Lucas Girls

From Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project
Jump to: navigation, search

'Lucas Girls' was a label given to the employees of Eleanor Lucas' Lucas Clothing Factory.



To the Editor of "The Courier."
'Sir.-Possibly Lucas and Co.'s girls will call me a silly old buffer for suggesting they should be grateful to Messrs Kean and Smith, but I do suggest it, for, seeing how much heat has been engendered, the severity of this bitter weather will hardly be felt by them. The public, too, owe thanks to Messrs Kean and Smith. It is something to have provided a mild excitement during the stagnation period in which our Win-the-war Government is trying to formulate a policy. Evidently Messrs Kean and Smith do not know the genus girls, or they would not have used such plain language; they ought not to have expecte girls to be logical or to see their line of argument. It was truly girl-like to seize on the literal word and lose sight of the spirit in which it was used; hence all this storm in a teapot. To an old resident of this city, however, it is truly pitiable to see a fine, generous body of intelligent, industrious workers taking such a stand against the very organisations which have mae their present happy conditions of work possible. Of course the girls do not, but their parents and older relatives must, know the state of the sewing trades before female labor was organised and protected by trades' unionism. There are many ladies in this city who can well remember their work times in the various establishments. It is a well-known fact that girls' labor was exploited shamelessly. Girls were kept at work sometimes till midnight; no overtime, no tea money; and if there was any fear of inspection they were hurriedly hidden away. Fathers and brothers used strong language; but there was no remedy, the women workers were unorganised, so nothing could be done. When the first feeble attempts at organisation were made, it was the trades unions that stood by and helped them win decent conditions of wok. The records of the local police courts would show how, after a modicum of reform was attained, some of the meployers tried to evade the Act; how, when by law compelled to pay 2/6 per week to apprentices, they paid it, but the hapless apprentice had to refund it. Oh, no! We old residents can never forget those days. The girls say they "owe all to the Wages Boards." Again note how illogical they are, for they ignore the fact that wages boards are the result of sturdy fighting by trades unionism. A much used, and a good argument, in recruiting, was, "Are you not ashamed to stay here, enjoying the safety and prosperity of those taking part in the real war?" Well, those who enjoy the privilges an protection won for them by trades unionism, an yet refuse to do thei bit in co-operation, occupy, to my mind, a very similar position.-Yours, &c..

The following poem appeared in
The Ballarat Courier on 21 July 1917[2]...
Three days later this reply was printed...[3]
At their hall the red flag flew,
Lucas girls;
Now their net is spread for you,
Lucas girls.
But you bravely sing the song,
British hearts, four hundred strong.
Roll the freedom craft along,
Lucas girls.
Join no union where the chain,
Lucas girls.
Links unseen to traitor’s name,
Lucas girls;
For the Trades’ Hall e’en by right
Represents the Junta’s might,
Shield the shirkers from the fight,
Lucas girls.
Keep the Jack aloft, up flying,
Lucas girls;
Heroes for it now are dying,
Lucas girls;
Ne’er a red rag do they fly
Where the battle clouds twist high,
Where our fallen soldiers lie,
Lucas girls.
Above the Jack they flow the red,
Lucas girls;
And to it they would you wed,
Lucas girls.
But you’re British, and you’re game;
You the Junta will not train
In their secret paths of shame –
Lucas girls.
- Jack Lanyard.
So you’ve fired a poet’s muse,
Lucas Girls.
And, oh, how he does enthuse
O’er you, girls.
He has written such a screed,
You must dearly love to read.
“He’s the champion that we need,”
Cry the Girls.
Sure he’s kissed the Blarney stone,
Lucas Girls.
But, of course, you’ll that condone –
Won’t you, Girls?
Do not think he’d take a rise
While thus lauding to the skies?
No, you’re truly in his eyes
Quite, “Some” Girls.
But, oh, bless his sailor soul,
Lucas Girls.
He ne’er won for you a goal –
Did he, Girls!
Thomas Hood’s pathetic rhymes
Focused the world to a writers’ crimes,
So helped start the better times
For you, Girls.
He gave you the British name,
Lucas Girls,
So I’m sure you’ll play the game,
British Girls.
And it’s not the British way
(Spite of all that he may say)
Not to help to win the day –
Is it, Girls?
To the Union Girls so true,
Fearless Girls,
Warmest thanks from you are due –
Aren’t they, Girls?
And when you join in line
Seven thousand girls so fine,
Why, you’re name will brighter shine,
Lucas Girls.
Perhaps Mr Lanyard Jack,
Lucas Girls,
May yet be a number back
With you, Girls;
When with wider open eyes –
Tis great truth you realise –
Fullest strength in union lies
For all Girls!

Over the course of World War One the Lucas Girls participated actively in the homefront war effort, including: sending and supporting a local Y.M.C.A. worker on the front for 3 years; rasing £400 for the Red Cross; raising £200 for the Comforts Fund; raising £600 for the Y.M.C.A.; raising £156 for the Soldiers' Institute and donating a 70 guinea piano to the Soldiers' Institute.[4]

'For a considerable period [of World War One] the girls contributed 2d. in every £1 of their own wages and applied money earned in overtime work'[4] for the project to raise and maintain the Ballarat Avenue of Honour.

...the first documented evidence of a [football] match between two female teams in Victoria relates to a contest between the ‘Lucas Girls’ and the ‘Khaki Girls’ in Ballarat on 28 September 1918.[5] The Lucas Clothing Factory had industry links to the department stores of Perth'[6][5] and it may have been earlier such football matches in Perth that inspired the Lucas Girls. Edward Price's eldest daughter was a member of the Lucas team.[7]

When the Duke and Duchess of York visited Ballarat on 29 April 1927 the Lucas Girls were afforded the honour of forming part of the honour guard - along with the Returned Soldiers' League, boy scouts and girl guides - that lined Sturt Street to the Ballarat Arch of Victory.[8]


The Ballarat Municipal Observatory Museum houses a beautiful stained-glass window donated by the Lucas Girls in 1923 - in memory of Eleanor Lucas, the founder of the Lucas Clothing Factory. The window was created and installed by W. J. Robson and Sons,[9] in the first week of April 1925, in the main telescope room[10]

The Slice Book - The Lucas Girls tribute to the Ballarat Soldiers.[11]

See also

Ballarat Arch of Victory

Ballarat Avenue of Honour

Edward Hargreaves Price

Eleanor Lucas

Lucas Clothing Factory

Tilly Thompson

World War One



  1. The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) Saturday 21 July 1917, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  2. The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) Saturday 21 July 1917, page 9. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  3. The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) Wednesday 25 July 1917, page 7. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) Saturday 15 April 1922, page 5. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hess, Rob. 'Playing with 'Patriotic Fire': Women and Football in the Antipodes during the Great War.' The International Journal of the History of Sport 28, no. 10 (2011): 1388-1408, p. 1396. Routledge.
  6. Burke, Peter. (2008). A social history of workplace Australian football, 1860-1939. Digital copy accessed May 18, 2012 via
  7. Rae Frances. The Politics of Work: Gender and Labour in Victoria, 1880-1939. Cambridge University Press, page 97. Via Google Books.
  8. The Arugs (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) Saturday 9 April 1927, page 36. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  9. Ballaarat Astronomical Society. (1998). ‘The Lucas Window.’ Ballarat Municipal Observatory Museum. Accessed May 18, 2012 via
  10. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) Tuesday 7 April 1925, page 5. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  11. Gundog News. The Journal of the Victorian Gundog Club Inc. August/September 2009. Digital copy accessed May 18, 2012 via

Further Reading

Burke, Peter. 'Patriot Games: Women's Football during the First World War in Australia.' Football Studies Volume 8, no. 2 (2005): 5-19. Digital copy via (accessed May 18, 2012).

Burke, Peter. (2008). A social history of workplace Australian football, 1860-1939. [Thesis.] Digital copy via (accessed May 18, 2012).

External links

--Beth Kicinski 14:16, 29 May 2012 (EST)
Retrieved from ""
Personal tools