1917 - a
grim year for most; but Henry Norris gets knighted.
Last updated: February 2008
Ypres again: Passchendaele.† Rationing of bread, meat and sugar but it was
only voluntary.† Two revolutions in Russia.†
The US entered World War 1.† Prokofievís First Symphony, the
Classical.† Eddie Cantorís first
recordings.† J R R Tolkien began what was
published as The Silmarillion.† Births:
Anthony Burgess.† The Maharishi Mahesh
Yogi (whoís only just died in 2008).†
John Lee Hooker.† Vera Lynn.† Ella Fitzgerald, Jo Stafford, Lena Horne,
Buddy Rich, Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie - what an amazing year for jazz!
comment on football: if youíve read the files on 1915 and 1916, youíll know
that football in London was being played under the auspices of the London Combination; and that
Henry Norris was too busy to go to matches - he probably saw no more than a
handful between May 1915 and November 1918.†
So I havenít included lists of fixtures in this account of 1917.† Thatís not to say he didnít know what was
going on, of course!† But other things
were more important: as I say, 1917 was a grim year for most.† But some people did very well out of World
War 1 - probably far better than they would have fared if it hadnít happened.† On Fri 12 January
the Fulham Chronicle reported that a gang-culture had developed amongst
those young men in Fulham who were (for whatever reason) exempt from military
service.† As a reporter in the Fulham
Chronicle wrote, with a lot of them earning very good money in the
munitions factories, the members of the Boston Boys gang could afford to dress
- like Americans!
of the death of Rasputin was in the London papers on Wed 3
January 1917 and the Times, at least, was aware from the first that he had been
murdered.† Further details of what had
happened emerged over the next few days, but didnít set the death in a wider
On the evening
of Tue 16 January 1917 the London Borough of Fulhamís
Works and Highways standing committe had its regular meeting.† Henry Norris was not a member, but what the
committee discussed that day became a big issue in Fulham later in the year: in
the face of growing shortages, the committee discussed the use of vacant land
in the borough for growing food.
young men might be doing well out of munitions work, but it was extremely
dangerous.† At Fri 19
January 1917 there was an explosion at the Silvertown TNT-making factory, on the
north bank of the Thames, opposite Woolwich.† 73 people
were killed, mostly outright by the explosion; more than 400 were injured,
mostly by flying pieces of red-hot metal, and another 400 were made homeless as
three streets of houses were reduced to rubble.†
The blast was heard as far away as Sandringham (Norfolk) and Southampton.†
If Norris was at home in Richmond his doors and windows would have
rattled and he would have heard a dull thud.†
If he was in Piccadilly he would have heard the blast and shattering
windows, and perhaps have gone out to see St Paulís and the shipsí masts as
black outlines against the flames.
At on Tue 23
January 1917 Henry Norris attended the fortnightly meeting of the full LCC at its HQ
in SpringGardens on the south bank.† As a member of the LCCís Public Health standing
committee he would also have been expected to attend its meetings as well; but
Iím not sure when in the week they were held.
January 1917 all
local authorities were once more working for the war effort, setting up the
mechanisms by which individuals could invest in the new War Loan government
stock by buying it via weekly payments at an office in the FulhamTown Hall.†
By Fri 26 January 1917 the London Borough of Fulham had
invested £10,000 in the War Loan stock on behalf of the residents of
Fulham.† In the evening of Mon 29 January 1917 there was a meeting at the FulhamTown Hall to tell the public how the War Loan
stocks worked.† I couldnít find a list of
the people who were present, but I would expect Henry Norris to have been at
there and made a speech urging local people to buy War Loan stock as a good
investment and their duty as citizens.
beginning of February 1917 the Government launched a campaign aimed at men and women who were
above the age of conscription, to volunteer (as civilians) to take over the
jobs of young men being called up.† A
first public meeting took place probably on Tue 6 February
but I donít know if Henry Norris attended it.
night of Fri 2 to Sat 3 February 1917 a temperature of 23ļF was recorded
beginning a week-end of particularly severe frosts in London.†
During the afternoon of Sun 4 February
the frost eased, but it began to snow.
On Sat 3
February 1917 the new government Food Controller, Lord Devonport, issued a
set of guidelines for weights per person per week of flour products, meat and
sugar - rationing.† BUT the guidelines
were only voluntary.
At Tue 6
February 1917 Henry Norris attended an LCC meeting at SpringGardens.
On Fri 9
February 1917 the Fulham Chronicle published a letter from Henry
Norris, as mayor, following up the recent meeting byurging them to
invest in the War Loan stock and describing how they could do so.† Norris said that the £10000 stock already
bought by the Council would be
name of mayor and Town Clerk; anyone choosing to invest in the War Loan stock
would buy their stock from this £10000-worth.†
Also in this issue, the Chronicle - critical in recent months
(see my file on 1916) of the way the Council was being run - made a pitch to
central government for a public acknowledgement of Henry Norrisí contribution
to the war effort.
By the afternoon
of Sat 10 February 1917 the weather had not let up.† The London Combination game Arsenal 3 Fulham
2 was played on a pitch covered with snow.†
I donít think that Henry Norris was able to get away to watch the
match.† The Islington Daily Gazette
reported that after 14 days of bitter cold there was a shortage of coal, which
was hitting the poor very badly.
When Henry Norris
chaired† regular meeting of the London
Borough of Fulham on the evening of Wed 14 February
the administration of the War Loan stock investment scheme had grown so large -
like bureaucracy does! - that it had filled the main council chamber; so the
councillors met in a cramped room upstairs.†
Fri 16 February 1917 was the closing date for
applications for War Loan stock.
match on Sat 17 February 1917, Arsenal 3 Chelsea 0, a collection
was made for the soldiers of the Footballersí Battalion, now fighting in France.†
Arsenal were on a good run: 11 played, 7 wins, 3 draws, only 1
loss.† Arthur Roston Bourke, writing as
Norseman in the Islington Daily Gazette, said how sad it was that the
Arsenal directors couldnít appreciate the teamís good form to the full as they
could hardly ever get to the matches.†
Two directors did get to this game: William Hall and his brother-in-law
George Davis.† Bourke also saw the FA
Secretary Fred Wall, and noted football journalists J J Bentley and J A H
Catton at the game, with old Arsenal hand, George Allison, like Catton a
journalist with Hulton Newspapers.† But
Henry Norris wasnít there.†
February 1917 Henry Norris attended the regular meeting of the full LCC at SpringGardens.†
So he wasnít able to be at the Lord Robertsí Memorial Workshops, in Fulham Road, that day, Tue 20 February 1917 to welcome the Duke of Connaught and Princess
Christian when they paid them a visit.
In the evening
of Wed 21 February 1917 Henry Norris chaired the meeting of
the London Borough of Fulham, after yet another burden had been laid on local
authorities by circulars issued by the Local Government Board and the
Director-General of National Service: yet again they were to form committees to
encourage young men to volunteer for the armed forces.† The councillors also discussed the use of
vacant land for growing food, but they donít seem to have taken any action as a
During the afternoon
of Thur 22 February 1917, as mayor of Fulham, Henry Norris
attended a meeting to hand over an ambulance paid for by the Fulham Territorial
Force to the London Ambulance Column.
meeting of the London Borough of Fulham on the evening of Wed 28 February
1917 Henry Norris, as mayor, allowed in a deputation of local people wanting
more urgent action to bring vacant land in Fulham into use for
food-growing.† The bishop of London had offered some of the land
surrounding his official residence at FulhamPalace for this purpose and the deputation
was urging the councillors to take up his offer.† But after a debate in which Norris played a
prominent role, the councillors decided to refuse the bishopís offer, and tell
him that he had to organise the use of the land himself rather than expect them
to do it.† With the Council administration
so stretched already, perhaps Norris was right to say that it couldnít take on
this extra task; but on Fri 2 March 1917 the Fulham Chronicleís
editorial lampooned him mercilessly for his comments during the debate on the
matter, wondering if heíd been converted by the Labour Party.
weather continued.† On Sat 3 March 1917 there was snow on the pitch at Highbury for
Spurs v Portsmouth.
At Tue 6
March 1917 Henry Norris attended the regular meeting of the full LCC.
On the evening
of Wed 7 March 1917 Henry Norris chaired the meeting of
the London Borough of Fulham at which the next financial yearís estimates were
On Fri 9
March 1917 the Fulham Chronicle criticised Henry Norris personally
for the mess the London Borough of Fulham was making of the question of how (or
if) to use land in Fulham for growing food.†
The article was in the context of a U-turn by the Government, meaning
that potato prices would go up (again) next month.† There was such a shortage of potatoes already
that queues formed outside any greengrocers rumoured to have them for sale; and
farmers were being accused of pocketing the profits while foods considered
staples got too expensive for ordinary people to afford.† By Fri 25 May 1917 you had to pay 3d for one pound of
potatoes; before the war you could get three pounds for 2d.
food, in the end, that brought down the Romanovs. Although what exactly had
happened wasnít clear until Wed 21 March 1917, over the weekend of
Sat 10 to Sun 11 March 1917 a month of demonstrations in Petrograd over the
scarcity of bread, and the lowering of the bread ration, ended with a
revolution in favour of the Duma (the Russian parliament), against Tsar
Nicholas IIís attempts to hang on to absolute power.† He abdicated on Fri 16
March 1917 and within the month was under house arrest with the Tsarina being
treated as an enemy alien (she was German by birth).
20 March 1917 Henry Norris attended the first LCC
meeting of its year, when expenditure for the financial year was agreed and the
standing committees were chosen.† Norris
was chosen to serve on the Education Standing Committtee for the next 12
months.† This doesnít seem to have had
much to do with his past experience as a school governor in Fulham, although no
doubt that was welcome in committee members; it was more that the LCCís
education programme was its biggest commitment in financial and other terms,
and so all LCC councillors served some time on the education standing
committee.† Education Committee meetings
were held on Wednesday afternoons so Norrisí Wednesdays got busier than
end of the winter of 1916-17, the consequences of the war, the cold, the
food shortages and the whole damn thing were becoming acute: at the meeting on
the evening ofWed 21 March 1917 of the London Borough of Fulham
the councillors discussed the measles epidemic that had been raging in the
borough since November, filling those hospital beds not being taken by
On Fri 23 March 1917 there was more criticism of the councillors of
the London Borough of Fulham in the Fulham Chronicle, this time of their
behaviour in the Driscoll Estate rent dispute, which the Chronicle
described as ďshabbyĒ.
on Wed 28 March 1917 Henry Norris attended his first
meeting as a member of the LCC Education Standing Committee.† Perhaps because of his construction industry
experience, he was elected to its Accommodation and Attendance sub-committee.† From 28 Mar
to March 1918 this
sub-committee would have met fortnightly; I donít know when in the week this
happened and I couldnít find out how many meetings Norris was able to attend.
During the afternoon
of Thur 29 March 1917 Henry Norris, as mayor, chaired the
AGM of Fulhamís Dispensary for the Prevention of Consumption (TB), held in its
office at 114 New Kings Road.† In his
speech he made a joke about recent criticism of him in the press; not something
he did very often, making jokes.
evening of Mon 2 April 1917 Henry Norris was elected a member
of one of the City of London livery companies - the Feltmakersí
Company.† He was proposed for membership
by a very distinguished member of the estate agentsí fraternity, Sir Louis
Newton, a previous and future Lord Mayor of London.†
Thereafter he was eligible to attend its meetings, which were held at
the Guildhall on the first Monday of January, April, July and October; and he
soon started making his way up its hierarchy towards serving as its Master for
one year.† There he met John James
Edwards, a very active member, a solicitor based in the West End.†
Edwards became the last man that Norris recruited to the board of
directors at Arsenal Football and Athletic Company.
information on Norrisí Ďsecret societiesí activities see my file: Henry Norris
as a Freemason and in the Feltmakersí Guild.) [ROGER THIS FILE HASNíT BEEN
At on Tue 3
April 1917 Henry Norris attended the LCC meeting at SpringGardens; this one went on longer than most,
being declared finished at .†
On the following afternoon, Wed 4 April
however, he wasnít at the regular meeting of the LCC Education Standing
1917 was over the weekend Fri 6 to Mon 9 April
but with all his commitments, and the terrible weather continuing, I doubt if
Henry Norris took a break.† He doesnít
seem to have gone to see Arsenal 3 Spurs 2 on the Monday,
9 April 1917; it was played in a snowstorm but 12000 people were there - a huge
crowd by wartime standards.† By Sat 14
April 1917 when the other north London derby was played - Clapton Orient 1
Arsenal 3 - the weather had got a bit better - strong winds and pouring rain
had replaced the freeze.
On Fri 20 April 1917 the Fulham Chronicle kept up its
criticism of the way the London Borough of Fulham was managing local affairs,
by blaming Henry Norris specifically for the decision to refuse the Bishop of
Londonís offer of land for food at his official residence.† However, this particular criticism rang
rather hollow as the debate about the FulhamPalace gardens had been overtaken by
events: the War Office had requisitioned part of the land under debate,
intending to build a military hospital on it.
By Sat 21 April 1917 West Ham had already won the London
Combination championship.† Arsenal 2 West
Ham 1 was therefore a good result.†
Wartime football had not changed Arsenalís way of playing: West Ham did
the pretty football, Arsenal were more effective.† William Hall and George Allison both managed
to get to the match, but Henry Norris didnít.
It is very
curious, how much the Freemasons seemed from their records to have kept going
through the war more or less as usual.†
In the evening of Wed 25 April 1917 the annual festival of the United
Grand Lodge was held, and Captain Henry Norris was appointed to an official
position within it: he became Assistant Grand Sword Bearer, a post held for one
year, at the end of which you became Past AGSB, a rank you kept for life.†
By Fri 27 April 1917 the Fulham Chronicleís almost weekly criticism
of the London Borough of Fulham was getting shrill and personal.† It accused Henry Norris, again specifically,
of deliberately refusing to be more pro-active about the Bishop of Londonís
offer of his gardens.† The Chronicle
accused Norris of distrusting and disliking the residents of Fulham, and of
being part of a Conservative Party plot to prevent civil war breaking out in Britain once the fighting in Europe was over.†
On Sat 28 April 1917 Arsenal 4 Crystal Palace 0 was the last game
of season 1916/17; the crowd was 5000, mostly soldiers on leave.† It was the only game that I know definitely
that Norris saw any part of that season, and the report in the Islington
Gazette reads as if he wasnít there for the kick-off.† However, when the match had finished, in the evening
of Sat 28 April 1917 Norris and William Hall took the
Arsenal players out to dinner, at the Holborn Restaurant, the popular football
socialising venue opposite where Holborn tube station is now.
In the afternoon
of Mon 30 April 1917 the LCC Education Committee held a
meeting extra to its normal schedule, to discuss the financial estimates for
the next year.† Henry Norris wasnít able
to attend it.† At on Tue 1
he was at the regular meeting of the full LCC.
At on Wed 2
Henry Norris was at the Freemasonsí Hall, in Covent Garden, for a meeting of the Supreme Grand
Chapter, at which he was appointed Past Deputy Grand Sword Bearer.
cold winter meant that as late as Fri 4 May 1917 there were still shortages of coal;
prices were very high.† On Fri 11 May
1917 the Fulham Chronicle mentioned how desperate the shortage of
housing was getting in Fulham: with no new building going on, and repairs not
being carried out for lack of workmen.
In the afternoon
of Wed 9 May 1917 the LCC Education Committee held
its regular meeting but Henry Norris didnít attend it.
On the afternoon
of Tue 15 May 1917 Henry Norris wasnít able to attend
the usual meeting of the LCC.† However,
in the evening, Tue 15 May 1917 he went with Edith to a concert at FulhamTown Hall in aid of the local Womenís Service
Bureau and the Scottish hospital units now based in London.
At on Tue 22
Henry Norris attended the regular meeting of the full LCC.† But again, he missed the regular meeting
of the LCC Education Committee on the afternoon of Wed 23 May 1917.
IF YOU WANT
TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE SOURCES OF ALL THIS INFORMATION, SEND ME AN EMAIL AND
IíLL SEND YOU THE SOURCES FILE.