the Craft in general.

3 "To encourage Railway brethren to maintain an interest in their respective Lodges and in the Craft in general.

We have outlasted many a Lodge, for they have come and gone and so has the New Zealand Railways. and along with many a friend and Brother.

There is a saying "that once a railway man always a railway man". This could also apply to Masons , as one very distinguished Bro. once quoted. "You may resign from a Lodge but you cannot resign from masonry, you just become an unattached Brother. That is it strength".

That strength is relevant within this association as we look forward that this strength will carry it on to the next fifty years.


To those who are listed below please accept my sincere thanks for all your help and for the material that you made available. Without your help this short history could not have been compiled..

A very special thanks to Jim Dangerfield who was a mine of information in regards to the Otago Southland area a most interesting Brother. Wor. Bro. A. 0. Clark also provided very valuable items of information..

W. Bro, A. 0.Clark
W. Bro. G. I.Harrington
(Late.) Bro.A, J.Burtton
W. Bro. D. Armstrong
W. Bro. E.G. Moseley
W. Bro. J. A. Robertson
Bro. J. Dangerfield
W Bro B. Ladd.
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