Carbon Chapter No 2910 Centenary
E Comp Danny Kehoe, Scribe E
Carbon Chapter was consecrated on 21st January 1921 at The Holborn Restaurant, a fine venue with many different dining rooms and Masonic temples, which was situated at the Junction of High Holborn with Kingsway near to Freemasons’ Hall.
Demolished in 1955, the site is now occupied by a Sainsbury’s. Apparently, the restaurant’s main claim to fame was that in 1920 Mahatma Gandhi was asked to leave by the person who had invited him to attend for a meal as his host was not impressed that Gandhi wanted a vegetarian soup!
There were 15 founders, most of whom were members of Carbon Lodge, No 2910 which had been consecrated in April 1902. The founders were Freemasons, members of the Coal Trade, merchants who assembled from all around the country to buy and sell coal at the coal exchange which was then situated at Thames Street opposite the Old Billingsgate Market.
The Chapter, like the Craft Lodge proved popular and was well attended in the period leading up to and including the Second World War with many distinguished members. Some with household names familiar to those who had coal delivered to their homes and businesses by companies such as Charringtons.
In 1946 The Coal Exchange closed after the industry was nationalised and naturally the composition of the membership changed with candidates for exaltation and joining coming from other trades and professions although there remained a number of the members were still connected with the noble use of coal and iron on which it can be argued that ‘Britain become Great’ after the Industrial Revolution.
Carbon Chapter certainly seems to have inspired a great loyalty in its members with two of the Founders still being active in 1965 some 44 years after consecration. Its records reveal many other members who served for over 49 years including the late, much-lamented Howard Pountney who was still performing ritual at the age of 100 years, including his carrying out a double initiation in the Craft in 2013.
Other distinguished members included William McCormick, DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) who served as Scribe E for over 27 years. Another Gallant member, E Comp Smerdon served as a Pathfinder on bombing operations in the Second World War and followed that by even braver actions in owning a Pub on the Isle of Dogs in the years that followed.
His Son, E Comp Ian Smerdon, SLGCR – and current First Principal of the Chapter – has been a member for over 48 years and is regarded as being the rock on which the Chapter stands. He is the last member with a tenuous link to the coal trade having been a managing director of a Shell UK Heating Oil Company. We are fortunate to have two other members who have 43 and 37years’ service respectively.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Chapter was not able to celebrate its centenary in style in 2021. However, on a memorable and highly enjoyable evening on the 24th of October 2022 a Letter of Congratulations from Sir Michael Snyder, Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, was presented by Carbon Chapter’s Metropolitan Grand Inspector, E Comp Tony Shepherd.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 50 December 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 50 here.