The Last Years of Henry Norris’ Life
Last updated: December 2008
Discovered: Pluto, with data that had been lying around unexamined for several years. First World Cup: Uruguay 4 Argentina 2 in the final; no UK team took part. Other firsts: Times’ crossword; play broadcast on TV; performance of Coward’s Private Lives (with Gertrude Lawrence and Laurence Olivier). Published: Murder at the Vicarage (Agatha Christie, with the first appearance of Miss Marple); Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome); 1066 and All That.
During 1930 Henry and Edith Norris moved house again, to 145 King’s Avenue, London SW4; they lived there until some time during 1933.
On Thur 30 January 1930 the Stepney and Suburban Permanent Building Society held its 65th AGM. Henry Norris was still a director but he didn’t attend this meeting. William Gilbert Allen did attend it, the last one he went to before his death. Between this AGM and the end of January 1931 John Claus, who had been chairman for two decades, retired because of ill-health. By January 1931 the other directors had elected Henry Norris as chairman of the Society.
During season 1929/30 Arsenal reached the FA Cup final again. This time they won it, on Sat 26 April 1930 at Wembley; Arsenal 2 Huddersfield Town 0 gave Arsenal the first major trophy the club had ever won. None of the accounts of the day that I have read mention Henry Norris at all and I think he didn’t see the final. In the evening of Sat 26 April 1930 both teams attended a dinner organised by J J Edwards, at the Wharncliffe Rooms. There were 300 people there but I could not find a guest list that had Norris’ name on it so I don’t think he was at the dinner either.
On the afternoon of Mon 28 April 1930 the Mayor of Islington hosted a civic celebration of the FA Cup win at the Islington Town Hall. There were huge crowds in the streets and outside the town hall several players got man-handled in all the excitement. There was no mention in the newspaper reports I have read that anyone from Henry Norris’ time at the club attended the celebration.
At the end of season 1929/30 Arsenal were 14th in Division One. Fulham FC were seventh in Division Three South.
On Mon 21 July 1930 Brentford and Chiswick UDC considered several planning applications from Kinnaird Park Estate Company: 7 houses number 18 to 30 Devonshire Gardens, and 7 houses numbers 4 to 16 Devonshire Gardens: a final revision of plans submitted and passed in 1929. This too was passed, and the houses were built during 1930 and 1931. In addition the UDC passed KPEC’s planning application for 8 houses on Grove Park Road plus a garage to be built at number 30 (which hadn’t been built by KPEC).
On Wed 24 September 1930 Brentford and Chiswick UDC passed a planning application from Kinnaird Park Estate Company which included building lines on the new road called Kinnaird Avenue. KPEC built all the houses in Kinnaird Avenue Chiswick: numbers 1-27 and 2-30, during the rest of 1930 and 1931.
First: Highway Code. Opened: Whipsnade Zoo, Abbey Road studios. There was a mutiny over pay in the royal navy.
During the afternoon either of Fri 23 January 1931 or possibly Fri 30 January 1931 the Stepney and Suburban Permanent Building Society held its 66th AGM at its offices at 519 Commercial Road East: the first to have Henry Norris as the Society’s chairman. In very poor health now, William Gilbert Allen was not able to attend. Making a short speech to end the meeting, Henry Norrs said how pleasant it was working with the Society; perhaps a reflection on board meetings of other institutions he’d been chairman of.
In the late evening of Sun 15 March 1931 Henry Norris’ business partner since 1896, William Gilbert Allen, died of a heart attack at his home in Nightingale Lane, Clapham Common. Henry and Edith Norris attended his funeral, on Thur 19 March 1931 at Streatham Cemetery. As well as being a big blow to Norris personally, Allen’s death left him as the surviving partner of the Allen and Norris building firm; it was his responsibility, therefore, to make a plan for the business to take it into the years after both their deaths.
On Sat 18 April 1931 at Highbury Arsenal 3 (Jack, Bastin, Lambert) Liverpool 1 (Roberts og) clinched the Division One championship with two fixtures to go. It was Arsenal’s first championship, and the first to be won by any club based south of Birmingham. The team had amassed the greatest number of points in the history of the Football League championship. I can’t find any evidence that Henry Norris attended any of the Arsenal games in season 1930/31.
In the evening of Thur 30 April 1931 the Arsenal directors entertained 250 people for dinner at the Café Royal to celebrate the first team’s Division One championship and also the Reserve team’s fifth London Combination win in succession. Representatives from all London clubs were among the guests; Dean, chairman of Fulham FC, went for Fulham. Charles Clegg and Fred Wall were there for the FA. Again, the reports don’t mention any directors from Henry Norris’ era being there and I’m sure he wasn’t there himself.
In season 1930/31 Fulham FC came ninth in Division Three South.
On Sat 13 June 1931 Allen and Norris was registered as a limited company, the legal work being carried out by Henry Norris’ acquaintance at Everton FC, William C Cuff. Norris was the new company’s chairman; the other directors were his brother John Edward Norris; long-time Allen and Norris employee Francis Plummer; and William Gilbert Allen’s son Frederick, who was now running the estate agency side of the business.
On Wed 24 June 1931 Brentford and Chiswick UDC passed a planning application made by Kinnaird Park Estate Company: 12 houses in Hartington Road. Numbers 39-57 and 42-60 Hartington Road at least were built by KPEC probably in 1931 and 1932. In 1935, Leslie Knighton was living at number 53: he’d been Arsenal FC’s manager from 1919 to 1925 and was now manager of Chelsea FC.
In an article published in August 1934 the Islington Gazette reported that at the 1931 AGM of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited, a motion had been passed by its shareholders inviting Henry Norris to attend all matches played at Highbury. I wonder if he took it up? I can’t find any evidence that he did.
On Wed 23 September 1931 Brentford and Chiswick UDC passed a planning application from Kinnaird Park Estate Company: one garage, for 16 Devonshire Gardens, a house recently built by KPEC. On Wed 28 October 1931 Brentford and Chiswick UDC passed KPEC’s planning application for 8 houses in Grove Park Road. On Wed 25 November 1931 the UDC passed a planning application from KPEC for 2 houses on Sutton Court Road. And finally that year, on Wed 23 December 1931 the UDC passed KPEC’s planning application for 1 house on Hartington Road: number 61, which has a rather Mediterranean appearance quite unlike all the KPEC-built houses around it.
On 18 December 1931 John Wilkinson Humble, who had helped found Woolwich Arsenal FC and had been a director from 1910 until he fell with Henry Norris in 1927, died in Dartford, Kent. The funeral took place on 23 December 1931 at Plumstead Cemetery. Henry Norris is not mentioned in the Kentish Independent’s short account of it, so it seems he didn’t attend the funeral or send a wreath. He may have been abroad.
Discovered: the neutron, by James Chadwick. Founded: the British Union of Fascists, by Oswald Mosley. First: royal Christmas message, broadcast by King George V. Published: J B S Haldane’s The Causes of Evolution.
1932 was the last year in which Kinnaird Park Estate Company’s office at 1 Burnt Ash Lane was included in the local Post Office directory. It had been at that address since 1903 at the latest. In 1934 the building was occupied by a building firm, possibly the one that had worked for KPEC building houses in Bromley. By 1940, however, the building was empty. I couldn’t find an office for KPEC in Chiswick; so I suppose that from 1931 the company was run from Allen and Norris’ office on Fulham Palace Road; or possibly from the house of KPEC’s architect William Harrington, in Bromley.
On Thur 28 January 1932 the Stepney and Suburban Permanent Building Society held its 67th AGM, at 519 Commercial Road East. Since his father’s death William Gilbert Allen junior, an accountant, had joined the board of directors. Henry Norris chaired the meeting. He was one of the two directors due to retire from the board at this AGM; both men stood again and were re-elected, as was usual in the Society once you had established yourself with the members. As he had done the previous year, Norris again mentioned what an easy meeting this was to chair, as (he said) “everybody was satisfied with what had been done”.
On Wed 23 March 1932 Brentford and Chiswick UDC passed a planning application made by Kinnaird Park Estate Company: a garage to be built at 2 Kinnaird Avenue.
In season 1931/32 Arsenal came second in Division One, and lost the FA Cup final. Fulham FC came top in Division Three South and were promoted.
On Wed 25 May 1932 Brentford and Chiswick UDC approved Kinnaird Park Estate Company’s planning application for 12 flats, arranged in 6 buildings, on Grove Park Road. These were probably numbers 8-18 Grove Park Road. KPEC built 8-62 Grove Park Road, probably during 1932.
On 4 June 1932 William Hall died at his home in Woodborough Road Putney. I would dearly love to know whether Henry Norris went to the funeral or at least sent a wreath; but I couldn’t find any coverage of the funeral in the local papers.
On Wed 28 September 1932 Brentford and Chiswick UDC approved a planning application made by Kinnaird Park Estate Company to add a verandah, a porch and a tool-shed to their house known as Red Roofs, number 42 Hartington Road. On Wed 9 November 1932 the UDC passed three applications made by KPEC: for one house on Hartington Road which became number 59; for another set of 12 flats in 6 buildings on Grove Park Road; and for 3 houses, also in Grove Park Road.
Late in 1932 Henry Norris experienced property development in a way that he had never done before: number 145 King’s Avenue SW4, where he and Edith had been living for a year or two, was compulsorily purchased by the London County Council for redevelopment as part of its Clapham Park Estate. At least, I think its number 145 that was bought this way; the Minutes of Proceedings of the LCC say it was 145, but the Minutes of Proceedings of the London Borough of Wandsworth say it was 148. Either way, the Norrises are not listed as residents at 145 King’s Avenue after 1932.
First: sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. The bodyline tour, which ended with England regaining the ashes amidst furious controversy. Founded: the British Interplanetary Society. Published: H G Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come. Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany.
From January? to early April 1933 Henry and Edith Norris were in the south of France - in a hotel, apparently; it seems that by this time they had sold the villa at Villefranche. In the hotel, they met three other English people: Herbert Young, Henry Wilson and Margaret Sullivan (or possibly O’Sullivan - accounts don’t agree). The Norrises started to play bridge with these people most evenings in the hotel. Before he left the Riviera Norris entered into some kind of betting agreement with Henry Wilson about the Derby, and the horse Statesman which would be running in it.
In the late afternoon of Tue 31 January 1933 Henry Norris was in London, at 519 Commercial Road East where he chaired the 68th AGM of the Stepney and Suburban Permanent Building Society. The Government’s budget of 1931 had led to added burden of income tax on building societies, so after the AGM there was a short EGM which passed some revisions to the Society’s rules: the first set of amendments and revisions since 1905.
In early April 1933 Henry Norris returned to England from the south of France. Shortly after arriving home again Norris paid £3500 into an account in the name of Henry Wilson. However, after having done so he seems then to have got cold feet about the betting deal they’d agreed on. He started making further enquiries about Wilson, and about the horse Statesman; as a result of which he contacted his bank and got his cheque stopped.
Sometime between early April and the end of May 1933 Henry Wilson visited Henry Norris at home, and put pressure on him not to back out of his betting scheme. Wilson did persuade Norris to change his mind again; but this time Norris only agreed to part with £1300 not the original sum of £3500. He also told Wilson he’d only place this one bet with him, after the Derby he wouldn’t place any more.
In season 1932/33 Arsenal won their second Division One championship. Fulham FC came third in Division Two, Spurs were promoted from it.
At 3pm on Wed 31 May 1933 the Derby was run at Epsom. Henry Norris was there to see the horse Henry Wilson’s betting scheme was centred on, Statesman, come third, at 20:1 against. The following day, Thur 1 June 1933 Henry Norris received a letter from Henry Wilson, and a cheque for £250, all he was due from his bet on Statesman in the Derby. I guess Norris went to the police; but it’s possible someone else did so rather than him, and the police then contacted Norris. Between 1 June 1933 and 22 May 1934 there was a police investigation into the doings of Henry Wilson, resulting in charges being brought against him, Herbert Young and Margaret Sullivan.
On Wed 28 June 1933 Brentford and Chiswick UDC considered what seems to have been the last planning application ever made by Kinnaird Park Estate Company: 2 houses on Ellesmere Road. The UDC refused planning permission and sent the plans back. A revised plan for the same site was approved by the UDC at its meeting on Wed 27 September 1933: 4 flats rather than 2 houses. One of the flats is still owned by one of Norris’ grand-children. Obituaries of Henry Norris (from August 1934) still list him as the chairman of Kinnaird Park Estate Company; but I can’t find any evidence that KPEC ever built anything after these flats, and I suppose that on his death the company was wound up.
On Thur 17 August 1933 Henry Norris signed his Will, prepared for him by his old acquaintance from Kent Lodge number 15 and Kinnaird Park Estate Company, Arthur Gilbert of Rodgers Gilbert and Rodgers. The main aim of the Will was to set up a trust fund for his daughters, like the one Norris had set up in 1918 for his wife Edith; and to make a series of personal bequests to his sister Ada, his nieces, nephews and servants. The Will’s executors, who were also to run the trust fund, were his brother John Edward Norris, and Harry John Peters, still employed by Arsenal FC.
Probably during September or October 1933 Henry and Edith Norris moved into Sirron Lodge, Vine Road, Barnes Common.
At 3am on Sat 6 January 1934 Herbert Chapman died of complications arising from flu. The funeral, at St Mary’s Hendon, was held at 2pm on Wed 10 January 1934. It was attended by 1000 people with thousands more lining the hearse’s route from his house at 6 Haslemere Avenue Hendon; however, Henry Norris didn’t attend the funeral or send a wreath.
In January 1934 Henry Norris was planning to develop a site that he had bought (I have no idea when) at 37 King’s Avenue Clapham, down the road from where he had lived in the early 1930s. By 30 January 1934 a planning application had been made to the London County Council to build seven maisonettes there. The application was followed on Tue 30 January 1934 by the required application for permission to build drains, made to the London Borough of Wandsworth.
On the afternoon of Wed 31 January 1934 Henry Norris was at 519 Commercial Road East to chair the 69th AGM of the Stepney and Suburban Permanent Building Society. He made a speech emphasising that the Society was in a strong financial position in a time of great competition for business between societies; he also urged members and directors to work together in the difficult times they were living in.
On Mon 6 February 1934 the LCC’s planning committee recommended that the full Coucnil refuse planning permission for the maisonettes Henry Norris was proposing to build at 37 King’s Avenue. The full Council did as recommended, and on Tue 7 February 1934 the official notice of refusal to grant planning permission was sent to Henry Norris. However, the official notice included a note that the LCC would grant permission for a block of flats up to four storeys high (the difference between maisonettes and flats in this case is a bit lost on me!)
On Fri 13 April 1934 Henry and Edith Norris’ second daughter Peggy (Margaret Audrey) married Derek Livsey. Unlike the marriage of their eldest daughter Joy in 1923, Peggy’s marriage was a quiet affair, without any press coverage that I could find; so I don’t have a list of guests for it.
In season 1933/34 despite the shock of Herbert Chapman’s death, his Arsenal team reached the FA Cup quarter-finals; they won the Division One championship, Spurs were third. Fulham FC came sixteenth in Division Two.
On Tue 22 May 1934 Henry Norris was at Marlborough Street Magistrates Court as a prosecution witness in a preliminary hearing in a case of conspiracy to defraud which was being brought against Mrs Margaret Sullivan and Henry Wilson. The hearing continued into Wed 23 May 1934 with the magistrate hearing evidence from a second victim of the alleged betting scam (a woman this time) and from the police. During the day the magistrate decided that there was insufficient evidence to proceed against Margaret Sullivan, and she was freed. Henry Wilson was sent for trial at the Old Bailey.
On 30 May 1934 Henry Wilson pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 20 months with hard labour. As Wilson did plead guilty, Henry Norris was not required to give evidence; though he may have attended the court in any case, to hear what was going to happen to Wilson. Wilson had been charged with a man called Charles Robinson who was still at large; Herbert Young had also not been caught as yet.
By July 1934 Henry Norris’ architect for the development of the site at 37 King’s Avenue SW4 had prepared a revised planning application to be put to the LCC: the planned development had been changed from maisonettes into flats, as the LCC had suggested. Between 1 July and 30 September 1934 permission was given by the LCC to develop the site as per this revised planning application. But I’m not sure the flats were ever built.
on Mon 30 July 1934 Henry Norris died at Sirron Lodge, Vine Road, Barnes Common; in his bed, of a heart attack. He was buried at the family plot in East Sheen cemetery on Thur 1 August 1934.
Everyone does a certain amount of living on after their death:
On 13 August 1934 the annual report of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited was published, showing that at his death Norris still owned 477 shares; and Edith Norris still owned five. They were still held in his name at 12 August 1935 but by 4 August 1936 they were in the hands of his executors. The executors had sold them by 1948.
On 20 November 1934 documents issued by Fulham Football and Athletic Company Limited showed that at his death Henry Norris still owned 200 shares in Fulham FC; Edith Norris and Henry’s sister Ada owned two shares each. Henry Norris’ shares were still held in his name at 31 December 1935 though at 7 December 1936 they were owned by Edith Norris; and by 28 December 1937 they were in John Edward Norris’ name.
On 11 January 1935 probate was obtained on Henry Norris’ Will: he left £71733/12/4 gross; £32365/9/5 personalty. Using the ‘x200' calculation I’ve used elsewhere in these files, a modern approximation of what he was worth at his death would be £14 million.
In March 1935 Herbert Young and Margaret Sullivan were charged with conspiring to obtain money by fraudulent means from Henry Norris between January and April 1933.
On Fri 13 March 1936 George Peachey - probably Henry Norris’ most loyal friend - died of a heart attack while out driving in his car.
On Sun 2 October 1938 Walter Morgan Willcocks died: solicitor to the Allen and Norris partnership and - possibly - the man who brought the two partners together. Willcocks also claimed the credit for having brought Henry Norris and Edith Featherstone together.
On 25 December 1945 Arsenal FC paid St John’s College Highbury some financial compensation for the rest of the College’s 80-year lease on the southern end of the site at the Highbury. Arsenal FC then occupied the whole of the site and continued to do so until they moved to the Emirates Stadium for season 2006/07.
On 9 January 1946 Henry Norris’ brother John Edward, his executor and trustee, died in Ashford County Hospital Stanwell, Middlesex.
On 6 July 1946 Henry Norris’ sister Ada died at Sirron Lodge; she had lived with Henry Norris, and then with Henry and Edith Norris, since the late 1890s.
On Wed 8 August 1951 Henry Norris’ widow Edith died, still with Sirron Lodge, Barnes as her home address although she was living with one of her daughters, in Norfolk, on the day of her death.
On 10 February 1952 Henry Norris’ long-time employee, and his trustee and executor, Harry John Peters died at St Paul’s Hospital Endell Street, London; though his home address was 155 Wimbledon Park Road, Southfields, built by the Allen and Norris partnership.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE SOURCES OF ALL THIS INFORMATION, SEND ME AN EMAIL AND I’LL SEND YOU THE SOURCES FILE.
Copyright Sally Davis April 2008