When Bill Lucas first arrived at the old building in Mowbray Road in January, 1912,
he intended (by his own account) to stay for no more than three years - he ended up
staying for over forty-three.
William Thornton Lucas was brought up in Bradford, going to the Belle Vue Higher
Grade School from 1898. In 1902 he moved to Bradford Grammar School after
which he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, which he left in 1911 with a BA
(Hons, second-class) in Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Mathematics.
He took up his first teaching job in October, 1911, at Solihull School, Warwickshire,
but was there for only two months. After Christmas, in January 1912, he moved to South
Shields and joined the staff of the South Shields High School for Boys as Science
Master. Within two years, he was promoted to Second Master, and he then took time
to complete his MA, which he achieved in 1915.
Following the death of the then Headmaster, Mr Kirwan, he was made Master-in-Charge
on 21st November, 1919 at a salary of £300 a year until such time as a successor
to Kirwan could be appointed.
When the education committee met on 15th December 1919, there were three candidates
for the Headship - Henry Joseph from Sunderland, Ralph Williamson from Hereford, and
Lucas himself. Voting was very close - Mr Williamson was eliminated in the first round
by only one vote, and in the second round, Lucas was appointed by 12 votes to 10.
At the age of 30, and with an annual salary of £600, he took up his post on
1st January, 1920.
As Headmaster, he was particularly well liked. He is reported to have "moved
among his staff, among his pupils and among their parents with a friendliness and
encouragement which never wearied". He played a major part in the development
of sports in the school, particularly in cricket and rugby - in fact it was he who
reintroduced rugby to the school in 1926 - and as a golfer of some note he would often
be seen on the school fields at Mowbray Road and Harton practising assiduously.
He would play cricket as part of the staff side wearing an ageing cap, and flannels
which Frank Wade described as "a trifle tight around the nether regions"
- and his spin bowling caused problems for many generations of First-XI batsmen, even
in his 60s. As a spectator on the rugby touchline, his remarks were often vitriolic,
but he gave encouragement and shrewd advice to the school teams.
But for all this, he was a stickler for detail. End of term reports had to be written
with every full-stop properly placed, and smudges or alterations would incur his wrath.
The planning of the new building at Harton, which opened in 1936, was largely his
doing, as were the various extensions in the early 1950s. He was also one of the pioneers
of "setting" forms for various subjects, and was justifiably proud of the
great variety of courses from which his boys could choose.
In 1936, when the High School moved to the new building in Harton, Bill Lucas lived
at 233 Sunderland Road. This backed onto 92 St Mary's Avenue, which in turn was more
or less opposite the school's entrance. So Lucas would use a gate cut into the fence
between the two houses as a shortcut to the school rather than going all the way round.
It can be no coincidence that this house in St Mary's Avenue was occupied by James
Carruthers, whose building firm constructed the school.
Bill Lucas retired from the school in August, 1955, handing over the helm to Bill
Egner. Shortly after retiring, he took ill, and William Thornton Lucas died in 1960.