Museum of Oxford Morris Motors Centenary Reminiscence Project

Museum of Oxford
Museum of Oxford
Museum of Oxford

To mark the Morris Motors Centenary (100 years of car making in Oxford) the  Reminiscence Officer at the Museum of Oxford teamed up with the Learning and Access Manager from Hands On Oxfordshire’s Heritage (part of Oxfordshire’s County Museum Service) to deliver a series of 7 Morris Motors themed reminiscence events across Oxford and Oxfordshire. The location of each event had a link to the car industry. The purpose of the events was to collect memories of the car industry for the Oxfordshire County Archives and also to help source interviewees for a BBC Radio Oxford documentary on the subject aired in December 2013. A total of 274 people attended the events. The project was funded by Arts Council England via the Major Partner Museum programme at the Oxford University Museums Partnership and MINI Plant Oxford (BMW). In kind funding was provided the Museum of Oxford (Oxford City Council)

Project Structure and implementation

In January 2013 conversations began with potential partners for this project. This resulted in the reminiscence events taking place at The Oxfordshire Museum (TOM), The Oxford Bus Museum, Oxfordshire History Centre (Modern Art Oxford had brought along the Vintage Cinema Bus and we were able to enjoy archive film footage of the car factory in the unique setting of the amazing 1950s Vintage Cinema bus), MINI Plant Oxford, Kidlington Baptist Hall, Nuffield Place (For this event we teamed up with the National Trust at the beautiful site of Nuffield Place, home to William Morris) and The Museum of Oxford.

Description of the arts activity

One of the most enriching aspects of this project was the way partnerships were formed between The Museum of Oxford, The Oxfordshire Museum, the media and other heritage organisations and developed to deliver something far greater than could have been achieved by the individual organisations and all worked together to create a series of events that were enjoyed by 274 participants from across Oxfordshire
A key outcome of the project was the sense of recognition that participants derived from being consulted about their memories of car making in Oxford. There was a real sense of uncovering previously unknown information about the people, processes and the importance of the factory in Oxford. Furthermore, the sessions were recorded and shared with BBC Radio Oxford and Oxfordshire History Centre who will preserve them in their archives for future generations to enjoy. Some of the participants featured in a radio documentary which was aired on BBC Radio Oxford over the Christmas period. During the course of the project the BBC TV programme Countryfile made contact with the project and they featured the Morris Motors Centenary in an episode filmed in Oxfordshire. One of the reminiscence group participants gave an interview on the programme.


Measured against aims and objectives the outcomes were as follows;

To celebrate the life of William Morris (Lord Nuffield) in the Morris Motors centenary year
The project engaged with 274 participants who gave very positive feedback.

To celebrate the achievements of the participants, many of whom had played a significant role in Oxford’s car manufacturing history.
5 of the sessions were recorded and copies of the recordings have been added to the County Archive at Oxfordshire History Centre. A radio documentary featuring some of the participants was aired on BBC Radio Oxford

To increase the wellbeing of the participants by engaging them in enriching and sociable activities.
We observed lots of smiles, laughter and enthusiasm for the subject during the course of the events. Some old friends were reunited and happy memories were shared which brought genuine enjoyment to the participants.

To increase access to our collections
All of the events utilised material from our collections. There was a particular focus on this at the Oxfordshire History Centre where the staff there had worked incredibly hard to showcase their Morris Motors collection and make it accessible to the participants.

To collect memories and stories from people who had links to Oxford car Industry
5 of the events were recorded and the recordings are now archived at the Oxfordshire History Centre and available for the public to listen to.

To source participants for the BBC Radio Oxford documentary
Several of the participants from these events took part in the BBC Radio Oxford documentary which was aired in December 2013

Details of the project participants

274 older people from across Oxfordshire took part in the 7 sessions (some attended more than 1 session) The project also attracted a high proportion of male participants, over 50% by observation. This is unusual as men are usually under-represented in reminiscence sessions.

The project was promoted in existing reminiscence groups and via email to daycentres and care homes.

Project management

The project was delivered by the Reminiscence Officer at the Museum of Oxford in partnership with the partner organisations. There was no cost for participation and consent forms were obtained for any audio and visual material that was shared.

Evaluation methods and findings

A full evaluation report was completed using feedback from project participants and partners and forms the basis of this case study.

Participant Feedback  

Mum thoroughly enjoyed her time at Radio Oxford yesterday
Thanks you for arranging it.

She is really enjoying doing all of this with you. It gives an older person a focus.
Thanks very much.
It made her day.

Thank you very much for arranging the visit to the Mini plant, it was very well attended and worth the visit.

Thanks - it was really enjoyable. For me not only do I get to meet up with members of the group but it means I get to go into places like St Luke’s, that I have never been in before, so for me a double hit!

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England