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Lord Nuffield

(1877—1963) motor manufacturer and benefactor


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(1877–1963)

British industrialist and philanthropist who founded Morris Motors and, among numerous benefactions, financed the Nuffield Foundation. He was made a baronet in 1929, created Baron Nuffield in 1934, and elevated to the viscountcy in 1938. He was made a CH in 1958.

William Morris was born in Worcester, the son of a draper's assistant. The family moved to Cowley, near Oxford, and Morris began work in a local cycle firm. In 1893 he started his own business with just £4, hiring and repairing cycles. Soon he was making his own models and in 1902 he switched to motor cycles and then to motor cars. A Morris Garage was set up in 1904 and his growing interest in construction led to the opening of the first Morris factory in 1912. The following year the first Morris car appeared: an 8.9 hp two-seater capable of 50 mph and selling for £165. The post-World War I Morris Cowley and Morris Oxford models established Morris's reputation as a manufacturer and sales increased rapidly to over 50 000 cars per year in 1925. Morris Motors Limited was formed in 1926, the year of the first MG (Morris Garage) models, and in 1927 Morris bought Wolseley. The company's growth continued with the acquisition of various component manufacturers and, in 1938, Riley Motors was bought. During World War II, Lord Nuffield, as he was by then, served as director-general of maintenance at the Air Ministry, while his factories turned out tanks and aircraft. 1948 saw the start of Nuffield tractors and also an association between the company and Austin Motors that led, in 1952, to their merger as the British Motor Corporation.

From 1926, Nuffield gave large sums to various organizations in Britain and throughout the world, usually in the fields of medicine or academic research. In 1937 he provided land and money for the foundation of Nuffield College, Oxford, as a graduate college specializing in social and political studies. The Nuffield Foundation was created in 1943, endowed with some £10 million to fund medical and social projects.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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