Britain By Car - A Motoring History

Morris Radiators Branch

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An important component supplier for Morris Motors and, briefly, a site of M.G car production.

Location
Between the Oxford Canal and Woodstock Road, Oxford, accessed via Bainton Road.  Today, the land is part of the Waterways Development, Oxford OX2. 

Date
1923 - 2001. 

Commentary
William Morris built his first car in 1912.  In the early years, his method of production was almost entirely one of assembly, with virtually all components being bought in from other manufacturers.

When his initial radiator supplier was unable to keep up with demand, William Morris transferred his custom to the new Osberton Radiator Company, based in Osberton Road, north of Oxford city centre.  

In 1923, William Morris bought Osberton Radiators (as he did with a number of his other suppliers), but soon transferred production to a new factory on a former brickworks site, between Woodstock Road and the Oxford Canal.

It was in the same year that the first Morris Garages car was produced by Cecil Kimber; initially from a premises in Longwall Street, Oxford and then from nearby Alfred Lane.

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By 1925, M.G, now a marque in its own right, was again running run out of production space; so, as a stop-gap measure, was allocated a section of the Radiator factory on Bainton Road.

However, this too proved to be short-lived.  In 1927, the company was once again on the move, this time to Edmund Road, in Cowley.

Following M.G’s departure, Morris Radiator Branch continued to be an important part of the Nuffield Organization, producing exhaust systems, petrol tanks, bonnets and sumps. 

During the Second World War, the factory was given over to military production and, in particular, radiators for Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, used in the Spitfire, Hurricane, and Lancaster aircraft.

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The factory subsequently became part of the Unipart Group, and continued production until 2001.  Between 2002 and 2006, a new housing development, known as the Waterways, was built on the site.  The abutments of the former ‘electric bridge’ over the Oxford canal, part of Elizabeth Jennings Way, are today the only surviving remains of the radiator factory.