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William Morris

William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield

William Richard Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield GBE, CH (10 October 1877 – 22  August 1963), known as Sir William Morris, Bt, between 1929 and 1934 and as The  Lord Nuffield between 1934 and 1938, was a British motor manufacturer and  philanthropist. He was the founder of the Morris Motor Company and is also  remembered as the founder of the Nuffield Foundation and Nuffield College,  Oxford.


Morris was born in 1877 at 47 Comer Gardens, a terraced house in Hallow, about 2  miles (3.2 km) north-west of Worcester, England. He was the son of Frederick  Morris and his wife Emily Ann, daughter of Richard Pether. When he was three  years old his family moved to 16, James Street, Oxford. 


Upon leaving school at the age of fifteen Morris was apprenticed to a local bicycle seller and repairer. Nine months later, aged 16,  he set up a business repairing bicycles from the family home. The business being a success he opened a shop at 48, High Street  and began manufacturing as well as repairing bicycles. In 1901, he began to work with motorcycles, designing the Morris Motor  Cycle, and in 1902 acquired a garage in Longwall Street from which he sold, repaired and hired cars. In 1912 he designed a car, the "Bullnose" Morris and began manufacturing at a disused military training college in Cowley, Oxford.  The outbreak of World War I saw the nascent car factory given over to the production of munitions but in 1919 car production  recommenced rising from 400 cars in that year to 56,000 in 1925. During the period 1919–1925 Morris built or purchased factories  at Abingdon, Birmingham, and Swindon to add to that in Oxford. Morris pioneered the introduction to the United Kingdom of Henry  Ford's techniques of mass production. In 1927, in competition against — amongst others — Herbert Austin, Morris purchased the  bankrupt Wolseley Motor Company and the company passed into his personal control. Wolseley were at this stage in fairly  advanced development of an overhead camshaft 8 hp car, which Morris launched as the first Morris Minor in 1928 (this was also the basis of the original MG Midget, launched in 1929). In 1938, Nuffield purchased the bankrupt Riley (Coventry) and Autovia companies from the Riley family and quickly sold them to his  own Morris Motor Company, with the addition of Wolseley later that year, the combined enterprise became known as the Nuffield  Organisation. This merged with Austin Motor Company in 1952 to become the British Motor Corporation. It was later merged with  Jaguar to become British Motor Holdings. In 1968, nearly every British automobile manufacturer, including BMH, became British  Leyland. Morris was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1918, created a Baronet, of Nuffield in the County of  Oxford, in 1929 and raised to the peerage as Baron Nuffield, of Nuffield in the County of Oxford, in 1934.In 1938 he was further  honoured when he was made Viscount Nuffield, of Nuffield in the County of Oxford.[He was also made a Fellow of the Royal  Society in 1939, a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1941 and a Companion of Honour (CH) in 1958.

Personal life and philanthropy

Morris was married to Elizabeth Anstey on 9 April 1904 — there were no children, and as a result he dispersed a large part of his  fortune to charitable causes. He founded the Nuffield Foundation in 1943 with an endowment of £10 million in order to advance  education and social welfare. He also founded Nuffield College, Oxford. The College owns his former Oxfordshire home, Nuffield  Place, which was open to the public but is possibly to be sold[6], and he is also commemorated in the Morris Motors Museum at the  Oxford Bus Museum. Morris also has a building named after him at Coventry University, at Guy's Hospital London and a theatre at  the University of Southampton[7]. His home in James Street now has a Blue Plaque.[8] He died in August 1963, aged 85. The  baronetcy and two peerages died with him as he was childless. 
The Morris Motor Company
Morris' first garage on Longwall Street, Oxford
Industry  Automotive  Fate Merged Successor British Motor Corporation Founded 1910 Defunct 1952 (marque used until 1984) Headquarters Cowley, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England  Key people William Morris 
The Morris Motor Company was a British car manufacturing company. After the incorporation of the company into larger  corporations, the Morris name remained in use as a marque until 1984 when British Leyland's Austin Rover Group decided to  concentrate on the more popular Austin marque.

Early history

The Morris Motor Company was started in 1910 when bicycle manufacturer William Morris turned his attention to car  manufacturing and began to plan a new light car. A factory was opened in 1913 in a former Oxford Military College at Cowley,  Oxford, United Kingdom, and the company's first car, the 2-seat Morris Oxford "Bullnose" was introduced.[1] Nearly all the major  components were bought-in, with only final assembly being undertaken in the Morris works. In 1914 a coupé and van were added  to the line-up but the chassis was too short and the 1018 cc engine too small to make a much-needed 4-seat version of the car.  White and Poppe, who made the engine, wanted more money than Morris was prepared to pay for a larger version, so the  company turned to Continental of Detroit, Michigan, for supplies of a 1548 cc unit.[1] Gearboxes and axles were also sourced in  the US. In spite of the outbreak of the First World War the orders were maintained and, from mid-1915 a new larger car, the 2-seat  and 4-seat Morris Cowley was introduced. 

Inter-war years

After the war the Continental engine was no longer available, so Morris arranged for the French company Hotchkiss to make a  near-copy in their Coventry factory. This was used to power new versions of the basic Cowley and more up-market Morris Oxford  cars. With a reputation for producing high-quality cars and a policy of cutting prices, Morris Motor Company continued to grow and  increase its share of the British market and, in 1924, overtook Ford to become the UK's biggest car manufacturer, holding a 51%  share of the home market. They had a policy of buying up suppliers with, for example, Hotchkiss in Coventry becoming the Morris  Engines branch in 1923. In 1924 the head of the Morris sales agency in Oxford, Cecil Kimber, started building sporting versions of  Morris cars, called MG – after the agency, Morris Garages. The MG factory was in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. The small car market was entered in 1928, with the Morris Minor, using an 847 cc engine from the Wolseley Motor Company, a  company which became part of Morris Motors Company in 1927. This helped the company through the economic depression of the time. The Minor was replaced at the 1934 London Motor Show by the Morris Eight, a direct response to the Ford Model Y and  heavily based on it. In 1932 Morris appointed Leonard Lord as Managing Director and he swept through the works, updating the  production methods and introducing a proper moving assembly line, but Morris and Lord fell out, and Lord left in 1936 –  threatening to "take Cowley apart brick by brick". Also in 1936 William Morris sold Morris Commercial Cars Limited, his commercial  vehicle enterprise, to Morris Motors. In 1938 William Morris became Viscount Nuffield, and the same year he merged the Morris  Motor Company (incorporating Wolseley) and MG with newly acquired Riley to form a new company: the Nuffield Organisation.  In 1926 The Pressed Steel Company Limited was founded as a joint venture between William Morris, the Budd Corporation (of  USA) and an American bank. Its factory was located over the road from the Morris factory at Cowley and supplied Morris and many  other motor manufacturers.

Second World War

In the summer of 1938 the Nuffield Organisation agreed to build equip and manage a huge new factory at Castle Bromwich, which  was built specifically to manufacture Supermarine Spitfires. After a major air raid damaged the Morris Bodies factory, the premises  switched to the production of jerry cans, producing millions of these versatile containers for use during the rest of the war and  following the ending of hostilities. The Cowley plant was turned over to aircraft repair and production of Tiger Moth pilot trainers, as well as "mine sinkers" based on a design produced at the same plant during the First World War. Post-World War II production Production restarted after World War II, with the pre-war Eight and Ten designs. In 1948 the Eight was replaced by what is  probably the most famous Morris car, the Morris Minor designed by Alec Issigonis (who later went on to design the Mini) and  reusing the small car name from 1928. The Ten was replaced by a new 1948 Morris Oxford, styled like a larger version of the  Minor. A later Morris Oxford (the 1956 Morris Oxford III) was the basis for the design of India's famous Hindustan Ambassador,  which continues in production to the present day.


In 1952 the Nuffield Organisation merged with its old rival the Austin Motor Company to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC).  Nuffield brought the Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley marques into the merger. Leonard Lord was in charge, which led to Austin's  domination of the organisation. Badge-engineering was important to the new company and for many years the several marques  would be seen on several families of similar vehicles. 

British Leyland

In 1968, in further rationalisations of the British motor industry, BMC became part of the newly-formed British Leyland Motor  Corporation (BLMC), and subsequently, in 1975, the nationalised British Leyland Limited (BL). The Morris marque continued to be used until the early 1980s on cars such as the Morris Marina. The Morris Ital (essentially a  facelifted Marina) was the last Morris-badged passenger car, with production ending in the summer of 1984. The last Morris of all  was a van variant of the Austin Metro. In the early 1980s, the former Morris plant at Cowley and its sister site the former Pressed Steel plant, were turned over to the  production of Austin and Rover badged vehicles. They continued to be used by BL's Austin Rover Group and its successor the  Rover Group, which was eventually bought by BMW, and then by a management consortium, leading to the creation of MG Rover.  None of the former Morris buildings now exist, British Aerospace sold the site in 1992, it was than demolished and replaced with  the Oxford Business Park. The adjacent former Pressed Steel Company site (now known as "Plant Oxford") is owned and  operated by BMW, who use it to assemble the new MINI.  The rights to the Morris marque are currently owned by Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation. The history of the company is commemorated in the Morris Motors Museum at the Oxford Bus Museum.  Post-Morris cars to have been built at Cowley include the Austin/MG Maestro, Austin/MG Montego, Rover 600, Rover 800 and (for  a short time) the Rover 75.


The Morris badge shows an ox crossing a river – a reference to the company's home town of Oxford.