OXFORD’S rich history of building cars was celebrated yesterday as a cavalcade of its finest vehicles rode through the city.

About 40 classic cars made at the Cowley plant were driven through the streets to park up in Oxford’s Broad Street.

The cars, including Morris Minors, Marinas, Maxis, Bullnoses and Minis old and new, were paraded to mark 100 years of car construction at Cowley.

The plant was created by Lord Nuffield, then William Morris, and has since produced 11 million cars and employed tens of thousands of workers.

The cavalcade celebrated this by passing the former Cowley north and south work sites – now Oxford Business Park – Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, which was funded by Lord Nuffield, and Longwall Street, where he had his first garage before moving to Cowley.

When they arrived in Broad Street at about 10am, classic car enthusiasts were greeted by former Cowley workers. Kevin Minns, the great-great nephew of Lord Nuffield, said: “It is absolutely amazing – every possible type of car going back 100 years to the Bullnose right through.

“I think he would quite moved by it in many ways. To see all these cars celebrated like this today, he would be very proud.

“But he would have the bonnets up and his head in the engines, giving everything a look. He was an engineer at heart.

“He would find the new Mini absolutely amazing. The technological advances over the past 100 years are beyond belief.”

Colin Kilpatrick, 68, of Summertown, took part in the cavalcade with his 1926 Morris Oxford 14/28, known as a Bullnose after its shaped front.

He said: “It is a lovely experience to be here and I shall be very proud to drive it around Oxford. The car has come home to roost where it started its life. Car production has been a mainstay of Oxford life and brought a third dimension to the city’s town and gown.

“With the huge success of BMW it is wonderful to see Oxford growing again as an industrial city.”

John Holt, 82, and his wife Christine travelled from Farnham in Surrey on Thursday to take part with their 1929 Morris Cowley Saloon.

He said: “I bought it at auction in 1980 and it took seven years to restore to the original specification. It just fascinated me.

“It’s lovely to visit all the places Lord Nuffield was connected with. It is a real privilege to be here.”

Dave Clarke, 74, of Iffley Turn in Oxford, worked at the plant between 1954 until he was conscripted in 1958.

He said: “I was one of the last to shake hands with Lord Nuffield. He always introduced himself to the apprentices at Cowley.”

Mr Clarke said in 1955 a worker turned up late and was questioned about it by Lord Nuffield, who happened to be walking the lines that day. The man said his wife was in hospital giving birth and Lord Nuffield got him a car, a week’s paid leave and a bouquet.

Mr Clarke said: “That was the kind of man he was.”

Organising the Cowley convoy was mum-of-three and Mini enthusiast Tanya Field, 40, from Mark Road, Headington, whose husband Jason, 40, works as an IT manager at BMW. The Fields have seven Minis and in November took their Mini Coopers to the Regent Street Motor Show in London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mini Cooper.

Mrs Field said: “We put on the cavalcade because there was nothing being offered for the people of Oxford that covered the 100 years.

“The Cowley plant has made more than 11 million cars and they have created some fantastic cars.”

East Oxford MP Andrew Smith, who travelled in the cavalcade, said: “This is a wonderful celebration of the skill of the Cowley work force across 100 years.”



Norman Goodey, 55, of Garsington, attended with his wife Alicia, 54, and their 1936 Morris 14/6. The couple have eight old Morris cars in total.
He said: “My father had garages and I have been brought up with the Morris car. Later on in life I just wanted a nice big six cylinder and elected for a Morris.
“It is fantastic engineering and innovation. If you are a mechanic now, there is so much you can see with modern cars that came from the design of a Morris.
“But it is the nostalgia as well. Everybody in Oxford knows somebody who either worked on the factory or lived from the factory in some way.
“It is fantastic to see the factory is still here producing world-beating cars.”


The Workers

RETIRED Cowley workers visited the city yesterday to meet old friends and take a nostalgic look at the cars they built.
Friends who had not seen each other in decades hugged and shared stories of working under the late Lord Nuffield, who built the plant.
The emotional gathering took place in Broad Street.
Pete Dillon, 62, of Bicester, worked at the plant from 1969 to 1980 on the Maxi line and on maintenance.
Mr Dillon – pictured right with former colleagues Dennis Crook and Geoff Small – said: “I remember all the push bikes coming out of the factory years ago. It is absolutely fantastic to be here and remember all the people that Lord Nuffield kept in work for years.”
Arthur Davis, 83, of Cowley, joined the Cowley plant in 1954 and worked for the firm for 38 years as a motor mechanic.
He said: “It is very nostalgic. It brings back a lot of memories of working on a lot of these cars.
“It reminds me of the time when we made something here. We do not make much these days.”
Ian Cummings, 61, of Abingdon worked at the plant for 42 years and rose to become production manager.
He said: “It is brilliant to see so many of my old colleagues. reminiscing with all these guys is absolutely amazing.
“You must not ever forget the legacy of Lord Nuffield. He started this industry in Oxford and it has given employment to tens of thousands of people.”