At Mercury we like to pride ourselves as being the RAE Lodge, please read a little further to find out why.
The post war years of the early 1920’s had seen a number of advances in both aeroplane and aero-engine design and manufacture; the structure of the armed forces and civil servant departments also changed to support these advances.
The department of Military Aeronautics, the War Office and the Admiralty Air Department were amalgamated to form the Air Ministry in London.The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Services joined to form the Royal Air Force; and the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough was renamed the Royal Aircraft Establishment, know affectionately as the RAE.
A department set up by the War Office in 1913 and based at Farnborough, but not part of the then Factory, was the Aeronautical Inspection Department. This organisation is of particular interest to Mercury Lodge as one of our foremost founders V.W.Bro. Brigadier General Bagnall-Wild CBE became its Director, and in 1921 he became the Director of Research at the Air Ministry in London.
It was the foresight of V.W.Bro. Bagnall-Wild that envisaged a lodge at Farnborough that could bring together the particular ‘factions’ of the Aeronautical design and manufacturing bases at London and Farnborough.
V.W.Bro. Major Bulman CBE, another of our Founders, describes this coming together as quite unique, he informs us:
"Masonic Lodges are usually created by a number of Brethren anxious to cement their existing association in a common interest or profession".
He continues that:
"Mercury Lodge must be almost, if not entirely, unique in that it was intended deliberately to cope with a feud between two important sections of Scientific and Engineering personnel respectively at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and the Air Ministry in London linked for a common purpose, the Research and Development of Aircraft for the Royal Air Force and Civil use".
Mercury Lodge was consecrated on 17th December 1923 at the Tumble Down Dick Hotel, Farnborough. The significance of our consecration date is that as it was exactly 20 years to the day that the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers had taken place. The date chosen for a lodge with such aeronautical connections was most apt, however it appears to have been purely coincidental.
Mercury Lodge had the honour of itself sponsoring another Lodge. In the 1960’s Masons from Boscombe Down joined forces with Mercury Lodge to form our Daughter Lodge, Ariel Lodge No.8166. Ariel hold their regular meetings at the Masonic Temple Andover, and to this day Mercury and Arial Lodges enjoy reciprocal visits.
The Member’s of Mercury Lodge owe a great debt of gratitude to our 22 Founding Members, without their foresight and ingenuity we would not be here today.