The Wilsons are an old Redditch family involved with the amusement industry and they have, for many years, been noted for their generosity to local charities. This especially applied before the establishment, after the war, of the National Health Service. Our local hospital was the Smallwood and its funding relied largely on an annual Carnival organised by a committee of local men – the Wilsons being at the centre of the event.
The head of the family was Frank Wilson who, at the time of the formation of Ipsley Lodge, was a man of advanced years. He was a member of St Alphege Lodge, Solihull, and visited the Lodge on a number of occasions before his death.
The first Showmen to join Ipsley Lodge were Tommy Wilson and Frank Wilson Jnr. Billy Henshaw joined but he was married to the sister of Tom and Frank and although he spent his life as a Travelling Showman he wasn’t born and bred as a Showman. Others followed, Ernie Jones and his two sons David and Harry plus brothers John and George Smart. They didn’t progress through the offices of The Lodge, partly because they were unable to attend sufficient meetings due to the nature of their work.
It wasn’t until 1971 that Tommy Wilson became the first Showman to become Master of The Lodge. Tommy Sheldon became the second Showman to progress through to become Master in 1984. His son Thomas Sheldon became the 3rd Showman to become Master in 1995 and Tommy Wilson Jnr became the 4th in 1997.
In the first decade of the 2000’s four more Showmen became Master of Ipsley and no longer were Showmen regarded as unlikely to take office. They are now widely accepted as a vital part of Ipsley Lodge and make up a significant proportion of its membership.
As sons follow fathers into business so they follow them into Freemasonry with a large proportion of them being Lewis’s (a masonic word, essentially meaning Son of a Freemason).
The humour and generosity of the Showmen bring a vibrancy and warmth to Ipsley Lodge and long may it continue.
W Bro. T J Sheldon ( L) P.Prov.G.Swd.B.
Ipsley Lodge – Friendly Freemasonry in Redditch for all!