Britain By Car - A Motoring History

William Morris, cycle maker

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The home of William Morris as a young man, and the site of his first cycle business.

16 James Street, Cowley, OX4 1ET.

1892 - 1901

William Morris was born in Worcestershire in 1877, but spent most of his early years in the village of Headington Quarry, now an eastern suburb of Oxford.  (The Headington Community Website indicates that he lived in a cottage on Brasenose Lane.)

In 1891, the family moved to James Street in Cowley where, a year later, William Morris established his first cycle business, using the back of his parents’ home as a workshop and the front room as a showroom.

The business did well, and in 1901 was moved to new premises in Oxford’s High Street.

The house on James Street where William Morris grew up is still standing, and is marked today by a blue plaque.  However, there appears to be some uncertainty over the exact dates in which William Morris was in residence.

The plaque indicates that he lived and worked in the house between 1896 and 1903, and not from 1892-1901, as given in this account, drawn from Making Cars in Cowley (see below).  Clarification and correction would be welcome!

Other locations 
Nuffield, Oxfordshire 
Oxford, Oxfordshire

Further details 
• Making Cars at Cowley, Gillian Bardsley and Stephen Laing, Tempus Publishing, 2006, and the History Press, 2009..