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Imperial College was formed in 1907 by the federation of three existing institutions: the Royal College of Science, the Royal School of Mines and the City & Guilds College. Each had its own traditions and awarded its own qualifications (ARCS, ARSM and ACGI). In 1908 the College joined the University of London but it always retained a degree of autonomy, until finally becoming independent in 2007.
In early 1923 a petition with 28 signatories was sent to United Grand Lodge of England, requesting that the Grand Master consider authorising the formation of a Freemasons’ Lodge at the College. Of the 28 petitioners, 2 were Governors of the College, 7 were members of the Professorial or Administrative Staff and 19 were ex-students.
In his covering letter Alexander Gow, the first Secretary of Imperial College, described the strong ‘esprit de corps’ that existed throughout the large permanent staff and past and present students at the College. He stated that a Lodge would add another bond of union among those scattered over distant lands, promote the maintenance of College ties and interests while abroad and afford a common meeting ground for all when at home.
The Lodge was consecrated on 22nd October 1923 at Freemasons’ Hall, London. The first and second Worshipful Masters of the Lodge, Colonel Sir Henry McMahon and Major The Hon. Hugh Fletcher Moulton, were both members of the Governing Body of the College.
Until about 1960, the membership consisted mainly of former students, academic staff and senior members of the administration. From that time onwards members of the technical, artisan and domestic staff joined and the membership expanded to cover the whole spectrum of College life.
Members of the Lodge have included at least two Rectors of Imperial College, two Members of Parliament, a Diplomat, an Editor of Nature Magazine, four Fellows of the Royal Society, a Chief Engineer for the BBC, a Surveyor for the Channel Tunnel and the Car Park Attendant for Imperial College.
The Lodge had the huge honour of hosting the United Grand Lodge of England's Prestonian Lecture at the College in 1999. The Prestonian Lecture is delivered annually and is the only lecture authorised by the United Grand Lodge of England.
In 2003 the Lodge became a Founder Lodge of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London and the inaugural Festival for the Association of University Lodges took place in Imperial College in 2004.
The Lodge continues to promote the sentiments that Alexander Gow and the petitioners set out in 1923, which are still prevalent today, in an era when Imperial College is a University in its own right.