The Tragedy of Henry Norris and the Fulham Conservative Party

Last updated: April 2008


Car tax disks.  First birth control clinic in UK; set up in Holloway North London.  March-June, coal strike with State of Emergency and rationing.  1st woman barrister called to bar in England.  100-day drought.  Southwark Bridge opened.  First US/UK golf international.  Creation of Irish Free State.  Women in Love.  Hercule Poirot.  Born: Dirk Bogarde, Peter Ustinov, Harry Secombe, Deborah Kerr.  Ron Greenwood.


During 1921 the main focus of Henry Norris’ life was still Parliament.  He attended most sittings; although he spoke very little this year either in debates or at question time.  I won’t give details of all the sittings, just the periods when Parliament was on holiday.  It’s very difficult to find out how many football matches he attended; so I’m not listing all Arsenal’s fixtures or all fixtures at Highbury; just the ones where I do have evidence he was present, and those which were important enough for him to have made the effort go get to them.  I get the impression he didn’t attend so many matches after the war as he did before.


Early in 1921 it was becoming widely known in Fulham that the local Conservative Party was short of money and looking to Henry Norris to bail them out.


Difficult to date this but probably over the winter of 1920-21 Henry Norris was making a big effort to get the railway companies to bring back the old excursion fares on match days; they’d been suspended during World War 1 and never reinstated.  Presumably this involved a lot of meetings with the grandees of the railway companies; and perhaps powerful parties in government.  Norris’ efforts didn’t seem to have much effect.


Over New Year and into January 1921 the weather was bad for football.  The Highbury pitch was flooded for several matches but the games were still played.  On Sat 15 January 1921 the north London derby was played in fog so bad that the crowd could barely see what was going on on the pitch; the referee dispensed with the half-time interval to hurry the game along before it got darker than it was already.  I don’t know whether Henry Norris was at White Hart Lane for this one, which ended Spurs 2 Arsenal 1.


On Thur 20 January 1921 players, officials and directors of all the football clubs in London all went to Olympia to see a fun match between clowns which was part of the International Circus

and Christmas Fair.  Arthur Bourke, writing as Norseman in the Islington Daily Express is my source for this event but he didn’t record who went to it from Arsenal so I don’t know whether Norris was there.


The other north London derby match was played on Sat 22 January 1921: 56000 inside Highbury and the gates closed a quarter of an hour before kick off with thousands more locked out.  Those inside saw an exciting match ending Arsenal 3 Spurs 2.  Sat 5 February 1921 was not so good, 30000 at Roker Park seeing Arsenal concede three in the last ten minutes to end Sunderland 5 Arsenal 1, a match dominated by Charles Buchan (one of the Players Who Came Back to Haunt Him - see my file on these) [ROGER THERE WILL NEED TO BE A LINK HERE WHEN I’VE WRITTEN THE FILE].  I don’t know whether Henry Norris attended either of these games.


In his match report on Arsenal 2 Oldham Athletic 2, Islington Daily Gazette’s Arthur Bourke/Norseman described Harry John Peters as looking “the picture of content” after the game. Peters was the assistant to the manager at Arsenal, essentially the man in charge of the club’s daily administration.  It can’t have been the result that pleased him; it was more likely the crowd of 40000 because earnings from these big gates were beginning to make inroads on the amount Arsenal owed.


In the evening of Thur 24 February 1921 the Property Owners’ Protection Association Limited held a meeting at the Cannon Street Hotel in the City of London, to launch a public campaign against high rates and taxes and high levels of public spending.  There were 2000 people at the meeting but there isn’t a complete list of names so I don’t know whether Henry Norris was there.  POPA had been formed in 1912; I haven’t been able to find out whether Norris was a member at that early stage, though he did know some of its founders.  Norris had organised and chaired some of the meetings in 1918 that had re-established it after the war (see my file on 1918) [ROGER I NEED A LINK HERE TO SL18] and was probably still a member though he was not a particularly active one.  Even if he hadn’t been able to attend POPA’s meetings he would have been able to find out what had happened by ringing a friend: his acquaintance on the estate agents’ circuit, Edwin Evans, was its founder and President, and his fellow MP, J W Lorden was also an active member.  For more on Evans see my file South London Estate Agent Circuit [ROGER I’LL NEED A LINK TO THIS WHEN IT’S WRITTEN].


In the evening of Wed 2 March 1921 Henry Norris went to the quarterly meeting of the freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of England, at the Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden.


On Mon 7 March 1921 the Football League held a meeting of its full membership to decide (by vote, as usual) which applicants would be allowed in, to form the Division Three North which would play its first season in 1921/22.  It was a long meeting: there were 31 applicants and a representative of each of them would be allowed to make a pitch to the members on behalf of their club, before the voting took place.  Henry Norris definitely attended this meeting.  After the voting had taken place, he gave those present an update on his efforts to bring back railway excursion fares: he’d got as far as getting what he called a “consultation” set up to look into the subject.  It would begin shortly.  Apparently the railway companies in Lancashire and Yorkshire had already started using them excursion fares again.  It was a matter of persuading other companies to do the same.  I haven’t been able to find out anything more about this campaign of Henry Norris’: I guess it wasn’t successful.


On the afternoon of Sat 12 March 1921 the annual match between the English and Scottish football leagues was played at Highbury: English FL 1 Scottish FL 0 was another game dominated by Charles Buchan, who headed the only goal and also hit the post. 


On Tue 15 March 1921 Henry Norris officially resigned from his post as the London County Council’s representative on the Fulham branch of the old Charities of Dr Edwards and Bishop King; he’d taken over the job in 1916.


On Easter Sat afternoon 26 March 1921 Burnley’s run of 28 games unbeaten ended at Manchester City; they were still the Division One leaders, however, by 7 points.  If Henry Norris had gone to Highbury that afternoon he would have seen Arsenal 2 Sheffield United 6, the more humiliating because it was United’s first away win of the season, Arsenal making some errors that Arthur Bourke/Norseman described as “really terrible”.  In his column in the Islington Daily Gazette of Mon 4 April 1921 Bourke/Norseman reported having received a lot of letters about this game, from furious Arsenal fans; unfortunately he decided not to print any of them so I couldn’t find out what their criticisms were!


Easter Mon, 28 March 1921 is one of the few occasions in the 1920s for which I have definite evidence of Henry Norris at an Arsenal game - Arthur Bourke/Norseman reported seeing him at Arsenal 2 West Bromwich Albion 1.  After the debacle of Saturday, drastic team changes had been made and 4 players had been dropped; Bourke specifically said in his Islington Daily Gazette match report that they had been made by the directors, not by the manager.  In addition, the directors attended the match in force: Bourke saw William Hall, John Humble and George Peachey at the game as well.


On the night shift of 31 March to Fri 1 April 1921 the miners went on strike: not something that Henry Norris was personally involved in, except that a strike by miners meant a shortage of coal; and a shortage of coal meant trouble on the railways so it was difficult for teams and crowds to get to football matches.  The Football League always insisted that matches went ahead during strikes.


On Sat 9 April 1921 Arsenal 2 Bradford City 1 had been designated as a benefit match for long-serving players Shaw, Bradshaw, McKinnon, Hardinge and Rutherford; Arsenal FC’s directors had guaranteed each of them £500.  I would suppose Henry Norris would try to be at such a game.  I wonder if he agreed with the Times that the winning goal was offside.


During early April 1921 it looked as though the UK was going to be embroiled in all-but-a general strike.  But on the afternoon of Fri 15 April 1921 a strike by the transport unions was called off at the last minute after the miners had refused to negotiate with the pit owners.  However, assuming that the strike of the Triple Alliance would go ahead, the Arsenal party travelled to the club’s fixture at Bradford by coach that Friday.  It was worth the difficult journey: on Sat 16 April 1921 their match ended Bradford City 0 Arsenal 1, good away points for Arsenal which made Bradford’s relegation almost inevitable.


Sat 23 April 1921 was FA Cup Final day, with 72000 at Stamford Bridge including George V and the Duke of York: Spurs 1 Wolves 0 was a triumph for Spurs on their first season back in Division One; they also finished second, making season 1920/21 their best at least of the 1920s if not the whole period between the wars.  When the team came home with the cup later in the day, they left their train at Finsbury Park and Seven Sisters road was convulsed with fans.  Meanwhile that afternoon at Highbury it was Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 1. 


At 2pm on Sat 30 April 1921 with the permission of the Arsenal FC directors, a charity match - Unity House v Carlisle Railwaymen -  was played at Highbury before Arsenal’s scheduled reserve game against Millwall: half the gate money that afternoon went to the NUR Orphan Fund.


On the afternoon of Mon 2 May 1921 Henry Norris may have made an effort to attend the final home game of season 1920/21: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0.


By Sat 7 May 1921 the striking miners were beginning to return to work.  The last games of season 1920/21 were played that afternoon, Sat 7 May 1921: Liverpool 3 Arsenal 0.  Despite some wobbles over the last few weeks, Burnley won Division One; Bradford City and Derby County were relegated; Arsenal ended just above mid-table - comfortable, but unexciting.


Probably around this time, the end of season 1920/21 but I have no exact date for this: Arsenal’s manager, Leslie Knighton was offered the manager’s job at his old club, Manchester City; and decided to take it.  On Arsenal’s behalf, Henry Norris made a big effort to keep him: he offered Knighton rent-free use of a flat he owned in central London which he’d bought for use during the times Parliament was in session; a “Millionaire’s flat”, Knighton described it as.  He also gave Knighton a contract for a further three years and the promise of a north London derby as a benefit match at the end of it.  Knighton was persuaded to stay; and stayed until Norris sacked him in 1925.


On the evening of Thur 5 May 1921 Henry and Edith Norris attended the dinner organised jointly by West Kensington and Fulham Tradesmen’s Association; Mr Gentry, the current mayor of Fulham, went as well, with his wife.  This was quite an unusual occasion - Norris didn’t make a speech; Edith made one though, replying to the toast of  “the ladies”.


Probably on the afternoon of Sat 7 May 1921 a charity match was played at Highbury: Arsenal XI 2 Athenian Football League 2.  I don’t know whether Henry Norris attended the game and he wasn’t its main organiser - that was his fellow director Charles Crisp, who had helped found the Athenian League, an amateur league playing in north London.


On the evening of Mon 9 May 1921 a meeting was held in Fulham to protest against the recent rises in rates; it was organised by the Fulham and West Kensington Tradesmen’s Association.  Despite having gone to their dinner only days before, and despite being the area’s MP, Henry Norris didn’t attend the meeting.  It was probably because he was in Southend, for a charity fixture.  Southend United 0 Arsenal XI 4 was played for a cup donated by one of Southend’s directors, a Mr E T Smith.  There was a modest crowd - 5000 - and the money raised was divided between hospitals in Southend and the Great Northern Hospital on Holloway Road, Hornsey, nearest hospital to Arsenal’s ground at Highbury.  This was followed by another charity fixture benefiting local hospitals, probably on Thur 12 May 1921 Arsenal XI 2 Clapton Orient 0; a crowd of  6000 saw this last game at Highbury in season 1920/21 though I don’t know whether Henry Norris was amongst them.


During the close season 1921 the roof on the grandstand at Highbury was replaced.  This may have been necessary but I haven’t read any news of its being damaged during season 1920/21; so it suggests that Arsenal had enough money now to make improvements to the facilities at Highbury.


On the morning of Mon 30 May 1921 the AGM of the Football League was held in London, probably at its usual venue, the Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden.  I’m not sure whether Henry Norris represented Arsenal FC at the meeting; it seems that Charles Crisp may have done so, perhaps because Norris had another appointment.  Although the Athletic News expected transfer fees to be discussed at the AGM, for some reason, they weren’t.  At some stage during the day the FA held an FA Council meeting, at which it was agreed that the FA would approach the organisers of the British Empire Exhibition about staging the FA Cup Final at the exhibition site in Wembley.  In the evening that day, Mon 30 May 1921 all 86 members of the Football League held a dinner at the Hotel Cecil in central London.  Henry Norris had been allotted the task of making the speech proposing the toast “the Football Association”.  Reporting his speech later, Athletic News said that his remarks had been “not altogether complimentary” about the FA’s members.  Apparently he’d said that some members would be better at home shelling peas or peeling potatoes than running football although they did their work as well as could be expected: Norris in what seems to have been a fairly typical mood, making friends and influencing people.  The FA’s Charles Clegg had the task of replying to the toast, on behalf of FA.


At some stage immediately after the end of season 1920/21 a decision was made at Arsenal FC concerning the money loaned to the club by Henry Norris and William Hall.  The details of the decision were all disputed later and led to a complete breakdown in the relationship between Norris and William Hall, precipitating Norris’ downfall in football in 1927.  Without going into the ins and outs of it all here - they are in my file 1927: the Fall of Henry Norris [ROGER I SHALL NEED A LINK HERE, THE FILE ISN’T WRITTEN YET] - what happened was this: a financial arrangement was set up whereby the wages of the chauffeurs employed by Henry Norris and William Hall were paid by Arsenal FC.  The two men went on the club’s books as employees and payments of their wages began on Sat 4 June 1921.  The FA investigation of 1927, and statements by Norris in 1927 said they finished on 5 May 1923 although one statement by Norris, in 1929, says they didn’t stop until 5 May 1924.


By this time, mid-1921, Henry Norris was unable to walk very far.  The source for this is an affidavit by Charles Crisp, Norris’ long-time acquaintance and (in 1921) a director of Arsenal FC; though it’s disputed by Norris’ grand-children who don’t recall his being incapacitated in this way.


On Wed 8 June, Thur 9 June and Fri 10 June 1921 a three-day event was held at Fulham Town Hall in aid of Fulham District Nursing Association.  Edith Norris had helped to found the Association and had been heavily involved in organising the event, which was called Old Fulham Fayre.  All the organisers dressed as personalities from Fulham’s past; one of Henry Norris’ grand-daughters has a photograph of Edith in her costume, she went as Elizabeth I.  Edith was present on all three days, running a stall with her daughters Joy and Peggy and Ada, Henry Norris’ unmarried sister who lived with them.  Each day the event had an official opening ceremony.  At 2.15pm on Wed 8 June 1921 the Association had Lady Astor - the first woman MP actually to take her seat - do the opening.  Henry Norris was present at the opening on this day, and at 3pm Thur 9 June 1921 he was at the town hall again to welcome Lady Meyer, who opened the Fayre’s second day.  He doesn’t seem to have been present on its third day, Fri 10 June 1921.


On the afternoon of Mon 27 June 1921 Henry Norris took part in question timein the House of Commons: he asked Secretary for Mines what publications were taken by his office.  I don’t understand the reason why he asked this, though clearly it has something to do with the continuing unrest in the coal industry.  The  occasion was an important one: although he was an MP until October 1922, this day, 27 June 1921 was the last time Norris said anything at all in Parliament worthy of being recorded by Hansard. 


On the evening of Tue 28 June 1921 there was a social evening at the Fulham Town Hall for those who’d helped organise the Olde Fulham Fayre.  Henry and Edith Norris went to it, with Joy, Peggy and Ada.  Henry Norris’ good friend George Peachey was also there; he’d been the event’s honorary treasurer and during the evening he presented its final accounts.


On Tue 5 July 1921 Bromley UDC passed a planning application from Kinnaird Park Estate Company for a garage at the house then known as Redlands on Park Avenue, Plaistow.

At 3pm on Sun 10 July 1921 Fulham’s war memorial, a statue, was unveiled.  Henry and Edith Norris were both present at the unveiling but neither of them played a more active part in the ceremony.


On Mon 25 July 1921 Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited published its annual report, which showed a profit of £5434.  Since the last AGM the club’s debt to Humphreys Limited had dropped to £3541 and been replaced by loans of £18031 from unnamed shareholders and friends.  Arsenal FC had no money in hand but it was going to pay its shareholders a 5% dividend on the last two seasons: a strong statement of confidence in the club’s finances from its directors.  As one of the two major shareholders Norris would be entitled to this dividend himself of course; though I am not clear whether he actually chose to take the money.  As a point of comparison: Spurs’ annual report for season 1920/21 showed a profit of £16592; but they had just won the FA Cup.


The club’s AGM seems to have taken place on Fri 5 August 1921 at Highbury.  Henry Norris would have been there and as chairman it was his job to make the speech urging the shareholders to approve the annual report.


Parliament was still in session so Henry Norris had not yet been able to go on holiday.  On Wed 10 August 1921 he was in the House of Commons for some at least of the report stage of the Safeguarding Industries Bill.  This was going to impose import duty on certain types of manufactured goods; at 10.37pm Norris voted against inclusion in the bill of a clause which would have exempted from the proposed duty manufactured goods imported for use in Britain’s ship-building industry. Thur 11 August 1921 in the House of Commons was another day on the Safeguarding Industries Bill.  Norris was there again, at least at 7.1pm when he voted to exempt the UK’s World War 1 allies from having to pay import duty on their goods.  On Fri 12 August 1921 the Safeguarding Industries Bill got its third reading.  Norris was there at least for a vote at 4pm; he voted against Asquith’s amendment to delay this third reading by three months.


On Mon 15 August 1921 Henry Norris was at the House of Commons; at 11.8pm he to voted on some Exchequer business.


On Fri 19 August 1921 Henry Norris was in the House of Commons at 12.5pm to vote on the Railways Bill.


By the afternoon Sat 20 August 1921 pre-season 1921/22 matches were being played.  At Highbury the grandstand’s new corrugated iron roof was on and there was a crowd of 10000 for the practice match Blues v Reds.  Henry Norris, Charles Crisp and William Hall were all there.


On Sat 29 August 1921 Henry Norris was at Highbury again, with all the other Arsenal directors (Crisp, Hall, John Humble and George Peachey) for the first Division One match of season 1921/22.  They had some guests, though FA Secretary Fred Wall could hardly be described as such, he’d seen more matches in recent years than Norris had; Mr E H King mayor of Islington, and Mr F Korncrupps of the Swedish FA were also at Highbury.  Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 2 was the start of a pretty dire autumn for Arsenal but there was a crowd of 40000 on a day when gates in general were down on season 1920/21.


By autumn 1921 unemployment was high in the UK; and Henry Norris’ constituency of Fulham East was experiencing some social disruption as those without work sought higher unemployment pay and more benefits in kind from Fulham’s notoriously tight-fisted Board of Guardians, of which Edith Norris was an elected member at this time.  There were some new players in Fulham’s politics as well: branches of the Middle Classes Union and the People’s League were holding meetings there.  During the autumn 1921 these groups and political parties were holding public meetings ahead of the London County Council elections due in March 1922; but none were organised in Norris’ constituency by its Conservative Party.


By the afternoon of Sat 3 September 1921 Arsenal’s team was already decimated by illness and injury; only four first-team regulars played in Sheffield United 4 Arsenal 1.  By Sat 10 September 1921 Arsenal were missing five first-team regulars for Manchester City 2 Arsenal 0.  The Times described their form as “consistent” - meaning that they’d had four defeats and 1 win so far.  After Sat 17 September 1921's Arsenal 0 Manchester City 1 they were second from bottom; so there was a team whose form was worse!  The match was the only Division One fixture in London that day but Arsenal’s recent form meant the crowd was low by their standards: only 30000. 


On Fri 23 September 1921 the Islington Daily Gazette’s reporter on Arsenal FC, Arthur Bourke, writing as Norseman, broke with his past rule to allow to be printed a letter from someone describing themselves as an Arsenal “Well Wisher”, which strongly criticised Arsenal’s team selection and poor football.  It also asked why the club hadn’t worked harder to replace several players who were obviously reaching the end of their careers, saying - in a clear reference to Henry Norris’ views on transfer fees -  that you didn’t have to pay large fees to replace good players, “if those responsible are sufficiently alive to their duty”; the writer was especially scathing of Arsenal’s policy of playing men out of position.  The letter ended with a warning that much more of the kind of displays they’d been forced to watch recently and supporters would go elsewhere.  On Sat 24 September 1921 an uncredited column in the Islington Daily Gazette took issue with some of the “Well Wisher’s” criticisms but added another one: that Arsenal didn’t do

enough to bring on local talent, something all other London clubs did.  Though I don’t think for one moment that Henry Norris had acted in response to media criticism of the club, that afternoon, Sat 24 September 1921 Arsenal fielded a what the Islington Daily Gazette described as a “reconstructed forward line” and at least they got a draw: Everton 1 Arsenal 1.   And by Sat 1 October 1921 they had signed a new forward; but a forward from Carlisle United was nothing to get excited about.


On the evening of Tue 4 October 1921 at the Feltmakers’ Company’s most important meeting of the year, held at the Guildhall, Henry Norris and one other candidate were elected to the Company’s Court of Assistants, an inner group in the Company that actually did all the major decision-making and organising.  After four years waiting for a vacancy on the Court of Assistants to come up (see my file on 1917 for his joining the Feltmakers’ Company) [ROGER I NEED A LINK TO 1917 HERE], Norris was making his first step up its hierarchy to serving as its Master for one year.


On the afternoon of Mon 10 October 1921 Highbury staged a Northern Union rules rugby match: England v Australasia.


On the afternoon of Sat 15 October 1921 Henry Norris wasn’t at Highbury to see Arsenal 1 Sunderland 2, after which Sunderland were fifth and Arsenal still second from bottom.  In front of several members of the FA International Selection Committee, and Fred Wall and his wife, Charles Buchan put on a masterly display, scoring both goals, the second from a free-kick that the (according to the Times’ report) “crowd rather resented”; Arthur Bourke/Norseman in the Islington Daily Gazette said that Arsenal had lost the game “through reckless play” which they could not afford. 


It’s possible Henry Norris and his family were taking a quick holiday before Parliament reconvened.  On the evening of Mon 17 October 1921 he didn’t attend a dinner organised by the London and Suburban Traders’ Federation.  Mrs Hudson Lyall who represented Fulham East on the London County Council, and Cyril Cobb, MP for Fulham West did go.


On Sat 22 October 1921, Herbert Chapman’s Huddersfield Town 2 Arsenal 0 sent Arsenal to the bottom of Division One; the forwards missed a crop of good chances to score, on a greasy pitch.  On Mon 24 October 1921 there was further criticism of Arsenal’s team-building, in the Islington Daily Gazette.  Almost certainly not in response to this kind of criticism, Arsenal rearranged the forward line for Sat 29 October 1921 but it didn’t make any difference: Arsenal 1 Huddersfield Town 3.  Another recent purchase, player Maxwell, played in the match, which again the Islington Daily Gazette criticised, saying it was clear he wasn’t fit.



On Mon 31 October 1921 Henry Norris was in Parliament for one of the big set-pieces of his career there: a debate on a motion censuring the Government for entering into negotiations which had the aim of setting up an Irish free state.  Although Norris had stood and been elected as a Unionist - that is, someone who was against a free Ireland - at 11pm voted that he was happy for the Government to talk to those who were wanting to set up the independent nation of Eire.  The Government Whips must have been out: the result of the vote was 439 voting like Norris, for the Government, and only 43 against, presumably all from Ulster.


On Thur 3 November 1921 Henry Norris met a deputation from the Women’s Guild of Empire, presumably at the House of Commons.  The deputation was led by a Mrs Flora Drummond, and was wanting to discuss the question of secret ballots in voting by trade unions.  I have no report of what exactly she wanted him to do, she was not someone he knew; and I do not know why the Guild chose Norris to speak to about it because he had no track record in Parliament of taking an active interest in trade union issues.


By Sat 5 November 1921 criticism amongst Arsenal fans of the club’s wretched form had reached previously unknown heights; the Islington Daily Gazette reported that Arsenal were receiving letters from fans “who evidently do not know there is such a thing as a law of libel”.  Arthur Bourke/Norseman felt obliged to remind his readers that “abuse of officials (that is officials of the club) and players is not argument”; with the law of libel in his own mind, he didn’t name any of the people the letters had criticised.  That afternoon, Sat 5 November 1921 Birmingham City 0 Arsenal 1 was a small step in the right direction.


On Thur 10 November 1921 the House of Commons had its final sitting before going into recess until 30 January 1922.


Fri 11 November 1921 was Armistice Day.  Henry Norris didn’t attend any of the events organised for the day in Fulham; though he may have gone to events elsewhere.


During the winter of 1921-22 flu returned to west London with another epidemic; though not of the severity, nor on the scale of the 1918 one.


On the afternoon of Sat 12 November 1921 Arsenal managed two wins in succession but in the Islington Daily Gazette Arthur Bourke/Norseman told his readers Arsenal 5 Birmingham City 3 was not as good a result as it looked; at 2-1 a City player had had to go off injured.  Bourke noted in his report how few of the Arsenal hierarchy saw this game; neither Henry Norris nor William Hall had been at Highbury and even manager Leslie Knighton was away looking for new players.  Bourke wrote that a golf competition for professional footballers had been organised: a very early instance of the football-golf connection.  Most London clubs had got involved in the competition; but Henry Norris had nothing to do with it - he wasn’t a golf man.


On Mon 21 November 1921 with Parliament in recess until the New Year, the Conservative Party in Henry Norris’ constituency of Fulham East, wrote a letter to him asking him to double his present annual contribution to local party funds. On Wed 23 November 1921 Norris wrote a reply, refusing to do as they wanted and resigning, formally, from the local Conservative Party, acknowledging that this would mean that it would have to choose another candidate to stand for the Conservatives in Fulham East.


This exchange of letters brought to a head a deterioration in the relationship between Henry Norris and his constituency party that seems to have been going on for some time.  Between 23 November 1921 and 5 April 1922 local policeman Percy Gates was touted by local conservatives as a suitable candidate to replace Norris in Fulham East; and Norris did take some steps towards carrying out his threat to stand as an independent candidate, in a constituency where he had a majority of over 10000.  However, a meeting took place between Norris and the Conservative Party in Fulham East which seemed to have resolved the problem.  In late 1922 Norris gave an interview in which he discussed what happened at the meeting, but he didn’t say on what date it took place; other evidence suggests it happened in late March/early April 1922 so I deal with it in that file.


On the evening of Thur 24 November 1921 Henry and Edith Norris did not attend the annual dinner of Fulham and West Kensington Tradesmen’s Association; they had attended it in 1920.  Many of its members were also stalwarts of the local Conservative Party; in which case Norris may not even have been sent an invitation to this year’s event.


On Sat 26 November 1921 Arsenal v Bolton Wanderers was abandoned after 38 minutes due to fog: at that stage you couldn’t see the players from the press box.  Arsenal were still bottom of Division One.  The fog continued into the afternoon of Mon 28 November 1921 when Arsenal’s game in the London Challenge Cup was abandoned before kick off.


Probably on the evening of Thur 1 December but possibly Thur 8 December 1921 Fulham Conservative Club organised a concert at its Shorrold’s Road premises in aid of its Provident Society, after a year of economic downturn in which it had had to dig deep into its financial reserves to help out some of its members.  Henry Norris didn’t attend the concert.


In the evening of Wed 7 December 1921 Henry Norris attended the quarterly meeting of the freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of England, held at Kingsway Hall, Holborn.  He was therefore unable to attend the meeting that was held that evening, Wed 7 December of the Sand’s End ward of East Fulham Conservative and Unionist Association.


No date for this but I suppose after Wed 7 December 1921 Henry Norris became ill.  When he was able to travel, he (and his family I suppose) went to Italy to recuperate.  I don’t know the nature of the illness.  There was a flu epidemic so he could have caught that; but it could equally have been a stress reaction, following the breakdown in relations between him and the Conservative Party in Fulham East.


On Sat 17 December 1921 the Islington Daily Gazette’s Arthur Bourke/Norseman saw his first Arsenal reserve game for two years: Arsenal Reserves 1 West Ham Reserves 1 in the London Combination.  His report on the match criticised the players: he thought their play lacked intelligence and cohesion, and they had wasted such opportunities as did arise for them to score.

On the evening of Sat 17 December 1921 the AGM was held of Fulham Conservative Club’s Provident Society.  I don’t know how much Henry Norris was involved with the Provident Society; he was certainly not on its outgoing or incoming committees.  He doesn’t seem, either, to have attended this meeting, he was probably already abroad; but I get the impression from press coverage of it that he was discussed by those who were present.


On Fri 23 December 1921 the Fulham Chronicle printed news of a split in Fulham East Conservative Party, with one faction trying to get Henry Norris de-selected.  The Chronicle told its readers that there had been a series of meetings of its executive committee as they tried to resolve their differences.


By Fri 23 December 1921 Henry Norris was in Italy, recovering from his illness.  He was certainly not in England for any of the Christmas and New Year football matches.  Over Christmas Arsenal got one point out of a possible six; but Sat 31 December 1921's result Chelsea 0 Arsenal 2 actually got them off the bottom of Division One and they didn’t return there in season 1921/22.  Manchester United took their place; and they were relegated.  Liverpool were top of Division One by the end of 1921 and they won the championship.


It’s possible that the dispute between Henry Norris and his constituency party was being carried on by post.  On Fri 30 December 1921 with Norris still abroad, the Fulham Chronicle reported that he would definitely be standing in Fulham East as an Independent Unionist against any official Conservative Party candidate.





Copyright Sally Davis March 2008