Osberton Radiators

If you look closely at the brass plate which can be found on your T-Type radiator, you will see that it is embossed like the picture below.

Yes, I know the title of this article is Osberton Radiators, but this is explained below – read on….

We need to go back to 1912 when W R Morris (Lord Nuffield) formed a company (WRM Motors Ltd) for the manufacture of the Morris motor car in Oxford. One year later the first Morris Oxford was built and production was rapidly stepped up over the ensuing years. William Morris needed reliability of supply for the assembly of his cars and suppliers who could keep up with the pace of his production. At the outset the radiators for his cars were supplied by Doherty Motor Components in Coventry. However, as there were concerns about this company’s ability to supply sufficient quantities against the backdrop of ever-increasing car production, Doherty Motor Components were persuaded in 1919 to establish a branch in Osberton Road, Oxford in a former roller-skating rink owned by Morris (in the pagoda shaped building pictured below).

According to John Presnell’s book MORRIS THE CARS AND THE COMPANY ISBN 978 I 85960 996 5  William Morris later provided the resources to the factory’s two foremen, H. A. Ryder and A. L. Davis, to buy out the company and Osberton Radiators was formed.

The Osberton Radiators Facebook page  charts the progress of the Company from its modest beginnings to a major manufacturing company.

According to an old report in The Oxford Mail newspaper quoted on the Facebook page, Osberton Radiators got off to a shaky start. This was because the cooling elements of early radiators were made of brass, steel and copper, soldered together ….. but most of the ten workers employed had never seen, let alone used, a soldering iron! To overcome this skills deficiency the employees were issued with instruction sheets and parts for a metal toy aeroplane were ordered for them to put it together and so practise and develop the art of soldering.

It would appear from the picture below that the workers soon acquired the necessary skills and Bullnose Morris radiators were being produced.

In 1923 William Morris (WRM) bought the Company ‘in house’ and it was then part of the Morris ‘empire’ as Radiators Branch. By 1925 manufacturing operations were transferred to a new site on Bainton Road. Part of this factory was used on a temporary basis for M.G. production until September 1927. This was necessary because of   the cramped conditions at Alfred Lane, where some of the early M.G.s were built. The increasing demand for M.G.s rendered Alfred Lane entirely unsuitable, so Kimber asked W.R.M. if at least one bay at Bainton Road could be rented by Morris Garages.  M.G. moved to a purpose-built factory at Edmund Road, Cowley in 1927.

Mention has been made of the growth of Osberton Radiators (known affectionately by its employees as ‘The Rads’). It diversified into producing exhaust systems, petrol tanks, bonnets and sumps. During the Second World War, it contributed hugely to the war effort, making radiators for Merlin-engined Beaufighters, Lancasters, Mosquitoes and Spitfires. Later known as Oxford Automotive Components, it eventually became part of the Unipart Group and continued production until 2001. Between 2002 and 2006 a new housing development was built on the site.

Harold Alfred Ryder, known in the factory as ‘HA’ was made a Director of Morris Motors in 1926.

Acknowledgements to John Presnell’s aforementioned book, the Osberton Radiators Facebook page and McComb’s The Story of the M.G. Sports Car.

One thought on “Osberton Radiators

  1. Geoff P says:

    Having an issue with a standard TC radiator . Immediatly following a blown head gasket a 10mm solder plug ‘blew’ out from the centre dimple of the radiator header tank.

    I can only guess that the failure of the head gasket created a shock wave, but, is the plug a standard feature of the header tank or the result of a earlier repair?

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