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Kenneth W. Norris, Bsc(Eng), ACGI, FRAeS, CEng, FIMechE.

Ken was born in 1921, and, interestingly, in view of his later achievements, was the only one of the brothers not to get to Grammar School. He became an apprentice at the Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft company in Coventry, and completed his formal education at Coventry Tech. His work at Armstrong Whitworth, especially on their revolutionary “flying wing” aircraft, earned him the Freedom of the City of Coventry. In 1944 he took over the responsibility of running the Mechanical Test & Research Department at Armstrong Whitworth and taught at Coventry Tech. During this time he became determined to form an engineering company with his brothers. When he completed his Aeronautical Degree in 1951 his lecturer introduced him to Lieutenant Frank Hanning-Lee, who had an outline design for a World Water Speed contender, the “White Hawk”. Norris Brothers Ltd was formed in 1952, with Eric, Ken and Lew actively involved. Ken worked on the structural aspects and aerodynamics of “White Hawk” and Lew produced the manufacturing drawings. The craft failed in its attempts, on Lake Windermere, and now seems to have disappeared. Norris Brothers Ltd. became involved with Donald Campbell through Ken’s brother Lewis (Lew). That part of the story comes in Lew’s biopic below. K7, as the “Bluebird” hydroplane was officially known was designed in the company’s offices in Hayward’s Heath, Sussex, with Ken and Lew leading a small team of three design draughtsmen working up to 80 hours a week, and earning the magnificent sum of £6 (per week!) for doing so. Construction took place at Samlesbury Engineering in Preston, Lancs., The story of it’s achievements are well documented elsewhere on this site. The design of the “Bluebird CN7” car (Campbell-Norris 7) was commenced in 1957 at the company’s then expanded offices in Burgess Hill, Sussex, with a group of five designers, led by Ken & Lew, backed up by a team of draughtsmen. Ken became the “front” man for the Norris Brothers, and went on all of the record attempts. Outside of record attempts, Ken was involved in many cutting edge theoretical and actual design studies. He was appointed a member of the Design Award Panel, and with his brothers, developed several companies within the Norris Group of Companies. He then moved more into aviation, setting up companies training general and agricultural pilots and repairing and maintaining gas turbine engines in the UK and Spain. He was closely involved with the “Thrust ll” and “Thrust SSC” Land Speed Record Projects, the latter being the first to achieve supersonic speeds, and the “Quicksilver” Water Speed Record contender. He passed away on the 1st October 2005

Donald Campbell
Speed 320mph
Length 11.2mtrs
Width 2.02mtrs
Weight 150 kilos