Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Kenneth Norris

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Kenneth William Norris (1921-2005)[1]

1921 Born in Cuckfield, Sussex[2], one of 6 sons of William Norris, an engine fitter at a gas works[3], and his wife Florence. His brothers included Walter (b.1909), Eric (b.1912), Leslie (b.1914), Philip P (b.1917), Lewis (b.1924) and sisters Joan (b.1920)[4]

All of his brothers went to Grammar School; Kenneth was apprenticed at Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft in Coventry

By 1945 he was managing the mechanical testing department

Part of the team that developed the AW52 Flying Wing.

His younger brother, Lew, designed some modifications for Donald Campbell to the Bluebird K.4 but the vessel crashed on Coniston Water.

Started reading for a degree in aeronautical engineering at Imperial College but whilst there decided to set up a design company with 2 of his brothers in 1952. He did some structural and stress work for Commander Frank Hanning-Lee on the White Hawk attempt on the water speed record.

1953 The first major project of Norris Brothers was the design of a new Bluebird, the K7, for Donald Campbell, which set 7 water speed records between 1955 and 1964. The successor to this, using a gas turbine propulsion system, was the one in which Campbell crashed and died in 1967.

1955 K. W. Norris and L. H. Norris[5] began work on the design of Bluebird C.N.7, a gas turbine powered car, for Donald Campbell to attempt the land speed record[6]

1965 Also designed the first automatic seat-belt mechanism (patent application 1965), for Norris Auto Products Ltd of Haywards Heath.

Also designed the first piezo-electric gas ignition system, a method of transporting methane in liquid form by tanker and other developments.

1969 Patent application for a fluid filter for Norris Filters Ltd

1976 Patent for a linear-rotary converter

1977 Gave his backing to a new attempt on the water speed record

1983 Norris managed Richard Noble's Thrust 2 team which broke the world land speed record.

Set up a company repairing and maintaining aircraft gas turbines with his 2 sons

Also set up flying school and agency for Piper aircraft in Britain and Spain

1997 Consultant to Thrust-SSC team which broke the sound barrier on land.

2005 Died

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, October 15, 2005
  2. BMD
  3. 1911 census
  4. BMD
  5. The Times, Sep 06, 1960
  6. The Times, May 18, 1960