Freemasonry has a long history in the Harrow area. Harrow Lodge itself was formed in 1870, but there are records of a Lodge being held at the Chandos Arms in Edgware as early as the 1720s.
Prior to this Centre being created, Lodges met in local pubs and other establishments prepared to provide suitable facilities. Eastcote and Bentley Priory Lodges met at the Rest Hotel here in Kenton, with the latter holding its Committee Meetings at Stanmore Golf Club. Harrow on the Hill Lodge met at the Kings Head Hotel on the Hill, which was formerly King Henry VIII's Hunting Lodge, and had a Temple in the basement with an inlaid square pavement and wood panelled walls. Abercorn Lodge met at the Abercorn Arms, an old coaching house which has stood on Stanmore Hill for more than 170 years. The Greenhill Lodge met at Bridges School, which is now the site of the Harrow Civic Centre. Northwood Lodge met at Denville Hall, the Aged Actors Home in Northwood. And a number of Lodges, such as Peachey Stone, met at the Gayton Rooms, which were over Wright Coopers Caterers next to Debenhams (or Sopers as it was known then).
With the influence of the developing transport system in the early part of the last century and the rapid urbanisation (or sub-urbanisation) of the area, Freemasonry developed rapidly and it become obvious that a dedicated Masonic Centre was needed.
To this end, a group of keen masons met at the Gayton Rooms in July 1944 with the object of finding a suitable site and to raise the sum of £30,000, which they thought was the minimum necessary for the project, and an appeal was launched. At the Meeting, presided over by R.W. Bro. Alexander Burnett Brown, representatives of 37 Lodges, 11 Chapters, 2 Mark Lodges, and 2 Rose Croix Chapters were present, and those Lodges and Chapters were designated the Founding Lodges or Chapters.
Two years later the Old Vicarage Site in Sheepcote Road, Harrow, was acquired but, due to government restrictions, a licence to build was not granted. It was then thought an application for a licence to convert an existing building might be more successful and in 1951 the Herga Cinema in Wealdstone was purchased but, once again, a licence to convert was refused. Both these premises were let until disposed of at a good profit some years later.
Then, on 1st of April, 1953, the Squash and Tennis Club here in Northwick Circle was acquired with a Mortgage of £10,000. Plans were prepared, the work put in hand, and the Centre was officially opened by the then Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Philip Bull, on October 4th, 1954. It had taken 10 years for the ambition to have a Masonic Centre in the Harrow District to be realised. But it took another 12 years to complete the plans.
At first the existing building was adapted and developed to make it suitable for Masonic use. For example one squash court became a meeting room, another is now part of the bar and the tennis courts were covered for parking. Various further changes have taken place over the years, the most significant being the building of the principal meeting rooms in 1966.
The result is that we have 3 Main Temples, 3 Dining Rooms, and all the other smaller Temples and Lodge of Instruction Rooms that we are currently blessed with, and where now some 90 Craft Lodges, 40 Royal Arch Chapters, and 23 Other Orders meet.
To protect the interests of the Founding Lodges and Chapters a Company Limited by Guarantee was formed. The Business of the Company was to be controlled by an Executive Committee of 12 Members elected by the contributing organisations, and who would also appoint annually two Lodge Representatives, together with a Building Fund Steward.
The Building Fund established at that time was to raise the £25,000 necessary to complete the plans, which included the finishing of the Main Entrance and the separate Dining Rooms. Some 50 odd years later, that Company, and the controlling Executive Committee, is still in existence, with the change that each Lodge, Chapter, or other Order, is now entitled to elect their own Representative to attend the Annual General Meeting, and vote on behalf of its members, and the Executive Committee has increased to 15 to cater for the additional requirement of manning the Office. With Lodges meeting 4 times a year, Chapters and Other Orders 3 times a year, there are around 550 Meetings held in this Centre each year, all of which also dine. In addition to this, there is an average of 6 Lodges or Chapters of Instruction Meetings every evening from 8.00 to 10.00, and two from 6.00 to 8.00, totalling around 1800 rehearsals a year.