Lucas Primary School has named their school houses after four notable figures associated with local history. The names that have been selected by the school are Eleanor, Thompson, Bolton and O’Shannassy.
The story behind the names….
Eleanor Lucas is most fondly remembered as the matriarch of the Lucas Clothing Factory - whose Lucas Girls were the driving force behind the establishment of the Ballarat Avenue of Honour and the Ballarat Arch of Victory.
Eleanor Lucas attended school between the ages of 12 and 14 – but economic circumstances saw her leave school for work at age 14. When she was 18 years old she married a prospector – John Pittard Price. They had three sons (including Edward Hargreaves Price) and three daughters. Two of their sons died before 1873; and John Pittard Price died in an accidental fall at Kelsall’s Soap Works in 1873 – leaving the family penniless. Donations from the community provided Eleanor with the means to purchase a four-roomed cottage in James Street, Ballarat East and a sewing machine. In a small room in her little cottage, Eleanor was to begin an enterprise that would later become the Lucas Clothing Factory which would employ hundreds of women at any one time to complete the large clothing orders that would be required. On 25 July 1918 the Australian Natives' Association presented Eleanor and twenty-nine other Victorian women with certificates of award for donations in their sock drive for the Australian soldiers in Europe.
Eleanor Lucas was known as an incredibly generous woman and through her charitable donations from the Lucas Clothing Factory Eleanor made a difference in so many people's lives.
Matilda Louisa THOMPSON was born in 1871 and began work in a local drapery store the Lucas textile company at age 13. Before too long she was Australia’s first travelling sales lady. displayed new fashion designs all around southern Australia and brought orders back for production right here in Ballarat. Later she took charge of production at Lucas, and managed a staff of 250 women. In 1915, she became company director. What’s more, Ms Thompson was the first woman to be granted a driver’s licence in Ballarat.
When the First World War broke out, Tilly inspired and led the ‘Lucas Girls’ into a range of charitable work to support the war effort, and gave thousands of pounds to the cause. Ballarat’s own grand Arch of Victory and the Ballarat Avenue of Honour are the work of Tilly and the Lucas Girls. The Prince of Wales in 1920 officially opened the great monument.
Tilly Thompson generously gave hundreds of men and women her personal support. She turned her fine and large house on the shores of Lake Wendouree into a temporary refuge for ex-serviceman down on their luck.
In 1939 Tilly Thompson received the gold medal of the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia for her unreserved support of our ex-servicemen and women. She was also awarded an MBE in 1941 – fine recognition of a life of dedication and generosity.
RICHARD ERNEST O’SHANNASSY
Lucas Primary School is located on O’Shannassy Parade.
Richard Ernest O’SHANNASSY from Doveton Street north, attended Macarthur Street State School before becoming a fireman. He was married to Louisa when he enlisted on February 25th 1915. He left Melbourne in mid-June aboard the Wandilla and sailed to Gallipoli. He served there for a short time before he was killed in action on August 20th 1915. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Australian Memorial at Lone Pine and on the honour board of Macarthur Street State School. His younger brother Sidney Cyril O’SHANNASSY was from Howitt Street, an 18 year old labourer when he enlisted on June 28th 1916. He sailed from Australia on October 2nd and reached France in April 1917. On August 9th 1918 he was reported as missing in action but a few days later it was confirmed he had been killed on that date. He was 20 years of age and is commemorated on the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. (Richard tree 607, Sidney tree 2460)
WILLIAM KINSEY BOLTON
Avenue of Honour, Tree No. 1
The first tree in Ballarat’s Avenue of Honour was planted on June 4th 1916 by the Victorian Premier, Sir Alexander Peacock, to recognise the service of Lieutenant Colonel William Kinsey Bolton. William Bolton was an experienced career soldier, already in his 50s, when war was declared in August 1914 and he was called upon to raise and command the 8th Battalion. He commanded his battalion at the Gallipoli landing on April 25th 1915 and in the fierce fighting at Krithia in May, after which his age and declining health caused his repatriation to Australia, ironically aboard the HMAT ‘Ballarat’. He left his mark at Gallipoli with battlefield maps showing Bolton’s Ridge running south from Lone Pine. His son Hunter (tree 311) and daughter Ethel (tree 956, Australian Army Nursing Service) also served. After his military service he became the inaugural national president of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League (which later became the R.S.L.) and served for a time in the Victorian Senate.
If you would like to know more about the Lucas Street Naming Project and the history of Lucas you can visit our history page HERE