Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Lewis Hunt Norris

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Lew (Lewis) Hunt Norris (1924-2009), engineer and designer of land and water speed record vehicles.

1924 September 20th. Born in Cuckfield, Sussex, son of William Norris (b.1879), engineer in charge of the gas works at Burgess Hill, and his wife Florence.

Attended Lewes Grammar School and West Ham Technical College

Apprenticed at Harland and Wolff in its London shipyard, building landing craft for D-Day

1947 Sailed from Liverpool for India[1]

Worked for Burmah Oil in Burma, narrowly escaping when the communists took-over the country

Worked at Kine Engineering Co of Horley as works manager, where his brother Eric was accountant. Donald Campbell was part-owner of the company

For Donald Campbell, designed some modifications (a new propeller shaft) for Bluebird K.4 but the vessel crashed on Coniston Water.

1952 With brother Ken, set up design consultancy Norris Brothers in Haywards Heath

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[2] began work on the design of Bluebird C.N.7, a gas turbine powered car, for Donald Campbell to attempt the land speed record[3]. This was designed to aircraft standards, using honeycomb sandwich, to enhance the safety of the driver.

1958 Patent on apparatus for manoeuvering flexible pipes (with Norris Brothers of Burgess Hill).

1960 When CN7 crashed at more than 300 mph on Bonneville Salt Flats, Campbell avoided serious injury.

1960 BP asked Lew to design a low-cost "fun" racing vehicle for young people; using a lawnmower engine and a simple tubular chassis he developed an early go-kart.

1966 Patent for Worcester Valve Co for a rotary ball valve

Campbell gave Norris a new Austin saloon, to replace his old Ford Consul, in gratitude for his work on K7.

Also developed air-supported buildings, a rotary engine for Vincent motorcycles, a mirco-switch with wide gap (which was produced by Pye), a concrete pump and underground coal gasification plants.

1976 Patent for a plug valve

Recognising that design would never make much money, Norris started to develop the manufacturing side of the business. The first product was a ball valve made under a JV agreement with Worcester Valve Co of USA (presumably Norbro Engineering); also developed a control system which was licensed to Worcester Controls Corporation. Norris became vice-president of the company.

Developed and patented the Flotronic pump for the Worcester company

1993 Patent (with others) for a system of fluid valves, for Cross Manufacturing Co

Norris also developed other companies that designed and made spool valves, packaging machinery, lift trucks and explosion-proof boxes

1997 Lewis Hunt Norris, of Alderney, applied for a patent for a flexible diaphragm for a diaphragm pump.

2001 Patent for a furniture system (on behalf of a Jersey-registered company)

2003 Patent application for a concave picture support

2009 February 15th. Died in Henfield

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
  2. The Times, Sep 06, 1960
  3. The Times, May 18, 1960