The Avenue of Honour began in May 1917 when Mrs ‘Tillie’ Thomson, a Director of the local textile company E. Lucas & Co, became heavily involved in fundraising and organising for the planting of a tree in honour of each brave service man and woman from Ballarat that enlisted their services in WW1. The Arch of Victory was also a Lucas Girls project and was officially opened on 3rd June 1920 by the Prince of Wales.
Fundraising activities undertaken by the Lucas Girls included clothing exhibitions, sale of souvenirs and a ladies football match in 1918 (£320 raised). The Lucas association persisted with £2,000 raised in 1925 for the installation of new bronze name plaques and in fact still continues today by the ‘Lucas Past Employees Association’ e.g. $15,000 in 1993 for the ‘Memorial Wall’ and annual donations to the Arch of Victory/Avenue of Honour Committee e.g. $1500 in 2014.
Hard physical work was also no trouble for the Lucas Girls with direct involvement in planting many of the trees in the middle of winter over 3 years and eight planting days (1917 to 1919), and even to the extent of loading bricks from the factory themselves onto carts for the construction of the Arch of Victory.