Monday, 10 December 2012


A Centenary approaches. It depends where you start counting. Worcester-born William Richard Morris (1877-1963) set up a bicycle-making business in 1893 at James Street, Cowley St John. In 1902 he made motorcycles and opened a bicycle dealership with premises at 48 High Street Oxford and 100 Holywell Street, known as Longwall. The 1903 partnership, the Oxford Automobile and Cycle Agency, at 16 George Street, George Street Mews, New Road, Longwall and 48 High Street failed and he had to borrow to buy back its tools. He decided never to enter a partnership again.

He resumed business at 48 High Street and in 1907 expanded into the car side at Longwall. By 1910 the premises were grandly titled the Oxford Motor Palace and 48 High Street was disposed of to Edward Armstead. In October 1912 WRM Motors was established with £4,000 capital from the Earl of Macclesfield and in November Morris showed the Morris Oxford design to Gordon Stewart of Stewart and Ardern. He was so taken with it that he agreed to buy 400. Morris was now sole proprietor of The Morris Garages in Longwall, Queen Street, and St Cross Road Oxford.

On 29 March 1913 the first Morris Oxford was built at Temple Cowley. It had a body by Raworth, engine and gearbox by White & Poppe, axles by EG Wrigley, and a bull-nose radiator made by Doherty Motor Components. (top right, the bull nose)

An MG car proper was still a world war and ten years away (above left), but its ingredients were already in place.

March 29 2013 for MG was “In the beginning…” The Genesis of MG should surely be celebrated. (below) 1930s classic Jaguar rival, MG SA Tickford Coupe

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