The origins of Morris Motors are to be found in a bicycle showroom established in c. 1898 on the High Street, Oxford. By 1909 William R. Morris was registering himself as "motor car engineer and garage", and was acting from Longwall Street premises, both as a car hire firm, and as an agent for various popular models. In 1913 Morris expanded into the manufacture of motor cars himself, producing the first Morris Oxfords in a disused military training college in Temple Cowley. During the war years Morris established Morris Commercial Cars Ltd and Wolseley Ltd, and in 1929 the first true MG Model was produced. In 1952 Morris Motors, as part of the Nuffield Organisation,merged with the Austin Rover Company to become the British Motor Corporation. This body, in turn, was united with Leyland Motors to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968, subsequently known as B.L. By 1973 the company had premises at Oxford, Cowley, Reading, Newbury and High Wycombe. Car production still continues at Cowley under the auspices of the Rover Group.
The majority of the collection was deposited in August 1980 as accession no 1686. A black and white photo of the Morris Motors Band in 1929 was received separately and given accession number 2843. The collection is far from complete: hardly any administrative or personnel records survive, and the largest part is made up of publicity material. This consists particulary of photographs, and of presscuttings relating to the 75th Anniversary of Morris Motors and the Diamond Jubilee of the Morris vehicles, both of which occurred in 1973. This made it difficult to discern how the business was administered, especially as those documents that did arrive were in no particular order, and thus the documents have been arranged by function rather than department.
Catalogued by Marion Hill, May 1993
Overy, R.J., William Morris, Viscount Nuffield (London, 1976)
B4/1 Family papers
B4/2 General management
B4/3/N Magazines and presscuttings
B4/4 Publicity and Advertising
B4/4/1 75th Anniversary Publicity
B4/4/2 Diamond Jubilee Publicity
B4/4/2/N Publicity material
B4/4/3 General Publicity
B4/4/3/P Photographic and pictorial material
B4/4/3/N Presscuttings and other written material
B4/5/P Photographic and pictorial materiaL