A Short History of Lodge St George Bahrain

All information on this page is taken from History of the Lodge 1955 - 2005 by W. Bro. Peter Jeffrey PPGSD

The encyclopedia tells us that Bahrain is an Archipelago consisting of Bahrain Island; the main Island and about thirty smaller islands lying approximately halfway up the Persian or Arabian Gulf and 20 or so miles off the east coast of Saudi Arabia.

The main Island is approximately 27 miles north to south and 10 miles east to west and covers an area of 213 square miles.

Historically, Bahrain has been identified with the ancient Dilmun or Talmun; an active and prosperous trading centre, linking Sumaria with the Indus Valley.  The ancient Dilmun of about 4000 years BC was considered by some to be The Garden of Eden and by others as The Paradise of the Dead.

Bahrain was ruled by ther Persians until 1783 when they were ousted by Ahmad ibn al Kalifah.  It has been ruled as a Shiekdom by the Al Kalifah family since then.

It was for centuries the Middle East Pearl fishing centre until the early 1930s when it is understood that there was a collapse in the Pearl fishing industry.

Coinciding with this collapse - perhaps even causing it - was the discovery of Oil on the Island and in Saudi Arabia.  Two companies were formed to exploit he production of oil in this general area.  The Bahrain Petroleum Company Ltd (BAPCO) in Bahrain and The Arab American Oil Company (ARAMCO) in Saudi Arabia.  During 1932 / 1933 oil production began.

There was at this stage an influx of Oil workers from around the world.  At that time there were no airports or docks in Saudi Arabia nor was Bahrain connected to mainland Saudi Arabia so there was a thriving transport industry carrying all men and materials bound for Eastern Saudi Arabia the 20 or so miles from Bahrain by motor boat, launches and barges.

With this influx of Oil company workers there were inevitably a number of whom were Freemasons.  Before 1949 the nearest points to Bahrain where there were practising Freemasons was at Aden in the south and Iraq and Iran in the north.  Those at Aden having been established around 1850 and those in Iraq / Iran in 1919 and 1923.

During the early 1940s the Freemasons in Bahrain formed themselves into a Masonic Club whilst those is Saudi Arabia did likewise and, although no formal Masonic ritual ever took place there were many informal functions which were attended by Freemasons and their partners.  It was inevitable that in due course a group of Freemasons would meet to explore the possibility of forming a Lodge proper, both on the Island and also in Saudi Arabia.

In Bahrain, a group of 30 or so Freemasons made the decision to form a lodge and as over half of them were Scotsmen the Grand Lodge of Scotland was approached with a petition.  On 4th November 1948 a warrant was granted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland and consequently Lodge St Andrew No.1451 was born and on 2nd June 1949 it was Consecrated.  After five years of continued growth it was felt that there was sufficient need to be able to support a Lodge of the English Constitution as by that time The Lodge St Andrew had over 150 members.  Despite this, however, it seems that Bahrain St Andrew was considered to be an Oil Company Lodge and there were several other members of the public and local businessmen who though very interested in Freemasonry were reluctant to join an Oil Company Lodge. 

In January 1955 a petition was submitted to United Grand Lodge of England and was granted.  On 22nd April 1955, Lodge St George Bahrain No 7389 EC, sponsored by Lodge Kuwait No 6810 EC was consecrated.  The Ritual selected was Emulation which is still used today.  The Ceremony of Consecration and Installation of the Master Designate W. Bro. W J B Coombe PGD Purs (Bengal) was performed by Very Worshipful Bro. Major C R Chadwick OBE, MRCVS, OGR, PAGDC, PGD, Grand Inspector in Iraq.  At that meeting were 14 Consecrating Officers, 19 members and 50 visitors who represented 18 different Lodges in the English Constitution, 7 different Lodges in the Scottish Constitution, 2 different Lodges of the American Constitutions and 1 Lodge under the Grand Lodge of New South Wales.

During the first year of the Lodge there were eleven meetings including the Consecration Meeting.  As a rule the evenings started at around 7.00pm and continued until very late; at eight of the eleven meetings there was a calling off and a calling on at some point during the evening, quite often to make a break between one ceremony and another as there were frequently two ceremonies at the same meeting.

At the start of the second year (1956/1957) the Lodge had 3 Honorary Members and 38 members, including 24 founders, 6 Initiates and 8 Joining Members.  Growth continued apace so that by April 1961, 4 years later, membership had increased to 85 members, including 3 Honorary Members, 18 founders, 33 Initiates, and 31 Joining Members.

Lodge membership went from strength to strength until at the end of March 1975 membership stood at 106 Brethren. The political climate towards Freemasonry took a decline when The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Government of Bahrain issued a Prohibition Notice on the Practice of Freemasonry (dated 14th April 1975) so that the following Installation meeting (due two days later) was cancelled.  As you can imagine, for those who had arrived to take part it was a very tense and emotional gathering.

There is then a gap in the history of Lodge St George Bahrain No 7389 but during this period much work was being done in the background.  During this gap of some 16 months W Bros. G Goldfinch and H Parrett determined as they were that Lodge St George should not disappear, visited a number of lodges in East Kent in an effort to find a new home.   With assistance from W Bro. P Dahlhoff of Stour Lodge No 2305, a home was found in Ashford, Kent.

In the intervening months W Bro. Goldfinch wrote to as many Members of the Lodges that were in Bahrain as he could to keep them abreast of the situation vis a vis the reforming of Lodge St George Bahrain.  On 21st August 1976 approximately 16 months after Freemasonry had been closed down in Bahrain, an emergency meeting of the Lodge took place in Ashford under a Special Dispensation from Grand Lodge and the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Kent.  The meeting was attended by 21 members and 27 visiting Brethren.