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The Abbey 180 Clock returns home

Worshipful Master Stephen Bell presents W.Bro. Daryl Wallace, (Director of the Whiteabbey Masonic Centre) the Abbey 180 Clock.

On 20th June 2015, a stranger knocked at the door of the Masonic Centre and was met by W. Bro. Geoff Houston, who relieved the stranger of a large plastic bag, inside which, was an old mantle clock. The stranger, a man in his 60’s, refused to give a name, but said his family had no use of the contents and were returning it to where they thought it belonged!


The Clock was engraved;



Presented to Bro. Thomas Porter PM

On the Occasion of His Leaving the Chair

January 1917.



The clock is now  on show in a display cabinet in the Foyer of the Whiteabbey Masonic Centre.


The following is Tommy Porter’s story researched by his great nephew W. Bro. Jim Porter, Treasurer of the Abbey Lodge 180.


Masonic history


Tommy was a Mason for 53 years; he joined Abbey 180 Craft Lodge in 1903. He received his Enter Apprentice Degree on the 29th July 1903, Passed to the Fellow Craft on the 26th August 1903, and finally raised to the Degree of Master Mason on the 14th October 1903. After working his way through the offices of the Lodge, he was installed as Worshipful Master in 1916. He was in the “Chair” right in the middle of the Great War years. The Somme on the 1st July and that famous Somme offensive running right through until November would have been to the forefront of his & many brethren’s thoughts at that time. His own brothers, my grandfather & W. Bro. Bill Patterson’s grandfather, Willie Porter and W. Bro. Geordie Williams grandfather, Harper Porter were both in France with the Royal Irish Rifles. It was also the year of the Easter rising, so a lot to think about on the Home Front too.


W. Bro. Tommy Porter was also a member of Abbey 180 Royal Arch Chapter, joined in 1909. Unfortunately the date for his MMM Degree is not known, but he received his Royal Arch Degree on the 22nd September 2009 and was installed as Excellent King in 1924.    


Life history


Tommy was born in Antrim town on 11/6/1878, 2nd child and first son of William and Harriett Porter.


Tommy’s father, William an engineer in Whiteabbey Linen Mill, died at the age of 32 when he was just 7 years old and his mother Harriett died when he was 17. Tommy, the oldest male, became head of the household in 1895 and his older sister, Sarah at 20, the mother figure.


In the 1901 & 1911 census, Tommy was listed as head of the household and his occupation, a bricklayer, living at 16 Office Street, Whiteabbey.


Office Street was a street behind the terraced row of red brick houses on the Shore Road, Whiteabbey. One of the houses had a big clock face hanging from the front – just behind there was Office Street.  This street is now demolished.


The other occupants listed at 16 Office Street on the 1901 census, were Tommy’s and Sarah’s younger brothers, my Grandfather, Bill Patterson’s Grandfather, Willie Porter, Francis Porter and Geordie Williams’ Grandfather, Harper Porter.


Tommy Porter served his time as an apprentice bricklayer with Bob McFaul in Whiteabbey who was the local builder at that time. On the Abbey 180 Roll of Past Masters, Bob’s father, Archibald McFaul was the Lodges Worshipful Master in 1878, just 9 years after the Lodge’s consecration in 1869. He was possibly one of the Lodges founder members!


Tommy Porter left Whiteabbey, not sure when, went to live and work in Canada for a short time. He helped build the first brick built houses in and around Calgary.


He returned home met Ruth Neilly, they got married in Glarryford, just outside Ballymena on the 5th September 1911. Tommy worked as a bricklayer in the Mill at Milewater Street, off York Road, for 48 years. He and his family lived at 30 Gainsborough Drive, Belfast (behind the old Grove baths) and had 4 children, all daughters, Ruthie, Sally, Lyla, and Hylda.  Tommy then moved with his family to become “live in” caretaker at the “old” Masonic Hall Station Road, Whiteabbey in 1926. He lived here with his wife, 4 daughters and his sister Sarah, who never married. They all lived there for 20 years until 1946.


Tommy then lived with his daughter Lyla and her family, the Lytle’s, in Jordanstown, after his wife’s death, until his own death at 78 in 1956.


His daughter Hylda Porter married John Frackleton from Whitehead and he was Worshipful Master of Abbey 180 in 1958. His nephew, Jimmy Porter, whom he introduced to freemasonry in 1948, was Worshipful Master in 1962, his great nephew Bill Patterson was Worshipful Master in 1982, his other great nephew Geordie Williams was Worshipful Master in 1994 and another great nephew Jim Porter was Worshipful Master in 2002.


This concludes the Masonic & life history of W. Bro. Thomas Porter.


Special thanks are due to Rebecca Hayes, Archivist at Grand Lodge, Molesworth Street, Dublin. & Lynda Hayes (nee Williams), the late W. Bro. Geordie Williams’ sister, who provided all of the life history of Tommy Porter and his family and also W. Bro Joe Corr for clarifying the detail about the McFaul family.


 W. Bro. Jim Porter - 30th September 2015












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