A History of the Origins of Neleus Lodge by W. Bro. Ken Hoskins - February 1992

Before the passing of the Education Act of 1870, schools were not available for everyone, and in London a philanthropist, Quintin Hogg, later to become the first Lord Hailsham, was responsible for founding the London Polytechnic, which now exists in a rather different form under the name of "Quintin School". During the middle of the nineteenth century, rowing developed as a popular sporting pastime, and the Polytechnic Rowing Club was started in 1854 by John Rourke with members from old boys and staff of the Polytechnic.

The Club's first home was Searle's Boat House, Bishops Walk, Lambeth. The river frontage there was different from today, with wharves and warehouses at the waters edge. River traffic was heavy in the days before the invention of the motor vehicle, and paddle steamers ran regular services along the Thames to add to the mass of sailing and tug drawn barges and other commercial craft. Pleasure boating in such surroundings could not be perfect; and the Club moved to another site up-river. The move may have been forced upon them by the improvements which took place to the locality in the early 1860's, when Lambeth Bridge was built and new roads and pedestrian promenades constructed enabling people to walk, as we can today, beside the river from  Blackfriars Bridge to Westminster on the north bank and from Westminster Bridge to Vauxhall Bridge on the south side. Searle's Boat House presumably disappeared when these improvements were implemented.

The Mitre Hotel is conveniently close for refreshment purposes.

The year 1904 saw the Golden Jubilee of the Neleus Rowing Club; and many of its members who were Freemasons decided that it would an appropriate celebration of that event to form a new Lodge, which would bear the name of the Club and enable members to strengthen their mutual associations. Accordingly, arrangements were made for the Neleus Lodge's inception to take place at the Leopold Institute, Slough. The Captain of the Rowing Club became the first Senior Warden, and its Treasurer the first Junior Warden while the Club Secretary took over the same post in the new Lodge. The first Master was the Rev'd. C.E. Roberts, M.A., who was at the time the Provincial Grand Secretary of Buckinghamshire. The historic event took place on Saturday, September 17th, 1904.

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