Cardiff Masonic Hall

 

History of Cardiff Masonic Hall

The premises were originally built in 1863 for the United Methodist Church at an initial cost of £1600 and boasted seating for 800 parishioners.

The architect Mr John Hartland was well known at the time and other Cardiff examples of his work still in existence are Capel Tabernacl Welsh Baptists Church in the Hayes and Bethany Baptists Church in Wharton Street, now incorporated into Howells department store.  Our building is based in design on Regency Classical coupled with the ancient Doric architecture of Greece.


In 1893, the United Methodist Church determined to sell the building and relocate.  Three Masonic Lodges; Glamorgan Lodge 36, Bute Lodge 960 and Tennant Lodge 1992 were at that time meeting above a potato store in Wharton Street, made an offer of £4500 which was accepted.  In 1894 The Cardiff Masonic Hall Company was incorporated funded by member's subscriptions raising the necessary sum plus a further £2300 for alterations and furnishings.

The premises were finally opened to Freemasonry on 26th September 1895 by the Provincial Grand Mater Lord Llangatock who presided over its first meeting assisted by officers of Provincial Grand Lodge and distinguished brethren totalling some five hundred. In 1904 the building was fitted with Electric Lighting at the expense of the Master of Duke of York Lodge.  A suitable illuminated scroll was presented to him in recognition of his gift.


In 1918 and in the following eight years, the directors acquired the cottages to the north of the building.  These acquisitions enabled the building of a new temple which was named after the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of that time, Edgar Rutter.

 

Old photos of Cardiff Masonic Hall from cardiffians.co.uk

1950s view from the south: The building now occupied by the Madeira Restaurant would not be extended for some years to come. The terrace of buildings later demolished and replaced by Helmont House front the now disappeared Edward Street between Churchill Way and Station Terrace.

Many Cardiff residents would remember the bus stops in front of the fine offices on Dumfries Place. In Cardiff Dumfries rhymes with peas instead of peace.

The large roof of the Capitol Cinema can be seen in the upper centre of the picture. The steps and doorways at the front of the building were  favoured meeting places for many generations of dating couples.


Now occupied by the more recently built Ibis Hotel, Guildford Crescent Baths was the place many Cardiffians learned to swim.

The mixed pool boasted two smaller adjacent pools. one for women only and the other just for men. Alongside can be seen the Docks feeder canal which now runs beneath Churchill Way and part of which can still be seen to the rear of the New Theatre. 

Frequently confused with the older Glamorganshire Canal which ran through what is now St David's shopping centre, the feeder may be responsible for much of the damp in the basements of nearby buildings.  Cardiff Masonic Hall can often be heard described as being in Guildford Crescent instead of its correct address of Guildford Street.  Perhaps a case of fond memories presiding over the less romantic reality.

By the 1980s great expanses of the city centre had been demolished following the 60s town planning experimental exercise Centreplan 70.

Much of the proposed redevelopment never went ahead but the threat of being flattened was enough to dissuade property owners from the expense of maintaining their buildings and left large areas as surface car parks or seemingly perpetual building sites.

Many of the historic buildings and character of the City were swept away but Cardiff Masonic Hall escaped as one of the few remaining secular buildings of interest in the centre.