Southern Star

Lodge No 735

Meets at the Manchester Unity Rooms 30 Bridge Street NELSON Meets 4th Tuesday each month except December Installation date is 2nd Saturday, October.

History of Southern Star Lodge


In May 1842, only four months after the first immigrants settled in Nelson, a proposal to form a Masonic Lodge led to a meeting of Freemasons at the appropriately named Freemasons Tavern on the corner of Bridge and Trafalgar Streets. Nothing positive emerged from that meeting but there is evidence to show that the idea of forming a Masonic Lodge was not forgotten. The lodge has a copy of a letter in 1846 from the Master of NZ Pacific advising that he did not have the power to issue a dispensation to form a new lodge and that it would have to be obtained from the Provincial Grand Master in Sydney.
One of the principal proponents in the attempts to form a Lodge was Thomas Sullivan who was elected as its first Master, a position he held for two years. He was also an ardent Oddfellow and was responsible for the establishment of that Order in Nelson. It is reported that he and eight other Oddfellows, who were fellow passengers on the Martha Ridgway (621 tons) which arrived in Nelson on the 4th April 1842, met regularly as Oddfellows in the ship’s Long Boat.
Captain Richard Scott, Master of the brig Spray, which traded between Nelson and Sydney appears to have acted as an intermediary between the District Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the freemasons in Nelson. Acting under a dispensation from the District Grand Master of New South Wales, Wor Bro Scott presided over the foundation meeting of Southern Star Lodge on 4th October 1853.

For some years the Lodge met in hotels, but in 1858 it was able to build its own hall in Trafalgar Street on a site which now forms part of the Nelson Museum. In the early 1860s the lodge was struggling financially and the building was sold. It met at various venues before becoming a tenant of the hall it built.  That particular building was demolished in 1915. In 1885 the Lodge was able to build the Masonic Temple in Collingwood Street and this was its home until 2019 when the cost of ownership of an 130 year old building was too much for the members to carry, and it was sold. The Lodge had arranged to become a tenant in the Masonic Centre in Nile Street but this building was severely damaged by fire in November 2019 and we have been meeting in temporary sites until we find a permanent home.
During its existence approximately 1150 men have joined Southern Star Lodge. Membership reached its peak (about 180 members) during the 1960s. Today membership is steady around 50, with about half being regular attenders at our monthly meetings.