Biography


Sir Torquil NormanSir Torquil Norman started life in traditional family fashion. From school, he became a fighter pilot in the navy despite standing three inches above the height limit! He went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, spent a year at Harvard, and from there into the world of international banking at JP Morgan on Wall Street. But the traditional career path ended when Torquil invented the Big Yellow Teapot, which became one of Britain’s most popular toys. His company, Bluebird Toys, was responsible for products like the plastic lunchbox, Manta Force, the A La Cart Kitchen and Polly Pocket. Unsurprisingly, it became a market leader.

Fuelled by a desire to make a difference, when he retired from the toy business in 1996 Torquil bought the Roundhouse in Camden, north London and spent ten years rebuilding it. The multiple award winning venue is now one of the capital’s most popular. The purpose of the foundation he created is to help disadvantaged young people and offer them creative challenges in any area they choose. Over 20,000 people from all backgrounds have benefitted so far. For many it has been a life-changing experience. Torquil sees young people as the neglected generation – neglected and without ambition. He felt compelled to write this book in order to provide practical solutions to the current inequitable social situation that could really make a difference for the disadvantaged of today and for the next generation.

About the book

Well aware of his relatively privileged and wealthy background, Torquil Norman begins the book with a summary of his extraordinary life in order that readers might understand more clearly the experiences and personality behind the views that follow. The second part of the book begins with an attack on the dependency culture that has evolved during the last few decades of government. In order to make the best of their lives, argues Norman, people need more freedom, with less micro management of their lives by the government and fewer short-term solutions to society’s problems. In this section readers are shown a vision of Britain where self-reliance rather than state-reliance and social control is the guiding force.

The author ends with a series of reflections on key issues for today’s Britain, from reform of the welfare, means testing and taxation systems to current drug use and the treatment of prisoners. From his non-politician’s standpoint he proposes solutions that could lead to a better way of life for the whole UK population and give disadvantaged young people a fighting chance of success.



Latest News

Sir Torquil Norman – an Inspiration

By Mary Couzin published in Global Toy News 11 April 2011.

During the London Toy Fair, I attended the brilliant UK Inventor's Dinner and sat next to the most intriguing person - Torquil Norman. He was engaging, entertaining, charming and a proper English gentleman (the latter until he told stories of past inventor dinners and running across table tops to elude the police and such).  read more »

Letter to the Press

Torquil writes to the Financial Times March 2011.  read more »

Article: This welfare web is snuffing out the will to work

Torquil Norman writes in The Sunday Times 8 August 2010.  read more »

London Evening Standard: Roundhouse man has got a manifesto for Britain

Sir Torquil Norman, the man who restored the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm to glory as an arts centre, has more ambitious plans.  read more »