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Lord Kings Norton Archive

About this archive

"Lord Kings Norton was proud of his long association with Cranfield University and regarded the part he played in establishing its College of Aeronautics, and guiding its subsequent development into an internationally renowned centre of learning, as one of his most satisfying achievements. To honour this association, I donated a collection of my husband's letters, photographs, papers and other memorabilia to Cranfield University. A substantial part of that collection is now accessible on this website to anyone interested in the development of aeronautics throughout the twentieth century, in which he and the College of Aeronautics played a significant part. This website is a tribute to a man who relentlessly, throughout his long life, advocated the search for knowledge and learning of the very highest order."  Lady Kings Norton

The archive of Lord Kings Norton, formerly Sir Harold Roxbee Cox, Cranfield University's first Chancellor, serves as a permanent memorial to the man who helped guide the development of this institution during the first 50 years of its history.

The Archive was received by Deed of Gift from Lady Kings Norton in 2000 and is held within the University Library that bears his name. It contains papers, letters, photographs and a host of other documents and items of ephemera, covering the whole period of Roxbee's life and works. Many of the letters that he wrote to his mother survive, containing a mix of personal news, insights into his work, and humorous sketches, tracing his early career until her death in 1948. The letters that he wrote during his tenure on the R101 project at the Royal Airship Works at Cardington are particularly poignant, given that the R101 crashed on its maiden voyage, killing most of those on board, including many of those featured in his earlier, happier sketches.

Having had not one but effectively three careers - as an engineer, civil servant and industrialist - the archive includes many of Roxbee's technical papers, correspondence, articles and speeches. However, more than just the record of his professional life, it is the more personal material where perhaps can be found the real gems of the collection. Early schoolboy sketches of aeroplanes show not only his skill as a draughtsman, but also his passion for aviation.

Roxbee's interest in airships and ballooning, and the other highlights of his extraordinary contribution to aeronautical development, such as his analysis of the problem of aircraft wing flutter, his work at the Air Registration Board, and his association with Sir Frank Whittle's pioneering work on jet engine development means that the archive contains much of interest to aviation historians, as well as enthusiasts.

About this website

This website is intended to celebrate the life, achievements and personality of Lord Kings Norton by providing access to a sample of the materials held within the Archive. The sample includes letters, sketches, reports and other documents, all of which have been digitised to ensure that the material can be made available to a wider audience.

The Lord Kings Norton display

Items selected from the archive, including photographs and other artefacts can also be seen as part of the Lord Kings Norton Room display which is located in the University's Mitchell Hall. The display provides an introduction to Lord King's Norton life and in highlighting his long association with the University, it serves as a good starting point for understanding the history and development of Cranfield itself. Augmented by a number of items on loan from Lady Kings Norton's personal collection, including a number of French aviation lithographs and a fascinating collection of Graf Zeppelin memorabilia, the display weaves together all of the various strands of Roxbee's life, including his career, achievements, personality, passion and humour.

Copyright and reuse

We support and encourage public access to our collections and information on this website. These assets are available for non-commercial, educational and research use in accordance with fair use under the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 

The Lord Kings Norton Archive website is © Cranfield University. The items within the collection are © Lord Kings Norton of Wooton Underwood unless ownership by third parties is stated.

Statement on the copyright and reuse of items on the Lord Kings Norton Archive website

Further information

For further information, please contact the Archivist:

Kings Norton Library
Cranfield University
MK43 0AL.