Who was Mr Morris?

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 This was an ingenious arrangement which enabled the superseded single shot, Martini-Henry, Army Rifle to be converted into a smaller bore (.22) rim fire rifle.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!


Origins of the Morris Range

July 1951 (Small Bore Committee)
Committee members to visit proposed site for new County .22" range.

Sept 1951 (Small Bore Committee)
Estimate of £497-10-0 to be accepted for excavations, etc.

Oct 1951 (Small Bore Committee)
Excavations to proceed.  Sketch of firing point covering discussed.

7 Nov 1951 (Small Bore Sub-Committee)
Excavations not yet started due to a breakdown.
Design for firing point covering approved and sent for permission from Aylesbury RDC.
Floors to be concreted at a cost of £75.
As total costs will be over £100 a permit from the Ministry of Works is required.

22 Nov 1951 (Small Bore Sub-Committee)
Letter from Ministry of Works read out refusing permission.  Hon Sec contacted NSRA, they said they were not surprised in view of building restrictions, etc., he would take up the matter with the War Office.

7 Jan 1952 (Small Bore Committee)
Excavations discontinued due to wet ground.
Notice read out from Ministry of Works giving permission for work at firing point.
It was thought the range might be ready by April.

30 Jan 1952 (Small Bore Committee)
Estimate to be accepted for building over firing point etc of £135 from Rust & Ratcliffe of Chesham.

AGM Feb 1953
1952 had been a wonderful year due to the generosity of Mr E F Morris, Chairman of Small Bore Committee.  Had it not been for him there would be no small bore County range.
Range not completed but available for Clubs.

AGM 1954
Small bore Secretary reported a very successful year in 1953 due to generosity of Mr Morris in adding to the comfort of competitors by providing additional covering at rear of the firing point.
Now called the "Morris Range".

AGM 1956
The first Inter County Meeting held at the Morris Range; the range came in for much praise.
At the Autumn Meeting there was trouble with the lack of “runners”, but the Scouts came to the rescue.

AGM 1957
A sad note.  Mr Morris, now in his 90th year felt he must resign as Chairman of the Small Bore Committee.  He has been connected with shooting for 68 years and must therefore be one of the oldest members of the shooting community in the country.  (Mr Morris was first elected to the Executive Committee in February 1931).

AGM March 1958
The highlight of 1957 had been the presentation by Lord Cottesloe of an illuminated address to Mr Morris to which all clubs had subscribed.


Morris Range, Wendover

It is with great sadness, that I have to report that our ability to use the range closed at the end of February.

The NRA are showing an interest, and negotiations are on-going at the moment with The Baron who owns the site. I am in contact with Andrew Mercer and if we can come to an agreement whereby we are able to resume .22 usage, I will let everyone know.

Angus Williamson

BCRA. Chairperson, Treasurer, & GDB