Commemorating Lord Nuffield

21 August 2013

Thursday 22 August marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Lord Nuffield, who died in 1963 aged 85.

Lord Nuffield was a pioneer in both manufacturing and philanthropy. Born William Morris in 1877, he founded Morris Motors Ltd in 1912, having begun his career repairing bicycles in Oxford at the age of 15. He was one of the first British industrialists to introduce mass production methods, and at one time, his company manufactured more than half the cars sold in the UK.

He was made a viscount in 1938, and took the name of Nuffield, the Oxfordshire village where he had settled.

In his later years, Lord Nuffield devoted his energies to the philanthropy that made him a household name. His donations, made to an unusually broad range of causes, amounted to the equivalent of about £1.5 billion in today’s money. He financed large-scale projects in medicine and healthcare, as well as in science and education. He also funded services for the unemployed, older people, and servicemen and women.

Lord Nuffield funded posts at several universities and in 1937 endowed Nuffield College, Oxford. 

The Nuffield Foundation, his largest benefaction, was founded in 1943 with a gift of £10-million-worth of shares in his company. Early projects included funding the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory, and the Rowntree Committee to Investigate the Aged Poor. 

Together with other eponymous Nuffield beneficiaries we will be marking the anniversary of his death on 6 September.

Commemorative book of essays

Lord Nuffield: a philanthropic legacy (PDF)
Volume of essays to commemorate the extraordinary philanthropy of William Morris, Lord Nuffield on the 50th anniversary of his death. Published by Nuffield College (August 2013)

Commemorative events

Public talks at Nuffield College

Nuffield College is hosting a series of public talks on Saturday 7 September. Speakers include: 

  • Professor Eric Sidebottom (medical benefactions)
  • Robert Harris (attitudes as an enlightened employer)
  • Liz Woolley (donations to Oxford colleges)

Attendance is free, but places must be booked by contacting

Nuffield Legacy tours with the Oxford Preservation Trust

The Oxford Preservation Trust is marking 100 years of making cars in Oxford this year and is hosting a series of ‘Nuffield Legacy’ events in September. This includes tours of the MINI plant, Nuffield College, the Oxford Bus Museum and the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine at Magdalen College. For a full list see the Oxford Preservation Trust website.

Nuffield Place

Lord Nuffield’s home, Nuffield Place, is open to the public all year. A fascinating time capsule home, Lord and Lady Nuffield’s personal possessions remain as they left them with the 1930s decor and furnishings intact. Full details can be found on the National Trust website