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A century and a half goes up in lights

Staff at Morris & Company gathered outside its Shrewsbury headquarters to celebrate the start of its momentous 150th anniversary year.

The rare business milestone is marked with an illuminated display on the rooftop of its Welsh Bridge HQ featuring the years 1869 and 2019 and the theme ‘Honouring the Past, Embracing the Future’ complete with a specially commissioned anniversary flag.

The Morris story began in 1869 when James Kent Morris opened his modest grocery store selling seeds, hops and candles across the Welsh Bridge at No 7 Frankwell. In that year Queen Victoria reigned over Britain, William Gladstone was Prime Minister and the electric light bulb had just been invented.

Over the years, the company grew through a combination of investment, enterprise and diversification with the family remaining at the heart of all its operations. Today the fifth-generation business group employs 720 people – most local to Shropshire –  working across its property, care and international site machinery businesses. Furthermore, thousands of other Shropshire families will have links and memories of being part of the wider Morris working family.

The company is proud of its heritage and of the many people who make up the business today.

Robin Morris, Chairman said: “This landmark celebration represents so much hard work from so many before us. As a family, we are acutely aware that our business has been built on the solid foundations laid down by our forefathers and the loyal and skilled staff from the past.

"We are excited about this momentous year ahead and we have great plans afoot to share the celebrations with colleagues who make up our business today. Gathering outside the building reminds us what it is to be a family business in the widest sense of the word!”

Featured in the line-up is Philippa Bason (top left), who has worked at Morris’s for over 18 years and said: “There is a real sense of belonging to something special and feeling part of the extended Morris family. It is a lovely place to work with a great bunch of people.”

Ann Merritt (pictured top right) has worked at Welsh Bridge for Morris Care for 20 years this March and added: “I’ve always felt respected and supported here and it’s been so lovely watching the Care business grow and being part of it all. 150 years is a long time and not many companies have achieved that - I am really looking forward to getting involved in the celebrations!”

A host of events are planned including the new Morris 150 Staff Awards which will culminate in a special event held in their honour; through to a unique exhibition being staged with the Museum and Art Gallery in the Square as the company opens its precious Archives to share its story as part of the social history of Shrewsbury.

Robin continues: “As an organisation we are keen to support both the young and the old as part of our family business ethos. I was delighted to announce our Morris Scholarship recently with University Centre Shrewsbury and we have our own Stepping Stone employment and apprenticeship programmes.  It’s important to champion local talent ensuring we retain it here in our town.” 

The Morris Scholarship will be announced later in the year awarding a lucky student with the cost of all tuition fees for a full three-year degree plus £9,000 bursary towards living costs.

Over the full 150 years, the company has retained its Shropshire roots and family values and is committed to being an integral part of the Shropshire landscape for many years to come, supporting its current businesses and building for the future.

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