Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 126,213 pages of information and 198,047 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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Advertising Sign.
1927.Rotary Milling Machine for Facing Cylinder Block Castings.Designed by Morris Motors, Coventry. Made by William Asquith.
1929. Marine Oil Engine.
1929. Cylinder Heads of 6 Cylinder Engine.
1933. 24-48 H.P. Engine.
May 1935.
1938. Iron Lung for medical use manufactured by Morris at Cowley. Exhibit at the Thackray Museum
May 1939.
1946. Morris Commercial. Ambulance.
June 1953.
September 1953.
October 1953.
November 1953.
February 1954.
June 1954.
July 1954.
February 1955.
April 1955.
1958. Reg No 945 UXE.
1967. Ambulance. Reg No. EJO 978E. Exhibit at British Commercial Vehicle Museum.
1964. Reg No: ALF 612B.

The Morris Motor Company of Cowley, Oxford was a British manufacturer of cars and lorries. After the incorporation of the company into larger corporations, the Morris name remained in use as a marque until 1984. Motorcycles were also produced from 1902 to 1905.


1909/10 Bicycle manufacturer William Morris turned his attention to car repairs and sales which led to manufacturing.

1912 Company founded as W. R. M. Motors in Oxford.

1913 A factory was opened in Cowley, Oxford after a London car dealer placed an order for 400 cars, the Morris Oxford.

1913 393 cars were manufactured.

1919 W. R. M. Motors was liquidated and replaced by Morris Motors Ltd.

c.1920 Acquired the business of Hollick and Pratt, body-makers, Coventry.

1923 Acquired the Osberton Radiator Co of Oxford.

1923 Morris had a policy of buying up suppliers with, for example, Hotchkiss in Coventry became the Morris Engines (Coventry) Ltd in 1923. Leonard Lord was working for Hotchkiss and became part of Morris at this time

In 1924 the firm took over the factory previously occupied by E. G. Wrigley and Co in Birmingham, and there commenced the manufacture of Morris Ton Trucks and Commercial Vehicles. Frank George Woollard, the assistant MD of Wrigley moved to Morris at Oxford.

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.

In 1924, Morris overtook Ford to become the UK's biggest car manufacturer, holding a 51% share of the home market.

1926 Became a public company: Morris Motors (1926) Ltd; although Morris kept the Ordinary Shares for himself. It acquired Morris Motors Ltd, and the associate companies Morris Engines (Coventry) Ltd, Hollick and Pratt Ltd, and Osberton Radiators Ltd, as well as the right to the allotment of about £500,000 of shares in the Pressed Steel Co[1].

1926 Took over their main carburettor supplier, S. U. Co Ltd.

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1929 Name changed to Morris Motors Ltd[2].

In 1932 Morris appointed Leonard Lord as Managing Director; he swept through the works, updating the production methods and introducing a proper moving assembly line.

1935 Issue of shares to pay for the acquisition of Wolseley Motors Ltd and M. G. Car Company Ltd[3]

1936 Morris and Lord fell out, and Lord left, threatening to "take Cowley apart brick by brick".

1936 Further issue of shares to enable Morris Motors Ltd to acquire Morris Industries Exports Ltd and Morris Commercial Cars Limited, the commercial vehicle enterprise; the public owned the Preference Shares as well as a quarter of the ordinary shares. S. U. Carburettor Co Ltd was incorporated by Morris Motors to acquire from Morris Industries the business of carburettor manufacture trading under the name of S. U. Co[4].

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.

WWII Produced over 3,000 Tiger Moths.

1950 Cowley plant capable of producing a total of 150,000 Morris and Wolseley cars.

1952 The Nuffield Organisation merged with Austin to form the British Motor Corporation.








See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times 12 July 1926
  2. The Times, 13 October 1936
  3. The Times, 13 October 1936
  4. The Times, 13 October 1936
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • Biography of William R. Morris, ODNB [2]