Caer Urfa is a Freemasons lodge situated in the town of South Shields, Tyne & Wear, within the Province of Durham, and under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England.
Caer Urfa was founded in 1921 from members of Hedworth Lodge No. 2418, its crest bears the inscription "Semper Paratus" which translated means "Always Ready."
The crest is a derivation of the South Shields Borough Council's coat of arms, the new crest and summons frontispiece was designed by Bro Howard Hills, a talented artist and local Architect who was the Secretary of Hedworth Lodge No. 2418 and who recorded all the transactions of the Founders of the new Lodge during it's conception and until its consecration.
The name of the Lodge has often been a source of curiosity and enquiry among its many visitors and some of their attempts at its pronunciation have afforded some slight amusement to its members. In transactions recorded by Bro Hills several names were put forward namely “W. E. Moffett”, “South Shields”, “Westoe”, “Beacon Lodge”, “Roman Lodge” (W. E. Moffet was a past Master of St Hilda Lodge in the late 1800's).
However, at a meeting of the Founders at the Regent Hotel (upper room) Ocean Road, South Shields on 12th April 1921, a motion by W Bro. Thomas Sykes, seconded by W. Bro. J. R. Wheldon it was unanimously agreed to call the new Lodge the “Caer Urfa” Lodge, there are no records as to why the name was chosen.
At that very same meeting and on the motion of W Bro. Wm C. Everson, seconded by W Bro. J. R. Wheldon P.M. it was unanimously carried that W Bro. Thomas Sykes P.M. be W.M. designate of the New Lodge.
So not only did W Bro Thomas Sykes name the new Lodge he was also to be its first Worshipful Master, coincidence or what?
Over the years a 'story' or 'tale' of why the Lodge got its name has been set in place to try and give some clue to its original concept.
This tale looks at the history of the town wherein the lodge resides.
South Shields, in its long history, has had three names and Caer Urfa was its first.
For centuries the inhabitants of this area were the Brigantes, a hardy warlike and adventurous people and one of their strongholds was the naturally defensive area, now known as The Lawe.
Its earliest name was Caer Urfa, which name points to a British origin, a fact now established by independent evidence.
The origin of the name, Caer Urfa, has been the subject of various theories. A simple theory is that it means "the town/stronghold/fortified area" of "Urfa" who was a Brigantian Chieftain.
Then Dr. Hoopell, without any real evidence, translated it as "the town on the island", but it is believed that its derivation to have come from Ca~er~wr~Ffair, the town/fort/stronghold on the hill or rock, and this is the most likely meaning. Caer Urfa, the town on the rock, is evidently the meaning our founders had in mind when they chose Caer Urfa as the name of our lodge, for on what better foundation could a Masonic Structure be built than on a rock.
The original crest and summons were probably blue, similar to the mother lodge as most of the copies from that period only show red type when there was an important occasion such as the Annual Meeting or Installation and the red is constrained to headlining the identity of the Master Elect with the remainder of the summons being probably blue but most certainly not red.
Over the years summons were printed in full red ink without any colour, summons for lodges of emergency had only the crest on the front and during a period in the 1980's this format was used as the Lodge summons, but eventually the lodge returned to its original frontispiece.
In 1998 the complete summons was digitally formatted to include the addition of colour to parts of the summons and the crest re-instated to the internal pages and a few years later a square and compass added to the crest and frontispiece, this version continued until December 2014, when a completely new variation was implemented, this variation only lasted a year and the original red with coloured crest etc has now been re-instated.