The Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1871 during the Gulgong gold rush. This building was later sold on to the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows (M.U.I.O.O.F) in 1878 to be used at their meeting lodge as they had been meeting in Seff’s Hotel, Mayne Street (then Queen Street), since opening in 1872.
History of M.U.I.O.O.F in Gulgong
(Below is an excerpt from 1972 Gulgong Newspaper – accessed through the archives of the Gulgong Pioneers’ Museum)
ODDFELLOWS WILL BE 100 YEARS OLD
The centenary of the Oddfellows Lodge at Gulgong will be celebrated when the district meeting of the organisation will be held. The Grand Master of the N.S.W. Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows Bro T.H. Stephens will preside.One hundred guests from all over the State are expected to come to Gulgong for the occasion.
On April 24, 1872 the gold rush boomtown of Gulgong was granted its dispensation for the opening of the first meeting of the M.U.I.O.O.F. This dispensation board is still hanging in the Gulgong Lodge Hall, which itself is more than 100 years old. The hall was one of the first buildings on the goldfields.
One hundred years ago at its first meeting the name of the lodge ‘Happy Loyal Valley Lodge No. 50’ was proclaimed by the Grand Master. Bro. Max Douglas of Gulgong is the Grand Master covering lodges from Mudgee to Coonabarabran.
Mr Douglas yesterday invited all members of the community to join in with the celebrations at Gulgong on Saturday, and meet the Grand Master and members of the M.U.I.O.O.F. visiting Gulgong.
The oldest living member of the Gulgong Happy Loyal Valley Lodge is Bro. Harry Gudgeon. Bro.Gudgeon was initiated on April 19th, 1899 and has held senior district officers during his membership.
Another member who has worked hard for the M.U.I.O.O.F. is Bro.Val Taylor. He entered the lodge in 1908, Mr Douglas said.
Mr Douglas said the Oddfellows had made a big contribution to the welfare of families and community life in its 100 years of existence in Gulgong. “It is now 134 years since the formation of the M.U.I.O.O.F and its ideals of service and help to our fellow men are still as strong as ever”. He said ” On checking through the old records of the Gulgong Oddfellows, you will find all the prominent people who have helped to make Gulgong the town it is today, such names as Allens, Adams, Austins, Bayliss, Brigdens, Bennetts, Buckleys, Byfields, Gudgeon, Croomes, Cross, Gorrie and Gibbons and many others who have all played their part in the history of the town”.
Mr Douglas said, “While many other Friendly Societies have fallen away, the M.U.I.O.O.F was going from strength to strength. The Lodge’s medical and hospital scheme was one of the oldest established. The Lodge had gone into the dental and optical schemes as well. These were with about 42 other services helping people to a better and healthier life”.
April 1972 Gulgong News Paper
It is not a well known fact, however, it is the M.U.I.O.O.F that were instumental in assisting with the introduction of the excellent Medicare system that we have in Austsralia today. Unfortunately the Order of Oddfellows no longer meet in our district due to the lack of support. There are still lodges in the cities that continue the good work. However, the work done in the years gone by within communities for their friends and families was a job very well done and deserves recognition. We are proud to own one of the few ODDFELLOWS lodges and are happy to share it when we can to spread the history far and wide.
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