Henry Norris in 1915 - the war begins to bite, and gets very nasty

Last updated: April 2008


Passports required to have the photograph of the holder in them.  Quintinshill rail crash: 200 dead. Founded: Women’s Institute.  And in the war: Britain nearly ran out of shells;  first air-raids target Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn - more than 20 killed; poison gas used at Ypres by the Germans and then regularly to end of World War 1 fighting, more by British than the Germans; sinking of the Lusitania; failed campaign in the Dardanelles; execution of Edith Cavell.  Firsts: tanks; women bus and tram conductors.  Haig succeeds French.  Formation of a coalition government.  Published: The Thirty-Nine Steps (John Buchan); Something Fresh (the first Blandings novel, P G Wodehouse).


For a few months more Henry Norris continued his round of regular meetings.  As mayor of Fulham he chaired the meetings of the full council, still being held every Wednesday fortnight in the evening at Fulham Town Hall in Walham Green.  And as Fulham’s representative on the Metropolitan Water Board he went to its meetings, every Friday fortnight in the afternoon, at the HQ of the Metropolitan Asylums’ Board on the Embankment.  But it was in 1915 that the fact that the war had not been over by Christmas started to change his and everybody’s lives dramatically.


Also during 1915 the Allen and Norris partnership continued to make applications to build on their Crabtree Lane estate; though with men going off to fight, I do wonder how many houses they actually managed to finish building and how many had to be left until the war was over.  During 1915 the London Borough of Fulham passed the following applications to build, made by Allen and Norris:

24-28 Rosedew Road

16-82 and 21-63 Colwith Road; plus a workshop at the rear of them.


Possibly 1914, 1915 at the latest foundation of Stimex Gas Stove Company Limited, by Edward Stimson, a surveyor who had invented a new design.  Edward Stimson was the son of an estate agent, also Edward Stimson, whom Henry Norris knew well through the south London estate agents’ circuit but principally through the freemasons - they were both members of Kent Lodge number 15.  Norris was probably in on the company from the start buying shares, giving advice, perhaps even as a customer; by 1918, if not before, he was a director.  The company was based at Clapham; it was still making stoves at least until the second world war and there is now a stove of Stimex’s, one of their 1920s designs, in the Science Museum.

Over Christmas 1914 to New Year 1915 a combination of the war and dreadful weather meant that crowds at football matches were particularly low.  In the local, amateur Finsbury Park and District League no matches at all had been played because of a lack of players.

By 1 January 1915 several Arsenal players had joined the new Footballers’ Battalion, causing last-minute team changes for the holiday period fixtures.

By New Year 1915 Fulham was beginning to feel the pinch.  Although the Allen and Norris partnership was still putting in planning applications for its development at Crabtree Farm off Fulham Palace Road, there were already staff shortages at the Council because so many men had volunteered for the armed forces; road laying and installation of electricity were being delayed.

On Sat 2 January 1915 Arsenal 4 Wolves 1 had a good crowd by season 1914/15's standards: 16000.  King scored all 4 goals - he was Football League Division Two’s top scorer at this stage, with 20 so far.

During Mon 11 January 1915 Henry Norris may have been present in Shepherd’s Bush when the new Footballers’ Battalion marched through the streets to its barracks at White City.

On Thur 14 January 1915 some players who had just joined the Footballers’ Battalion spoke at a big recruiting meeting held at the Royal Albert Hall.  Henry Norris may have been there but he wasn’t mentioned as being there.

On Sat 16 January 1915 the Football League Division Two fixture Fulham 0 Arsenal 1 was designated as a recruiting fixture; though I’m not quite sure what was meant by that.  Henry Norris was there.

In the evening of Wed 27 January 1915 Henry and Edith Norris, as mayor and mayoress of Fulham went to a whist drive organised by the Borough of Fulham to raise funds for the local National Relief Fund.  William Allen and William Middleton and George Peachey, who’d been one of the organisers, also attended it.   For an explanation of what the NRF was and how it worked, please refer back to file covering late 1914.

On Sat 30 January 1915 Henry Norris saw the FA Cup match which ended Chelsea 1 Arsenal 0; afterwards he was obliged to admit that the better side had won.  Meanwhile Fulham were losing 2-3 to Southampton in the FA Cup, a match played at Craven Cottage.  This match caused particular gloom amongst Fulham fans because Southampton were only a Southern League side: in the West London and Fulham Times, football writer Gee Whiz felt the result illustrated the extent of Fulham FC’s decline in recent years.

On the evening of Wed 10 February 1915 there was an almost unprecedented occurrence: Henry Norris missed the regular meeting of the London Borough of Fulham

Only shortly before it took place at 16.35 to 16.55gmt Wed 17 February 1915 Henry Norris, as mayor, was notified that Queen Mary was about to make a private visit to Fulham.  Despite having virtually no notice, Henry and Edith Norris and Fulham’s Town Clerk Percy Shuter managed to meet her at the Fulham Central Library, where she visited the women’s work-room (that’s needlework) that had been set up there.

During the evening of Tue 2 March 1915 Henry Norris dropped in on the AGM of the Fulham Tradesmen’s Association, where as mayor of the borough he received some money the Association members had raised for Fulham’s National Relief Fund. In the evening of Thur 11 March 1915 he and Edith went to Fulham Town Hall to a concert to raise money for the NRF.

At half-time on Sat 27 February 1915 a platoon of the Footballers’ Battalion marched around the ground at Craven Cottage, led by their Lieutenant, Dudley Evans in front of a crowd of (only) 6000.  The match result was Fulham 1 Bristol City 2.  At Highbury the Arsenal directors had given permission for a recruiting effort by the Islington Recruiting Committee (run by the local council like its counterpart in Fulham) to take place on Sat 27 February at Arsenal 1 Derby County 2; though no one from the club, including Henry Norris, took any active part in the day’s events.

At the meeting of the London Borough of Fulham on Wed evening, 10 March 1915 Henry Norris and his friend councillor George Peachey were both re-appointed to represent the Council’s interests on the board of trustees of the Fulham Waste Land and Lygon Almshouses charity.   Henry Norris had already served three years on the trustees, though I do wonder how many of their meetings he’d managed to attend.  This re-appointment would last until 24 March 1919.  The almshouses the charity ran are still there, on Fulham Palace Road.

Dated Sat 13 March 1915 some Arsenal papers show a William Middleton as having shares in the club.  This is the same man who, in August 1914, had set out for Germany in Henry Norris’ holiday group.  The 100 shares he’d recently bought made him the club’s fourth largest shareholder; it had also got him a seat on the board of directors.  But I can’t find any evidence that he ever attended any matches or had the slightest interest in football, so I suppose he had bought them as a friend, to help Norris out.  By now Norris and Hall had each loaned Arsenal £4481 and conditions were not looking good for any repayment of the money anytime soon.

At 2.30pm on Fri 19 March 1915 Henry Norris was at the fortnightly meeting of the Metropolitan Water Board, where the main topic of discussion was the employees’ superannuation scheme.

On Sat 27 March 1915 Fulham 1 Leicester Fosse 0 was “One of the worst games seen [at Craven Cottage] for many a long day” according to Gee Whiz in West London and Fulham Times.   A “squad of recruiting pipers” was at the matach; by far the most exciting thing at the match was their drum-major’s kilt, said Gee Whiz.

On Tue 30 March 1915 Henry Norris attended a joint meeting of the FA and the Football League, organised after the FA had received a letter from the colonel of the Footballers’ Battalion complaining that some football clubs were actively preventing their players joining up.  Norris told the meeting that the letter had been written without consultation with the battalion’s recruiting committee.  He assured the meeting that both Fulham and Arrsenal had given their players every encouragement to join up and were still paying the wages of those who had done so.  But the letter seems to have been the last straw for those who ran football.  They bowed to the inevitable by agreeing that after the last match of season 1914/15, no more professional football would be played until hostilities had ceased; though apparently no official announcement was made of the decision - they were probably going to wait until the last matches.  I’m sure Henry Norris had seen this coming, but it must still have been a big blow: any chance of being paid any of the money he’d lent Arsenal would now be put off until peace was declared.


Probably around Easter, which in 1915 was early April the War Office sent a letter to all the mayors of London boroughs, suggesting that each of them personally make an effort to raise a troop of volunteers from the young men in their borough.  I think because he had been a volunteer himself in one*, the War Office suggested Norris raise an artillery brigade.  Norris did that and more, and paid all the expenses of the recruiting drive out of his own pocket, at least for the first brigade that he formed; I’m not clear whether paying the expenses himself was his idea; it’s more likely it was part of the War Office’s plan.  This recruiting effort was what Norris and several other London mayors were knighted for later in the war.  The War Office’s request reflected the fact that the initial rush of volunteers was drying up; it was backed up by a plea from King George V for “self-denial in the nation’s interest”.


*I don’t know much about this but if you want some more information click here. [ROGER PLEASE MAKE A LINK TO SL6502]


On Gd Fri 2 April 1915 a fixture took place which had a huge influence over what happened when professional football resumed after the war: Manchester Utd 2 Liverpool 0 was proved by an FA investigation to have been a set-up, agreed between some but not all players from both teams as part of a scam to rip off some book-makers.

From 11 to 25 April 1915 there was a London-wide recruiting campaign, based on ‘street corner’ meetings.  All the London mayors supported the campaign but I haven’t found that Henry Norris took more than a supporting role in it.  He was busy with other things.

Before Mon 19 April 1915 the Arsenal board of directors told all the playing and coaching staff at the club that they would be sacked as soon as the football season ended.  Manager George Morrell didn’t wait for that day, he’d sent in his resignation by Mon 19 April 1915 and never had anything more to do with the club.  On that day Athletic News reported that Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited were £5000 in the red.

On Sat 17 April 1915 Crump of the FA Council jumped the gun a bit by making a statement to the press that there would be no more “serious football” while the war lasted.  Although, in fact, the FA Council had not even discussed this as yet, Fred Wall as the FA secretary, subsequently told the press that they could take Crump’s statement as the FA’s official announcement on the subject.

On Thur 22 April 1915 there was a St George’s Day recruiting rally at the Mansion House in the City of London which mayors of London boroughs were meant to attend.  I don’t know whether Henry Norris was present.  He may have had a prior engagement, as that evening he went to another patriotic concert, at the West Kensington Lecture Hall.

I think it was the afternoon of Sat 24 Apr 1915 that Arsenal scored 7 at Highbury against Nottingham Forest but as professional football wound down for the foreseeable future, coverage of the last few matches in the local press became sporadic.  10000 people saw the game including a group of wounded soldiers undergoing treatment at the Great Northern Hospital on Holloway Road; Islington Daily Gazette gave more prominence to that than to the play, thanking John Peters, described as acting club secretary (so Morrell may already have left) for organising the visit.

Season 1914/15 was ending untidily.  I’m not sure when the last fixtures were played.  Chelsea achieved the double of FA Cup final and relegation from Football League Division One - part two of that tale would be played out in early 1919; Spurs were relegated with them.  Arsenal were not promoted from Football League Division Two.

From his memoirs it’s not clear exactly when he joined up but at the end of season 1914/15 Charles Buchan was at last able to volunteer.  He had been doing military drill with a broom rather than a rifle for a year so he was better prepared than most.  He went along to the recruiting office in Sunderland and, because he was so tall, was put into the Grenadier Guards.  He served at the Somme, Cambrai and Passchendaele and was never injured.  When the fighting ended he was awaiting training before being promoted to be an officer.

On Mon 26 April 1915 Footballers Battalion v Sportsmen’s Battalion was played at Craven Cottage.  By this day the Footballers’ Battalion was now in training for active service, camped in the grounds of Joynson-Hicks’ house at Dorking.

On Mon 3 May 1915 Athletic News reported that the poor crowds during season 1914/15 had had their inevitable effect.  For example, Sheffield United had made a loss of £2050 despite winning the FA Cup.  Sheffield Wednesday had debts of £10,000 because of recent ground improvements; in the following months the directors launched a share issue to raise the money the club owed, but it failed.  Not all clubs were in trouble - Burnley and Newcastle Utd had money in the bank - but they too had made a loss on season 1914/15.  So Arsenal weren’t the only ones struggling.  However, it was acknowledged that they had bigger debts than most.


At its usual meeting on the evening of Wed 5 May 1915 the London Borough of Fulham were told of a plan to suggest to the Local Government Board and the Prime Minister (still Asquith at this stage) that the local elections due in November 1915 be cancelled.

At 3pm Fri 7 May 1915 Edith Norris as the mayoress of Fulham opened the first day of an eight-day flower show (it finished on Sat 14 May) in Fulham Town Hall.  It seems Edith fulfilled the engagement on her own, while Henry Norris was busy elsewhere - this got more and more common as the war continued, enabling Edith to become a personality in Fulham separately from her husband.

Henry Norris had very serious other things to think about: by early May the German use of poison gas, and the sinking of the Lusitania by a German boat, had become public knowledge.  During the evenings of Thur 12 and Fri 13 May 1915 there was anti-German rioting in Fulham, with destruction of property and looting in the Walham Green and King’s Road areas.  If Henry Norris, as the mayor of the borough, took any action or made any public statement about this, I haven’t found any report of it.  But during the next few weeks he was preparing for the recruiting campaign to be undertaken in Fulham in response to the War Office’s Easter appeal for more troops.

At 2.30pm Fri 14 May 1915 Henry Norris was at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, on the Embankment, for the regular meeting of the Metropolitan Water Board.  It was the last he attended. 

At 3.30 Wed 19 May 1915 as the mayor of Islington, Henry Norris chaired the AGM of the Fulham School for Mothers, at the Fulham Town Hall.  The MP for Fulham, William Hayes Fisher, attended this meeting, and the novelist Mrs Humphrey Ward - founder of the Mary Ward Centre in Bloomsbury - was one of the guest speakers.


On Fri 21 May 1915 the Daily Mirror and other papers published photographs of what had happened at Ypres on 22 April, when the Germans used chlorine gas: 1200 people had died immediately from its effects - it attacked the respiratory system - and 3000 had been wounded.  The British used chlorine gas for the first time on 25 September 1915 and used it more often during the rest of the war than the Germans - 300 attacks as opposed to 50 though I doubt if Henry Norris ever got to know about that.  Other chemical weapons were developed by both sides: mustard gas being developed by Bayer of Leverkusen.


Away from the horror, on Fri 21 May 1915 West London and Fulham Times published a letter from Henry Norris - not on football, he was writing as mayor of Fulham to make an appeal for funds for a new initiative in the borough: the local Volunteer Force which would be made up of men who were ineligible for the regular armed forces.


By Mon 31 May 1915 Athletics News reported that all the Arsenal players had found work, set up in business, or joined the Footballers’ Battalion.  It’s surprising how few of them actually fought.  Spittle and ex-trainer Ratcliff certainly fought - Ratcliff was injured - but the armed forces preferred to use professional footballers, with their knowledge of how to keep fit, as physical training instructors of other volunteers.


In the small hours of Tue 1 June 1915 London experienced its first air-raid - zeppelins could be seen over the East End, and as far along the coast as Brentwood Essex and Ramsgate Kent.  90 bombs were dropped, aimed at London docks; four people were killed and a few others injured.  Air-raids on London became quite common, although the zeppelins seem not to have reached the west side of the city.

[DITTO FORMATION OF COALN GOVT] involved a promotion for William Hayes Fisher, MP for Fulham: he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Local Government Board, a role which would involve him in liaising with local councils about the ever-increasing number of tasks they were required to perform for the war effort.

On Fri 4 June 1915 a tub-thumping letter from Henry Norris appeared in the West London and Fulham Times launching the recruiting campaign for what became the 177th (Fulham) Royal Field Artillery Brigade - the first of the three that Norris raised in response to the War Office’s Easter appeal.  Recruiting began around 8 June 1915 at the recruiting office in Fulham Town Hall.


On Sat 5 June 1915 Henry Norris was given a formal ranking in the army: he was gazetted a Lieutenant employed on recruiting duties.  I presume he was now paid a salary, albeit a small one.  The ranking was a recognition of his services, to date and ongoing, to the War Office; it also gave him a position in the army hierarchy that military officials could recognise in their dealings with him and his with them.  Of course, there was no suggestion, now or later, that he should take part in any fighting; he probably didn’t even go through any military training.


Meanwhile back in the world of football, by Mon 7 June 1915 an enquiry was being conducted into the Manchester Utd 2 Liverpool 0 match.


On Tue 8 June 1915 Bromley UDC passed a planning application from Kinnaird Park Estate Company for a garage at the house then known as Appin Lodge, Avondale Road, Plaistow.  This was the last application made by KPEC until 1920.

On Thur 10 June 1915 Queen Mary made another surprise visit to Fulham, this time bringing King George V with her when she visited the Lord Roberts’ Memorial Workshops in Britannia Road, where soldiers disabled in the fighting so far were given employment making children’s toys.  This time, however, Henry Norris wasn’t able to drop other commitments to meet the king and queen.


It was not until the meeting of London Borough of Fulham on the evening of Wed 16 June 1915 that Henry Norris actually told the other Fulham councillors about the letter he’d received (as mayor) from the War Office, and the recruitment of the 177th Field Artillery.  By this time the brigade had 200 recruits.  In fact, he was paying all the costs of the recruiting campaign himself, and the councillors were not being asked to chip in with either money or time, but this marks quite a break with the past for Henry Norris.  His failure to tell even people supposedly close to him, or with a right to know, what was going on and what he was doing became more and more a feature of his character as he got older (he was about to be 50).

The following week, at 8.15 on Mon 21 June 1915 there was a rally at the Fulham Town Hall to inspire more recruits.  The speakers were William Hayes Fisher MP; General Sir Francis Laurie the commander-in-chief of the London military district; and Will Crooks MP whom Henry Norris had first got to know as Labour MP for Woolwich.  It was announced that the brigade already had half its full complement of men.


In the week following  Sat 26 June 1915 Henry Norris played his part in the lionising in Fulham and elsewhere of Edward Dwyer, the first Fulham soldier to be awarded the VC in World War 1.


On Wed 30 June 1915 Henry Norris was able to tell the councillors, at the London Borough of Fulham meeting, that his 177th artillery brigade had its full complement of men apart from lacking smiths and farriers (who as skilled metal workers could maintain the guns).  The War Office had given Norris authorisation to recruit a second artillery brigade, which would have its quarters in Fulham Town Hall.  But again, he’d taken action without consulting his fellow councillors; after arguing in a council debate on the matter, against giving civic recognition to Edward Dwyer VC, he’d written to Dwyer to tell him so, without telling the other councillors first.  On the evening of  Sun 4 July 1915 Henry Norris did go to Kelvedon Hall, Fulham, to attend a presentation ceremony for Mr Dwyer, but this wasn’t an official Borough occasion.  It seems Norris wore his Lieutenant’s uniform for the first time this evening; in reports of the presentation in the local press he was described as Lieutenant Norris for the first time.


The end of June was the time that the AGM of Fulham Football and Athletic Company Limited was due.  However, in June 1915 for the first time for several years, the club didn’t hire a public room at Fulham Town Hall for their annual meeting.  I think it may not have been held at all and indeed there may not have been an annual meeting again until 1919.  The AGM of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited was due in July 1915 and the same thing happened there.


On Sat 3 July 1915 in the run-up to the much-delayed AGM of the Football League (it was normally held at the end of May), the FL confirmed that no professional football would be playing in season 1915/16 - although everybody knew it already.


On the evening of Sun 11 July 1915 great play was made in Fulham of Henry Norris’ 177th Field Artillery Brigade and the two more that were in the process of being recruited.  At 6.30pm the soldiers of the 177th  were led by the Harry Lauder Pipe Band from the Fulham Town Hall through the streets to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, where at 7pm a concert began to raise funds for the new brigades.  Henry Norris was present, with a lot of his family; his daughters Joy (aged 14), Peggy (13) and Nanette (7) were on the list of entertainers and Norris had persuaded the impresario Oswald Stoll, who owned the Empire, to pay the evening’s expenses as a donation to the brigades.  Norris had organised a fleet of cars to collect and take to the concert soldiers injured in the fighting and now resident in Fulham; once at the Empire they were presented with gifts of cigarettes (oh dear!).

On the evening of Wed 14 July 1915 at the regular meeting of the London Borough of Fulham, first discussions took place on how to organise what was known as the ‘war census’, a government initiative under the National Registration Bill whereby local volunteers would go house-to-house and flat-to-flat finding out whether there were any young men living there who might be eligible for war service, and taking the names and addresses of those who said they were willing to join up when needed.  This mammoth undertaking was to be organised by the local Councils, and the information collated by them to form a database of the nation’s young men.  The information would be collected during August although the lack of volunteers to do the work, and the huge number of visits to be made in London, meant that virtually all the London boroughs had to be given an extension to the original deadline.  At the time the information was being collected, service in the armed forces was still voluntary; but Henry Norris’ comments over the following year show that he was perfectly aware where all this was going: when the first National Service Bill was passed at break-neck speed in January 1916, the information collected in the war census became the basis for the compulsory call-up.


On Fri 16 July 1915 representatives of Fulham’s local charities and other agencies met to discuss the need for individuals and families to cut their spending.  Henry Norris had called the meeting, and he probably chaired it.  It ended with the decision NOT to form a committee to focus on bringing home the need to Fulham’s population at large: those present decided there were too many committees already.

I’m not sure of the date but probably the morning Mon 19 July 1915 the Football League held its delayed AGM.  Paying players who took part in matches played under wartime conditions was discussed; the vote went 21:19 in favour of paying, but Arsenal’s representative, almost certainly Henry Norris, voted against it.  The vote went into the FL’s Minutes of Proceedings but was later removed when the FL accepted the rules for wartime football laid down at the FA’s AGM later the same day (see below).

Definitely during the morning Mon 19 July 1915, presumably after the FL’s AGM, representatives of the FA, FL and Southern League all met together to discuss the issue of wartime football.  Then

at 3pm Mon 19 July 1915 the FA held its AGM, as a result of which a set of rules were laid down under which football matches could be played while the fighting continued.  No FA Cup competition would be played, but matches would be allowed, on a strictly local basis and provided they didn’t interrupt war work.  No one who took part in the matches would be paid a wage (though I think they could be paid expenses of travel etc); the contracts of all professional footballers would be suspended until further notice.  With some modifications after the fighting stopped, these rules continued in place until the end of season 1918/19.  Reader please note that professional footballers in Scotland were paid for taking part in matches throughout World War 1.  With some clear guidelines finally laid down, the FL then announced the formation of two leagues, based in Lancashire and the Midlands.  But nothing was announced for London.


By Wed 21 July 1915 177th Field Artillery Brigade had got itself a headquarters building in South Park near Wandsworth Bridge Road.  At the regular meeting of the London Borough of Fulham on the evening of Wed 21 July 1915 was able to tell the councillors that the second brigade he was recruiting had men up to half its full strength.  The meeting had a more difficult problem to tackle, however.  Another of the burdens laid on local authorities by central Government as part of their war effort was drumming up enthusiasm, and collecting investments, in the Parliamentary War Loan Fund.  The investments paid a percentage, but raising funds this way was not going well in Fulham and the councillors now had to consider how to increase local enthusiasm for this investment.

On Fri 23 July 1915 some mayors of London boroughs (I couldn’t find a list of names) attended a meeting of the Territorial Force of the County of London (the main volunteer force in the city).  I haven’t found any evidence that Henry Norris was a member of the TF - it had not been formed until many years after he had stopped his involvement with volunteer militias - but he may have gone to the meeting anyway as it had been called to discuss recruiting procedures.

On the evening of Fri 23 July 1915 the London League - the umbrella organisation for most of London’s amateur football -  held its AGM; at the meeting it followed the South Eastern League in closing itself down for the duration of the war.  At its AGM on the afternoon of Mon 26 July 1915 the Southern League followed suit. 


However, some London clubs were not prepared to contemplate a situation in which there would be no football in London at all until the fighting stopped, so in the evening of Mon 26 July 1915 a meeting took place at the popular venue, the Holborn Restaurant on Kingsway, with representatives of both Football League and Southern League clubs present.  Henry Norris was clearly a prime mover in the organisation of this meeting: the continuation of football, even on this very low level, would ensure a small amount of income to keep Arsenal ticking over until the end of the war.   Norris was elected chairman of the new league - the London Combination - that the meeting set up.  The idea that the new league be affiliated to the Football League was opposed by its Southern League members, so on the following evening, Tue 27 July 1915 representatives of the London Combination - led by Henry Norris as its chairman, I presume - met representatives of the London League at its offices in Winchester House, in the City of London.  The London League was asked to undertake the running of the new league’s competition.  If the new league was to start playing matches in season 1915/16 there was not time to be lost, so at this 27 July meeting a set of rules was drawn up.  The committee also agreed to limit membership to clubs within 18 miles of central London, at least for season 1915/16.  Henry Norris one of those who urged the 18-mile limit.  As more and more trains were required for the movement of troops and equipment, travel for other reasons was becoming very difficult, but Norris was probably thinking also of how little Arsenal could afford the costs of travel to away fixtures.  The 18-mile rule was relaxed later in the war, however, so that clubs like Portsmouth and Reading could join the London Combination.

On Thur 29 July 1915 the royal assent was given to the Elections and Registrations Act.  Amongst its provisions was the delaying of the local elections due in November.  If councillors died, the Act allowed appointees to take their place.  Although the Act was only meant to be temporary, but it was renewed several times and no elections took place until the General Election of December 1918.

In the evening of Thur 29 July 1915 Henry and Edith Norris went to another patriotic concert at the Fulham Town Hall, organised to raise money for the artillery brigades Norris was recruiting in Fulham.  By Fri 6 August 1915 the second brigade had nearly its full complement of men.


Under normal circumstances, local authorities didn’t hold meetings in August and most councillors went on holiday.  Institutions like the Metropolitan Water Board also closed down; MWB didn’t usually meet during August and September.  August 1915 however was not normal circumstances and Henry Norris at least had no holiday.  From Tue 10 August to 18 September 1915 he endured a very taxing and exhausting few weeks, supervising the taking of the war census in Fulham.  It was at this time that he started sleeping over in the Mayor’s Room at the town hall.





Copyright Sally Davis January 2008