Bangor Royal Black District Chapter No.13

Instituted 16th June 1956

District History


The formation of a Black District Chapter for Bangor, which had been considered for some time by the Preceptories in and around Bangor, took its initial step when a meeting was held on Saturday 17th September 1955 in Bangor Orange Hall.

Those present were; Sir Knights Edward G Lucas, William James Magowan, Samuel Ernest Miller, James Houston and Thomas Graham, members of Bangor RBP 387, Sir Knights, T. J. E. Clarke, W G Clarke and William Watson, members of Olive Leaf RBP 542 and Sir Knights E Beacom, David Bryan, William Adair and Thomas Bodel, members of Sir Henry Wilson Memorial Temperance RBP 1104.

Sir Knight Joseph Emerson, Worshipful District Master of Newtownards Royal Black District Chapter No.11 was chosen to preside. Members of Conlig Village Star RBP 632 had declined the invitation to join any new District being formed and as representatives from William Stevenson Memorial RBP 209 (Ballygrainey) were not present, and no communication having been received from them, it was decided to defer any decision until their views were known.

A further meeting was held on Saturday 15th October 1955 in Bangor Orange Hall where it was revealed that the members of Johnston Memorial RBP 209 had also decided against joining the new District. However, on that date the application for a Bangor Royal Black District Chapter was signed and sealed on behalf of Royal Black Preceptories 387, 542, and 1104 with Sir Knight Samuel Ernest Miller being elected Worshipful District Master, and Sir Knight David Bryan as Deputy District Master.

At a special meeting of the County Down Grand Black Chapter held in Bangor Orange Hall on Saturday 16th June 1956 attended by a large number of visiting Sir Knights, Bangor Royal Black District Chapter No.13 was instituted. Sir Knight J McMurray County Grand Master assisted by Sir Knight S Davison Deputy County Grand Master officiated. The Sovereign Grand Master Most Worshipful Sir Knight Sir Norman Stronge who was also present congratulated the members for launching out as a new District, and prayed that every blessing would rest on their labour.

On Thursday 20th September 1956 Bangor Royal Black District Chapter No.13 held its first meeting where an application to join the new District Chapter was received from Ballykeel Olive Branch RBP 784. The application was approved and the members from RBP 784 first attended Bangor District Chapter meetings on 31st December 1956.

Sadly, on 19th September 2000 at the quarterly meeting of the Bangor District Chapter, a letter was received from Bangor RBP 387 indicating that despite sustained efforts to keep the Preceptory running a decision had been made to return the warrant. The District Chapter regretfully accepted the warrant and most of the remaining Sir Knights of RBP 387 transferred to RBP 1104.

The year 2006 saw the Sir Knights of Bangor celebrate their Golden Jubilee and during the year, serveral events and programmes were undertaken, one of which was the creation of this site, which the Sir Knights hope will provide an interesting and informative means of contact not only with the membership, but also to our wider circle of friends both at home, and abroad.

At the December 2005 District Chapter Meeting before the anniversary year got properly under way Table Covers were presented to the District Chapter by the Officers and Sir Knights of Olive Leaf RBP 542 and were dedicated by the Deputy County Grand Chaplain Sir Knight Raymond Adams.The County Grand Master also presented to the District Chapter two bibles to be used at their meetings.

At the March 2006 District Chapter meeting the Officers and Sir Knights of Sir Henry Wilson Memorial Temperance RBP 1104 presented a Union Flag to the District Chapter and the Officers and Sir Knights of Ballykeel Olive Branch RBP 784 presented a Black Standard. These were graciously received by the District Master Sir Knight David Henderson, and were proudly carried at their dedication by Sir Knight George Ennis and Sir Knight Ian Pearson respectively.

On Saturday 6th May 2006 at the Marquis Hall, Bangor a family Barbecue was held at which the Sir Knights with their families and friends, throughly enjoyed the good food and refreshments provided even though the Sir Knight's cooking was of a dubious standard. However, all survived to enjoy the entertainment provided by a good friend of the District Chapter, Mr Terence McKeague.

At the beginning of the year 2006 a decision had been made to commission a new District Bannerette and after a lot of thought and consideration, the design was approved, and an order was placed with William Magowan of Brush Creations, Garvagh, County Londonderry. When received, it was dedicated along with the new standards at a service held in Bangor Free Presbyterian Church, on Sunday 20th August 2006 at 3.00pm.

The Rev.David Priestley conducted the service which was well attended by the Sir Knights of the District. Among the visitors were Sir Knight Bruce Reid The Imperial Grand Registrar, Sir Knight David McBurney the County Grand Master of Down and Sir Knight W R Neill, Past County Grand Master of Down.

A Badge was also commissioned to commemorate the Golden Jubilee and all 998 (two have been retained by the District Registrar for display later) which were easily sold will no doubt become valuable collector's items in the years to come.

The Golden Jubilee Banquet which was held on Friday 10th November 2006 was to be the highlight of the celebrations when, along with their families and friends the Sir Knights of the District Chapter enjoyed a sherry reception followed by a sumptuous seven course meal in the Crawfordsburn County Club.

The guest list was an impressive who's who of the Black Institution and Civic Representation and included; The Sovereign Grand Master: Most Worshipful Sir Knight William J Logan MBE and Mrs Dorothy Logan, The County Grand Master of Down: Right Worshipful Sir Knight David McBurney, The Deputy Grand Master of Down: Worshipful Sir Knight Jack Fairbairn and Mrs Isobel Fairbairn, The Worshipful Master of Newtownards District Chapter: Sir Knight Pastor Roy Graham and Mrs Ann Graham, The Mayor of North Down: Councillor Alan Leslie who was accompanied by his daughter Dawn.

The Master of Ceremonies, Past District Master Worshipful Sir Knight William Harris who on the night received his 50 year service medal from the Sovereign Grand Master, ensured the proceedings progressed very smoothly. The Worshipful District Master Sir Knight David Henderson welcomed all present and thanked them for their continued support. Afterwards, several toasts delivered by the Officers of the District Chapter, were replied to by the distinguished guests.

Several members were presented with Long Service medals by the Sovereign Grand Master after which dancing was enjoyed to the music of the Marty Wilson Band.

Thursday 23rd November saw the Sir Knights of Bangor entertained at a Civic Reception in Bangor Castle at the invitation of the Mayor, Councillor Alan Leslie. The members accompanied by their wives enjoyed refreshments and a buffet supper. Councillor Leslie wlecomed the Sir Knights and congratulated them on their continued witness over the past 50 years and wished them well for the future. He presented the Worshipful District Master Worshipful Sir Knight David Henderson with a plaque and Sir Knight Henderson in reply thanked the Mayor for his kind invitation and recognition of their Golden Jubilee.

The final event in the calendar of celebrations for 2006 was held on Saturday 2nd December when the Sir Knights of Bangor on behalf of the County Down Grand Black Chapter proudly hosted the Half Yearly Council of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth. Held in Bangor Abbey Church Halls the event passed off very smoothly and the visitors to Bangor representing all jurisdictions held a very successful Council.

On 25th August 2007 Bangor District Chapter hosted the Annual Demonstration and Parade of the County Down Grand Black Chapter but in an attempt to build on the occasion the Sir Knights arranged other sporting and social events in the week prior to the Demonstration, and what a week it was.

Beginning on Saturday 18th August the various events which had been arranged to coincide with the Annual Demonstration passed off with tremendous success.

On Saturday 18th August The Inter District 7-A-Side Football Competition was held in the Valentine Playing Fields and what a day it turned out to be. Six teams took part in the competition and it's fair to say that it began very competitively with the Old Mill Knights (Comber District) playing the Seasiders (Bangor District) in what turned out to be one of the wettest days of the year. The rain was incessant and with the conditions on the pitches deteriorating rapidly, great skill was needed to maintain whatever lead the teams had.

The whole competition was a very close run thing and at one stage three teams were neck & neck with only one game each to play.

However in the end victory was secured but only by goal difference and the trophy was handed over to the victorious Seasiders (Bangor District) by the County Grand Master Sir Knight David McBurney.

The worshipful District Master Sir Knight David Henderson thanked all the participating teams and congratulated the Seasiders who had trained extensively before the match (at least an hour) for putting on a tremendous show and he hoped that they would be able to put up a good defence of the title next year.

Refreshments were served after the presentation and an ongoing Barbecue throughout the day ensured the players did not suffer from lack of food or drink. However a few burgers and/or sausages too many did slow a few down!

The Annual Church Service was held on Sunday 19th August in Bangor Free Presbyterian Church to which the Sir Knights accompanied by the Ballykeel Conservative Flute band had paraded earlier.

The Rev.David Prieslty warmly welcomed the Sir Knights and band members and expressed his pleasure at their attendance for the annual service. The praise was wonderful and when delivering his sermon Rev. Priestley took as his subject 'What is a Protestant'

After the service the Sir Knights returned to the Orange Hall where they enjoyed a cup of tea and a chat.

The Barbecue on Thursday 23rd August which included Roast Hog and South African Potjie (Stew) was attended by more than 200 Sir Knights and guests who enjoyed beautiful weather and the wonderful setting which is Crawfordsburn Country Club.

The food supplied by 'Out of Africa Catering' was a joy to taste and what with the little extras such as (A couple of Punch Bowls and a superb selection of music) the night was an outstanding success and those who attended agreed that it was one of the best night's crack they had had in a long time.

Later, entertainment supplied by Roy Thompson allowed everyone to relax and take a turn or two around the dance floor with their partner.

The arrangements for the Grand Parade on Saturday 25th August were executed to perfection by the team of marshals lead by Sir Knights David Clarke and David Gore with the Parade, and by Mr Raymond McCabe at the Demonstration Area. The visiting Sir Knights enjoyed a wee dander of about 2 miles and upon arrival at the 'Field' were greeted by a spectacular setting in which there were many traders and caterers ready and willing to provide the necessary services that a hungry Sir Knight requires.

The service of Divine Worship was conducted by Rev. Sir Knight Sproule with the guest speaker Rev. Sir Knight Kenny Hanna delivering the address. Musical accompaniment was provided by the Wellington Memorial Silver Band.

The Sovereign Grand Master Most Worshipful Sir Knight William J Logan MBE read and proposed the three resolutions which were passed by acclamation.

The Sir Knights began to leave the 'Field' at 4.00pm and it was agreed by all that the day had been an outstanding success and the Sir Knights of Bangor were congratulated from the Platform by the County Grand Master and Sovereign Grand Master.

The Parade with almost 6,000 participants was watched by 60,000 who crowded into Bangor giving a most welcome boost to the local economy and providing a wonderful atmosphere for the Sir Knights to savour.

Two other initiatives as part of the of the Last Staurday celebrations are worthy of mention, and they are the commissioning of a Commemorative Badge and the publication of a full colour Commemorative Booklet entitled 'Black to the Future'. Both ventures were very successful and very well received by both the general public and the Sir Knights of the other District Chapters.

The final meeting in the calendar of events for 2007 for the Sir Knights of Bangor was their District Chapter meeting which was held in the newly refurbished Brownlow House in Lurgan on Tuesday 18th December 2007. Guests included; the Sovereign Grand Master; the County Grand Master and various visiting County and District Officers. The immediate Past County Grand Master Right Worshipful Sir Knight David McBurney received his Past Masters collarette and apron which had been presented by the Sir Knights of Bangor District Chapter and RBP 542.

Earlier the Sir Knights had enjoyed a wonderful meal and a tour of the magnificient building.

The social calendar for the year 2008 began on 7th June when the Sir Knights, representing all three Preceptories with their families and friends enjoyed a (Luxury) coach tour to Londonderry. On a fine sunny day the journey to Londonderry was broken with a comfort stop at Magherafelt, where they enjoyed a traditional 'Ulster Fry' in Ditty's restaurant.

Upon arrival in Londonderry several of the Sir Knights enjoyed a walking tour of the City whilst others took the bus tour. Still, others enjoyed the city in their own company. Whatever way viewed, the Walls and Cathederal were magnificient and the historical setting was throughly enjoyed by all.

The day was ended with a few hours of leisure shopping before returning to Bangor later in the evening.

The now annual 'Hog Roast Barbecue' was held on Saturday 2nd August 2008 at Crawfordsburn Country Club where over 100 guests including the Sir Knights, their families and friends enjoyed the traditional fare of a Barbecue along with a few refreshments and entertainment afterwards. The night was throughly enjoyed by all and many expressed their appreciation and said they were looking forward to next year.

Sunday 3rd August 2008 saw the Sir Knights parade to the Abbey Church for their annual service where Cannon Ronnie Nesbitt conducted the service with the sermon preached by Reverend Alan Synnott. The lessons were read by Sir Knight Martin Steele and Right Worshipful Sir Knight David McBurney. Sir Knight Eric Turkington complimented the members on their turnout and said that he was very proud to be the Worshipful District Master.

Saturday 30th August 2008 saw the Sir Knights from Bangor parade at the annual County Down Demonstration in Dromore where the County Grand Master; Right Worshipful Sir Knight Jack Fairbairn proudly led the parade. An excellent turnout of Sir Knights both locally and at Dromore was watched by thousands of spectators who thronged the route and gave a festive and friendly feel to the day.

The address at the religious service was given by the Deputy County Grand Chaplain; Right Worshipful Sir Knight Raymond Adams and the praise was led by the Tempo Silver Band and the Jubilee Singers from Crosskelt.

The guest of honour, Assistant Sovereign Grand Master; Right Worshipful Sir Knight Sam Black proposed the resolutions (See below) and these were seconded by the Deputy County Grand Master Worshipful Sir Knight John Smyth.

Upon return to Bangor the Sir Knights held a short parade after which each of the Preceptories enjoyed a social night with their families and friends.

Tuesday 16th September 2008 saw the Sir Knights of Bangor welcome the Sovereign Grand Master, Most Worshipful Sir Knight Millar Farr QPM, the County Grand Master, Right Worshipful Sir Knight Jack Fairbairn and the County Grand Standard Bearer, Worshipful Sir Knight Mervin Proctor to their Quarterly District Chapter meeting which was held in Bangor Orange Hall.

The meeting was well attended and Sir Knight Farr in his address thanked the members for their kind invitation and congratulated them for their continued work and dedication to the District Chapter. He urged them to continue to promote the Institution and in particular to live out their lives according to the Mission Statement.

Afterwards a light supper was provided which was throughly enjoyed by all.

The Sir Knights of Bangor continued with their social events during the weekend of 14th and 15th November when along with their families and friends they enjoyed a cavery dinner at Brownlow House in Lurgan (Friday) and a 'Night at the Movies' (Saturday). Both events proved to be most enjoyable and those in attendance expressed their thanks for the various arrangements which were made on their behalf.

On Sunday 28th June 2009 the Sir Knights along with many members of their families and not a few friends visited the RUC GC Garden of Remembrance and Museum at Police Headquaters. It was a somber occasion especially for those who had served in the RUC, RUC Reserve and PSNI and many memories were again brought to mind. During the conducted tour many familar names and events were pointed out and afterwards everyone was in agreement that the Garden was a fitting memorial to those who had served and died.

The Last Saturday Demonstration which was held at Crossgar on 29th August 2009 under the auspices of Lecale District Chapter No.2 was a great success and the many visting Sir Knights who accompanied the local Sir Knights throughly enjoyed themselves. A good turnout ensured that even though the smallest District in County Down the Sir Knights from Bangor and futher afield were very warmly welcomed.

Saturday 29th May 2010 dawned dark and dismal as the Sir Knights together with their families and friends set out for the 'New World'. Leaving Bangor early they made their way by luxury coach to the Ulster American Folk Park at Omagh where they enjoyed an excellent and interesting if not a very dry day viewing the various exhibits and locations within the Park. They had earlier stopped off at the 'Linen Green' at Dungannon where many had enjoyed a hearty breakfast and not a few just Coffee and scones so all were well fortified for their trip which although a 'little wet' was throughly enjoyed by all.

On Saturday 7th August 2010 the late summer BBQ was held in Pickie Bowling Club with a really good attendance of Sir Knights together with their families and friends. A wonderful menu of steak, burgers and sausages together with a splended salad bowl ensured that all were catered for. The live entertainment by Drew Melville brought the experienced dancers to the floor early although the not so experienced joined them later for a few new dances demonstrated by Drew. The event which was to raise funds for the designated charity was a great success with all present making a very significent contribution to the funding of the charity.

The Sir Knights of Bangor accompanied by the Ballykeel Conservative Flute Band attended their annual church service at Bangor Abbey on Sunday 22nd August 2010. The service which was well attended was conducted by Canon Ronnie Nesbitt and the lessons read by Worshipful Sir Knights Paul Cummings and Trevor McBurney.

Saturday 28th August 2010 saw the Sir Knights from Bangor travel to Newcastle to take part in the Annual Demonstration hosted by Castlewellan District Chapter No.3. An excellent day was had by all in the Kingdom of Mourne, and with the weather being kind with only a few showers to avoid the Sir Knights returned safely to Bangor in the evening where seperate celebrations were held by each of the Preceptories.

The Sir Knights of Bangor concluded their social calendar for the year with a visit to the cinema in Comber where the film 'Closing the Ring' was enjoyed by both members and friends. A light supper was provided afterwards and all subscriptions were used to increase the amount collected for the designated charity 'Kiwoko Hospital' in Uganda.

At the District Chapter meeting in March 2011 it was decided to hold a BBQ similar to the previous successful enterprise in 2010 and on Saturday 4th June 2011 an excellent night was had when almost 100 attended at Pickie Bowling Club for what is now known as the annual BBQ. Everyone enjoyed an excellent night with entertainment until midnight.

The Sir Knights of Bangor attended their Annual District Service on Sunday 21st August in Bangor Abbey. An excellent turnout of members enjoyed the service which was conducted by Cannon Ronnie Nesbitt.

The Sir Knights of Newry District Chapter welcomed all the Sir Knights from County Down and the Bangor Men enjoyed the day very much. With an excellent turnout the three Preceptories were resplendent and accompanied by their Bands were an impressive sight. The Sir Knights were honoured to have parading with them around Bangor Town, the Sovereign Grand Master Most Worshipful Sir Knight Millar Farr QPM who had earlier accompanied the members of RBP 1104. A fine day with excellent facilities ended when the Sir Knights returned home.

The year 2012 saw the the number of Sir Knights in the District Chapter increase with each Preceptory making efforts to recruit more Sir Knights. The usual round of social activities took place with the BBQ being the most popular. The Annual Church Service held in Tritity Presbyterian Church was also notable in that the numbers attending were good and the Sir Knights accompanied by the Somme Memorial Flute Band heard Worshipful Sir Knight Rev. Mervyn Gibson proclaim The Gospel.

The annual demonstration held in Ballynahinch was memorable for the very bad weather conditions with the demonstration field almost unusable. But in time honoured tradition the Sir Knights bravely stepped out and by the end of the day with the sun shining and banners waving it was widely agreed that the occassion could not have been bettered. The Bangor Sir Knights were fulsome in their congratulations and praise for the Sir Knights of Ballynahinch who had laboured long and hard to make all the arrangements and the day so successful.

During 2013 as usual the Sir Knights of Bangor participated in a great many activities among them being a visit to Londonderry on 15th September for a Worship Service organised by the Imperial Grand Black Chapter to celebrate Londondonderry as the UK City of Culture. Over 1,000 Sir Knights were in attendance at what was the largest attendance at a church service in Carlisle Presbyterian Church for half a century.

The annual demonstration held in Banbridge was an outstanding success with fine weather and large crowds. Official figures suggest 70,000 spectators and parade participants. The venue was excellent and a great time was had by all.

The usual round of social activities culminated in a dinner and dance held in Carnalea Golf Club where the Sir Knights and family members enjoyed a fine meal with entertainment and refreshment after.

Bangor Royal Black District Chapter continues with its labour and travels,and with a continued increase in membership the Officers and Sir Knights are optimistically looking to the future and remain resolute in proclaiming the Christian message upon which the Royal Black Institution is based.

PS

Recently I was given a copy of a document which was published on Saturday 29th August 1931 when the Sir Knights from the County Down Grand Black Chapter gathered in Bangor for their Annual Demonstration. It contained an 'air', was priced at Twopence and was to be sung to the tune of 'The Shepherd's Boy'. I have reproduced it below and hope you enjoy it; a photograph of the document has been included in the Photographs Page.

For want of something better I have entitled it;

'The Black in Bangor Town'

Come all ye noble Marksmen wherever you may be,
I hope you'll pay attention and listen unto me:
It's concerning this great meeting in Bangor seaport town,
Long may they live in unity - our sons of the County Down.

CHORUS

The County Down men they will attend also in grand array,
With the black rosette upon their breast,
While the bands will sweetly play; they will march the town courageously,
Where they will join heart and hand, and we will give great thanks
To Lady Clanmorris, she is a credit to our land.

On Saturday the 29th in a place called Bangor town,
The Blackmen they will assemble there from all the districts around,
With sashes black and banners gay, with hearts as true as steel,
Like true sons of Ulster that was never known to yield.

CHORUS

The morning it looked gloomy yet the day turned bright and fair,
In time they came at 11 a.m., they assembled at the Hotel,
As they reached the town their fifes did sound and the tunes I heard them play --
'God save the King', 'The Blackman's Dream', and 'Derry Walls Away'.

CHORUS

There were men that came from Belfast and some from Comber town,
From Donaghadee and Newtownards and Banbridge all around,
When they reached the place of meeting, their flags and drums laid down,
Around the platform of the speakers they all assembled round,
To listen to those speakers that came to Bangor town,
The words they spoke in accents clear with them we do agree,
For to live true-born brethren in peace and unity.

CHORUS

So now to conclude and finish I mean to drop my pen,
Here's health, long life and prosperity to all true Blackmen--
Be kind to one another with good will to everyone;
I hope I have said nothing wrong so this will end my song.

CHORUS