Wednesday, 30 July 2014
We have received the following information about Ralph Lucas, the Greenwich-based car designer referenced recently in this Blog, from Barbara Holland. Many thanks to her for the information.
Ralph Lucas (1876-1955)
Ralph Lucas, born in Greenwich in 1876, indeed has an interesting place in the early history of motoring as a designer and builder of motor cars. He had a small workshop on Westcombe Hill, Blackheath in the early years of the 20th century. His family also boasts a number of notable or local connections, particularly his son, Colin, as well as his father and grandfather.
Ralph was one of 3 children, with the 1881 Census shows him residing at Park Lodge, Hervey Road, Blackheath with his father Francis R. Lucas, a telegraph engineer and his mother Katherine M. Lucas. He went to St. Christopher’s School in Blackheath (1887-90), followed by Cheltenham College (1890-95) and Jesus College, Cambridge (1895-97). In 1897 he began working as a draughtsman at Johnson & Phillips, Victoria Way, Charlton, moving up to sub-manager in 1899.
It is at this time that his interest in motor car design and manufacturing was beginning, with the first Motor Show exhibition at the Agricultural Hall in Islington. His premises were located at 191A Westcombe Hill, a workshop at the rear of the houses there. The access to it still exists and is now the site of Capital Roofing. The 1901 Census shows him boarding at 9 Eastcombe Villas, Charlton Road, with his occupation recorded as a mechanical engineer and an employer.
He became a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in 1903, with his record describing him as a motor car manufacturer and patentee. In fact, he registered 15 UK and 3 US patents between 1899 and 1910 for a range of different engine parts.
His place in motoring history comes as a result of the ‘Valveless’ car, developed at his Westcombe Hill workshop and exhibited at various motor shows from 1899 to 1908. Although described at the 1907 Motor Show at Olympia as ‘an ingenious engine’, by 1908 it seems that he had abandoned many of the distinctive features for commercial production by David Brown of Huddersfield. It would appear that very few models were actually made.
An interesting insight into this period of Ralph’s life comes from a letter published in the Motor Sport Magazine for July 1957 from C. Berner. This was Correze Aage Oscar Berner, who co- lodged with Ralph at 18 Charlton Road in 1901. Correze Berner worked for a short period at Johnson & Phillips with Ralph Lucas and helped him in the development of his first motor car. In his letter he describes Ralph as someone ‘who spent all his days and most of nights at his small works nearby making has Valveless cars, with a truly valveless engine, a two-stroke. The engine was a close relation of an American pump engine his father had installed in his house in Forest Row in the Ashdown Forest. As a budding engineer I was glad of … the opportunity to work on a real car’. He also describes taking the Valveless on test runs down to Forest Row. They soon became close friends and he spent most of his free time at the Valveless works as an unofficial draughtsman. He went on to work for more than 30 years at the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Co. (Telcon) at Enderby’s Wharf, Greenwich under Ralph’s father Francis R. Lucas.
Details of Ralph’s career after this are sketchy. He married his wife Mary Anderson Juler, a pianist and composer in 1903, and lived at 18 Charlton Road and then 7 Craigerne Road between 1903 and 1911. They had 2 sons, Anthony Ralph Lucas (b.1905) and Colin Anderson Lucas (b.1906). In the 1911 Census the family is recorded at Redcliffe Farm, Wareham, Dorset with Ralph’s occupation described as a consulting engineer (motor cars). At some point he moved back to London to live at 10 St.Germans Place, Blackheath where he lived until c.1939.
During the First World War (1914-1919) he served as a Lieutenant with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve at an Admiralty Experimental Station. Which one is not clear – there were a number of secret establishments set up all over the country to develop the technology used to fight the war, such as new fuels, submarine technology etc.. However, his engineering skills would have been put to good use.
His next recorded foray into motor manufacturing was the development of the North-Lucas Radial in 1922 with Oliver North at the Robin Hood Engineering Works, Putney Vale. This car was seen as a ‘revolutionary design’, although apparently only one was built – by the Chelsea Motor Building Co. A letter from Eric Riddle (a close relative) in the May 1991 edition of Motor Sport magazine, states that Ralph drove the North-Lucas Radial as his only car between 1922 and 1928, covering 65,000 miles in it.
The North Lucas
After this, his career appears to have changed direction. The next reference for Ralph is in connection with his son Colin Anderson Lucas, a renowned Modernist architect. Colin’s biography describes him joining his father’s building firm – Lucas, Lloyd & Co. - in 1929. Colin’s first house design was built for his father in c. 1930. This was Noah’s House and Boat House, Spade Oak Reach at Cookham, Berkshire, the first reinforced concrete building in the Modernist style in the country and now a Grade II* listed building.
Ralph’s father, Francis, died on 28th November 1931, leaving him a share of his estate worth £75,697 15s 4d, with his brother Dallyn Lucas.
Ralph lived at Noah’s House with his first wife, Mary who died in 1952, and then with his second wife, Lillian Knight. Ralph died on 7th May 1955, leaving £19,403 16s 01p to Lillian Lucas.
Ralph Lucas’s Family Connections
Grandfather: Ralph Willett Lucas (1796-1874)
Ralph Lucas’s grandfather was born in North America – censuses vary, saying both Canada and the US – and was a landscape painter of minor fame. Some of his work has been sold through Bonham’s and Christie’s in recent years, including this one of Croom’s Hill:
Croom’s Hill, Greenwich
It is not clear when he came to this country, but he is listed in Pigot’s 1840 Directory as a teacher or professor of drawing, living in Royal Hill. He married Charlotte Clarke at St. Alphege’s in 1844 and is shown as a widower and an artist, living at Royal Place in the marriage entry. Other directory and census entries show that he lived at 3 Glen Mohr Terrace, Hyde Vale from at least 1851 until his death in 1874. The 1871 census entry records his occupation as ‘retired ordnance officer’. An obituary for Ralph’s brother Keith Lucas, a physiologist, records him as having been a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery who fought in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Father: Francis Robert Lucas (1849-1931)
Ralph’s father, Francis Robert Lucas, also has a place in local engineering history. He was a telegraph engineer, working from 1856 at the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co. (Telcon) at Enderby’s Wharf in Greenwich. He was involved in laying submarine cable, succeeding Henry Clifford as Chief Engineer in 1893, and becoming Managing Director in 1906 until his retirement in 1925. He participated in the cable laying voyages of SS 'Great Eastern' in 1878; invented a wire-sounding machine which was first used on the cable laying ship the 'Alert' in1887; invented a type of oceanographic sounding machine in1891; patented a scoop sounder, an instrument also known as the 'snapper' which was used when cable laying.
Son: Colin Anderson Lucas (1906-1984)
His son, Colin found a degree of fame as a pioneering International Modernist Architect, credited with designing a number of private houses in the 1930’s, the first one for his father. He joined the London CountyCouncil’s Architects’ Department after WW2, and was responsible for the design of a number of large housing estates, the most notable being the le Corbusier-influenced Alton Estate West at Roehampton. His third major project was the recently demolished Ferrier Estate, Kidbrooke completed in 1972, the year he was awarded his OBE.
Friday, 18 July 2014
The following article comes from the July 1934 comes from the house magazine of Charlton metal fabrication company, Harveys
THE JUBILEE OUTING
|Harvey staff in the Brighton Pavilion 7th July 1934|
On July 7th all roads led to Charlton Station, and as early as 7.30 a.m. many “Harcoites" had arrived intent on catching the first Harvey Special for Brighton. In fact, so keen was the "time-keeping spirit” that we are not aware of even one person who failed to “clock on" in time to catch one of the three special trains. Long before the first train was due the platform was thronged, and it was amid loud cheers that the 8.10 was boarded. In spite of the fact that there was ample room and to spare for everyone, we noticed that some compartments had an unusual number of people standing, and no amount of persuasion could entice them to occupy some of the empty coaches.
Such is the spirit of comradeship which causes one pal to stand for over an hour in order to associate and look after the safety of his bosom friend. In some cases we under- stand "two friends" were the cause of this temporary sacrifice of personal comfort.
Brighton was reached in due course, and one train after another discharged its load of passengers, all eager to find whether the tide was in or out. Having ascertained this fact, another query had to be settled. "Was Black Rock really Black," or was the privilege ticket only provided in order that hundreds of " Harcoites" might be lured out of the town to relieve the congestion caused 'by the continued arrival of one Harvey Special after another? However,' remembering the spirit of adventure which has made our Company what it is to-day, the resources of the Cliff Electric Railway were considerably strained in order that our minds might be put at rest regarding the colour of the above-mentioned rock. After a perilous trip over miniature- chasms and canyons, it was found that we had been done, and that the" rock" was just the same as in Brighton-" three for a shilling, with the name all through."
Towards the hour of noon the tide, which for some hours past had been steadily flowing from the station, now changed its course, and a bee-line was made towards the Regent Restaurant, wherein our hopes were centred on a real "blowout." We were not disappointed in this, for the tables literally groaned under the weight of foodstuffs, ranging from salmon down to cheese and biscuits via cold meats and pies with offshoots of jellies and fruit pie, etc. It was a truly satisfying sight. After the photographer had done his worst-which, by the way, is here reproduced, Mr. Sydney Harvey, in a few well-chosen words of welcome, gave us the word to "set to." For a period the silence was most notice- able. Course after course was dispensed with until, replete unto the state of fullness, we honoured the toast of His Majesty.
As was only fitting at this stage of the proceedings Mr. Kerridge (Chief Engineer) proposed the Health of the Company in the following words :-
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, - I am going to ask you to honour the toast of 'The Firm; but before doing so, I want to express on behalf of all employees our thanks for being entertained here to-day.“We have had outings before, but never one like this, and I can assure our Chairman that our appreciation is real and sincere.
“Speaking of outings, I would like to call remembrance to one particular outing to Rosherville Gardens. It was to celebrate Mr. East joining the Firm. There are just a few here who went to it. We had a good time, but our number then was about thirty, including the Staff. The great progress the Firm has made is clear from the numbers here to-day. "
We are proud of our Firm, proud. of its history, and it is a great satisfaction to all to share in its Diamond Jubilee.
“One other thing. I am sure I am speaking for all when I say how pleased we are to see Mr. Harvey (Senior) present.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Toast- The Firm - Long may it continue to grow and prosper."
And then the stentorian voice of the .Master of Ceremonies was heard over the micro- phones: "Pray silence for Mr. James Wells! Who-why!! Someone surely has blundered! But no. Along came the most recent addition to our Company in the shape of a lad of some fourteen summers, who in the-most approved manner presented to Mrs. Sydney Harvey a magnificent bouquet.
|Mr Harvey receives the employees presentation|
from Mr Icough
So far, all this was very nice. But the point upon which were centred the thoughts of every single person present in that huge gathering had yet to come-namely, the tribute in which every employee had taken part in order to .honour he who founded our Firm, and through whose intrepid will and spirit has been built up the organisation of which we are so 'proud to-day, and it was a moment to be remembered when Mr. B. W. Icough rose and in a speech, brief, but full of sincerity, requested Mr. George Harvey to accept a silver-gilt rose bowl as a token of the esteem and respect in which he is held by every employee. Mr. E. R. Clarke, as Senior Director, also presented on behalf of his co-directors a similar token in the form of copy of Grecian Vase.
The applause .which followed these presentations, stupendous as it was, could not be compared with that which greeted Mr. George Harvey as heroes to reply to the sentiments which had already been so well ex- pressed by Mr. Clarke and Mr. Icough.
It is with pleasure that we print the remarks of Mr. Harvey.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,-I thank you. It has been a long pull, but we have pulled together, and again I thank you for your loyal help. Some have passed on. I hold in affectionate memory. Mr. A. Clarke, Mr. Brown, Mr. East, and Victor, my son.“I wish you all a happy day, a safe return home ':
Greatly as I appreciate these gifts, I value even more highly the kind' thoughts which prompted you to make them."
Even with the few words which Mr. Harvey spoke, it is safe to conjecture that the minds of many present went back to those early days, and as the eyes' of those who have not served the Company so long swept the "25 years' service and over" table, and saw all the old servants of the Company grouped around Mr. Harvey, our minds were filled with but one thought: " Well done! Thou good and faithful servants."
For on that table, in particular, was seen Loyalty in all its fullness-Loyalty and Good Service, which requires something more than mere £ s. d. to obtain. And then we would focus our attention on the central figure of that long table, and there we found the answer: the personality of Mr. George Harvey, which has so enthused those who worked with him that, in fair weather and foul, they manned the boat, with their faith, so rightly placed, in the man at the wheel.
Those who were fortunate enough to be present will long remember the occasion.
As a fitting climax to this part of the proceedings, Mr. Sydney Barvey rose and. gave, in the following words, a speech which not only looked back e on success, but with the vitality which so characterises the speaker, deals with the future in a manner full of the assurance of attainment.
After extending a hearty welcome to all Mr. Sydney Harvey said:-
“This is a day to which we have all been looking forward for some time, and I hope one that you will thoroughly enjoy.
“Among our guests we are very pleased to welcome Mr. B. D. Roberts, Director of Art Galleries, Museums and Libraries, and to know that we are helping in the vast improvements which are being made in Brighton, one of the most popular seaside towns in England.
One does not like, as a rule, to blow one's own trumpet, but now that we have .a Brass Band and an alternative Conductor in case of need, I suppose it is excusable. In any case, this is OUR DAY, and I am sure we want to hear something about ourselves.
"Brighton has bedecked herself with flags and, garlands-I presume in honour of our visit;
60 Years" The firm of Harvey's was started in 1874 by Mr. G. A. Harvey in a small shed at Lewisham standing on less than half an acre of ground: The whole story forms a most interesting and fascinating romance of industry, far too lengthy to relate to-day, except for a few details.
“At Lewisham Mr. Harvey worked his first machine with the help of a boy, and that same machine is still doing work in one of our shops, and one that the Duke of York took a great interest in when he visited our Works.
“Twenty years later, owing to the growth of the business, we moved our Tank Making and Galvanizing Works to West Greenwich. In 1912 we closed both Lewisham and West Greenwich and moved to our present works, The Greenwich Metal Works, where we have added building after building and extended department after department, until to-day the Works cover some 25 acres of ground and employing nearly 2,000 hands.
“And without any desire to boast, I make bold to say that we hold the premier position in our particular line of business. “Our Founder, who is now in his 82nd year and has lived a very active life, still takes a keen interest in the progress of all departments, and I am sure that we are all very glad that he is able to pay an occasional visit to - our Works.
" He views, with mingled pride and pleasure, some of his early dreams and aspirations coming true; and we are continuing to build up our organisation, step by step, on the solid foundations he laid of HONESTY, HARD WORK, ENTERPRISE and SERVICE.
“We have a long record of which we are justly proud. People judge of what we can do by what we have done.
Newspaper Cutting“Pasted on the wall of Mr. Harvey's office at Lewisham was a newspaper cutting, as follows:-
Nothing that is can pause or stand still.'
“The meaning is clear; no one can mark time for long-one must either go forward or backward. Our way has always been along the progressive path-the pathway called, Straight '-and I sincerely hope it always will.
Familiar Faces"One sees many familiar faces here this morning - men who have been with the firm since their boyhood days (we have over 40 employees who have been with the firm more than 25 years-a fine record), some who are now past work and are enjoying a well-earned leisure. And we think of those who are no longer with us, and who did their part in helping to build the success of the firm. I should like to mention Mr, East, Mr. A. Clarke, Mr. Brown and my brother.
"Their work lives on and forms part of our tradition.
Iron and Steel Exchange '.
"The other day I was the guest of Sir William Firth at a luncheon given by the Iron and Steel Exchange, and Dr. E. L. Burgin, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Trade, was advocating that the members should use more steel and suggested ways and means. He then turned to me and said: 'There's Mr. Harvey, one of our largest manufacturers, who can make up anything in steel.' A splendid tribute!
Copy of Postcard received Last Week
“Listen to this: 'Forty or fifty years ago I had a tank from you. I shall probably want a replace next week-one about 60 or 80 gallons. Will you please send me a price list? '
|Employees with 25 or more service|
“Many interesting stories could be told, but time will not permit on such an occasion as this, except perhaps one or two.
"In the early days, a firm of competitors added as a recommendation to their goods that they .were the' oldest firm in the trade.” We immediately got out an advertisement styling ourselves 'the youngest and most up-to-date firm in the trade,' and although we cannot claim to be the youngest to-day, we still try to "be the most up-to-date. The same spirit exists, and there has been no abatement of our energy or enterprise.
Fashions are fickle things for both men and women. At one time beards were fashionable. Then the fashion changed, and Mr. Harvey turned up to the office one day minus his beard. When he went to his safe he was rudely accosted by one or two members of the staff who failed to recognise him in his new guise. First aid was not necessary.
As some of you may be thinking of going fishing, the following story, told to me by Mr. Harvey, may help you in sizing up your catch, (if any) to your chums afterwards.
" One man: said to the other (probably an American), 'Where did you go for your holiday? ",' Fishing.' 'Did you catch any- thing. ' 'A fine large fish, I guess.' 'How big?' 'Oh, ever so big.' 'As big as a cod? ‘‘Oh, bigger than that.' 'Well, as big as a shark?' 'Oh, much bigger than that.' 'Well, as big as a whale?' 'No! I used that for bait! '
“It so often happens in a large concern that the personal touch is either neglected or forgotten. We are very proud of our Welfare Section, and, like one huge family, fathers, sons, daughters, uncles and aunts (though I am not sure if we have any grandfathers), all WORKING WELL and PLAYING WELL.
" Welfare work includes not only sport and social activities of all kinds, but safety of work, canteen facilities, practical sympathy with the sick and convalescent, training of youths, interesting wives and families, and many other things. And if I were asked a question as to which is the most important department in the concern, I am not sure that I should not say' WELFARE ' but I am quite sure what my wife's answer would be; and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for what she has done, and the great interest taken in our womenfolk.
“Welfare has to do with human material- the best of material-but sometimes the most difficult to handle.
Benevolent Fund"I should like to mention here that our Founder has started a HARVEY BENEVOLENT FUND with a gift of £10,000, and the fund has already been of great help.”
A rumour has been circulating that we have bought land in the district. On this occasion Dame Rumour has not lied, and we hope shortly to be starting a block of "Harco" houses, which will meet a long-felt want in the district.
|Some of the party at lunch|
"We are continually adding to our numbers, and piles are now being driven for further building extensions. Such is our confidence and preparation for the future.
“Let me again just briefly extend to. you all a very hearty welcome and to thank you one and all for the splendid co-operation, goodwill and loyalty which have meant so much to the success of the firm; and thank all those responsible for making the arrangements for today, which have been exceedingly well planned and thought out in typical ' Harco' fashion."
When all was finished so far as the" Regent" was concerned, we dispersed to wherever our fancy led-some to bathe, some to obtain forty winks, others to the speed boats or skee ball.
All too soon came the time to return to Charlton, and for over an hour platform No. 7 rang with the exultant shouts of hundreds of " Harcoites" who had enjoyed to the full every minute of a glorious day.
And our sincere thanks are due to the Company for their kindness in not only bearing the entire cost of the whole day, but also arranging that employees attending the outing suffered no financial loss in respect of wages.
- glad they didn't dock their wages
Posted by M at 09:55
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
The June meeting of GIHS heard a talk by Ian Bull on the Narrow Gauge Railways of the Royal Arsenal. The following report is by Richard Buchanan (with thanks to WADAS) with some annotations by Ian Bull.
The Arsenal found railways to be the best way of getting about on a marshy site – they built few roads. Its first was a plate railway in 1824, developed from the Surrey Iron Railway (of 1802) and horse drawn. At this stage the Arsenal was about the size of what has been retained since its closure, though at its height it stretched 3¼ miles, all the way to the Crossness outfall works, and 2sq miles in area. It then had 147 miles of track; the east of the site with its several isolated high explosive (HE) facilities being served only by rail.
There were three fiefdoms in the Arsenal, the Royal Gun Foundry, the Royal (gun) Carriage Department and the Royal Laboratories (for ammunition). They did not co-operate; if one had a spare wagon it would not lend it to another that might need one; if there was accidental damage to a train operated by one department, that department had to make good, even if delays ensued.
In 1849 the North Kent Line of the South Eastern Railway reached Woolwich, and the Arsenal entered into an agreement to interwork with them, and build an internal standard gauge railway (the three departments still working separately). The connection was at “the hole in the wall” in Plumstead. However in 1870 the Army decided that an 18 inch gauge railway would better suit their needs particularly if it were to be deployed in narrow trenches for siege warfare; and be easier to transport. They had good experience in the Crimea with such railway - The 'Grand Crimean Central Railway' which was steam worked and standard gauge.
So the Arsenal built an 18” railway, which could manage sharper curves, and took it into buildings - anywhere where heavy loads were to be handled. Inside buildings special cast iron track was made (by the Royal Laboratories from redundant cannon balls) with a level top surface apart from grooves for the wheel flanges. The standard gauge railway continued in use; where necessary a third rail was laid inside standard gauge track for the 18” gauge.
The 18” railway was steam hauled from the outset (though at Chatham Dockyard, with a system whose length reached 20 miles, horses were used). The locomotives followed normal practice with the frames inside the wheels; the first engine had the cylinders inside tharger cylinders outside, were not too wide (though side swipes between trains on adjacent lines were not uncommon. The 18" railway at Woolwich used locomotives with *outside* frames (there were a very few exceptions). The Royal Engineers visited the London & North Western Railway's Crewe Works in the 1850s where the 18" locomotives had frames inside the wheels and cylinders inside the frames. Said cylinders could only be very small and the Military waited until the Hunslet Engine Co. developed outside frames in 1870.
As time passed guns and ammunition got heavier, and stronger rails were laid. And passenger trains were provided to get workers quickly from the Arsenal gates to the more distant work places. Faster locomotives were needed for this, with larger diameter wheels. Open knife-board bogey wagons were made, the bogeys giving some comfort - but also the ability, with the knife-board removed, to take heavy loads at other times. First class covered carriages were also produced by the Carriage Works.
An 18” railway was sent to Africa and laid to help in the unsuccessful relief of General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885; it was packed up put in charge of the Royal Engineers under Percy Girouard a Canadian of great promise then aged 23. He relaid decrepit 1860s track with the heavier rails brought back from Africa, and ran it as a single railway. He remained in charge until 1895.
A compression-ignition engine came in 1896 – slow, but not having a fire it was much safer where high explosives were handled; four more soon followed. Otherwise steam continued in use, and with rapid expansion in WWI more of a “Culverin” design first purchased in 1884 were ordered; and 16 of a more powerful “Charlton” class was ordered (of which the “Woolwich” is the remaining one).
In 1922 it was decided to scrap the 18” railway; at the time it had 3000 items of rolling stock including 1100 powder wagons. Most of the steam engines, which had been worked hard during the war with less maintenance than they should have had, were sold off and scrapped.
However parts of the railway lingered to 1971. A Diesel locomotive was bought in 1932, from the Hunslet Engine Co.. The loco was called 'Albert'. and another, the “Carnegie”, in 1954 – with cab heating! Three small Diesels were bought during WW2.
Ian said that however it was run the Arsenal railway was always technically up-to-date.
The “Woolwich”, the “Carnegie” and one of the small Diesels had a new lease of life at the Bicton Woodland Railway in Devon from 1960. Woolwich' went for scrap in 1959 and was purchased from the breakers by Bicton in 1962. 'Carnegie' went directly to Bicton from the Arsenal in 1966. One of the small diesels was scrapped in Greenwich, one went to Bicton where it still is, and one to the Great Bush railway via a Nursery in Littlehampton and the Isle of Wight.
But by 2000 they were worn out, and new management got a Diesel powered ‘steam’ engine. The “Woolwich” and “Carnegie” went to Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills. The “Woolwich” was moved again, visiting Woolwich in 2011, to the Crossness Engines Trust, who are now rebuilding it. The “Carnegie” remains at Waltham Abbey awaiting substantial repair. The small Diesel is now at the Great Bush Railway in Sussex.
The Crossness Engines Trust has several wagons, including the powder wagon which recently stood outside the Heritage Centre, and with the “Woolwich”, could make up a train. Thames Water, wishing to keep the Trust’s visitors away from their sewage treatment plant, are putting in a footpath by the sewer bank to Plumstead – wide enough to also accommodate a railway track (on the route of the spur line used in building the original Outfall Works). This would make the Trust much more accessible.
Posted by M at 17:59