The Morris Ranges
Published: Apr 6th 2014 in the online Wendover News
Who was Mr Morris? Bill Morris was for many years the Hon President of the Aylesbury Rifle Club, whose range was under the Old Town Hall and Messrs Loaders, the Agricultural Merchants in Aylesbury, adjacent to the Cattle Market. Bill Morris was also for many years the Hon President of the Bucks County Rifle Association.
By profession he was a gifted engineer, having his extensive works and yard in Walton Road, Aylesbury, opposite what is now the High School entrance. This yard was a complete ironworks having full facilities. To simplify the movement of heavy castings and forgings the yard had a narrow gauge railway track. Every Easter Holiday the youngsters of Walton, Aylesbury were invited into the yard and enjoyed themselves having a ride around the yard pulled by a small steam locomotive driven by Bill Morris. The Walton Ironworks later became the Garage and Depôt of Queen’s Park Coaches (Mr Osbourne, proprietor).
As previously mentioned, Bill Morris was a superb engineer and an excellent example was the development of the "Morris Tube". This was an ingenious arrangement which enabled the superseded single shot, Martini-Henry, Army Rifle to be converted into a smaller bore (.22) rim fire rifle. This process was later taken over by larger companies such as Parker-Hale of Birmingham.
The Morris Range near Wendover is the only civilian 100 yard range facility in the area and was originally a sand pit. During the second World War it was used by the local Home Guard platoons. The range was also used to test some of "Winston’s Specials" which had been developed by HM Government establishments, of which there were several in the Aylesbury area. One of the more successful of these "Specials" was the "Blacker Bombard" which was a variety of spigot mortar. The device was tested out by members of the Wendover Home Guard at the Morris Range. Some of the other projects tested were not quite as successful!