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Charles Thomas Lucas

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Charles Thomas Lucas (1820-1895)

Born the son of James Lucas (1792-1865), a builder, of St Pancras, London.

of Lucas and Aird

Married Charlotte Tiffin and had five sons and two daughters.

He lived in London and then at Warnham in Sussex.

He was created a Baronet in 1887.

1896 Obituary [1]

CHARLES THOMAS LUCAS, son of Mr. James Jonathan Hughes Delight Lucas, builder, of Quaker descent, was born in London on the 26th of October, 1820, and died at Warnham Court, near Horsham, from general decay, on the 4th of December, 1895, in his seventy-sixth year.

He was married in 1850 to Charlotte Emma Tiffin and had a family of two daughters and five sons, of whom three sons survive him.

Mr. Lucas was articled to Mr. Stokes, builder, of London, and his first responsible work was, as agent for Mr. S. M. Peto (afterwards Sir Morton Peto), the superintendence of the Norwich and Brandon Railway. It was to this start, and to Mr. Peto’s interest in him, that he always attributed his success in life.

His business career extended over more than half a century and was characterised from its earliest days by a tenacity of purpose, a strength of will and a power of wielding great authority which made him one of the foremost men of the nineteenth century, rich as it has been in men of mark who followed the same pursuit. He was distinguished for his straightforward manner and for the honourable way in which he entered into and carried out all his engagements, whether profitable or not ; and he earned for himself a reputation for probity, unswerving integrity and keen business ability which stood him in good stead to the end of his life. To use the words of one of his friends, “No one who knew him, however slightly, could fail to be impressed with the nobility of his character. He had such a kindly, pleasant manner that all looked upon him as a warm friend.” It was ever a source of great pride to him to relate how he had been associated in many large undertakings with such well-known men as Thomas Brassey, Sir Morton Peto, Sir John Kelk, Sir Charles Barry, Messrs. Waring, George Wythes, G. P. Bidder and many other engineers, architects and contractors.

Mr. Lucas commenced business on his own account as a builder and contractor at Norwich, and after a short time was joined by his brother, now Sir Thomas Lucas, with whom he founded the firm of Lucas Brothers, and remained in partnership until his death, a period of more than fifty-three years. Their well-known works at Lowestoft gave employment to vast numbers of workmen and were the scene of the production of enormous quantities of materials, which were utilized in the various works carried out by the firm.

The Royal and Harbour Hotels, the Esplanade, the Marine Parade, St. John’s Church, Kirkley Cliff, all at Lowestoft, and the water-works there and at Norwich and Yarmouth, were among their early successful undertakings.

These were followed by many works in Norfolk and Suffolk, including, among others, Somerleyton Hall, Henham Hall, Sennowe Hall and Rendlesham Hall. The business grew to such large proportions that a move was made to London, where extensive works were established in the Belvedere Road, Lambeth, and for many years the firm was well known as contractors for large undertakings, amongst which may be mentioned Cannon Street Hotel and Station, Charing Cross Hotel and Station, the Langham Hotel, De Keyser’s Hotel, the Star and Garter Hotel at Richmond, and the London Bridge Terminus Hotel; also the Royal Italian Opera House, which was justly regarded as a great achievement, having been rebuilt and opened within seven months after it was burned down. The firm also rebuilt Cliveden for the then Marquis of Westminster, and constructed the Royal Albert Hall, St. James's Hall, the Floral Hall at Covent Garden, York Railway Station and Hotel, the East Norfolk Railway and a large portion of the Great Eastern Railway, the South Kensington Exhibitions of 1867 and 1871, the Alexandra Palace, the City Terminus and Hotel at Liverpool Street, the Charterhouse School at Godalming, Normanhurst (the seat of Lord Brassey), the Junior Carlton Club, the Whitehall Club, Westminster Chambers, the Buckingham Palace Hotel, works for the South-Eastern Railway, and works at St. Pancras Station for the Midland Railway Company.

One of their most satisfactory undertakings in its good results was the housing of the troops in the Crimea, for which they received the special thanks of the Government. They also carried out works at Woolwich Arsenal, and formed the whole of the camps and barracks at Gosport and at Colchester, partly those at Shorncliffe and at Aldershot, and the School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness, besides a number of other scarcely less important works. They also constructed, in conjunction with Messrs. Kelk and Waring, the Metropolitan District Railway and many of its branches, and with the then Mr. Kelk, the International Exhibition of 1862.

In 1874 arrangements were made for Mr. John Aird to join the firm, which was thenceforward known as Lucas and Aird. The business now assumed even greater proportions, and the firm became one of the largest employers of labour in the country. Among the works carried out may be mentioned the Hull and Barnsley Railway, the Kettering and Manton Railway (with the viaduct across the Welland Valley) for the Midland Railway Company, works for the London Chatham and Dover, London and South Western, North Eastern, Midland, Great Western, and South Eastern Railway Companies, Blackfriars Railway Bridge, Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway, extensions of the East and West India, St. Katharine’s, and Surrey Commercial Docks, the Royal Albert Docks, the Tilbury Docks, Hodbarrow Sea Wall, the West Highland Railway, Ardrossan Harbour, and the extensive dock-works now in progress at Southampton.

Mr. Lucas and his brother were also members of the firm of John Aird and Sons, contractors for many undertakings for Gas and Water Companies, both at home and abroad. It should also be mentioned that during the last Egyptian campaign, the firm of Lucas and Aird placed their resources at the disposal of the Government for the construction of the railway from Suakim to Berber, and vast quantities of plant and stores were forwarded to Suakim accompanied by a numerous and efficient staff, although the close of the war led to the abandonment of the undertaking. Mr. Lucas was for thirty-one years an Associate of the Institution, having been elected on the 6th of December, 1861. He showed a keen interest in all that appertained to its welfare and especially in the Benevolent Fund, on the Committee of which he served from time to time. He was a Lieut.-Colonel of the Engineer and Railway Volunteer Staff Corps and was associated with many of the leading public bodies in the City of London.

Mr. Lucas was the owner of the beautiful estate of Warnham Court in Sussex, and in his hours of relaxation took great pride in his gardens and in the rearing of cattle, sheep and horses, his various herds being well known in the agricultural world. He was devotedly attached to children and to music, and the death of his two daughters and of his youngest son, so near to that of his wife, was a profound grief to him; they were sorrows from which he never recovered, and there is little doubt that the commencement of the decline in his health may be traced to that date.

He was several times offered a seat in Parliament without opposition, but he always considered that the attention he was obliged to devote to his business and to the large undertakings connected with it precluded him from accepting the responsibilities and demands upon his time inseparable from a parliamentary life. He was, however, frequently consulted by Lord Beaconsfield and Mr. W. H. Smith upon the labour question, which he thoroughly understood in all its bearings.

He was a generous landlord and a popular county man, and his loss to the parish of Warnham, where he restored the church, is one which must be severely felt for many years; while his genial presence and his ever ready sympathy with all who came for advice will long be remembered in the business world of London, by the members of his staff, and in many humble homes in Sussex.

1895 Obituary [2]

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