Two Abbotsford Pubs

Don’s Diary ( Two Abbotsford Pubs)

I am so glad our Worshipful Master decided on the nearby Carringbush Hotel in Collingwood for dinner after our last meeting, his “last night”. We arrived early and sat in the bar, a bar free from gaming machines. There is a certain ambience in old pubs like the Carringbush, a feeling that it is neutral territory, a feeling that it is for the ordinary man. There were a few apparently lonely men there by themselves having a beer, the sort that in another age would have gone upstairs as a member of the masonic brotherhood. There were a couple of blue collar workers having a counter tea and a beer. Then some younger men drifted in followed by some very presentable young ladies: they were off to somewhere else but enjoyed a glass of wine before doing so. Sitting in the bar brought back fond memories of the Lodge Devotion rebuilding days a few years ago when we often went to the Carringbush. However in those years things have changed.

I thought of the Carringbush of the past. the menu now seemed to cater for much more for the modern inner city type and commensurate prices. A pint of beer costed $10 and I could not see a bottle of red wine on the wine list for less than $40 (I did not see anyone buying one either which is unusual in Devotion). Nevertheless the company was outstanding and together with conviviality and sense of the occasion it was a memorable night.

The brings me to “The Laird”. I despair at what seems to be a lack of a strategic property vision in Freemasonry. It seems that some think that we are exempt the principle of “position, position, position”. Is anyone looking at opportunities as every good business man will do, ever conscious that every “product” such as Freemasonry has a life cycle and it has to be changed and repositioned or it will not survive or, if it does it will not flourish to its optimum level? If anyone was thinking like a business man they would not have failed to see that “The Laird” hotel in Gipps Street, Collingwood opposite the Collingwood Masonic Centre was recently offered for sale. They would have done a business case analysis. Properties like this in a suitable location do not come on the market all the time.

“The Laird” could have become Melbourne’s “Freemasons’ Alms”, with an atmosphere and services tailored to appeal to Freemasons. It is a Victorian era building with the potential ambience. It could have complemented the successful Collingwood Masonic Centre opposite, its kitchen possibly catering for the suppers in the Centre. It could be a venue where prospective freemasons could come and see what we are like, and for freemasons to meet early. It could have an old style meeting room upstairs for a lodge warranted to meet at “The Alms” or for the occasional use by visiting lodges that want to experience a touch of the past. There could have been sufficient rooms upstairs for the administration of some of the smaller degrees such as Mark and Chapter. This might be a dream but we will not know unless we are alert and vigilant and businesslike in our efforts to develop Freemasonry. However, as is evident, business acumen is not a criteria for promotion to high office in Freemasonry.

Yours fraternally ,

Don Paterson