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Author Topic: Dr Simon Norton  (Read 579 times)
grahame
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« on: February 18, 2019, 07:41:09 pm »

https://www.smartertransport.uk/obituary-simon-p-norton-1952-2019/

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We are very sad to learn that Simon Norton has died. He was an eccentric, passionate and extraordinarily knowledgeable campaigner for better public transport. Smarter Cambridge Transport was just one of many groups to which he imparted his considerable wisdom.

Simon was a mathematical genius, with an algebraic group named after him (Harada-Norton). He worked at Cambridge University until 1985. After this he devoted much of his life to transport campaigning, deeply involved in the Campaign For Better Transport, nationally and locally, Bedford Area Bus Users Society, Cambridge Area Bus Users, Association of British Commuters, Shelford & Whittlesford Rail Users Group and other groups. A large part of Simon’s legacy is the Foundation for Integrated Transport, which he founded with a donation of around three million pounds.

Shocked.

And from the Telegraph ....

Quote
Simon Norton, who has died from a heart condition aged 66, was an Eton-educated maths prodigy considered one of the greatest minds of the 20th century – until the mid-1980s, when he lost his position at Cambridge University and ended up living in squalor in a dingy Cambridge basement packed with bulging plastic bags and piles of bus timetables, living on a diet of tinned mackerel, Bombay mix and brinjal pickle.

Simon, you were ... I can't find the words tonight ... you will be sorely, sorely missed.
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2019, 01:42:39 pm »

Simon, you were ... I can't find the words tonight ... you will be sorely, sorely missed.

A few more words.


Simon Norton was something of a visionary - looking ahead beyond the current, beyond what most of us foresee, into the future beyond. And doing so with an informed techncical realism that looks at what would work at a deeper than surface level. Such visionaries are rare, and doubly rare where they interact with the campaigning and community elements.  Simon not only supported and inteacted with such groups, but also funded a generous foundation to help nurture their activities.

I met Simon a couple of times ... most recently last summer at the "Transport for New Homes" project summary. The Foundation for Integrated Transport was and is looking beyond transport routes and networks, but also at how all the construced elements of modern society (housing, leisure, work place, education, services) shoud be provided and interfaced, and at the very requirements of how, if and when people and goods get between them. There's much in this work which could, should (and is) influencing campaign and community through for the future - I can quote elements from "Transport for New Homes" as aligning with our local neighbourhood plan, for example.

Being a several-steps foward visionary didn't always align Simon with local sentiment, as we learned looking at suggestions for Severnside.  Where the three pipelines from South Wales feed into England (2 road bridges and a rail tunnel), with travellers wanting to fan out widely as they arrive, there is a natural tranport hub opportunity.  But the pipes - the rail one especially - pass through the area with little interaction; Simon had the vision to suggest a far sighted set of opportunities, but, alas, local sentiment has been "we like it just the way it is".  I do hope to see something along the lines of Simon's vision develop in the future - perhaps it won't be a key public transport megahub, but certainly a bus / rail interchange allowing those piplelins to be fed, and also taking that bypassed hinterland and linking it properly and uncongested to the employment and leisure ares in Bristol and towards Avonmouth.  With, it should be noted, significant local economic gain.

It's who he was, what he did, what he said and how he interacted on a real technical issue that were important to Simon. The respect he commanded allowed him to "pass" on the norms of conventional dress and appearance. I'll not forget the first time I met him - at a House of Lords presentation event - where the room was dressed to the nines except Simon. But a few words, a little discussion and thought about what was said, and you quickly overlooked the old trousers, the holey jumper, and the frizzy hair and realised that you were in the presence of a great, thoughtful and forward looking person who will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace, Simon

Edit - to add picture. Taken 23.3.2017, at that presentation mentioned above. Please excuse quality - clip from a video, but I wanted to add the memory here.   To give you an idea, even I had a suit and tie on that day!
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 05:21:55 pm by grahame » Logged

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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2019, 02:25:55 am »

Longer 'obit' from The Guardian

https://amp.theguardian.com/education/2019/feb/22/simon-norton-obituary
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