William Richard Morris was the hard-working inventor of the Morris motorcar, a car which came to typify ‘Englishness’ and which was the first to sell over a million units in Britain. He started his working life by running a bicycle repair shop in his parents shed, eventually amassing a fortune, most of which he gave away – over £1billion in today’s money. His modest home in the village of Nuffield near Oxford, is the epitome of Arts and Crafts architecture and is now owned by the National Trust.
WILLIAM MORRIS - LORD NUFFIELD
William Morris was born in 1877, the impoverished son of a farmer who had to give up his farm due to asthma. Leaving school at the age of 15, William was apprenticed to a bicycle seller and repairer, in the days when most bicycles were bespoke. When he was 16, his request for a pay rise was turned down, so he left and set up his own cycle repair business from a shed in his parents’ garden, using their sitting room as a showroom.
His business grew and he was soon able to acquire premises in Oxford High Street, where he would make bicycles as well as repair them. He regularly entered cycle races, often winning them at various different distances. He soon turned his attention to motorcycles, and with the business expanding, took on more premises to keep up with the high demand.