Special Interest Lodge News: On your Bike!

Citizen Lodge: London’s New Cycling Lodge, report by W Bro Richard Cavanagh


Picture the scene. A crowd of men, each atop their metal frames, individually distinct by their colourful threads. They jostle for space, pushing against each other, swaying and trying to keep their balance. A green flag ascends above, filling the sky and fluttering in the breeze. Silence fills the air. They pause. They wait. And then it happens.  A sudden pull and the green sky is ripped away. A slow and steady bassline sound of pedal rotation builds; each revolution faster and louder than the last, the tempo quickening until a cacophony of chains running against metal and the steady metronomic beat of an orchestra of pedals turning in unison.   They push and jostle, filling the gaps that open before them, each darting into the vacant space left by another. As the tempo increases, they funnel into a single line, one after the other in an impervious slipstream; a line of wheels turning as if one machine, until they reach their destination in a screech of tyres as black and white chequers descend.

And then the final transformation: the colourful mosaic of shirts falls away. All are now reborn, a new uniform of black and white: some with a dash of light blue, some a dash of dark. From the door, an older man looks on bewildered at the bikes which now lie in a heap: he is their Tyler. This is their Lodge. Welcome to Citizen Lodge No 2911, London’s Cycling Lodge.

It’s Saturday 15th April, and I’m at Freemasons’ Hall to witness the inaugural meeting of Citizen Lodge newly re-established as a Special Interest Lodge. As with every Lodge, Citizen has a proud history, having been consecrated in 1902. There is a feeling of hope here today; a Lodge looking to the future with confidence and assurance. A new Worshipful Master is being installed and a Lodge is being reborn.

The outgoing Worshipful Master, the excellent W Bro Stephen Jenkins, thanked all his officers before handing over to W Bro John Gwalter to conduct the ceremony of Installing the new Master, a task he completed with distinction. The new Worshipful Master is W Bro Amarjit ‘Amo’ Basra. W Bro Amo has only himself recently joined Citizen Lodge, motivated by his long-held desire to find a cycling themed Lodge.  He is very much a driving force in this respect, but is also keen also to emphasise the importance of the Citizen Lodge’s past. He is humbled by their acquiescence to his joining as their new Worshipful Master, his thanks are sincere and heartfelt to those Brethren who have remained in their respective offices to allow him to lead the Lodge during this important and transitional year. Citizen, in common with many Lodges, was looking for a breath of new life and to attract new members; it’s decision to embrace W Bro Amo’s proposition is already bearing fruit. The transition to a SIL has already brought four new joining members to this meeting, and other expressions of interest already received.

We were promised some special touches in the Temple to celebrate the world of cycling and we were not disappointed. The new members donned cycling helmets as they were formally presented to the Wardens and the Worshipful Master respectively. Half-way through the meeting, the Lodge took a break – but only after the WM enquired ‘Have the peloton reached their first full stop?’ before refreshments in the ante room. At the Festive Board, thrice a lap of honour encircled the room comprising the Worshipful Master, the Wardens and the Grand Inspector all proudly wearing their cycling shirts emblazoned with the Cycling Lodge motif.  On a more personal note, whilst the Brethren were celebrating the rebirth of this friendly and fun Lodge, it was also a pleasure for those in attendance to celebrate with the Senior Warden – the engaging Bro Sumit Selli – on the recent birth of his daughter, Saanvi. Congratulations, Bro Sumit!

There is a recognition that this Lodge has much potential, evident by the visitation of W Bro Martin Vidler in his first visit as a Met Grand Inspector.  His presentation to the Brethren spoke of his excitement for what this Lodge can achieve as a Special Interest Lodge in terms of attracting new members and its bold social calendar and fundraising vision.  W Bro Vidler was ably assisted by his Escorting Officer, W Bro Amer Basra (no relation), who not only commanded the Brethren with authority but also stepped in for the Lodge’s Director of Ceremonies, dictating proceedings with such ease that it would have been easy to believe he was a member of the Lodge and not visiting for the first time. 

A busy social calendar includes several charity bike rides including the London Bridges Challenge, a ride from London to Southend, and a cycling tour encompassing four London temples, as well as regular fortnightly social rides from FMH on Wednesday evenings. In September, a charity ride from London to Nice, a total of 1,000 miles, is planned; to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK, London Air Ambulance and Cancer Research UK. The great Freddie Mercury summed it up best: “I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my biiike!”

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 52 August 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 52 here.