On 18th October 1905, King Edward VII officially opened Kingsway, a new roadway linking the Strand with Euston Station which had been the largest road building scheme in London since the construction of Regent Street in 1820 and had resulted in the clearance of one of the most overcrowded areas of late Victorian London and the removal of 3,500 residents. Kingsway was designed not only to improve north-south connections but also to create an impressive highway suitable for London as an imperial capital. The new road was over 60 feet wide. Its prestige was such that it was expected that it would be lined by impressive office buildings, hotels and theatres. No new pubs were allowed (although 51 had been demolished as part of the scheme).
The Temperance movement, advocating abstinence from alcohol, was influential during this period. A number of masonic lodges were formed advocating temperance principles. The oldest of these had been formed in Birmingham in 1858. Another was Kingsway Lodge No 3027, established in 1904 and named in honour of the new road which the membership medal of the lodge (usually called a “jewel” in masonic terms) graphically depicted. The lodge met in Great Queen Street. Contemporary comment about the banquet held in the Freemasons’ Tavern to mark the lodge’s foundation remarked that “all seemed to enjoy the occasion as well as if alcoholic liquors had been in abundance”.
Today Kingsway is still a major thoroughfare and along its route are many of London’s most interesting museums including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. Details of all these museums are available on www.museum-mile.org.uk (external website opens in a new window) or on a leaflet available from the Library and Museum.