1910 Part Two - from May.
Last updated: November 2008
Henry Norris’ involvement in Woolwich Arsenal begins here; for further information on this complicated and fast-moving scenario, see my file EARLY ARSENAL.
Fri 13 May 1910 the Woolwich-based board of the new limited company resigned en masse after deciding not to go ahead with the rescue plan; their base limit of 2000 shares sold had not been reached. They began to return to sender all those applications that had been received. Later in the year, Henry Norris and William Hall denied that as early as this day they had been negotiating with George Leavey to loan money to Woolwich Arsenal; they both claimed to have been in Manchester that day, which could just as well have been on business for Fulham as for Woolwich Arsenal. However: on Sat 14 May 1910 representatives of Fulham FC approached Charles Brannan, liquidator of the old Woolwich Arsenal limited company, with a plan to buy up all its liabilities and assets. This was NOT a merger of the two clubs; exactly what it WAS I’m not too clear, but it wasn’t that.
Afternoon Wed 18 May 1910 a meeting was held at the Imperial Hotel, London, to try to settle the future of Woolwich Arsenal FC. Representatives of Woolwich Arsenal and the Football League management committee attended it; and directors of Fulham FC, I couldn’t find out exactly who but I just can’t see Henry Norris staying away! A rescue plan was agreed that gave the Football League’s permission to Fulham FC’s representatives to run Woolwich Arsenal for season 1910/11. If it couldn’t be made to pay in that one season, the directors would be allowed to move the club from Woolwich.
Between Wed 18 May and Fri 27 May 1910 but probably very soon after 18th the latest directors of Woolwich Arsenal - George Leavey of the old limited company, William Allen, William Hall and Henry Norris - issued a statement explaining the current position, following the meeting with the Football League. Also after the meeting of Wed 18 May but possibly as late as 1911 the fund-raising committee based in Rotherhithe received assurances from the new directors that they wouldn’t consider moving Woolwich Arsenal away for TWO seasons, not just the one required by the Football League; that is, before the end of season 1911/12.
9.50am Fri 20 May 1910 the funeral procession of King Edward VII began to move from Westminster Hall to a special train at Paddington Station. You had to buy tickets to watch it go past but Henry Norris might have done this for his family and friends. At 1.30pm the king’s funeral service began, in Windsor. At the same time, each parish held its own memorial service. As mayor of Fulham Henry Norris attended the one at All Saints Fulham.
Between Wed 18 and Sat 21 May 1910 William Allen withdrew as director of the limited company trying to rescue Woolwich Arsenal.
Between Sat 21 May and 26 May 1910 the first share documents in the company were issued: Henry Norris and William Hall had both bought 240, George Leavey had bought 100. The company’s solicitors had changed: they were now the firm Rodgers, Gilbert, Rodgers; Arthur Gilbert was a member of Kent Lodge number 15 where Norris was most active; and acted as solicitor for Norris in family matters. Norris and Hall issued a statement to those who’d made applications for shares in the previous company encouraging them to do the same for their one. But Athletic News reported that Norris and Hall’s arrival was seen as a foreign takeover by people in Woolwich.
2.30pm, Fri 3 June 1910 Henry Norris attended the regular meeting of the Metropolitan Water Board.
Between Mon 6 and Mon 13 June 1910 George Morrell was confirmed as manager of Woolwich Arsenal FC, quelling rumours that Fulham FC’s Kelso was going to be given the job; the ground staff were all kept on as well. However Archibald Leitch - one of the original limited company’s biggest creditors - renaged on an agreement with George Leavey and submitted a bill for the full amount that he was owed, £1347; meaning that no other creditors could be paid anything until he was.
Mon 6 June 1910 the Rotherhithe-based committee trying to raise funds for Woolwich Arsenal decided to wait upon events, rather than hand over to Henry Norris and William Hall the money it had raised. However, it did decide to apply for shares in their limited company.
On Tue 7 June 1910 Bromley UDC passed a planning application made by Kinnaird Park Estate Company, for a garage to the house then known as Engadine, on Quernmore Road. This was the last planning application by KPEC until 1912.
Mid June 1910 the process began of moving the royal arsenal’s torpedo factory; by spring 1911 2000 people had left Woolwich for Greenock.
Fri 10 June 1910 the Woolwich-based Kentish Independent printed a letter from Henry Norris explaining just why they’d got involved in saving Woolwich Arsenal FC. Local people who thought they could do better with the club were invited to come forward; but nobody did.
Morning of Mon 13 June 1910 Hall represented Woolwich Arsenal FC at the AGM of the Football League, held at the Imperial Hotel London; I don’t know who represented Fulham FC.
The Woolwich Arsenal situation doesn’t seem to have been discussed at the meeting but two events did take place that turned out to be important for the club in the future: Huddersfield Town was elected as a new member, taking its place in Division Two; and Henry Norris’ friend J McKenna of Liverpool was elected President of the Football League, replacing his other friend J J Bentley. The AGM of the Football Association followed in the evening, at its usual venue, the Holborn Restaurant.
Fri 17 June 1910 the Kentish Independent printed letters about the attempts to save Woolwich Arsenal; they manifested as much ill-feeling between people in Woolwich as hostility towards Henry Norris and William Hall. Perhaps with the intent of trying to cheer everyone up, the paper reported that Plymouth Argyle Football Company Limited was also being wound up; the club would continue in existence.
2.30pm, Fri 17 June 1910 Henry Norris attended the Metropolitan Water Board meeting.
Sun 26 June 1910 Henry and Edith Norris as mayor and mayoress were in the park at Fulham Palace for the opening of Fulham’s military pageant: there was marching, music and a sermon by the (not much loved locally) bishop of London, whose official residence the Palace was. Only 7000 people attended the pageant, in rotten weather.
Mon 27 June 1910 a reporter on Athletic News noted that the continuing financial problems of Woolwich Arsenal FC were delaying the hiring of a squad for season 1910/11.
Between Fri 24 Jun and Fri 1 Jul 1910 the Annual Report of Fulham Football and Athletic Company Limited was issued, showing a loss of £722; in the Report the directors complained bitterly about falling crowd figures.
Morning Sun 3 Jul 1910 Henry Norris, as mayor, with other councillors of London Borough of Fulham, attended a service at St Peter’s Church, Varna Road; I haven’t been able to find out what the occasion was.
7pm Mon 4 Jul 1910 the AGM of Fulham Football and Athletic Company Limited took place at Fulham Town Hall. Henry Norris told the meeting that - if elected - he would continue as a director until he’d seen Fulham FC into Football League Division One, but his promise doesn’t seem to have appeased the shareholders. He and William Hall were furiously criticised from the floor: about team selection; and donations by the club to charities based in Sand’s End, where Norris and also William Allen were councillors; as well as the involvement with Woolwich Arsenal. And - more importantly from the financial point of view - John Dean retired as a director of the club; he kept away from Fulham FC until not only Henry Norris but also William Allen had ceased to have anything to do with it.
Between Fri 8 and Fri 15 July 1910 the new directors at Woolwich Arsenal FC appointed George Hardy as trainer; he’d previously worked at Newcastle Utd. Hardy stayed with the club into the Chapman era; the circumstances which led to his sudden departure set off the chain of events which ended with the downfall of Henry Norris at the hands of the Football Association in 1927.
Fri 8 July 1910 Fulham FC’s AGM was covered in detail by Gee Whiz in West London and Fulham Times; many of the exchanges were included verbatim so that readers were able to get a good sense of how ill-tempered an affair it had been. By way of rubbing salt into Fulham’s wounds - Henry Norris might have felt this particularly acutely (if he had time to read it) - Gee Whiz also noted that, despite being relegated, Chelsea FC had made a profit of £1945 in its last financial year.
Wed 13 July 1910 the company led by Norris and Hall - Woolwich Arsenal Football and Athletic Company - issued a financial statement ahead of the statutory meeting of its shareholders required under the Companies Acts. That afternoon Henry and Edith Norris went to the garden party of the Butchers’ Charitable Institution, held at its almshouses in Walham Green, Fulham; also there were the current Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Knill, and ex-Lord Mayor Sir William Treloar who was an old acquaintance and may have been the man responsible for inviting the Norrises (they’d never been invited in previous years).
2.30pm, Fri 15 July 1910 Henry Norris attended the regular meeting of the Metropolitan Water Board.
3pm Mon 25 July 1910 the statutory meeting of the new Woolwich Arsenal Football and Athletic Company was held at the Mortar Hotel, Woolwich. The meeting was a difficult one. Henry Norris was involved in an angry exchange with Dr John Clarke, who’d been chairman of the previous attempt to rescue Woolwich Arsenal (the one that hadn’t sold enough shares). But at the end of it, the limited company run by George Leavey, William Hall and Henry Norris was empowered to approach the liquidator and take over the assets and debts of Woolwich Arsenal’s original company. Although much hidden behind later-formed holding companies, the limited company founded by Leavey, Hall and Norris is still going strong in 2007.
Meanwhile back in Fulham, on Fri 29 July 1910 reporter Gee Whiz in the West London and Fulham Times said that Fulham FC was in dispute over wages with goalkeeper Skene, who was refusing to sign for season 1910/11.
Fri 29 July 1910 the Metropolitan Water Board held its last meeting before its summer break; Henry Norris didn’t attend it.
By this time, of course, season 1910/11 was almost upon him.
Between 25 July and 26 November 1910 the debts of the original Woolwich Arsenal limited company were sorted out by the directors of the new one. The overdraft at the bank, and the second mortgage owed to Leavey, were replaced by one loan to be repaid over 15 years; it seems that this loan was from Henry Norris and William Hall personally. And two more people bought enough shares in Woolwich Arsenal FC to become directors of the club: John Humble, reappearing on the scene after several years to give his support to the new régime; and George Davis, about whom I know next to nothing beyond the fact that he was not a local man, he lived in Maida Vale. I haven’t found any references to elections to the board taking place; so I assume they were both appointed.
First week of August 1910 was the week football squads went back into training after the close season.
On Eve Thur 18 Aug 1910 and Tue 23 Aug 1910 and 3.30 Sat 27 Aug 1910 there were practice matches at Craven Cottage. And on Fri 26 Aug 1910 Henry Norris’ column in West London and Fulham Times started up again. In it, Norris described the close season as quiet (!!); and he didn’t mention the goings-on at Woolwich Arsenal FC at all!
At some point in Henry Norris’ growing involvement with Woolwich Arsenal FC but I’ve no idea at all about the exact date, he must have met George Allison. Allison was a professional football writer who’d been covering Woolwich Arsenal since 1906 and had, essentially, become a fan. By September 1910 the two had definitely met, and Hall and Norris had given Allison a job: as The Gunner’s Mate, Allison began work as editor of Woolwich Arsenal’s match-day programme, a job he continued to do (with other work as well, of course and I don’t know whether he was paid for it) through the move to Highbury and into the Chapman era.
Season 1910/11 was the new board of directors’ first in charge at Woolwich Arsenal FC; and yet William Hall and Henry Norris were both still directors of Fulham FC with obligations to that club too. It’s been difficult to find out how Henry Norris divided his time and effort between the two clubs, and how many of their matches he saw.
Thur 1 September 1910 Henry Norris seems to have been at Football League Division One game Woolwich Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2 - an ominous start to the new regime’s period in charge of the club. Though as United won the Division One championship this season, the result wasn’t as bad in the long run as it looked on the day.
Fri 2 Sep 1910 West London and Fulham Times reported criticism amongst Fulham supporters of the wage deals done with players during the summer break. And Henry Norris’ own column complained about press assessment of Fulham FC’s squad for 1910/11 (which was that it was weak).
Sat 10 September 1910 Henry Norris was at West Bromwich Albion 2 Fulham 1 - so he was still sharing directors’ responsibilities at Fulham FC at this stage.
8pm Thur 15 September 1910 all the mayors of the London boroughs had been invited to the Guildhall, to a Corporation of London reception for members of the Institute of Journalists. 1500 people attended but I couldn’t find a full guest list to ascertain whether Henry Norris was among them.
Sat 17 September 1910 Henry Norris may have been at Fulham 0 Hull City 1; total crowd that day was 16,000.
On Mon 19 September 1910 a man called Edward Matyear died in the West London Hospital Hammersmith. He was not an acquaintance of Henry Norris as far as I know, but I’m sure Norris knew of him, because the Matyear family’s market garden was immediately north of the streets Allen and Norris had been building in for the past decade. Although the Matyear family was a large one, none of Edward’s relations had wanted to take on the family business, so in his Will he left the land, known as Crabtree Farm, to the King Edward’s Hospital Fund. As soon as probate was obtained, in October, the Fund ordered Matyear’s executors to put the farm up for sale.
4.20 Mon 25 Sep 1910 Henry Norris almost certainly attended the charity match Fulham 2 Woolwich Arsenal 3; but the gate was a poor one.
2.30pm, Fri 7 Oct 1910 Henry Norris attended the Metropolitan Water Board meeting; the first after its summer break.
9pm Fri 7 October 1910 Sir John Knill, the Lord Mayor of London, gave a ball at the Mansion House for all the provosts and mayors in the UK; I couldn’t find a guest-list for this event but I
should imagine Henry Norris attended it.
Afternoon Sat 22 October 1910 as President of the Football Association, Lord Kinnaird formally opened Millwall FC’s new ground at New Cross. Millwall may only have been in the Southern League, but their ground was now the most up-to-date in south London.
Eve Thur 3 November 1910 Henry and Edith Norris attended a dinner at the Savoy Hotel in The Strand, given by the mayors of all the London boroughs for the Lord Mayor and the sheriffs of the City of London; the last official function before 8 November when all their reigns as mayor came to an end.
2.30pm, Fri 4 Nov 1910 Henry Norris attended the meeting of the Metropolitan Water Board.
Wed 9 November 1910 the councillors of the London Borough of Fulham elected Henry Norris as their mayor for the second year.
On four consecutive Saturdays, beginning on 5 November 1910, an advert appeared on the property page of the Times announcing the auctioning-off of Edward Matyear’s Crabtree Farm in Fulham. The advert was a big one and took a lot of words to sell the property to prospective buyers as prime land for housing development.
Thur 10 November 1910 despite having been invited to this prestigious occasion, at which the current Prime Minister usually (and still does) made an important speech, Henry Norris did NOT attend the Lord Mayor’s Banquet.
11 am Sun 13 November 1910 Henry Norris attended Corporation Sunday at All Saints Fulham, the parish church: this was the symbolic beginning of each mayor’s year in office.
Fri 18 November 1910 a statement from George Leavey appeared in the Kentish Independent. He had thought it necessary to deny another set of rumours that Woolwich Arsenal would leave the Manor Ground at the end of season 1910/11.
Sat 26 November 1910 Woolwich Arsenal 1 Newcastle Utd 2; and Wolverhampton Wanderers 5 Fulham 1 - a grim afternoon for William Hall and Henry Norris. They were both at the Manor Ground where a prospectus for a new share issue in Woolwich Football and Athletic Company Limited was given to everyone in the crowd. Enclosed with the prospectus was a letter from Henry Norris, on behalf of the directors. It stated that the share issue was a chance for local people to buy back their club; and that Hall and Norris wanted to lessen their financial involvement in it. It ended by saying that if the shares on offer weren’t bought, it would be inevitable that the club would leave Woolwich.
Fri 2 December 1910 the letter by Henry Norris enclosed with the share prospectus was published in the Kentish Independent.
2.30pm, Fri 2 Dec 1910 Henry Norris attended the regular Metropolitan Water Board meeting.
Sat 3 December 1910 which of these did Henry Norris go to, I wonder? Spurs 3 Woolwich Arsenal 1; Fulham 1 Chelsea 0. These fixtures illustrate his predicament rather well.
Mon 5 December 1910 was the final of the London Challenge Cup: Spurs 2 Fulham 1 at Stamford Bridge; I don’t know whether Henry Norris went to see it.
Sat 10 December 1910 Woolwich Arsenal 0 Middlesbrough 3.
At 2pm on Wed 14 December 1910 the auctioneer and estate agent company Edwin Fox, Housfield, Burnetts and Baddeley auctioned the Crabtree Lane estate. However, it wasn’t that simple - someone, somewhere along the line had decided to divide the farm into two lots. The Times account of the auction reported that only one lot had been sold. The Times didn’t name the buyers, but the buyers were Allen and Norris, for a sum of £21,000. There was some bidding for the second lot but it was withdrawn from sale after it became clear that it wouldn’t reach its reserve price of £25,000.
Eve Wed 14 December 1910 at the Criterion Restaurant Piccadilly, Henry Norris’ friend from Football Chat, referee Charles Crisp, was amongst a group of men made members of Kent Lodge number 15, the freemasons’ lodge in which Norris was most active. Crisp was already a freemason, so he didn’t need the full initiation ceremony. He still would have had to be recommended to the membership, however, and I suggest that Henry Norris put his name forward.
2.30pm, Fri 16 December 1910 Henry Norris attended the last Metropolitan Water Board meeting of the year.
Sat 17 December 1910 Preston North End 4 Woolwich Arsenal 1.
Thur 22 December 1910 Henry Norris may have attended a high-profile funeral with a procession from Liverpool St Station to a service in St Paul’s Cathedral; all the mayors of the London boroughs were invited to go. The burial was of three policemen shot dead when they disturbed a jewel robbery in the City of London. Gun crime is not such a modern phenomenon as we tend to think.
After fixtures of Sat 24 December 1910 after the tailspin of December, Woolwich Arsenal were fifth from bottom of Football League Division One. And probably that evening one of the London evening papers told its readers that only 50 out of 5000 had been bought in the recent sale of shares in the new Woolwich Arsenal company. The information seems to have been correct, although I haven’t been able to find any confirmation from the club.
Boxing Day, Mon 26 December 1910 Woolwich Arsenal lost 5-0 at Manchester United.
And so this momentous year ended.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE SOURCES OF ALL THIS INFORMATION, SEND ME AN EMAIL AND I’LL SEND YOU THE SOURCES FILE.
Copyright Sally Davis September 2007