Morris, William Richard, Viscount Nuffield

Morris, William Richard, Viscount Nuffield
b. 10 October 1877 Worcester, England
d. 22 August 1963 Nuffield Place, England
English industrialist, car manufacturer and philanthropist.
Morris was the son of Frederick Morris, then a draper. He was the eldest of a family of seven, all of whom, except for one sister, died in childhood. When he was 3 years old, his father moved to Cowley, near Oxford, where he attended the village school. After a short time with a local bicycle firm he set up on his own at the age of 16 with a capital of £4. He manufactured pedal cycles and by 1902 he had designed a motor cycle and was doing car-repair work. By 1912, at the Motor Show, he was able to announce his first car, the 8.9 hp, two-seater Morris Oxford with its characteristic "bull-nose". It could perform at up to 50 mph (80 km/h) and 50 mpg (5.65 1/100 km). It cost £165.
Though untrained, Morris was a born engineer as well as a natural judge of character. This enabled him to build up a reliable team of assistants in his growing business, with an order for four hundred cars at the Motor Show in 1912. Much of his business was built up in the assembly of components manufactured by outside suppliers. In he moved out of his initial premises by New College in Longwall and bought land at Cowley, where he brought out his second model, the 11.9hp Morris Oxford. This was after the First World War, during which car production was reduced to allow the manufacture of tanks and munitions. He was awarded the OBE in 1917 for his war work. Morris Motors Ltd was incorporated in 1919, and within fifteen months sales of cars had reached over 3,000 a year. By 1923 he was producing 20,000 cars a year, and in 1926 50,000, equivalent to about one-third of Britain's output. With the slump, a substantial overdraft, and a large stock of unsold cars, Morris took the bold decision to cut the prices of cars in stock, which then sold out within three weeks. Other makers followed suit, but Morris was ahead of them.
Morris was part-founder of the Pressed Steel Company, set up to produce car bodies at Cowley. A clever operation with the shareholding of the Morris Motors Company allowed Morris a substantial overall profit to provide expansion capital. By 1931 his "empire" comprised, in addition to Morris Motors, the MG Car Company, the Wolseley Company, the SU Carburettor Company and Morris Commercial Cars. In 1936, the value of Morris's financial interest in the business was put at some £16 million.
William Morris was a frugal man and uncomplicated, having little use for all the money he made except to channel it to charitable purposes. It is said that in all he gave away some £30 million during his lifetime, much of it invested by the recipients to provide long-term benefits. He married Elizabeth Anstey in 1904 and lived for thirty years at Nuffield Place. He lived modestly, and even after retirement, when Honorary President of the British Motor Corporation, the result of a merger between Morris Motors and the Austin Motor Company, he drove himself to work in a modest 10 hp Wolseley. His generosity benefited many hospitals in London, Oxford, Birmingham and elsewhere. Oxford Colleges were another class of beneficiary from his largesse.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Viscount 1938; Baron (Lord Nuffield) 1934; Baronet 1929; OBE 1917; GBE 1941; CH 1958. FRS 1939. He was a doctor of seven universities and an honorary freeman of seven towns.
Further Reading
R.Jackson, 1964, The Nuffield Story.
P.W.S.Andrews and E.Brunner, The Life of Lord Nuffield.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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