Henry Norris in 1918 - the end of the fighting
Last updated: April 2008
Zeebrugge Raid. Operation Michael. US troops do some fighting. British occupy Palestine. Social and political collapse all over Europe. Flu epidemic. First: ration books. Founded: United Newspapers. Strike by Metropolitan Police. Site of Stonehenge is given to the nation.
Just in case you haven’t read the previous year’s events: As mayor of Fulham, Henry Norris had a commitment to chair the meetings of the full council, every fortnight on Wednesdays at 7pm; they rarely lasted longer than a few minutes. He represented Fulham as a councillor at the London County Council, whose regular full council meetings were every fortnight on Tuesday afternoons; he was on the LCC Education Standing Committee which met on Wednesday afternoons but he didn’t go to the meetings very often. And he was Fulham’s representative on the Metropolitan Water Board; but due to other commitments he had only attended one or two meetings since the outbreak of the war. He also had a job at the Ministry of National Service; his area of jurisdiction covered the South-East of England and didn’t include London.
By 1918 Henry Norris had been elected, or appointed, to the board of Stimex Gas Stove Company Limited, of Clapham; founded by Edward Stimson, son of Norris’ acquaintance of the same name, an estate agent and member of Kent Lodge number 15.
During 1918 Henry Norris took a big step up the ladder to being great and good: he got into Who’s Who for the first time. His entry lists him as the chairman of the following companies: Kinnaird Park Estates Company Limited and Municipal Freehold Land Company Limited. In addition, he was a director of Municipal House Property Trust Limited and the Stimex Gas Stove Company Limited. Rather worryingly (at least to me) he listed his involvement with Fulham FC and Arsenal FC as “Recreations”. According to the grandson of William Gilbert Allen, the two ‘municipal’ companies were set up by the Allen and Norris partnership around 1900 to minimise the partnership’s liabilities in tax and bankruptcy. For more on KPEC and Stimex see my file on Kinnaird Park Estate Company and also the one on the South London Estate Agent circuit. [ROGER I SHALL NEED TWO LINKS HERE WHEN THE FILES ARE WRITTEN].
Also some time during 1918 William Gilbert Allen retired from active participation in Allen and Norris, probably for reasons of ill-health after four years of running the partnership’s business on his own.
As early as Fri 4 January 1918 there were already moves in Fulham to set up some kind of memorial to the borough’s war dead. Henry Norris was nothing to do with this at this stage; its instigator was a Mr Stow.
On Mon 7 January 1918 a meeting of members of the Feltmakers’ Company, in Café Monico at Piccadilly Circus, began the process of applying to the hierarchy of the freemasons for permission to form the Feltmakers’ Lodge, which became lodge number 3839. Although Henry Norris almost certainly didn’t attend this first meeting he was a prime mover in getting the lodge established; the process took three months.
At 8pm on Tue 8 January 1918 Henry Norris was at Fulham Town Hall, where he chaired a meeting of the Fulham War Savings Committee at which they began organising the forthcoming campaign week in which they would try to drum up enthusiasm for the new war bonds. He may also have been at the children’s party in the town hall, at 5.30pm. At 8pm on Thur 10 January 1918 there was a second meeting of the War Savings Committee for their campaign week; again with Norris in the chair, at Fulham Town Hall. At 10.30 on Mon 14 January 1918 the new war bonds went on sale, at Fulham Borough’s Electricity Showrooms, 603 Fulham Road.
At 2.30pm on Tue 22 January 1918 Henry Norris was at Spring Gardens on London’s south bank for the regular meeting of the full LCC. During the afternoon of Wed 23 January 1918 the LCC Education Committee held a meeting at short notice to discuss the Education Bill; Henry Norris was amongst many LCC councillors who couldn’t get to it.
On Fri 25 January 1918 the Fulham Chronicle reported a recent incident outside the Maypole Dairy on North End Road, Fulham: 300-400 women were waiting for margarine when one women tried to jump the queue. There was a scuffle and several arrests were made.
On Sat 26 January 1918 Henry Norris had the rare luxury of having spare time to go to a football match: he went to Highbury with his daughter Joy to see Spurs 0 Fulham 1. (For why Spurs were playing a home game at Highbury see the diary file for September 1916). [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE TO SL16]. Play was held up for several minutes while a dog was rounded up that had rushed onto the pitch; Norris’ grand-daughter tells me that this was Joy’s dog, escaped from the directors’ box.
During the afternoon of Wed 30 January 1918 Henry Norris and Edith went to Peterborough School in Fulham, where Norris unveiled a memorial plaque to one of their teachers, killed in April 1917. So he didn’t attend the meeting of the LCC Education Committee that afternoon.
On Thur 31 January 1918 there was a real pea-soup fog in Fulham.
On Sat 2 February 1918 a meeting took place which would have consequences for Henry Norris in 1925: Charles Buchan played for Leeds City in their 2-0 defeat of Nottingham Forest in the Midland Section of the Football League. Leeds City’s peacetime manager was at the match, taking time off from managing a munitions factory: Herbert Chapman. Buchan was in England waiting to go on a course before being promoted to officer rank.
On the morning of Mon 4 February 1918 a man called Percy Jones died at Chatham Hospital after a short illness. He had been an employee of Allen and Norris; and, in 1899, a founder of Fulham Amateur Boxing Club, in which both William Gilbert Allen and Henry Norris had taken a great deal of interest in the years before World War 1. He left a widow and two young children. His funeral took place on Fri 8 February 1918 at the Fulham Old Cemetery. No details of who went to it were published in the local papers but I would expect Henry Norris to go if he was able.
At 2.30pm on Tue 5 February 1918 Henry Norris attended the meeting of the full LCC; the Education Bill (2nd version) was discussed again and the meeting went on longer than usual, being declared finished at 5.7pm.
On Wed 13 February 1918 margarine rationing began. At 2.30pm on Wed 13 February 1918 Henry Norris attended the regular meeting of the LCC Education Committee.
At 2.30pm on Tue 19 February 1918 Henry Norris was at the regular meeting of the full LCC.
And at 2.30pm on Wed 20 February 1918 he was present at the meeting of the LCC’s Education Committee at which a new pay scale for its teachers was agreed after months of wrangling amongst councillors and the threat of industrial action by the teachers’ unions.
A bit more than usual happened at the meeting of the London Borough of Fulham on the evening of Wed 20 February 1918 because Fulham had to decide its part in the visit of a tank to the borough, due on Fri 15 March and organised by the borough’s War Savings Committee. At the end of the meeting Henry Norris met Sergeant Charles Spackman, Fulham’s 2nd VC (the first one was dead). Norris presented Spackman with a cigarette case, apparently from him and Edith personally, not from the Borough, so I’m not quite sure why he chose this occasion to present it.
As a result of the decisions reached at the meeting, between Wed 20 February and Tue 5 March 1918 Henry Norris, as the mayor, approached all the members of the Fulham Tradesmen’s Association (predecessor of Fulham Chamber of Commerce) asking for their help in making Tank Day a success.
On Mon 25 February 1918 meat rationing began; all butchers’ shops in Fulham would be shut on Mondays and Thursdays.
On the afternoon of Wed 27 February 1918 Henry Norris didn’t go to the regular meeting of the LCC’s Education Committee.
By Fri 1 March 1918 sugar, butter, margarine, bacon, ham and lard were rationed. Local authorities were in charge of issuing ration cards; councillors in each borough could make a decision to give certain groups priority if they felt it was justified. On Fri 1 March 1918 the Fulham Chronicle published a letter from Fulham’s Labour Party protesting against the priority groups the London Borough of Fulham had decided on.
On Tue 5 March 1918 Arsenal Football and Athletic Company published an annual report; 15 months after the previous one and I don’t think they had had an AGM for two years.
At 2.30pm on Tue 5 March 1918 Henry Norris was at the regular meeting of the full LCC which threw out its Education Committee’s new pay scales for its teachers. The meeting was a long one, ending at 6.22pm.
At a meeting on the evening of Tue 5 March 1918, and with only ten days left until Tank Day, Fulham Tradesmen’s Association members agreed that the Borough’s efforts at organising Tank Day had been a farce so far; less than £1000 had been raised for the latest War Savings bonds.
On the afternoon of Wed 13 March 1918 the LCC Education Committee held its regular meeting; Henry Norris didn’t attend.
Just after 08.00 on Fri 15 March 1918 as mayor and mayoress, Henry and Edith Norris met the tank at the London Borough of Fulham boundary on Chancellor’s Road to inaugurate Tank Day in Fulham. Then they walked in procession with the tank to Walham Green where at 09.00 Henry Norris made the first in a day of speeches, encouraging people to put money into the war savings bonds. Several prominent local businessmen did give money to the savings bonds that day, but Norris himself wasn’t one of them; he may have given money privately of course.
At 2.30pm on Tue 19 March 1918 Henry Norris attended the meeting of the full LCC which was the first in its year, the one where membership of its standing committees was sorted out. Norris was the only person who’d served on the Education Committee in 1917-18 who did not continue to serve in 1918-19; and he was not elected to any of the other standing committees either, probably because while he had his job at the Ministry of National Service the meeting of the full council was the only one he could get to on a regular basis.
On the evening of Wed 20 March 1918 the London Borough of Fulham received an official notice that the metropolitan local elections due in October 1918 would go ahead (actually they were put off for another year); and that the Representation of the People Act 1918 had divided Fulham into two as all had expected, with its divisions going east, and west (not north, south).
On Thur 21 March 1918 William Hayes Fisher, MP for Fulham, met a deputation from the London Labour Party in his capacity as President of the Local Government Board. The deputation was there to urge a big, government-organised and financed, programme of house-building to be begun ASAP after the fighting in World War 1 was ended. And Hayes Fisher replied that, “The day of the private builder was, for the time [being] at all events, gone”. Hayes Fisher had already proposed a national house-building programme to the Government. I wonder what Henry Norris - as a private house-builder - made of this? In later years he argued consistently that government house building programmes weren’t as efficient or as economical as letting speculative builders do the work.
On the evening of Mon 25 March 1918 at a ceremony at the Café Monico, Shaftesbury Avenue, the new Feltmakers’ Lodge number 3839 was consecrated. Alderman Sir Louis Newton, who had first suggested forming the new lodge, became its first Worshipful Master, to serve for one year. There is no full list of those men who were present but as Henry Norris was listed as a founder member he was probably at this ceremony. The new lodge’s regular meetings were on the first Monday of January, April and July and the first Thursday of October; with the main meeting, at which the officials for the next year took office, in March. The records don’t seem to exist by which I could have seen whether Henry Norris attended this regularly; if he did, they would have added yet another commitment to his busy diary.
On the afternoon of Tue 26 March 1918 the LCC held its usual meeting of all the councillors but Henry Norris was unable to attend.
On Good Friday, 29 March 1918 the Fulham Chronicle continued its policy of criticising the way the London Borough of Fulham was being run by complaining about its lack of effort in organising Tank Day.
I do not know whether Henry Norris was able to see any of Arsenal’s Easter weekend fixtures; I think not. But this is what they were: 3.45pm Easter Sat 30 March 1918 Arsenal 3 Crystal Palace 0; then Easter Mon 1 April 1918 Arsenal 1 West Ham 3.
At the regular meeting of London Borough of Fulham on the evening of Wed 17 April 1918 Henry Norris, as mayor, again ordered journalists to leave the Council chamber while the councillors discussed giving top council officials a pay-rise. The Fulham Chronicle noted that the Fulham gravediggers had been given their pay-rise when they threatened to strike.
On the evening of Thur 18 April 1918 Henry and Edith Norris attended a concert at Fulham Town Hall in aid of Fulham Day Nursery, a project in which Edith had been involved from its foundation. She had organised the concert and Joy (17), Peggy (16) and Nanette (11), their daughters, all did a turn for the audience. William Gilbert Allen made one of his now rare public appearances at the concert, with Mrs Hayes Fisher, wife of William Hayes Fisher, Fulham’s MP, and Councillors Shaw and Peachey both close friends of Henry Norris.
By the end of April there were signs that some were beginning to prepare for life after the fighting: on Fri 19 April 1918 the Fulham Chronicle reported that the Labour Party in Fulham was already holding meetings getting their groundwork and local administration ready to fight both the new parliamentary constituencies at a general election. However, this was during Operation Michael (see 26 April below). The bishop of London had had to vacate his official residence at Fulham Palace so that the War Office could use all of it as a hospital.
On the afternoon Tue 23 April 1918 missed the meeting of the full LCC; it was unusual for him to miss two meetings in a row.
At 18.00gmt on Wed 24 April 1918 the United Grand Lodge of England held its annual festival at its HQ, the Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden. Henry Norris was there for the last meeting of his year spent as Assistant Grand Sword Bearer; at the end of the meeting he automatically became Past AGSB, a rank he then held for life. He was probably not there by the time the meeting finished, however, because the evening of Wed 24 April 1918 was the usual meeting of the London Borough of Fulham and he was present for at least part of that aswell! The councillors discussed air-raid shelters; and waste collection - the rubbish of Fulham was being left in the street for lack of enough dustmen. The Borough had bought itself some pigs to eat the waste collected from the local greengrocers.
By 26 April 1918 the British were aware of a big battle being fought in Flanders: the German offensive known as Operation Michael, their last throw of the dice before American troops entered the war. It was known in Fulham that Alderman Littleboy’s son had been taken POW in Germany. Henry Norris may have been particularly busy at his job at the recruitment ministry, because on Mon 29 April 1918 Edith Norris, as the mayoress, carried out an opening ceremony in Fulham - nothing unusual nowadays but she didn’t normally do them unless the mayor was too busy.
During May 1918 Fulham Lodge number 2512, of which Henry Norris was a member, held its main meeting of the year, the one at which the officials were elected for the next twelve months. Norris’ close friend George Peachey was inaugurated to serve as the lodge’s Master until May 1919. I don’t know the exact date of the ceremony; but I would think Norris was probably too busy to attend it.
Henry Norris was able to attend the regular meeting of the full London County Council at 2.30pm on Tue 7 May 1918, one which went on longer than normal, being declared finished at 5.33pm. However, his continuing neglect of the Metropolitan Water Board had finally pricked his conscience: on Sat 11 May 1918 he wrote his formal resignation as the MWB representative for Fulham, after two years in which he’d only definitely attended one meeting.
The directors of Arsenal had moved quickly to make some money, if they could, out of the USA’s entry into the war. Beginning on the afternoon of Sat 11 May 1918 and thereafter throughout the close season 1918 Highbury was used by a scratch baseball league set up by the US and Canadian troops now stationed around London.
At 2.30pm Tue 14 May 1918 Henry Norris attended a long and difficult meeting of the full LCC at which they discussed some revised pay-scales put before them by the LCC Education Committee after the first lot had been thrown out. Norris voted for an amendment which would have paid better startingg salaries to women teachers; but he voted with the minority and that amendment failed. The meeting was finally declared over at 6.34pm.
On the evening of Wed 15 May 1918 William Gilbert Allen attended what seems to be his last meeting of the London Borough of Fulham; he’d been a councillor since 1909 but had never had nor wanted the leading role at the Council that Henry Norris had.
During late May 1918 there were a large number of flu cases in Fulham: like a dress rehearsal for the autumn’s main event. On Fri 24 May 1918 the Fulham Chronicle had a report on the inquest into a man who was thought to have died of flu.
With the Labour Party organising for a possible general election already, the Liberal Party in Fulham held a meeting on the evening of Wed 29 May 1918 at which they selected a Mr Coysh to fight the new seat of Fulham East. Mr Coysh was not a local man; he lived in Finsbury Park. William Hayes Fisher, currently MP for all of Fulham, would be fighting this seat for the Conservative Party in the reorganised Fulham constituencies; or so people thought.
On Fri 31 May 1918 the Duke of Connaught, the Grand Master of England’s freemasons, was present at a ceremony at Fulham Palace, at which the freemasons’ took over the running of the military hospital from the Red Cross. Although the Duke arrived with quite an entourage, Henry Norris doesn’t seem to have been amongst them.
On Fri 7 June 1918 at the fortnightly meeting of the Metropolitan Water Board, Henry Norris’ resignation was formally accepted.
At 2.30pm Tue 11 June 1918 Henry Norris attended the regular meeting of the full LCC. Now that the vexed question of teachers’ pay-scales had been sorted out, this meeting was short, being declared over at 3.15pm.
On the evening of 12 June 1918 at the usual meeting of the London Borough of Fulham, Henry Norris was able to tell the councillors that the Town Clerk, Percy Shuter, had been given an OBE. Although Norris didn’t mention having anything to do with it, I’m sure he was a prime mover in getting Shuter’ hard work noticed by Government in this way.
At 2.30pm Tue 25 June 1918 Henry Norris attended the regular meeting of the full LCC.
During July 1918 organisational changes in the SE Region of the Ministry of National Service made it impossible for Henry Norris to continue in his job there and keep up his other duties as well; so he was obliged to resign. A farewell dinner was given for him by his staff.
1 July 1918 is the date of the trust fund Henry Norris set up to give his wife Edith an income of her own: she would no longer have to ask him for money. I have not seen the document which set the trust fund up. However, as the majority of the Norris’ income was now derived from the profits of the Allen and Norris partnership and the rents on the properties it had built and not sold outright, it’s reasonable to suppose that Edith’s income was based on certain specific properties. She had her own bank account - an independence that led to an incident in 1926 when Norris broke the law; it was one of the irregularities investigated by the FA in 1927. And the trust fund continued in operation until her death. Her income seems to have been very generous: after Norris’ death she was able to pay the family chauffeur from her own money, and keep on living in the house on Barnes Common that they had moved to in 1933 just before Henry Norris died.
The trustees of the fund, from 1918 to beyond Henry Norris’ death, were his brother John Edward Norris, and his trusted employee Harry John Peters: the same two men Norris appointed as the executors and trustees of his Will, drawn up in 1933.
On the evening of Thur 4 July 1918 the Conservative and Unionist Party became the last major political grouping in Fulham to choose candidates to fight a general election. As expected, the sitting MP, William Hayes Fisher, was picked for the new constituency of Fulham East. Another well-known local figure was chosen in Fulham West: Cyril Cobb, a barrister and prominent lay-man in the Church of England, who already represented Fulham at the London County Council. The following Mon, 8 July 1918 William Hayes Fisher, speaking in the House of Commons, gave the country the impression the coalition government was thinking of holding a general election early in 1919.
On the afternoon of Tue 9 July 1918 the LCC held its regular meeting but Henry Norris didn’t attend it. It’s possible that he was getting ready to be busy on the LCC’s behalf that evening, as one of the LCC’s representatives at a glittering occasion at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the king and queen’s silver wedding anniversary. I’d love to know whether he attended this event; it had a guest list running into thousands but when it came to the LCC’s delegation, no individual names were mentioned. Or he may have been more mundanely employed in the afternoon at Craven Cottage, watching Army 3 RAF 1 in aid of the Bulldog Club for servicemen; I’m not sure which Tuesday it was played, 9th or 16th of July 1918.
On Wed 17 July 1918 representatives of the Labour Party in Fulham had a meeting with members of the national Labour Party. They decided to concentrate the Fulham group’s resources on one only (the most winnable) of the two seats Fulham would be divided into at the next general election: local trade union leader Mr R M Gentry would stand in Fulham West.
On Thur 18 July 1918 the Times predicted that a general election would take place in the autumn (1918). And probably between Fri 19 and Fri 26 July 1918 (although I do not have the exact date) Henry Norris made a campaign speech in Stockport, Lancashire, where he was still a Conservative and Unionist Party candidate, selected before World War 1 broke out.
At 2.30pm Tue 23 July 1918 Henry Norris attended a meeting of the full LCC at which teachers’ pay-scales were finally agreed after yet more argument and a lot of votes (votes were rare at the full LCC meetings). This meeting ended late, being declared finishsed at 6.38pm.
The following week, Tue 30 July 1918 the LCC had to meet again, as their teachers objected to the decisions made on the 23rd. Instead they were demanding to be able to chose individually whether to go on the new pay-scales or continue to have the war bonus. So this was another long meeting, being declared finished at 5.45pm.
Between 2 and 9 August 1918 William Hayes Fisher MP, at the Local Government Board, received a deputation concerned about housing policy after the war. He told the deputation that, “Private builders had told him that there would be no profit in their business after the war”. Hayes Fisher wasn’t a builder himself, but he’d been asking those who were. Henry Norris was one builder he knew well whose advice on post-war housing he might have sought out.
Sun 4 August 1918 was the fourth anniversary of the declaration of war; no official functions were held in Fulham although the local churches all marked it in their services.
Preparations for the resumption of normal service in politics were going ahead in Fulham: by 9 August 1918 both the Labour and Liberal parties had opened offices in the district. The Labour Party had never had an official office in Fulham before; and the Liberals’ office had been closed for several years. On the evening of 27 August 1918 the Labour Party in Fulham held a campaign meeting for Mr Gentry, their candidate in Fulham West.
[ROGER SL18B CARRIES ON IMMEDIATELY AFTER THIS]