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British Industrial History

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Joseph Lucas (1834-1902)

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Joseph Lucas (1834-1902), of Joseph Lucas and Son, lamp manufacturer

1834 Born on 12 April 1834 at Carver Street, Birmingham, the eldest son of Benjamin Lucas, a plater, and his wife, Catharine, née Ball.

c.1847 Joseph followed his father as an apprentice to H. and G. R. Elkington, a firm of Birmingham silversmiths

c.1854 qualified as an electro-plater journeyman

1854 Married Emily Stevens (d. 1885), on 20 July 1854. Over the next eleven years they had six children, his eldest son, Harry, becoming his lifelong business partner.

1860 Started in business, selling buckets, shovels, and other items of hollow-ware door-to-door

1869 Dealer in lamps and oils.

Moved to 209 Great King Street

1872 His son, Harry Lucas, joined his father in business.

By 1875 they had set up the Tom Bowling lamp works in Little King Street, Birmingham, producing a lamp of the same name for the fishing industry. They decided concentrate on lamps which would burn the new petroleum-based lamp oil and found a market in the new bicycle market, which were soon required to carry lamps after dusk. Lucas's first cycle lamp was called the "King of the Road".

1880 granted a patent for his new lamp

1881 Shipped his first consignment of King of the Road lamps to USA.

1882 Took Harry into formal partnership, creating Joseph Lucas and Son.

1885 Joseph's wife died. He re-married his 51-year-old widowed cousin, Maria Tyzack, née Lucas (d. 1900). The new business had cash flow problems and the threat from infringement of patent rights.

1892 Formed a public limited company to raise finance to build a five-storey factory close to the original site in Little King Street. Joseph was chairman, and he and his son Harry were joint managing directors. The new company had 700 employees; Walter Chamberlain, youngest son of Joseph Chamberlain, was appointed to the board.

1895 Lucas patented the "Silver King of the Road", which remained the company's best-selling line over the next decades.

1898 opened an office in Holborn, London.

1901 married on 30 July, just one year after the death of his second wife.

1902 Died of typhoid fever at the Hotel Bristol, Naples, on 27 December, after his ship called at the port

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Joseph Lucas, ODNB [1]