Last updated: April 2008


On the morning of Mon 9 August 1915 as part of the recruiting effort the band of the Royal Field Artillery marched through the streets of Fulham to the town hall.  By Fri 13 August 1915 the second of Fulham’s three brigades of artillery, the 182nd, had its full complement of men.  A notice appeared in the West London and Fulham Times that a third brigade was now being recruited, the 187th (Fulham) Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

Sun 15 August 1915 was the day picked as the registration day for the War Census - if you were willing to give your details to the volunteer data collectors you had to give the address you were living at on that day.

On Fri 20 August 1915 a fixtures list for Fulham FC in the London Combination, season 1915/16, was published; though it seems Chelsea FC weren’t quite so well organised and there wasn’t one for their matches that week.

In the middle of the work on the War Census, the London Borough of Fulham had to call a special meeting; on the evening of Wed 25 August 1915 Henry Norris chaired a discussion about a proposal to link the electricity generating station at Fulham with the one at Battersea (the Battersea Power Station we know hadn’t been built yet but electricity generation was going on at the site).

I’m not certain of the date but it was probably Sat 28 August 1915 in the afternoon, Chelsea FC and other teams in the London Combination held pre-season practice matches. 

At 7pm Thur 2 September 1915 (I think, though it may have been the following Thursday, 9 September 1915) Henry and Edith Norris attended a concert at the church hall of St Etheldreda’s Cloncurry Street, Fulham, now known as The Military Hall.  Also present were the commanding officer of Norris’ field artillery brigade, the 182nd, with his non-commissioned officers and the men.  This concert was the first of a series but there’s no evidence that the Norrises went to any of the others: as mayor and mayoress they were just giving the series a good send-off.

On the afternoon of 4 September 1915 the first fixtures were played in the London Combination: Arsenal 2 Spurs 0 and Fulham 4 Watford 2 were amongst the matches that day. The Islington Daily Gazette reported that a man in the crowd died of a heart attack during the first half of the game at Highbury - rather an unpleasant first day for the new league.  Despite the Government’s restrictions on the supply of paper, Arsenal had managed to print a match-day programme; the team list included Buckley and Rutherford, both regulars in the first eleven during season 1914/15.  Charles Buchan, now in the Grenadier Guards and based in London, was approached by Chelsea FC and played for them for most of the season, as was allowed under the FA Rules for wartime football.  And Sergeant Daniel Tull played at least some of Fulham FC’s matches this season - the first black player of any note in the English game, and the first black non-commissioned officer.


Newspaper coverage of matches during football season 1915/16 was very limited by the four-page maximum allowed for local newspapers; and in the wartime seasons that followed coverage got less and less, as young journalists were called up to fight, and their elders were co-opted for other war work.  Crowds were small, a few thousand spectators was a typical gate, and it seems that it wasn’t only the people who stood on the terraces that no longer went to matches.  From the sporadic reports of Arsenal FC’s season 1915/16 in the Islington Daily Gazette, it seems that all the club’s directors were too busy to go and see more than a few games.  Between September 1915 and May 1919 the FA Secretary Fred Wall saw more games than Henry Norris could spare the time to.  As the FA’s offices were in Russell Square, Bloomsbury, it was easy enough for him to go up to Highbury after his Saturday morning’s work; and - his first wife having died in 1913 - perhaps he didn’t have a lot to go home for.


Henry Norris was still putting a great deal of effort as well as money into raising those brigades of artillery.  In the evening of Mon 6 September 1915 the 177th and 182nd brigades took part in a swimming competition in the local baths in Fulham.  Norris and William Hayes Fisher, Fulham’s MP, had set up the event but may not have had time to attend it.  Then on the evening of Tue 7 September 1915 there was a concert at Christ Church parish hall, which had been handed over by the vicar, at Henry Norris’ request, to be the headquarters of the 177th brigade.  Norris probably didn’t attend this event either, as the speeches on the brigade’s behalf were made by their officer Lieutenant Dodd.  The following afternoon, Wed 8 September 1915 there was more marching through the streets to keep the brigades in the public’s eye and minds: the 177th and 182nd marched from the corner where Studbridge Street meets Wandsworth Bridge Road, under Lieutenant-Colonel Morrison.


At 7pm on Wed 22 September 1915 the London Borough of Fulham held its first scheduled meeting after its summer recess.


On the evening of Wed 6 October 1915 the Fulham Amateur Boxing Club began its autumn programme of practice evenings.  Henry Norris had been a founder of the club and was an ex-chairman, but as they coincided with the Council meetings he didn’t go to this meeting and probably only dropped in for a few minutes to subsequent ones.


On Wed 13 October 1915 Kent Lodge number 15 held its regular meeting, at the Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street Covent Garden.  If Henry Norris managed to attend this, he will have had his dinner interrupted: an air raid began while the members were eating; but with British sang froid the members opted to continue their meal as normal, rather than run for cover.

At 2.30pm on Fri 15 October 1915 the Metropolitan Water Board held its first meeting after its summer vacation.  A note on the agenda reported that Henry Norris had missed six months’-worth of meetings, and he didn’t attend this one.  Ordinarily this would have resulted in his automatic disqualification as an MWB representative; but of course, circumstances were not ordinary.  The representatives who did attend the meeting accepted Norris’ explanation that his time was even less his own now that he held a commission in the armed forces.  He was allowed to continue to represent Fulham at the MWB.  Except, of course, that his continual absence from MWB meetings left Fulham without representation.


At 3.30pm on Tue 19 October 1915 Henry Norris and all the other mayors of London boroughs were at the Mansion House in the City of London to hear Lord Derby announce a second phase in the War Census.  He had just been appointed to oversee what became known as the Group and Canvas Scheme, whereby all those who had been identified by the War Census as being eligible for combat duty were to be contacted and pressurised to sign up at once. During the period of autumn 1915 that Group and Canvas Scheme was active Henry Norris continued to act as recruiting officer for the London Borough of Fulham, which was what he had been given his commission as a Lieutenant for.  Carrying out the idea behind the Group and Canvas Scheme in Fulham was not so easy, however.  Under the Group and Canvas Scheme, all those young men on the database were being sent a letter asking them to agree to enlist in the armed forces when they were called upon to do so by the War Office.  The boroughs would keep a record of those who volunteered in this way so that when Lord Derby needed more troops for Europe, volunteers could be mobilised quickly.  However, at the regular Council meeting on Wed 20 October 1915 the councillors were told that the officials in charge of its War Census database (on cards) were already finding it hard to keep it up-to-date, because people changed address so very often in London.   Despite these problems, Henry Norris’ organisational skills meant that Fulham was one of the first boroughs to begin work on the Group and Canvas Scheme; letters began to be sent out on Tue 26 October 1915.  There were also supposed to be house-calls on likely volunteers; but the Times reported that especially in London there were not enough people willing to do the work, which was voluntary.


That evening, Tue 26 October 1915 a concert took place paid for by an anonymous local resident, which only men in uniform, or those who had been wounded in the fighting, were allowed to attend.  Henry Norris as mayor of Fulham was a patron of this event and allowed the concert organisers to use one of the large rooms at Fulham Town Hall for free as a donation to the event; but I’m not sure whether he actually attended the concert himself.


On Fri 29 October 1915 the West London and Fulham Times reported that it was almost inevitable that Henry Norris would serve as mayor from November 1915 to November 1916; it would be his seventh successive year in the job.


On Sat 30 October 1915 Henry Norris probably didn’t get time to go to see Charles Buchan playing out of position as a midfield maestro for Chelsea in the match which ended Chelsea 3 Arsenal 1.


During November 1915 Henry Norris’ 177th and 182nd artillery brigades began training on their “18-pounders” cannons with live ammunition. They were still in England at this stage.


At 7pm on Tue 9 November 1915 Henry Norris was duly re-elected to serve as mayor of Fulham.  He made a typically forthright speech criticising those young men who were not coming forward to volunteer under the Group and Canvas Scheme; especially those who were doing munitions work, earning £7 to £8 per week (a very good wage, but then the work was very dangerous) “instead of doing their duty to their country” (as he put it).   In the morning Sun 14 November 1915 both Henry and Edith Norris found time to go to All Saints Fulham for the Sunday service which traditionally started the mayoral year.  However, not many other councillors attended the service with them this year.


In early December 1915 Henry Norris was busy with another aspect of the Group and Canvas Scheme: each borough had to set up a tribunal to hear claims of exemption from its volunteering scheme.  Henry Norris was chairman of Fulham’s tribunal and in charge of getting its members chosen and its sittings organised.

During December 1915 an FA Commission issued a report on the Manchester Utd 2 Liverpool 0 game of Good Friday 1915; the report confirmed rumours that players (but not all players) on both sides had got together to fix the win and the score.  Several players were banned for life, but the FA decided to allow the result to stand.  This decision meant that Manchester Utd’s stayed in Football League Division One and Chelsea were relegated - an outcome which led to a sequel in 1919 (see my file on that year).  [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO SL19 HERE].


Shortly before Fri 3 December 1915 Henry Norris inaugurated an unusual unemployment register at Fulham Town Hall, as part of the ever-increasing pressure on young men to volunteer.  The register was for “all patriotic employers” (Norris’ own words) to use so that they could give preferential treatment to wounded soldiers capable of some work but no longer fit enough to fight.  On that day he received an annoyed letter from the local trades union representative complaining that the unions hadn’t been consulted about appointments to the local tribunal.  As Norris was its chairman this was his fault.  It may have been an oversight but I think it’s more likely that he never intended to allow the unions to be involved in the tribunal.  And in the West London and Fulham Times on Fri 3 December 1915, with Christmas coming, a letter from Henry Norris appeared urging the population of Fulham to stop spending money on luxuries, arguing that Britain was losing the war not on the battlefield but because profligate spending was meaning the Government was being refused credit to pay for the war.  On Fri 10 December 1915 the letter appeared in the Fulham Chronicle, WLFT’s main rival paper in the district.


Henry Norris may have been too busy to notice, but Fri 3 December 1915 was the last ever issue of West London and Fulham Times where for several seasons up to April 1913 he had published his weekly column on football (see my file on Henry Norris and the world of journalism).


On Wed 8 December 1915 Henry Norris was able to tell the other councillors, at the regular Council meeting, that 6210 men from the borough had volunteered under the Group and Canvas Scheme.  Between Wed 8 and Sat 11 December 1915 there was a great rush of volunteers signing up before the scheme’s closing date.  Its administrators in Fulham had to call for help from the Council’s employees and the War Office to cope.  Late on Sat 11 December 1915 there were still 3-4000 young men queuing at Fulham town hall to go through the necessary recruitment procedures.  The staff, probably including Henry Norris who was inclined to lead from the front, worked until 2am on Sun 12 December 1915 to get all the bureaucracy completed.


Men volunteering in this way were not yet being called on to join their military units and get ready to fight; for the present they were still civilians.  Presumably in order to be spared being presented with a white feather in the street, men who had volunteered with the Group and Canvas Scheme were supposed to be given a special armband to wear but at this date Fulham was the only borough, at least in west London, that was sufficiently organised to have the armbands available - another testimonial to Norris’ managerial skills.


On the evening of Thur 9 December 1915 a concert was held to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of the Fulham Voluntary Training Corps.  Again I can’t find any evidence that Henry Norris attended this despite its association with the war.  He was probably too busy to go along to it.


An important Act came into effect on Thur 23 December 1915 although I’m not sure quite how much Henry Norris was affected by it.  The Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act 1915 was meant to run for one year only, but successive governments kept renewing it for another year - and another - and another (with modifications) so that it was still in effect when Norris died in 1934; it formed the basis of landlord and tenant legislation at least until the 1960s.  However, within the Metropolitan Police district, only accommodation for rent at £35 per year or less came within its provisions and I’m fairly certain that the property still owned and rented out by Allen and Norris would all have been at rents much higher than that.  I have had a problem finding data to confirm this belief, however.


At Christmas 1915 very few men in Henry Norris’ 177th and 182nd artillery brigades were given leave; but they had a Christmas dinner in their barracks which had been paid for by the fund-raising events of the last few months (see above) in Fulham.


I have no details of how Henry Norris and his family spent Christmas 1915.  I hope that after such a gruelling year, he managed to have a few days rest at least.





Copyright Sally Davis February 2008