Bright sunshine marked the start of the fourth and final stage of the Tour yesterday. Fifteen members of the Dorset Masonic Bikers group accompanied the Banner to the last five venues thereby completing the challenge of escorting it to every Masonic building in the Province of Dorset, a magnificent achievement befitting this Tercentenary celebration year.
Warm sunshine greeted the Bikers at Kinson Masonic Hall where they were met with coffee and bacon rolls, a great start to the day. Our support vehicle duly arrived with two glamorous Banner bearers (you know who you are!) and photographs were taken with Ruling Masters and their Lodge members. The convoy then departed for the next venue ably led by our Advanced Motorcycling Instructor (more about him later on).
We parked at Branksome to be welcomed by a multitude of Lodge members, none of whom had brought a key to the building! We sheltered from a brief shower whilst a quick-thinking member obtained one from the Provincial Tyler who lives nearby. Our photographers managed to squeeze everyone into their sights after which we fired up our engines and headed for the next venue.
Zetland Court was next, we arrived to find residents and staff waiting for us on the front steps along with the Provincial Grand Master and Deputy Provincial Grand Master. Bright sunshine and beautiful gardens provided the ideal backdrop for a prolonged photo shoot followed by lunch generously provided by the Home.
Several people offered to become pillion riders for the remainder of the tour, one lady confessed to having been a ‘bikers moll’ in her heyday. A quick risk assessment together with the lack of a crash helmet soon put paid to their ambitions!
A pleasant ride through Canford Cliffs village and across the Sandbanks peninsula led to our next stop at Poole. Parking a large number of motorbikes near the Masonic Hall provided a challenge which was overcome by the appointment of a Parking Steward to keep off all passers-by and Traffic Wardens (thanks Karen).
The Banner was erected in the Lodge room and photographs completed in record time after which we departed with our Advanced Motorcycle Instructor offering to lead us on a scenic route to avoid traffic congestion.
The scenic route proved something of a challenge for some bikers who were surprised to find themselves on the A31 between Wimborne and Bere Regis! Half the riders gave up and took the A350 to Upton whilst the others travelled on to Morden and through the forest. Strangely, the two groups arrived at Sandford roundabout simultaneously and so the convoy was reunited for the last mile to Wareham. Meticulous planning or mere coincidence, I leave you to decide!
The car park lent itself to a photo shoot of the motorbikes once a very large ladder had been obtained for our brave photographer to ascend. Refreshments were on hand and the Banner erected for the penultimate time for the customary photo shoot. Shortly after our departure, the heavens opened and we were bombarded with hailstones whilst queueing at Wareham Town crossroads!
Fifth and final stop
Sunny weather soon returned for our final journey through the Purbecks, via Corfe Castle and Worth Matravers where we passed the Square and Compasses Pub before running down the hill into Swanage. We parked the bikes along the sea front and made our way to the Masonic Hall during a brief spell of heavy rain.
Substantial improvements are under way at the building so the dining room was in a state of disarray, nevertheless Lodge members and their wives had kindly laid on refreshments. Photographs were rapidly taken after which we sat down to enjoy a proper cream tea, a fitting end to our epic tour of the Province!
All the Bikers enjoyed themselves, some visiting Lodges for the first time and all made new friends along the way. Truly an example of how motorcycling and Freemasonry have much in common.