Last updated: October 2008


Wed 4 June 1917 was a HUGE day in Henry Norris’ life: the day he got his reward for all his hard work for the war.  Along with W Houghton-Gastrell MP and Norris’ acquaintance George Elliott, mayor of Islington, he was knighted in the birthday honours list for his efforts raising volunteers for the armed forces.  All the knights in the list had strong war connections; there were iron-masters, suppliers of cloth for uniforms and surgeons.  Over the next few days he received official congratulations on his honour from the Fulham Territorial Force; from Fulham Board of Guardians, via his wife Edith who was a member of its governors; and - fulsomely - from the other councillors at the London Borough of Fulham.  On Fri 8 June 1917 he even received them, rather grudgingly, in the Fulham Chronicle although the paper did not stop its increasingly personal attacks on him, describing him very differently from the way they had in previous years, as “not the most amiable man” and as “never wanting in the matter of self-approval”.  He and George Elliott both went to Buckingham Palace to have the sword laid on their shoulders by King George V on the morning of Wed 13 June 1917 in the middle of an air-raid.


The summer of Passchendaele was the summer of mud.  On Sat 16 June 1917 a severe storm flooded a lot of basements in Fulham, as a result of which it became clear that the local Council was no longer carrying out its duty cleaning out the sewers.  Admittedly there was a shortage of manpower but - uugh!


At 2.30pm on Tue 19 June 1917 Henry Norris was at Spring Gardens for the regular meeting of the LCC.


The evening of Wed 20 June 1917 saw Henry Norris’ political career being mapped out: at its regular meeting, the London Borough of Fulham discussed the ongoing process of changing the boundaries of the Parliamentary constituencies to reflect changes in population distribution.  Currently, William Hayes Fisher was MP for all of Fulham; but Fulham was going to be divided into two constituencies, and the Fulham councillors were all assuming Henry Norris would be chosen as Conservative Party candidate in one of them.  Norris himself had other things on his mind that day: on 20 June 1917 and at a relatively young age, Arthur Foulds died in a nursing home in Southfields, after a short illness.  Foulds had probably been employed by William Gilbert Allen in his building firm before Allen and Norris went into partnership; he was a carpenter with some supervisory experience and may have been second-in-command to Francis Plummer in the joinery workshop.  Later he left to start his own joinery business but continued to be close to the partnership, maybe as a sub-contractor.  In 1903 Foulds had bought shares in Allen and Norris’ venture Fulham Football and Athletic Company Limited; he’d served on its board of directors for several years.  For the past four years, Foulds and his family had lived in one of the houses on Wimbledon Park Road that had been built by Allen and Norris. 


At 14.45 on Sat 23 June 1917 in his capacity as Assistant Grand Sword Bearer, Henry Norris played a small role in a big meeting of the Grand Lodge of freemasons, held at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate its bi-centenary.  Then at 11.00gmt on Sun 24 June 1917 he should have been back at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the same celebration, to attend a masonic service of commemoration.  I say ‘should have been’ but as a mere AGSB Norris wasn’t of high enough rank in the freemasons to get on the list of members who attended; so I don’t know definitely that he was there.


At 2.30pm Wed 27 June 1917 Henry Norris was at Spring Gardens for the regular meeting of the LCC Education Committee.  It was short, being declared over at 3.16pm, and there was very little debate - the London Borough of Fulham wasn’t the only institution where the processes of democracy were looking pretty moribund.


On Sat 30 June 1917 Fulham’s first Baby Week began; most London boroughs had one amidst concern about the health of infants in wartime.  Henry Norris was not much involved in the events but as mayoress, Edith Norris was heavily involved both in the Week’s organisation and in the events as they took place - a busy few weeks for her.  It was her fate in the evening of Mon 2 July 1917 to chair a meeting of the Baby Week Campaign at which the London Borough of Fulham was criticised yet again, by several speakers, for not giving infant health-care high enough priority and financial support.


At 2.30pm on Tue 3 July 1917 Henry Norris was at the regular meeting of the full LCC.


Another taste of politics to come occurred on Fri 6 July 1917 with official confirmation that William Hayes Fisher had been appointed President of the Local Government Board.  As a result, he had to resign as MP, causing a by-election in Fulham.  However, under the terms of the Coalition Government, the Liberal Party agreed not to field a candidate against him.  The Labour Party might have fielded a candidate but they were not told what was going on until the formalities were all over: Hayes Fisher was declared MP for Fulham, without a vote, within a day or two of his appointment.  As mayor of Fulham Henry Norris would have had a lot to do with how this non-by-election was carried out.


On the afternoon of Sat 7 July 1917 the London Borough of Islington’s baby week ended with a baby show, held at Highbury “through the kindness of Sir Henry Norris” though he doesn’t seem to have been at the event.          


On the morning of Mon 9 July 1917 Henry Norris, as mayor of Fulham, opened a Welfare Exhibition at the town hall.


Again, Henry Norris missed the meeting on the afternoon of Wed 11 July 1917 of the LCC’s Education Committee.


On Mon 16 July 1917 the Football League issued a statement about season 1917/18, stating that it would be organised under the wartime rules of the last two season.  The London Combination would thus continue to run an amateur football league amongst the London clubs that had been professional, in the Football League or Southern League.


In the afternoon of Tue 17 July 1917 the LCC held its regular meeting of all its councillors, but Henry Norris didn’t attend it.


On the evening of Wed 18 July 1917 Henry Norris, as mayor, was approached by a deputation from the Fulham Food Vigilance Committee wanting to address the usual meeting of the London Borough of Fulham on some serious issues about food shortages and prices.  I’m not sure on what grounds, but Norris ruled their approach out of order and they had to leave without making their statement.  The councillors then discussed the Local Government Board’s attempts to create a system for rationing of coal; and the continuing measles epidemic.


On the afternoon of Wed 25 July 1917 Henry Norris missed another of the LCC Education Committee’s regular meetings.


On Thur 26 July 1917 Henry Norris may have accompanied Edith when she opened the Fulham Flower Show, held in Hurlingham; but I think he was not with her, because she did the opening ceremony herself, something she didn’t usually do unless she was on her own.  The show ran until Sat 28 July 1917.


At 2.30pm on Tue 31 July 1917 the LCC held its last full meeting before its summer break; Henry Norris did manage to attend this.  But again on a Wednesday afternoon, 1 Aug 1917 he missed the LCC Education Committee meeting, also the last before the summer vacation.


At 11.15am on Wed 8 August 1917 a hearing took place at Fulham Town Hall of the Government commission investigating boundary changes to Parliamentary constituencies.  Although all were agreed that the current constituency of Fulham needed dividing into two, the commission hadn’t reached a decision on whether the division should be north/south, or east/west.  The hearing was to gather local opinion on the matter and Henry Norris may have addressed the commissioners, though I haven’t found a list of the people who did so.  Norris may have been too busy because the Army List of Wed 8 August 1917 announced that he had been promoted to Colonel, to go with a new job as one of eight Deputy Directors of Recruiting, all graded as assistant adjutant-generals.  These new posts were organised geographically; Norris had been given the South-East Region, which covered Kent, Hampshire, Sussex and those parts of Surrey not within the area covered by the Metropolitan Police.  I presume, then, that while doing the job Norris was based in that area, probably at Worthing like with the job he’d done in the spring of 1916.


At 3pm on Thur 9 August 1917 Henry Norris and William Hayes Fisher, MP for Fulham, were amongst the guests of the War Seal Foundation at a stone-laying ceremony in Walham Green. The War Seal Foundation was the idea of Oswald Stoll of Stoll-Moss Theatres; he and his wife were at the ceremony.  The Foundation built housing for soldiers disabled in the World War 1 fighting (and still exists, with its offices in Fulham Road).  After the stone-laying (carried out by Hayes Fisher) the guests all attended a reception at Fulham Town Hall at 4pm.


If he had time to spare on the afternoon of Sat 25 August 1917 Henry Norris may have been at Craven Cottage for the charity match Navy 5 Army 1, in aid of the Bulldog Club Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Fund. Norris didn’t attend the first match of season 1917/18 at Highbury, on the afternoon of Sat 1 September 1917: Arsenal 2 QPR 0 had a crowd of 6000, not bad for wartime.  The only Arsenal directors that did manage to see it were William Hall and his brother-in-law George Davis.  During season 1917/18 Arsenal played with roughly the same players as the last one (see my file Arsenal In World War 1). [ROGER THIS FILE ISN’T WRITTEN YET.]  Punch McEwan continued as coach of such training as was possible under the circumstances; and he picked the team.


The Grand Lodge of Freemasons of England had its quarterly meetings Wednesday evenings which made it difficult for Henry Norris to attend; but he did get to the meeting on Wed 5 September 1917 because there wasn’t a meeting of the London Borough of Fulham that day.  The Grand Lodge met in Covent Garden.

On Sat 8 September 1917 Arsenal director Charles Crisp went to a football match, probably for the first time since World War 1 had broken out - but it wasn’t an Arsenal game!  With White Hart Lane still under the control of the War Office, Spurs were playing their home games at Highbury.  Spurs 0 Chelsea 4 had a crowd of 11000.


On Fri 14 September 1917 an official notice in the Fulham Chronicle announced the national sugar-rationing scheme.  The scheme further increased Henry Norris’ work-load, as the local councils were charged with administering it.  The following Friday, 21 September 1917the Chronicle published a letter from employees of the London Borough of Fulham; they were starting a petition against a proposed rise in the price of milk.  Despite the wartime conditions, there were still trade disputes in Fulham.  On Fri 28 September 1917 the Chronicle reported a strike over wages at the Lord Roberts Memorial Workshops, where soldiers disabled in the fighting worked making toys.  The paper also reported that bus fares had gone up.


On the afternoon of Sat 29 September 1917 Henry Norris got to a football match at Highbury and this time he definitely saw the kick-off as well as the end (see May 1917 above): he was at Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1, the first time in ages that Arthur Bourke/Norseman, football writer at the Islington Daily Gazette had seen him.


During the autumn of 1917 the Government wrote to Henry Norris as mayor of Fulham offering the Borough a captured German gun.  At some time in October or November 1917 Norris wrote back to accept: and then heard nothing further about it!  By late October 1918 no gun had been delivered.


Also during autumn 1917 Henry Norris commissioned a banner to be made to celebrate the bi-centenary of the Grand Lodge of English freemasons.  In October 1917 he presented the banner to Kent Lodge number 15.  Although he was a member of several freemasons’ lodges (see my file Henry Norris as a Freemason and in the Feltmakers’ Guild), Kent Lodge number 15 was the one in which he was most active; he had served as its Worshipful Master twice.


On Fri 12 October 1917 the Fulham Chronicle reported another trouble for Henry Norris as mayor of Fulham: the Council was being threatened by a strike over wages by its grave-diggers.


On the afternoon of Sat 13 October 1917 there was a pageant at Stamford Bridge football ground whose theme was the life of Boadicea (Boudicca).  The coverage of it didn’t mention who was present so I don’t know whether Henry Norris went to it.


October saw the LCC return to work from its summer break.  Henry Norris went to the meeting of the full Council at 2.30pm on Tue 16 October 1917.


By the evening of Thur 18 October 1917 when the London Borough of Fulham held its last meeting of the mayoral year, it was clear that Henry Norris’ election for his ninth year as mayor of Fulham was - as since even before the war had begun - a formality.  He made a speech in which he drew councillors’ attention to the hard work being done in the borough by Town Clerk Percy Shuter and his (much reduced despite having more to do) staff.  Norris was anxious to ensure that Shuter got the praise he was due; he said that he was often credited with work actually carried out by Shuter.


In the afternoon of Wed 24 October 1917 the LCC Education Committee held its first meeting after the summer break.  Again Henry Norris didn’t attend, and he missed some important votes, the outcome of which would increase the LCC rates: the Education Committee voted to increase the pay of its teaching staff; and to support the Government’s Education Bill 1917 which would raise the school-leaving age.

On Sun 28 October 1917 at the church of St Clement Danes at the Aldwych there was a special service for freemasons killed in the war; Henry Norris may have attended it.


On Mon 29 October 1917 it was announced that Henry Norris would be the (civilian) Director of the South-East Recruiting Region.  With no records existing at the PRO that I can find, I don’t quite understand whether this is the appointment in the Army List in August (see above), now made official, or another promotion.  He would be reporting to the Director General of Recruiting, a Mr J Seymour Lloyd, who worked for the Secretary of State for National Service.  He continued in this job until a re-organisation made it impossible for him to do it and his duties as mayor of Fulham, causing him to retire in July 1918.  The appointment appeared in more ‘officialese’ guise in the London Gazette of 3 December 1919, where it was made clear it was a wartime appointment only - Norris would return to civilian life when the war ended.


On the afternoon of Tue 30 October 1917 Henry Norris wasn’t able to attend the regular meeting of the LCC Council.  However, the following week at 2.30pm on Wed 7 November 1917 he attended his first LCC Education Committee meeting for several months, at which the councillors discussed teachers’ pay.  And on Fri 9 November 1917 he was at a Metropolitan Water Board meeting, the first he’d attended for several years.  This one was called as an emergency and took place in its office at Savoy Court.  MWB representatives were fighting to keep Savoy Court from being requisitioned by the Air Ministry.


At a meeting of the London Borough of Fulham on Fri 9 November 1917 Henry Norris was formally elected mayor of Fulham again; as had become usual, there had been no other nominations for the job.  He made a speech in which he longed for peace and called the war “disastrous and unfortunate”.


At 2.30pm Tue 13 November 1917 Henry Norris was at the regular meeting of the full LCC; the councillors discussed the pay rise for teachers voted for by its Education Committee and the meeting went on longer than usual, being declared over at 5.24pm.  As a result he was late that evening, Tue 13 November 1917 for a meeting of the Fulham War Savings Associations, so the Rev Propert acted as chairman for him.  He made a speech defending the recent Lord Mayor’s Banquet - that it should be held, in a time of food shortages and hardship, had caused outrage.  Norris took care to assure his listeners that, although he thought it was right to go ahead with it, he hadn’t attended the banquet himself.


On Thur 15 November 1917 Henry Norris may have attended another meeting of the Metropolitan Water Board as it attempted to hang on to its own offices (it had always been short of office space).  The Minutes didn’t have the usual list of the representatives who were present, probably because the meeting was organised at such short notice.  The MWB’s rearguard action had no effect: the Air Ministry moved in.


At its meeting on the evening of Wed 21 November 1917 the London Borough of Fulham finally got round to filling its vacant councillor-ships (some had been vacant for over a year).  Henry Norris allowed a letter to be read out complaining that all those nominated for the vacancies were from the one political party (the Conservatives); but the nominations went through anyway.  This caused the Fulham Chronicle, on Fri 23 November 1917 to describe the local Council as as ruled by a “wilful and bigoted...junta”, and each councillor as “a toy figure...worked by a string”; no names were mentioned, of course, but it was clear the Chronicle thought Norris was the puppeteer-in-chief.


On the evening of Thur 22 November 1917 there was a concert at Fulham Town Hall to raise money for the local branch of the British Red Cross, of which Edith Norris, as the mayoress of Fulham, was a co-opted member.  She attended the concert but Henry Norris wasn’t with her; she went with their good friend George Peachey.


On the afternoon of Fri 23 November 1917 there was a special meeting of the full LCC solely to consider the latest report of its Theatre and Music Halls Standing Committee, which supervised licensing in the LCC area.  Henry Norris didn’t attend it.  However he did get to the meeting at 2.30pm on Tue 27 November 1917 which again discussed teachers’ pay and the Education Bill.


At 08.30 on Fri 30 November 1917 two women were killed in an explosion in a factory somewhere in Fulham.  I haven’t been able to discover any more information about what happened; but as government officials attended the inquest on the two bodies, I take it this was a munitions factory incident.


On the afternoon of Wed 5 December 1917 Henry Norris missed another meeting of the LCC Education Committee.  But in the early evening of that day, Wed 5 December 1917 he did attend the quarterly meeting of the United Grand Lodge of England.  He may have made an effort to be there to meet particular freemasons who could help a cause he was involved with: between 5 December 1917 and 6 March 1918 the powers that be in the United Grand Lodge gave the necessary permission for the setting up of the Feltmakers Lodge, number 3839.  Henry Norris was a founder member of this lodge.


It being the end of the year, pay rises for Council workers were being discussed in Fulham.  On Fri 7 December 1917 the Fulham Chronicle complained about the press being ordered out of the meetings of the London Borough of Fulham at which pay-rises for Town Clerk Percy Shuter, and his deputy, were discussed.  Exactly the same thing had happened the year before.  The Chronicle was only told the eventual outcome of all the discussions: at the meeting on the evening of Wed 19 December 1917 the London Borough of Fulham agreed a bonus of 100 guineas for Shuter, and 50 guineas for his deputy, because of their extra duties in wartime.  The councillors rejected the idea of a pay-rise.


On the afternoon of Tue 11 November 1917 the LCC held its regular meeting of the full council; but Henry Norris didn’t attend it.   Nor did he go to the next one, the last of 1917, held at 2.30pm on Tue 18 December 1917.  At this meeting councillors discussed Government plans for a state-aided midwifery service - which might not have interested Henry Norris very much but which was a subject very dear to the heart of his wife.  On the following afternoon, Wed 19 December 1917 he also missed the regular meeting of the LCC’s Education Committee.


I don’t know what Henry Norris and his family did for Christmas 1917.  He may have gone to some football matches but I doubt it; football couldn’t be a priority for him as long as the war continued.  He had too many other commitments.  However, he does seem to have been doing work that was required by law on football’s financial side: on Mon 31 December 1917 Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited did produce some annual accounts - well past the usual date for holding the AGM (August) but I think no AGM took place in 1917.  The company’s figures will have given its directors a gloomy New Year: Henry Norris and William Hall were owed £15838 between them; and Humphreys Ltd, who had built the grandstand at Highbury, were owed £19943.  With no end to the war in sight, no date could be fixed for beginning to pay any of this back.





Copyright Sally Davis February 2008






Copyright Sally Davis February 2008