William Morris, Lord Nuffield, was well known as an industrialist and manufacturer of cars in Oxford, but did you know that he played a pivotal role in the establishment of Oxford’s bus service?
In 1912, Oxford’s public transport network consisted of horse-drawn trams. Negotiations between the National Electric Company and Oxford City Council to introduce electric buses had met with deadlock. Morris applied for a licence to run a bus service but this appears to have been ignored. So, the following year, Morris and Frank Gray, the editor of the Oxford Mail and future MP, set up their own, unlicensed, bus service!
It seems that the people of Oxford were behind this attempt to modernise their public transport network and, due to the level of popular support, Oxford City Council eventually granted both Morris and the National Electric Company licences to run competing bus networks in Oxford.
Source: Article from Oxford Star, March 3rd 1994, Nuffield College Library Archives MS Nuffield Sup. Box 13/37/1-4
Original ticket from Oxford Motor Omnibus Co.
Nuffield College Library Archives MS Nuffield 4/9
You can find a complete handlist of the library’s collection of archival material relating to Lord Nuffield here.
To commemorate the first motorised bus service in Oxford, at 11am on Thursday 5th December an Oxford Bus Museum & Morris Motor Museum bus will leave the BMW Visitor Centre at Cowley. It will come into the city following a route as close as possible to that of the first service in 1913, which ran from Magdalen Road to the Stations.
It will arrive at Oxford Railway Station at approximately 11.40am for photograph opportunities, before leaving to go back to the BMW Visitor Centre and then back on to the Museum.
Here’s a shot of the bus passing Nuffield College!