The Norton Collection is a large collection of a wide variety of artefacts, many of which have a connection with the town of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, built up by
Dennis Norton throughout his life. In 1970, while still working for British Leyland at Longbridge, he put it on display for the first time in a museum which he created out of a redundant school in
Upton Warren, near Bromsgrove. Later, still working at Longbridge, he bought the derelict Davenal House near Bromsgrove town centre, and after restoring the building, opened the museum there in 1979.
In 1992 he decided that the collection's best long term future would be with the local authority, so he transferred it to the Bromsgrove District Council, and they took over the Museum, which was
then in the coach house adjoining Davenal House, which had been sold, together with the local tourist information office.
Unfortunately the Council did very little to promote or expand the museum, so visitor numbers fell off, and a few years ago the Council closed both the museum and the tourist information office, overtly for financial reasons. But Dennis believed the collection deserved a better future than that, and formed the idea of buying the building back from the Council, and re-opening the Museum. To this a trust was formed, the Norton Collection Museum Trust, to take this project forward. This is a registered charity no. 1132460. The trustees have since indulged in lengthy negotiations with Bromsgrove Council, and earlier in 2014 had the building registered as one of community interest under the 2010 Localism Act. The Bromsgrove Council would prefer to sell the building, but this is made difficult for two reasons, firstly because it is registered as a building of community interest. Secondly, when Dennis gave the Council his collection in 1992 the Council became trustee for it, and entered into a deed of trust imposed certain obligations on them, under which they agreed to keep it on permanent display in the centre of the town, something which they have patently failed to do in recent years.
After lengthy negotiations the Bromsgrove Council agreed to sell the building with the collection intact to the trustees for £150,000. After a fund raising campaign in 2016 assisted by some generous donations from local people the trustees raised sufficient funds to complete the purchase in February 2016. After extensive refurbishment the museum was re-opened by local MP Sajid Javid in May 2016.
(Below) The carbide lamb that Dennis acquired in 1953 that was the start of his collection.
(Below right) Dennis (centre) with a friend and an model steam beam engine, made in Bromsgrove in 1825.