The Lodge logo of a carousel
Many autumn fairs did not have a charter and were known
as ‘Mop’ or ‘Hiring’ fairs, and some still exist. At these fairs,
prospective employers reviewed potential employees.
Sometimes a second fair – known as a Run-Away Mop – was
held for those seeking to change jobs or those who had not
found work on the first occasion.
With the showmen travelling hundreds of miles, it has not
been easy trying to put a Lodge together for such a mobile
group of Masons. The original idea came from secretary Paul
Maltby, but it would not have got off the ground but for the
enthusiasm of Darren Jones, first Master, and his Uncle Jimmy
Wheatley, first Senior Warden.
The Lodge, consecrated in February, has 31 founders – all
showmen – and many of them run the big rides, so popular
with children. It was because they were so scattered that the
idea of a Lodge arose. However, the plan has been an instant
success, with seven candidates lining up to become Masons as
well as five joining members waiting to come on board. The
Lodge will hold its meetings at Loughborough in the
Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, whose Provincial
Grand Master, RW Bro Michael H Roalfe, officiated at the
The Lodge was also given a great deal of help by Richard
Moss of Belper Masonic Regalia in Derbyshire.
Summer is the busiest time for showmen, so the Lodge will
be meeting five times a year ‘out of season’ in September,
November, December, January and February.
Although showmen are spread over the country, there is
a central organisation, the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain,
which is both a trade union and trade association, and was
originally formed around 1888-1889 as the United Kingdom
Van Dwellers Protection Association (the Guild). There is
also a Showmens’ Guild Lodge No. 9089 associated with the
Guild, which meets at Clevedon in Somerset.
Darren Jones (centre),
first Master, his uncle
Jimmy Wheatley (left)
with Jimmy’s son John,
the first Wardens
Web site created by Mark Griffin