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LUCAS, William

Born: 1860 09 07
Died: 1939 07 10


(Committee NIA 1903; Vice Pres NIA 1905; Pres NIA 1906,1907; FRVIA; FRGS; ATA; ARIBA 1881)

Was born in Melbourne, Australia and educated in Melbourne and in Cheltenham, England. He apparently practised for a short time in England before travelling in central Africa, Australia and New Zealand. No details of his training are yet known. He practised for a time in Victoria, Australia (n.d.) and during the 1880s he designed several buildings in Melbourne and the surrounding area. He was a member of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects during the 1880s. He seems to have married during the same period since his son, Gilbert William, was born in 1891 in Melbourne and the South Africa Who's Who (1932-31) says he came to South Africa in 1894; Lucas appears to have left Australia during a depression. He opened an office in Durban before settling in Pietermaritzburg in 1895 where he practised until about 1911 when he left for Johannesburg. According to the RIBA Kalender (1896-97), Lucas had an address in London as well as Pietermaritzburg. His practice in Pietermaritzburg was relatively successful. His first recorded building appears to have been the YMCA (Buchanan/Longmarket Sts), now demolished. His best-known building, however, is the General Post Office, Longmarket St, which commission he gained in competition in 1901, and the Jubilee Pavilion in Alexandra Park, Pietermaritzburg (1897). He designed Newcastle Town Hall, Natal, the design of which was published in Australia in 1899. Lucas was keenly interested in education and was secretary of the Pietermaritzburg YMCA from 1895. He instituted the Lucas Prize for Science at Maritzburg College, and a photograph of him exists in the College archives. Lucas was a founder and enthusiastic member of the Natal Institute of Architects from 1901; he served on the Institute Council 1903, was vice-president in 1905 and President in 1906/1907. In his annual report for the year 1907 Lucas noted 'the year now closing has probably been one of the most barren to the architectural profession that the Institute has ever known' (SAMBF Jnl Feb 1908:15), and he left Natal a few years later for the Transvaal (Gauteng). From about 1911 Lucas was employed by the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Pretoria and lectured in history at the Transvaal University College (c1911); he was an active member of the Association of Transvaal Architects. He contributed a number of articles to the professional journals, and among these is an eulogy on R Norman SHAW, although any influences on his work through his admiration for Shaw are hard to detect. Lucas also admired the work of John Belcher whose work seems to have provided a closer model than did Norman Shaw for Lucas's own work.

He returned to Australia in 1916 after twenty-two years in South Africa. The UTD (1917) listed him at the box number of the Association of Transvaal Architects in Johannesburg. In 1919 he won second premium in the competition for the war memorial in Melbourne, notice of which success reached South Africa (Building June 1919:280). He later designed the War Memorial to Australian soldiers at Villiers Bretonneux, France, from which may be inferred he was involved with the Imperial War Graves Commission.

(Afr Archt Sep 1911:78; BLB 23:786; Building Mar 1924:19; Lewis 1986; SAWW 1909, 1910)

Publ: The cradle lands of architecture, SA Assn Advancement of Science 1907:87; Presidential address to NIA. SAMBF Jnl Jun 1906:43-46, SAMBF Jnl Jul 1906:23-28; The twentieth century cathedral, SAAE&S Jnl Sep 1907:210-11; The Architectural Association room, Afr Archt Dec 1912:101; The work and influence of Norman Shaw, RA, published in three parts: Afr Archt Nov 1913:159-63; Afr Archt Apr 1913:183-185; Afr Archt May 1913:200-13; Letter to editor of African Archt, Afr Archt Nov 1913:282-283; The Baker Scholarship, Afr Archt Nov 1913:280-81; The early work of Norman Shaw, RA, SAMBF Annual 1913:47-50 ill; John Belcher, RA, Afr Archt Jan 1914:304-6

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Diamond Jubilee Pavilion: 1897. Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
Main Post Office: 1901. Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1906. Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
Town Hall: 1897. Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
Town Hall: 1893 : 1894 : 1902 : 1917. uMnambithi (Ladysmith), KwaZulu-Natal - Architect 1902 restoration
YMCA: 1897. Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect

Books citing LUCAS

Brown, SM. 1969. Architects and others: an annotated list of people of South African interest appearing in the RIBA Journal 1880-1925. Johannesburg: Unpublished dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand. pp

Geurst, Jeroen. 2010. Cemeteries of the Great War by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Rotterdam: 010. pp 427, 429

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pp 168

Herbert, Gilbert. 1975. Martienssen & the international style: The modern movement in South African architecture. Cape Town - Rotterdam: AA Balkema. pp 249

Hillebrand, Melanie. 1975. Aspects of architecture in Natal, 1880 1914. Pietermaritzburg: Unpublished MA. Dept Fine Art and History of Art, University of Natal. pp 187

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 259, 263, 265, 266, 267

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pp 136, 143, 144

Watson, Donald & Mc Kay, Judith. 1984. Directory of Queensland Architects to 1940. St Lucia: University of Queensland Library. pp 130