Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1877, was born William Morris.

Morris was a bicycle repair man who turned to making motor cars and founded Morris Motors, which led the way for British motor manufacture.

William Richard Morris was born on 10th October 1887 at Worcester, the son of a farm labourer. In 1890, the family moved to Oxford, where the young Morris received a practical education, which he was obliged to abandon at the age of 15, due to his fatherís illness.

Morris was apprenticed to a bicycle repair man, from whom he learned his trade so quickly that he was able to establish his own business the next year at home, and in 1900, moved to his own premises in Oxford. [48 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4AP. blue plaque] From here, Morris expanded into repairing motorcycles, but sadly the business failed and Morris was adjudicated bankrupt in 1904. Undeterred by this failure, Morris set up in business again but this time extended the business to the manufacture of motor cars. He first produced the Bull Nosed Morris and after moving to Cowley, the Morris Oxford, a two-seater with an 8.9 horsepower engine.

Morris survived the depression of the 1920s and 1930s by trimming prices and using the American techniques of mass production and conveyor belt assembly. Other motor companies could not compete with Morris and, as they faced closure, he bought them up one by one. Morris acquired Wolseley Motors, Riley of Coventry and Austin Motor Company. The resulting company, the British Motor Corporation, became the third largest motor company in the world.

Morris was created a baronet in 1929, a baron in 1934, and Viscount Nuffield in 1938. He had no children and therefore gave away his fortune to charitable causes. He founded the Nuffield foundation with a grant of 10 million pounds, the Nuffield Trust, and Nuffield College, Oxford. Morris died on 22nd August 1963 and is buried at Holy Trinity Church, Oxford. [Holy Trinity Church, 46 Quarry Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 8NU]

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