John Britten and Desmond Norman met while apprentices at De Havilland and joined forced in the 1950's to develop crop spraying equipment for use on de Havilland Tiger Moths; the equipment went on to be further developed and manufactured by a sister company, Micro Air, how had, and still have (2021), a factory in Bembridge Fort on top of Bembridge Down.
The first aircraft designed and built by Britten-Norman was the BN-1, a single seater. Having failed to find a manufacturer willing to build the BN-1, they abandoned the project.
In 1960 Britten-Norman developed the seconded hovercraft in the world, the Cushioncraft (later designated CC1) at a hanger at Bembridge Airport. See this as a separate enterprise, the formed a subsidiary, Cushioncraft Ltd, which they based on the side of Bembridge harbour, at St. Helens Duver.
Their next aircraft they designed was the BN-2 Islander in 1965, a twin engine, 9 passenger aircraft with short-take-off-and-land abilities. Initially production was at Bembridge Airport, however demand quickly out-striped those facilities and sub-contracts were placed to manufacture them in Romania in kit form with final assembly at Bembridge. Westland Aircraft at East Cowes were also contacted to assist in manufacture.
In 1969 the BN-3, Nymph was designed. A 3 passenger, single engine, monoplane aircraft designed to be supplied in kit form to overseas countries.
Unfortunately, despite the success of the Islander, Britten-Norman ran into financial difficulties in the late 1960's/early '70's and they were placed into receivership in October 1971. Since then the company has passed into a variety of ownerships although production of the Islander, and its variants continue.
The variants produced over the years include the Trislander (with 3 engines, the third mounted on the tail, and increased carrying capacity), and the Defender (a militarised version).
John Britten (or, more precisely, Forester Richard John Britten) went on to form Britten Aviation Technical Services in 1976. He designed an all metal, low-wing cantilever monoplane, the 'Sheriff' - John was High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight 1976 to 1977). Unfortunately, Britten's death in 1977 at the young age of 49, halted development of the aircraft. The design was taken up by Aircraft Design (Bembridge) Ltd, a company based in Bembridge Fort but lack of funding caused the company to go into receivership without an aircraft having been built.
Desmond Norman (or, more precisely, Nigel Desmond Norman) went on to form the NDN Aircraft Company.