ROGER THIS IS THE FIRST PART OF A TWO-FILE YEAR; SL13B follows straight on from the end of this file
Last updated: May 2008
Invented: stainless steel. Founded: Ulster Volunteer Force. Emily Davison threw herself under the King’s horse during the Derby, and died of her injuries. First: black man to be elected mayor (see November below); performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (ending in a riot); unemployment benefit; maternity benefit; Chelsea Flower Show; showing of modern European art in New York (the Amory Show). Senghenydd Colliery Disaster: 439 killed.
During 1913 work continued on the two big building projects Allen and Norris had in hand. The London Borough of Fulham passed the following applications to build, during the year:
72-80, and number 89 Rannoch Road
1 Bowfell Road
67-70 Rannoch Road
182-190 Fulham Palace Road
2 Nella Road
174-182 Fulham Palace Road
Work on the estate at Southfields in Wandsworth was in its final stages. During the year the London Borough of Wandsworth passed one last application to build made by Allen and Norris:
2-24 Hambledon Road.
At the beginning of January Woolwich Arsenal endured two defeats awful even by this season’s standards: 4-1 away at Sunderland on Wed 1 January 1913 and away 5-1 at Bolton Wanderers on Sat 4 January 1913. Fulham FC also lost both their New Year fixtures, not by so many goals but to lowly opposition.
During the evening of Sun 5 January 1913 Henry Norris and family arrived back in London after their holiday in Switzerland.
Once back from Switzerland Henry Norris resumed his regular schedule of meetings, based on the London Borough of Fulham - every other Wednesday evening - and the Metropolitan Water Board - every other Friday afternoon.
Between Fri 3 and Fri 10 January 1913 the long-running dispute between the London Borough of Fulham and residents of Crabtree Lane, about who should pay to have the roadway made up to local authority standards, reached court. The residents lost the case and had costs awarded against them. Work on Crabtree Lane could now go ahead after months of delay.
On Fri 10 January 1913 Henry Norris, in his column in West London and Fulham Times, said he was having to endure a lot of jokes about Woolwich Arsenal and Fulham FC completing the double this season - both being relegated. At Fulham even the Reserve team was doing really badly: so far, in the South Eastern League, they’d scored 26 to 42 conceded.
On Sat 11 January 1913 it was the FA Cup first round (equivalent to the modern-day third round). Athletic News reported “another indignity” for Woolwich Arsenal, unable to beat their minnow neighbours Croydon Common (the match ended 0-0), a game played in “pitiless downpour” - a description of the weather conditions but which might equally well have applied to the emotional state of those concerned with the club. Fulham got knocked out at home by Hull City; concentrating on the league for them, then. It’s not clear whether Henry Norris went to either match. I think he was at the Manor Ground on Wed 15 January 1913 for Woolwich Arsenal’s first home win of season 1912/13. They beat Croydon Common in their FA Cup replay, 2-1, earning a home tie against Liverpool; but had to play with 10 men (no substitutes allowed at this period) as yet another player had to go off injured. On the Sat, 18 January 1913 it was back to normal, though: Woolwich Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 3 in the Football League Division One. Fulham lost again as well, they’d only won once since November; after the game they were in the lowest position in Football League Division Two the club had ever occupied.
In the evening of Wed 22 January 1913 Henry Norris went to a concert at Fulham Town Hall organised by Edith Norris and other volunteers in aid of Fulham Day Nursery.
There was a banquet at the Mansion House (official residence of the Lord Mayor of London) in the evening of Thur 23 January 1913. There were 200 guests; no full guest list appeared in the papers but as the majority of mayors of London boroughs did attend it, I presume Henry Norris was there.
On Fri 24 January 1913 a particularly despairing football preview in the Kentish Independent noted that the better form after Christmas which you could usually rely on Woolwich Arsenal to produce, hadn’t materialised this year. It also told readers that the club had increased prices for the FA Cup tie against Liverpool. It saw Woolwich Arsenal’s league position as “more and more hopeless”. In his column in West London and Fulham Times that day, Henry Norris went further - he actually mentioned the R word for the first time, seeing relegation as almost a certainty now.
On Sat 25 January 1913 it was Woolwich Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 3. Fulham won at home though; and the directors allowed a collection to be taken for the Taxi Drivers Strike Relief Fund, although they made a statement saying that allowing donations to be collected didn’t necessarily mean they were in sympathy with the strikers.
On the evening Tue 28 January 1913 Henry Norris did something rather unusual: he went to a function organised by the local Tory Party in Fulham. With Edith, sister Ada Norris, and local MP William Hayes Fisher, he attended the annual dinner of Sand’s End Conservative Association. Norris had been one of Sand’s End’s councillors for nearly seven years and this is the first time I’ve found him going to this event.
On the afternoon Sat 1 February 1913 Woolwich Arsenal were knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool, 1-4. A crowd of 8000 saw the match; I think it was the biggest so far in season 1912/13. For comparison purposes: Fulham 1 Barnsley 1 on Sat 8 February 1913 had a crowd of 16000, which football writer Oscar Drew, writing as Merula in West London and Fulham Times, said was better than of late.
On Mon 3 February 1913 the Football League management committee heard a complaint from Southern League club Millwall FC that Fulham FC had poached amateur player Taylor, registered with Millwall but playing for another club. Fulham FC filed a counter-claim accusing Millwall FC of an illegal approach to Taylor whom they claimed was now their player.
On Tue 4 February 1913 Bromley UDC passed a planning application made by Kinnaird Park Estate Company for 6 houses in Amesbury Road, Bickley.
On Fri 7 February 1913 the Kentish Independent reported that Woolwich Arsenal supporters were already arguing that it would be better to have a good second division team than a poor first division one.
On 2.30pm Fri 7 February 1913 Henry Norris went to the first meeting of the Metropolitan Water Board after its winter break. This was the start of a difficult period for representatives at the MWB: it had never been adequately funded and was now in the red. Later in the year the MWB started to borrow money on the strength of its property holdings around London.
By Mon 10 February 1913 the directors at Woolwich Arsenal had signed a full-back from Queen’s Park Rangers and a forward from Newcastle City. By Fri 14 February 1913 they’d signed an inside-left from Bradford City. But isn’t this much too little far too late? At Fulham, Charlton’s injury meant he wouldn’t play again in season 1912/13.
Between Mon 10 February and Sat 15 February 1913 came the death of the first wife of Fred Wall, secretary of the Football Association. Henry Norris knew both the Walls well. I haven’t found an account of Mrs Wall’s funeral but it’s likely that Norris went to it.
In the evening of Tue 11 February 1913 Henry Norris and Edith went to a musical evening at Fulham Town Hall organised by Fulham Tradesmen’s Association, a precursor of Fulham Chamber of Commerce.
On Sat 15 February 1913 only 8000 saw Chelsea 1 Woolwich Arsenal 1; but there was every excuse for a small crowd at Stamford Bridge: the relegation fixture went ahead despite thick fog. Woolwich Arsenal had scored after 5 minutes; but then something more like normal service had been resumed. The previous week there had been a far smaller crowd at the Manor Ground for a match played in very good weather.
On Tue 18 February 1913 Bromley UDC passed a planning application from Kinnaird Park Estate Company for one garage for a house on King’s Avenue; the house was unidentified but was probably one built by KPEC.
In the evening of Fri 21 February 1913 Henry Norris and Edith went to a fancy dress ball at Fulham Town Hall in aid of Kensington and Fulham General Hospital. Alas! The press coverage didn’t say what costume Norris wore - I’d love to know.
Sat 22 February 1913 was an FA Cup day. Woolwich Arsenal’s first team didn’t have a game therefore; they watched the Reserves lose at home to Queen’s Park Rangers reserves. I don’t know whether Henry Norris watched it with them. He might have been at Fulham 4 Wolves 2.
And it was over the weekend of 22 and 23 February 1913 that someone at Woolwich or at Fulham blew the gaff. That weekend papers were full of rumours that Woolwich Arsenal’s directors had found the club a new site, in north London. One paper went further, specifying that the new ground was in Gillespie Road near Finsbury Park; they were dead right. The Kentish Independent wrote to Henry Norris to ask him whether the rumours were true. Henry Norris replied on Tue 25 February 1913. If you want to read a detailed discussion of why Henry Norris picked London N5 for Woolwich Arsenal; and whether he was right to do so, follow this link: [ROGER LINK TO SLWHYN5 AND SLWHYN5B HERE]
On Monday 24 February 1913 complaints about the move, made by Tottenham Hotspur FC and Clapton Orient FC (whose grounds were nearest the rumoured new site) were heard unofficially at the scheduled meeting of the Football League management committee in London. The representatives of Spurs and Clapton Orient wanted the management committee to state that no such move could go ahead without the permission of the full membership of the Football League. Spurs, at least, had a good record of objecting to the location of rival clubs near them: in 1905 they had objected so purposefully to Clapton Orient’s intention to apply for election to Southern League Division One that Clapton Orient had applied to Football League Division Two instead.
On Fri 28 February 1913 Norris’ letter of Tue 25th was published in the Kentish Independent. He refused to confirm or deny the rumours; he said that he himself never listened to gossip. However, he also said that if the rumours did happen to be true, you couldn’t blame the club’s directors for deciding to move it to a place where their hard work might be more appreciated; and he called Spurs and Clapton Orient “foolish” for trying to stop such a move taking place.
At the management committee meeting on Mon 24th Spurs and Clapton Orient had not been given the assurances they had been looking for. They had not let the matter rest, though, and had forced a second discussion of the matter. This took place between midnight on Fri 28 March and 2am Sat 1 March 1913 in Glasgow where management committee members had all gathered for the Scottish Football League v English Football League fixture. William Hall took care, subsequently, to state that he had left the room when discussion of the subject had begun. The result of the meeting, though, was everything he and Henry Norris could have hoped for: on Sat 1 March 1913 the Football League issued a statement, saying in so many words that the Football League had no power to prevent a move away from the Manor Ground by Woolwich Arsenal. That morning the meeting was widely discussed in the papers. On Mon 3 March 1913 the Athletic News devoted a comment column to the move, writing of it as if it was inevitable. And, the same morning, the London Borough of Islington received a letter from a Mr W Coventon of 50 Highbury Park, asking them if they had any power to block the sale of the land at Gillespie Road to Woolwich Arsenal.
In the evening of Tue 4 March 1913 the directors of Woolwich Arsenal FC entertained a group of journalists at the Connaught Rooms in London. Henry Norris finally made a statement on Woolwich Arsenal’s future, admitting that the club was going to move and admitting that its chosen new site was in the Islington area of north London.
On Wed 5 March 1913 the proposed move of a football club into their district received its first mention in the Daily Gazette, the local paper in Islington. The report appeared on the paper’s football page, rather than as headline news. Its football correspondent, Arthur Roston Bourke, writing as Norseman, welcomed the arrival of professional football in the borough, treating it as a done deal and noting that future plans had got as far as employing Archibald Leitch to design the grandstand and enclosures.
On Thur 6 March 1913 the Board of Education sent to St John’s College, Highbury, the necessary official Order authorising the college to lease part of its site at Highbury to Woolwich Arsenal.
On Fri 7 March 1913 the Kentish Independent told its readers that the directors of Woolwich Arsenal FC were open to offers from potential sub-lessees of the Manor Ground; though it denied local rumours that a club from the Southern League would be taking over there. It printed a letter from an anonymous local resident putting the blame for the club’s decline squarely on the management of Henry Norris and William Hall, and urging local people to form a new football club in Woolwich. That evening Mr Coventon’s letter was mentioned, but not discussed, at the regular meeting of the London Borough of Islington; the letter was passed to its Parliamentary sub-committee for action. It may have been after this meeting, it was certainly before Mon 10 March, that councillor Inglis, who lived on Highbury Hill, wrote about the move to the Dean of Canterbury, who was the president of St John’s College’s governing Council.
On Sat 8 March 1913 Woolwich Arsenal’s long run of games without a win finally came to an end: they got a 0-1 victory at Manchester City. And Fulham 7 Stockport County 0 also gave Henry Norris a ray of cheer amongst all the aggravation.
On Mon 10 March 1913 the Dean of Canterbury replied to councillor Inglis’ letter. He gave permission for a deputation of local residents to speak at the next meeting of St John’s College’s Council, giving their reasons why the college should not lease its land to a football club. On Tue 11 March 1913 a letter was published in the Islington Daily Gazette from Mr T E Naylor, living at 175 Highbury Hill, saying that he had heard that the deal between St John’s College and Woolwich Arsenal FC was so far done that Archibald Leitch’s designs for the new stadium at Highbury were already with the London Borough of Islington’s surveying department. Mr Naylor suggested forming a Highbury Defence Committee to lobby - not against the arrival of football, he thought it was already too late for that - for damage-limitation measures, especially in the areas of street betting, sanitation and policing. Over the next few weeks Islington Daily Gazette published letters virtually every day about the move of Woolwich Arsenal to Highbury, some in favour, most stridently against it.
In the evening of Tue 11 March 1913 the Parliamentary sub-committee of the London Borough of Islington discussed the move of Woolwich Arsenal onto St John’s College’s land. The sub-committee agreed to recommend that the full Council act to oppose the move; though the vote at the sub-committee was not unanimous.
In the midst of all this football upheaval came what I tend to think of as the highlight of the social career of Henry and Edith Norris in Fulham: on the evening of Thur 13 March 1913 at Fulham Town Hall they gave a reception for several hundred guests, bringing together their various social circles - family, football, freemasons, Fulham and Hammersmith nursing care, Fulham Council and others - in a way they had never done before and were never able to do again.
Meanwhile, Spurs and Clapton Orient got together and organised the sending of a letter and map of football in London, to all Football League member clubs; that was sent out on Wed 12 March 1913. It argued that Woolwich Arsenal’s proposed move was so important that it should be discussed by an extraordinary general meeting of the full Football League. The two clubs wanted to assess whether they could raise the 22 signatures necessary to force such an EGM.
Henry Norris had still made no mention of Woolwich Arsenal’s move to north London in his regular football column in West London and Fulham Times! On Fri 14 March 1913 he promised his readers (who were, after all, mostly Fulham supporters, not Woolwich Arsenal ones) that he would talk about it next week - that is, Friday 21st March. But he never did. However, his his column in the same paper, Oscar Drew/Merula said gloomily that he thought Fulham FC would be the main victim of Woolwich Arsenal’s move.
On Fri 14 March 1913 the Islington Daily Gazette published some facts brought together by Councillor Saint, the chairman of the borough’s Parliamentary sub-committee. He had discovered firstly, that no lease had as yet been signed between St John’s College and Woolwich Arsenal FC; but secondly, that the only body with the authority to stop one being signed was the Board of Education, which had ultimate jurisdiction over the college’s governing council. The Islington Daily Gazette itself had been doing some research: it had established that the land on which the college stood had been donated to the college with no strings attached; so no covenants existed preventing the land being used for professional football, nor, indeed, preventing it from being built on, if the College so decided. That evening a meeting took place at the home of Councillor Inglis at 99 Highbury Hill. Its main purpose was to choose the men who would form the deputation which would plead the opposition’s case at the next meeting of St John’s College’s governing Council. The Highbury Defence Committee was formed to organise a residents’ petition against the coming of the football club. And the meeting discussed the effect Woolwich Arsenal’s arrival would have on local property prices. Between Fri 14 March and Tue 18 March 1913 members of the Highbury Defence Committee went out door-stepping with their petition; exactly which streets they went to and how much cooperation and (conversely) how much hostility they encountered later became the subject of much argument, played out in the Islington Daily Gazette.
On Sat 15 March 1913 Woolwich Arsenal 1 West Bromwich Albion 0 two wins in a row suggests the team were responding to the news that the club’s future location had at long last been decided. It seems that both Henry Norris and William Hall saw this first home win in the Football League in season 1912/13, because the Kentish Independent later reported that it wasn’t true that they had had to have special protection as they arrived at the Manor Ground in their cars.
In the evening of Tue 18 March 1913 Henry Norris and Edith attended a concert at Fulham Town Hall; it was to raise money for the newly-formed Fulham Municipal Officers’ Sports Association, which had Fulham’s Town Clerk Percy Shuter as its president. Also that evening the governing Council of St John’s College Highbury met for the first time since the news had broken that they were intending to lease their sports ground to Woolwich Arsenal FC. I presume the deputation chosen at the meeting at councillor Inglis’ house attended it. The day after, on Wed 19 March 1913 there was a second meeting of the Highbury Defence Committee.
[ROGER SL13B FOLLOWS STRAIGHT ON FROM HERE]
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 December 2007