Although products of the Morris
Motor Company are usually associated with Cowley, in
Oxford, some of the company’s vehicles were actually
built in the Black Country.
In 1898 Edward Greenwood Wrigley
founded E. G. Wrigley and Company limited at 232 Aston
Road, Birmingham. The company manufactured a range of
small tools. In 1902 the business moved to Foundry Lane,
Smethwick, and soon added car components to its range of
products. In November 1906 the company displayed a
complete gearbox at the Olympia Motor Show, and within 6
years was manufacturing front and rear axles. Other
products included vehicle steering components, small
tools, such as taps, twist drills, milling cutters, and
also gears and gearing.
From 'The Autocar', 4th January, 1919.
|In 1913 a few cyclecars were built,
but the project was shelved at the onset of the First
World War, when the factory concentrated on war work. At
the time, Wrigleys employed around 400 people, who
during the war made mainly aircraft parts. After the war
the company added magnetos to its product range, but
Edward Wrigley retired due to ill health. Unfortunately
the business did not prove to be successful, and went
into liquidation, calling in a receiver at the end of
In January 1924 the Foundry Lane
premises, and plant, was acquired by William Morris, and
on February 4th became Morris Commercial Cars Limited,
formed to manufacture commercial vehicles. William
Morris would have been familiar with the factory because
Wrigleys supplied his company with axles. He also
head-hunted Wrigley’s chief draughtsman, and later
production engineer, Frank George Woollard in 1923.
Woollard became general manager at the Morris engine
plant, and greatly increased production using his
special flow production techniques. He was awarded an
MBE in 1918 for his work on the design and production of tank gearboxes.
||A Morris one ton truck, built
at Foundry Lane.
1924 Morris sales literature.
At Foundry Lane, the new company
began to manufacture vehicles to supplement the existing
range of light commercial vehicles produced by Morris
Motors Limited at Cowley. The first vehicle was a one
ton chassis, which would have been available with
various lorry and van bodies. It was powered by the 13.9
hp. 4-cylinder, side-valve ‘Hotchkiss’ engine, that was
used in the Morris Oxford car. Other components included
a magneto, a 3-speed gearbox, and a cork clutch.
In February 1927 the Wolseley Motor
Company went into receivership and was immediately
acquired by William Morris. The former Wolseley factory
at Adderley Park, Birmingham then became the
headquarters of Morris Commercial Cars. In 1932
production at the Foundry Lane site ended, and was
transferred to Adderley Park.
|I would like to thank Jim Pease for his help in
producing this section.