Nuffield benefactions and other gifts

The National Trust recently announced the opening to the public of Nuffield Place, near Henley, the former home of William Morris, Viscount Nuffield (1877-1963). From beginnings in cycle repair and sales in the back garden of his parents’ home in James Street, Oxford, Morris built a motor manufacturing empire. One of the greatest philanthropists of the 20th century, his generosity is best remembered in his home city for benefactions to medicine and the founding of Nuffield College. £2m to establish the University’s Nuffield Institute for Medical Research in 1936 was followed the next year by the endowment of a number of chairs of medicine and the appointment of the Nuffield Professors.

Nuffield benefactions
A Both respirator in use, 1943

Medicine, as well as engineering, seems to have held a fascination for Lord Nuffield. The tool bench in his bedroom, a place of retreat from insomnia, is reputed to have included his appendix in a jar. In 1938 he was inspired by the work of Edward Both, the Australian designer of a new type of respirator or ‘iron lung’, to offer part of his car factory for its manufacture. Hundreds of these Both-Nuffield respirators were then provided free of charge to hospitals throughout the Commonwealth. See:

Among the items to be seen at Nuffield Place is an ‘iron lung’.

Correspondence and papers of Lord Nuffield are held by Nuffield College.

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