First Initiate

A Short History of W. Bro. Vin Walton


By kind permission of V Walton and W. Bro. J Welsby

W.Bro.Vin.Walton was born at No. 178 Crow Lane East in Newton-le-Willows to George and Gertrude Walton on the 21st. of March 1905. The experience could not have been too traumatic for his parents as he eventually became one of four children, being joined later in time by two brothers and one sister. Vin. was born on a Tuesday and those of us who remember the old rhyme on the subject will recall that, “Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace”. The Oxford Dictionary defines “grace” as, “pleasing quality, attractiveness and charm!”

The year 1905 was indeed a vintage year. Many who were born then achieved fame during their lifetimes Greta Garbo the Swedish film actress, Dag Harnmarskjold the Swedish statesman who became Secretary General of the United Nations, Constant Lambert the English composer and conductor of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, Graham Greene the English novelist, Jean-Paul Satre the French Philosopher and dramatist who gave himself the distinction of being one of very few people to be awarded a Nobel Prize and then refuse to accept it, and much closer to home, Sir Knowles Edge who was our Provincial Grand Master from 1968 to 1981; and the list by no means ends there.

In the world of Freemasonry in general, 1905 was a noteworthy year, no fewer than 59 Warrants for the formation of new Lodges were issued, only one of those for a Lodge in this Province and that one was for King’s Lodge No. 3101 which began life in Liverpool but now meets at Bootle.

Vin’s education was well taken care of at Central Council School in Patterson Street at Earlestown and how well it was taken care of is amply illustrated by his career after school days were over. It never ceases to amaze  how much essential education these Council Schools packed into a very small number of years compared with what we know today.

Like all his school friends, Vin left school to begin work at the tender age of thirteen. Work in this case was as a Junior Clerk at T&T Vicars in Earlestown.

After two years’ clerical experience, Vin became an Assistant Buyer in the East African Department of a firm of cotton exporters in Manchester and progressed to become a Stock and Share Broker which meant working on the floor of the Manchester Royal Exchange on Market Days and also attending the Cotton Share Exchange in Oldham.

In 1923 he came closer to home having secured appointment as an Assistant Rating and Valuation Officer for Newton-le-Willows Urban District Council. Let us remind ourselves, Brethren, that Vin secured that important appointment at the age of eighteen. He held this post for fourteen years, during which time he studied for and passed the Intermediate and Final Examinations of the Incorporated Association of Rating and Valuation Officers.

From this time on, Vin occupied a series of highly important and responsible positions; Rating Valuation and Collecting Officer for Haydock Urban District Council, Chief Collection and Rating Valuation Officer for Worsley Urban District Council, Valuation Officer in charge of the Ashton-Under-Lyne area office of the Board of Inland Revenue, and finally as Rating Valuer for the Inland Revenue at the St.Helens Area Office. Not bad for a lad who left school at thirteen!

At the outbreak of the second World War, Vin wanted to join the Royal Air Force but was prevented from doing so because his civilian employment was classed as a Reserved Occupation. This meant that the Government of the day had decided that the work he was doing was of greater importance to the Country in time of war than service with the armed forces would have been. He did, however perform spells of night duty at an Air Raid Precautions Reporting Centre.

Vin’s life was certainly not a case of all work and no play. In his early years he was an active member of the Scout movement and a member of the first Earlestown Troop Band. He has also been a regular attendee and supporter of St.Peter’s Church in Newton-le-Willows and was a Sidesman there for very many years. Another of his interests and activities was as a member of the Warrington Rambling Club as was his Wife, Irene.

Irene and Vin were married in August 1935 at Christ Church, Padgate and raised a family of three children who have given Vin six Grandchildren and 7 Great Grandchildren, of whom he must be very proud. Sadly Irene passed away in 1986 after 50 years of marriage.

Freemasonry entered Vin’s life on the 28th. of April 1932 when he was Initiated into Willows Lodge No. 5343, passed in May and raised in October of the same year. This was the year of a unique occasion in the annals of Masonry. The Dedication Stone of the new Masonic Hospital at Ravenscourt Park in London was laid by the Grand Master, The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. What made it unique was that the actual ceremony took place at Olympia in order to accommodate the eleven thousand Brethren who attended and the stone was lowered into place on the site by means of an electrical connection.

In this Province, R.W.Bro. Llewellyn Bailey was our Provincial Grand Master. He was succeeded the following year by R.W.Bro. Arthur Foster who served the Province with skill and distinction for nine years.

In those days, progression towards the Chair of a Lodge was much slower than is the case in most Lodges nowadays. In Vin’s case it took him three years to become a steward and just short of fifteen years to achieve mastership in January 1947, the same year in which the Duke of Devonshire became Grand Master, the coal industry was nationalised, H.M. the Queen got married and the sound barrier was broken for the first years as director of Ceremonies and also as Group Representative.

He entered the Warrington Group in 1977 to become a Joining Member of Newton Lodge and very soon after siezed upon an opportunity given to very few Brethren, that of becoming a Founder Member of a Lodge, in this case Birchwood Lodge No 8861

There is clearly a strong bond between Willows Lodge and Birchwood Lodge since no fewer than seven of the eighteen Founders of Birchwood Lodge had connections with Willows Lodge, Vin and his brother Bernal among them. As some of you will know, Brethren, Vin has also lent his expertise to this Lodge in times past as Director of Ceremonies.

His loyalty and support over many years could not fail to be recognised by the Province, and in 1958 he received a first appointment to Provincial Grand Rank, that of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, to be promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 1967 and to his present Rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1971.

Vin became a Royal Arch Companion in Makerfield Chapter No. 2155 on the 6th. of May, 1945 and gained the First Principal’s Chair in 1969, thereafter serving the Office of Treasurer of the Chapter for a number of Years. He resigned from Makerfield Chapter to become a Joining Member of’ Antient Manor Chapter No. 4511 at Prescot. In the Royal Arch he holds the high rank of Past Provincial Principal Grand Sojourner, an honour conferred on him in 1979.

The Chivalric Order of the Red Cross of Constantine attracted him and he became a member of Warrington Conclave No. 206 in April 1970. Four years later he left his Warrington Conclave to become a Founder Member of Prescot Conclave No. 291 in which he attained the Chair in 1977 and later held the Office of Marshall. He now holds high rank in that Order to add to his many other achievements You will be interested to know, Worshipful Master and Brethren, that two members of Prescot Conclave travelled to celebrate his 70th year in free masonry.

It is invariably the case that a busy person always finds time from somewhere to become busier. In Vin’s case travel was always an interest. He has travelled extensively in Europe, visited the United States and spent time in Scotland which has a special attraction for him.