Oddfellows Hall, Lancaster

oddfellows

Built in 1844, the Oddfellows Hall was constructed to serve local branches of the Oddfellows society – a benevolent and mutual aid organisation at a time before the creation of the Welfare State.

Sometime during the later part of the 1800s the word Oddfellows was removed after the building ceased being used by the society. While very faint, the remnant of the word Oddfellows can still be made out if the light is right. The right side of the lettering is easier to see, and in the image below, with the contrast enhanced, you can make out the S, and W, pretty clearly, with the O and L also just visible. The lost letters were set at a somewhat smaller size than the surviving letters to fit the available space.

 

Oddfellows Hall
Oddfellows Hall

The surviving letters are a combination of a broad slab serif and an unusual serif letterform with large bulbous endings to the stems of the ‘A’ and ‘D’ and numbers of the date line. The letters are beautifully cut in relief within a large stone plaque set on the gable end of the building. One of my favourite examples of lettering in the city.

Location: Brock Street. Lancaster, UK.

Published by fastfootpress

Fast Foot Press is a small, independent publishing and design house based in Lancaster in the North of England. We research, design and publish a range of unique printed publications that are indicative of our passion for the interesting, obscure and beautiful. Our aim is to produce items of value, interest and beauty: to devise printed works that fascinate and inspire.

4 thoughts on “Oddfellows Hall, Lancaster

  1. I’m not convinced the word ‘Oddfellows’ can fit in the gap unless it was done in smaller lettering to ‘Hall’. I’ve tried. Perhaps it was the hall used by the Oddfellows but was named something else?

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    1. The stone work does not appear to show any signs that the word (oddfellows) has been removed, the stone is very smooth and I have looked at it with the light hitting in different directions and can see no evidence of alterations. If it has been removed it was done very well. Must admit the full stop after the word hall does seem strange.

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      1. Hi Terry

        Thanks for visiting the site and for the comment. In the right light I promise you that you can just make out the remnants of the final letters of the word Oddfellows, though it is very faint. To show this I’ve posted on the original post an adjusted photo of the plaque with the contrast turned up. Though faint, you can make out on the right side, the final W and S and, even fainter the preceding O and L.

        I did say in a reply to an earlier comment that there was a contemporary illustration of the Hall in Richard Irving’s book Lancaster Past & Present (published by Neil Richardson, 1987) that showed the missing letters. However, further research suggests this was actually drawn by Richard himself, and therefore not evidence of the original wording.

        Simon

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  2. Hi Barry

    Thanks for your thoughts on this – the removal of the other lettering has always intrigued me. I’m certain the Hall was purpose built for the Society; several branches having co-funded the project in 1844.

    In Richard Irving’s book ‘Lancaster Past and Present’ (1987, Neil Richardson Publishing) there is shown an illustration of the opening ceremony for the Hall (presumably produced around the time of the event) in which the word Oddfellows can be seen – but the letters do seem to struggle with the available space.

    I’ve always wondered why, when the building was sold on, the new owners felt the need to remove the titling – we’d now consider it an act of gross vandalism. It’s a building I have a great affection for and I’d like to find out more about it when time allows.

    Simon Hawkesworth, Fast Foot Press.

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