Wakefield of Hythe, one of the town’s three Freemasons’ lodges, recently celebrated its 70th anniversary with an evening of fine dining on the Kent & East Sussex steam railway. Established by men returning from the War, the Lodge was consecrated on 14th May 1945 and has always had strong links with the armed forces. It was named after Charles Cheers Wakefield (1859–1941), the founder of Castrol Oil, who became an enthusiastic Freemason and a great philanthropist. He served as Lord Mayor of London in 1915/16 and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Wakefield of Hythe in 1934.
On the afternoon of Friday 8th May, which was also the 70th anniversary of VE Day, about 70 Lodge members, partners and guests, almost all of them dressed in period uniforms or other wartime costumes, assembled at the Vine Inn on Tenterden High Street. Just after 6pm they made their way to the station which was decked out with wartime memorabilia. There they enjoyed Pimms and canapés and were given replica ration books as their train tickets. After a stirring address by Winston Churchill (aka Lodge Secretary Gordon Russell), the party boarded the luxurious railway carriages for a leisurely evening journey through the lovely Kent and Sussex countryside to Bodiam.
The railway’s enthusiastic and smartly liveried staff, who are all volunteers, served up a splendid four-course dinner of cream of vegetable soup, loin of pork with Biddenden cider and wholegrain mustard sauce, cheeses and desserts. When they reached Bodiam the train rested for half an hour while the lodge held its raffle on the platform. It was already twilight when the party re-boarded the train and around 10.30pm they arrived back at Tenterden station to pick up their taxis, certainly not drunk but having taken drink!
The raffle raised £1,000 for The Royal Engineers Association (Charity No. 258322) whose headquarters are at Brompton Barracks, Chatham. The Association makes charitable grants to serving and former members of the Corps and their dependants who are in need. It also aims to foster a spirit of comradeship, maintain an awareness of Corps traditions and provide a link between serving and retired members of the Corps.
Read more about the Royal Engineers Association: www.reahq.org.uk