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LUCAS, William Thornton to Main Staff Index
Signature of WT Lucas
Bill LucasBill Lucas close to retirement
born: 13-Sep-1889
died: cJan-1960

joined: 1-Jan-1912 (SS High School for Boys - 4th Headmaster)
left: 31-Aug-1955 (retired)

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.


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