This company was a wholly owned subsidiary of its American parent company, pioneering the development of grinding wheels and other abrasive products. In 1929 Hugo Beth, Herb Stanton and Frank Emery set out to find the perfect UK site under the instructions of Charles Allen - an ex-president of Norton Company - "I don't care where you build the plant, but I want it to be erected in a locality where the workers will have good homes, good surroundings, and room enough for a garden ... I want it to be a model Norton plant.'' The site chosen was Welwyn Garden City. When the Norton team first visited WGC it had only 9,000 of a planned 50,000 population. Norton was the second multi-national company to locate in the town and, when finished, its factory would be the largest and occupy an 11 acre site with its own rail sidings. By 1939 the company had 500 employees and with WWII brewing the plant was turned over to a British Management team. Grinding wheels were so essential to the war effort that Norton Abrasives Ltd was designated a key industry. From 1939-44 Norton ran its plant on a 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week timetable. As men left for active duty they were replaced by women, eventually over one-third of the work was done by women. Norton helped keep "wheels turning" in more ways than one! Women joined the 'Norton Knitwits' to sew and knit socks, sweaters and gloves for men in the services. Norton sent monthly packages to the soldiers including homemade cakes, chocolates and cigarettes plus a newsletter to keep them up-to-date.