Henry Norris and Kinnaird Park Estate Company ?1905-1934


Last updated: May 2008




In his first ever entry in Whoís Who, the 1918 edition, Henry Norris was described as the chairman of Kinnaird Park Estate Company.All his obituaries, from August 1934, say that he was still the companyís chairman at his death.Those two pieces of information are the only ones I have definitely linking Henry Norris to the Company.


I donít have any definite evidence that Norris was involved with the company before 1918; but I do have a piece of indirect evidence - he knew the companyís architect in 1913 because he invited him to the big reception he and Edith gave in March of that year.


In the light of the big snags outlined above I have divided my file on KPEC into three sections:

1) Kinnaird Park Estate Companyís early years: late 1890s to 1912.Including a brief history of property development in Bromley; and the Gilbert connection, the basis of my hunch that Norris was involved with KPEC from early on, conceivably as early as 1897 though probably not as early as that, 1905 looks a better shot.


2) 1913-18 when Iím pretty sure Norris was involved with KPEC but I canít prove it: house building in Bromley and Bickley.


3) 1918-early 1930s when he was the company chairman: house building in Bromley and Bickley and then in Chiswick.




Firstly: I canít find any records at all of Kinnaird Park Estate Company.There are none at Companies House of the company Norris was associated with though confusingly there are some of a modern company with the same name.According to staff at Companies House, the lack suggests either that Norrisí KPEC was wound up many years ago; or that it didnít have to send documentation to Companies House because the number of its shares fell under the level at which it was required to.†† None of Norrisí descendants have shares in the company now although one of them owns some property built by KPEC.It all means that I do not know for sure who was a shareholder in Norrisí KPEC, other than him, who the directors were, other than him, and how much capital KPEC had except in 1925.


Secondly: the Minutes of Proceedings of Bromley Urban District Council, 1897-1930s lack a lot of the detail I would have liked.In writing up the minutes of Council meetings, Bromley UDC preferred the minimalist approach: consequently it has been very difficult to identify what houses were built by KPEC in Bromley because the Council minutes hardly ever identify the name or street number of houses that have been given planning permission.They just give a brief description: what type of building, which street, some indication of who/what firm is making the application.


I say Ďsome indicationí by which I mean that when I refer to below to William Prebble, I am assuming heís making applications on behalf of KPEC after about 1898 because on one occasion the UDC describes him as KPECís manager; none of the applications noted in the minutes as made by Prebble actually say heís working for KPEC.And the same applies, when we get to 1907, with applications made by William Harrington: they never mention heís working for KPEC.Then, in 1912, maybe thereís a new UDC clerk taking the minutes: for the first time, applications are described as being from KPEC, but Harringtonís name isnít mentioned in connection with them so I canít prove that he is the architect.Itís all very annoying!


By working my way through the local PO Directories with a list of planning applications probably or definitely made by KPEC in my hand I have worked out a list of properties built by KPEC in Bromley, with their current house numbers (given them in the late 1920s by the Post Office); but Iím sure Iíve missed some and got a lot more wrong.See my file with the list in it if you are interested [ROGER CAN I HAVE A LINK TO SLKBLT HERE PLEASE].


Those provisoes in mind, I start my history of KPEC with an account of who set it up, and why.


Section One: PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT IN BROMLEY for which I have drawn on Matthew Greenhalghís PhD thesis (1995) at the University of Greenwich, about the growth of Bromley in the 19th century.


In 1858 the mid-Kent railway, coming out from London, reached Bromley and Bromley South station was built.In 1878 a separate railway line direct to Charing Cross reached Sundridge Park on the north side of the town and a station was built there too.Commuting had arrived at Bromley; but it was commuting of an exclusive kind.The local railway companies, dominated by local landowners, resisted working-class fares until 1910; from Sundridge Park to Charing Cross the third-class fare in 1878 was £14 per year at a time when a clerk thought himself well off to earn £100.Housing development in Bromley, therefore, catered for the professional upper middle-classes.Detached houses standing in their own gardens or larger grounds predominated.Except in Bickley, to the east of Bromley town, no terraces were built of the kind that you see in the London suburbs: the kind of housing built by Allen and Norris.


The Kinnaird family bought the Plaistow Lodge estate, slightly to the north of Bromley town, in 1873: rather less than 126 acres between Burnt Ash Lane on the east and Bromley Hill on the west; Alexandra Crescent on the north and College Road on the south.The family lived on the estate until 1896, when the 11th Lord Kinnaird - the footballing one who became President of the Football Association - decided to move out and engage in a spot of property development like all his land-owning neighbours.


So far, so straightforward.Iíve found what happened next and who was involved more difficult to grasp, because I canít find any papers about it from the time, only references in the Minutes of meetings of Bromley Urban District Council.One thing I am sure of is that Henry Norris was not involved in 1896 in anything going on in Bromley.Heíd only just met William Gilbert Allen and left his job as a solicitorís clerk to join Allenís building firm.


It seems from references in Bromley UDCís minutes that in order to implement the development of his land for housing, Lord Kinnaird got together a group of people and called them Kinnaird Park Estate Syndicate. The syndicate had been set up by late 1897 when Bromley UDC was negotiating with it to buy land it owned on London Lane, to widen the roadway.One of the syndicateís members held the deal up by dying at an inopportune moment.His name was John Jarvis Rodgers; he was a solicitor with offices at 4 Wallbrook and was doing the syndicateís legal work although he also seems to have been owner or part-owner of some of the land the UDC wanted to buy. [CHECK ADDRESS].Despite his death his firm continued to act for the syndicate; by 1898, presumably because he had died, the firm had become Rodgers and Gilbert, with Arthur Gilbert doing the syndicateís legal work.And if all these details about an obscure legal firm seem pointless, they arenít.On 13 October 1897 Arthur Gilbert had become a freemason: he had been initiated into Kent Lodge number 15 where he will have met Henry Norris who was already a member.


So as early as 1897 there was a link between Henry Norris and Kinnaird Park Estate, through its solicitor Arthur Gilbert; though I think Norrisí involvement with KPE began later than this.


By 1899 the KPE Syndicate had hired a local builder, William Prebble, to manage its housing development project and act as architect and surveyor; and had set up an office for him on its own property, at the corner where London Lane met London Road.In May 1899 Prebble sent to Bromley UDC for its approval layouts of new streets where the syndicate was going to build its first houses: Morgan Road and Howard Road to the south of London Lane, and Park Avenue to the north of it in what had been the Plaistow Lodge estate parkland, now known as Kinnaird Park.Building on Morgan Road had begun by 1900 and Prebble had applied to the UDC to start on the new street called Kinnaird Avenue.Later in the year KPE Syndicate was selling the land on Kinnaird Avenue in plots of one or two houses, at £500 an acre, which Bromley UDC thought was steep.Maybe local building firms did so too, because actual house building on the streets owned by the syndicate proceeded slowly over the next 20 years or so, with very few years having more than six or seven houses built in them.From 1898 KPE Syndicate was building houses on land it owned, as well as just selling plots of land to other developers; but again at a slow pace.The syndicate probably built 1 Burnt Ash Lane; by 1903 Prebble had moved into this building, which remained KPEís offices until 1932.


Street layouts for Lake Avenue (November 1900), Quernmore Road (April 1901), Avondale Road (September 1901) and Alexandra Crescent (July 1902) were approved by Bromley UDC and the selling of their plots began.


In 1902 KPE Syndicate seems to have decided to branch out from its original purpose of property development on Lord Kinnairdís own land; and to build houses on a larger scale than it had done so far.†† In December 1902 Bromley UDC approved William Prebbleís application (presumably on behalf of KPE Syndicate though the Minutes donít actually say so) to build 18 houses in Tylney Road Bickley, quite a way from Plaistow Lodge to the east of Bromley High Street, and as far as I know, on land not owned by anyone in the syndicate unless the syndicate had bought it recently.By May 1904 the syndicate was also building in Amesbury Road and Page Heath Lane, both also in Bickley.ARE THEY TERRACES?? GO AND LOOK


In November 1904 Bromley UDC saw the last application put before them by William Prebble, following which he seems to have retired.His retirement either prompted or coincided with the setting up of the syndicate as a company: Kinnaird Park Estate Company, still with Rodgers and Gilbert as its solicitors.Henry Norris was chairman of this company in 1918 at the latest; and I think the setting up of the syndicate as a company was a good time for him to have become involved with it, though I must stress that I have no evidence that he did do so at this time.The syndicate will have been looking for new, extra investment; and expertise in building work and its legal side to replace William Prebbleís.If William Gilbert Allen was involved in KPEC (and it seems from evidence in 1931 that he was), this would be a good time for him to join too.So I suggest that they both became shareholders in the newly-formed Kinnaird Park Estate Company and that the connection between them and Lord Kinnaird was Arthur Gilbert of Kent Lodge number 15.Although by that time Norris and Allen were both involved with Fulham FC and may have met Lord Kinnaird at a meeting of the Football Association I actually think thatís a less likely way for them to have met than through Arthur Gilbert.


Kinnaird Park Estate Company had been registered under the companies acts by May 1905 when it applied to Bromley UDC for planning approval for 12 houses in Kingís Avenue.I presume William J Harrington had started work for the company by now although the first mention of him in the Bromley UDC Minutes is not until a planning application they looked at on 7 August 1907.KPEC needed an architect/surveyor to replace William Prebble in day-to-day charge.


Together with the involvement in Kinnaird Park Estate of Arthur Gilbert, the appointment of William Harrington is why I believe Henry Norris and William Gilbert Allen were involved with KPEC at this early stage, despite the absence of any certain evidence to prove it.In my files on Henry Norrisí architects I explain more about it, but here Iíll just say that the chances are that the Allen family and the Harrington family knew one another in Fulham in the 1880s.


Assuming that Henry Norris is a shareholder in Kinnaird Park Estate Company from its start, I list KPECís planning applications from 1905; all to Bromley UDC, which sometimes identifies the properties concerned by house name, but never by street number.


2 May 1905†††† 12 houses in Kingís Avenue Bromley.Later evidence indicates these included

numbers 1, 3, 9 and 11


8 Jan 1907†††††† a garage for a house called Carnoustie in Kingís Avenue, presumably one of the

12 KPEC got permission to build in May 1905.


This garage shows clearly what kind of buyers KPEC were building for - people wealthy enough not only to buy a car when they were not yet being mass-produced, but also with enough spare money and enough land around their house to have a building to keep it in.Definitely a cut above the customers of the Allen and Norris partnership!From this first application, adding garages to houses already built either by KPEC or other building firms operating in Plaistow continued to be a source of income for KPEC in Bromley.


7 Aug 1907††††† the first planning application described by Bromley UDCís minutes as coming

from W J Harrington: 4 houses in Gilbert Road

26 Nov 1907†† garage from Willow Brae, London Lane

10 Dec 1907††† 2 houses in Alexandra Crescent

3 Mar 1908†††† 5 cottages in Gilbert Road; one garage at 14 Kingís Avenue

12 May 1908†† 4 houses in Gilbert Road; not the same as on 3 March

24 Nov 1908†† additions (an extension I guess they mean) to Oak Cottage in Lake Avenue; Iím

not sure whether Oak Cottage had originally been built by KPE Syndicate or by

another building firm

22 Dec 1908††† additions to Woodcroft, Alexandra Crescent; 1 new house in Kingís Avenue

15 Mar 1910†† garage for an unidentified property in Kingís Avenue

7 June 1910†††† additions to Elmhurst, Gilbert Road; garage to Engadine, Quernmore Road, a

house probably built earlier by KPE Syndicate


You can see that house-building by KPEC was not on anything like the scale that Allen and Norris were building on, in Fulham and Wandsworth at this time.If Henry Norris and William Gilbert Allen were involved in KPEC at all at this stage, they were not putting into it a great deal of money: all their money was tied up at Southfields and Crabtree Lane.


16 Jan 1912†††† 8 semi-detached houses in Amesbury Road, Bickley, the first in Bickley since

the company had been formed

With the above application thereís a change in the way the minutes of Bromley UDCís meetings record them: since August 1907 the minutes havenít mentioned KPEC at all; itís my assumption that applications made by W J Harrington are on KPECís behalf.From January 1912, for the next few years, no mention is made of Harrington, only of KPEC, though from evidence later in the 1920s itís clear he worked for KPEC all through the period when he isnít mentioned.


11 Apr 1912††† additions to Heathercroft, London Lane


In 1913 I have the first secure evidence that Henry Norris knew William Harrington: he invited him to a party.In its issue of Friday 14 March 1913 the West London and Fulham Times devoted a lot of coverage to a reception at Fulham Town Hall given by Henry and Edith Norris as the boroughís mayor and mayoress the evening before, Thursday 13 March 1913.Amongst a list of several hundred people that the Norrises had invited to this great Ďdoí, the WLFT listed Mr and Mrs W J Harrington.This is the earliest evidence I have found of a connection between Henry Norris and William Harrington, who worked as the architect at Kinnaird Park Estate Company.Mr and Mrs Arthur Gilbert were also on the guest-list - he of Rodgers and Gilbert, KPECís solicitors, and Kent Lodge number 15 where Henry Norris and William Gilbert Allen were also active members.One shareholder in KPEC who was not invited was Lord Kinnaird; Henry Norris might be wealthy and the mayor of a London borough, he might even sit on the board of directors of KPEC with the man, but he couldnít invite peers of the realm to his parties yet.

So Section Two starts here with Henry Norris almost certainly involved as a shareholder and director of Kinnaird Park Estate Company: 1913-17


Between 1913 and 1915 Kinnaird Park Estate Company continued to build houses in Bromley and Bickley at its previous slow pace.The list below is of planning applications submitted by KPEC to Bromley UDC.Harringtonís name is not mentioned in connection with any of them, but evidence from later in the 1920s and from papers owned now by Norrisí grand-children, shows clearly that he was working for KPEC until at least the early 1930s.


4 Feb 1913††††† 6 houses in Amesbury Road Bickley

18 Feb 1913††† garage for a house in Kingís Avenue, probably one build earlier by KPEC

24 Mar 1914†† 2 houses in Page Heath Lane Bickley

7 Apr 1914††††† 6 houses in Amesbury Road Bickley

28 July 1914††† 2 houses and a shop in Tylney Road Bickley


If youíve read the first part of this history of KPEC youíll note that just prior to World War 1 very little new building was being done by KPEC on Lord Kinnairdís Plaistow Lodge estate, which it had originally been set up to develop for housing.As far as I know, Lord Kinnaird didnít own any land in Bickley so KPEC must have bought plots on roads in that area on the open market - perhaps something Henry Norris had advised them about.


8 June 1915†††† garage for Appin Lodge on Avondale Road, a house probably built by KPEC a

few years before


That was the last planning application by KPEC before World War 1 took all the young men away.KPECís next was not until February 1920 which is in the third file because from 1918 Henry Norris was definitely the chairman of the company.






Copyright Sally Davis May 2008