The Gresham Rifle Club Challenge Shield
A Brief History of the Trophy
The Nottinghamshire Rifle Association was donated this magnificent trophy in 2000 by the Trustees of the Meridian Trust. This Trust was formed to look after the interests of employees and pensioners of the Meridian Group which was part of Courtaulds. The Trust was being wound up and homes were being found for its assets, including a collection of trophies for various sports.
The trophy is a circular copper shield mounted on a black wooden backing 58cm in diameter and bearing a central circular embossed picture of early 20th century army target rifle shooters in action, in the middle of a cross lying on a laurel wreath and surrounded by a circular band of laurel leaves, leaving an outer border containing sixteen round silver plaques most of which are engraved with the names of the competition winners. The cross is engraved with Gresham Rifle Club Challenge Shield on the upper arm and Presented by I & R Morley for Annual Inter-departmental Competition on the lower arm. The silver parts are hallmarked at Birmingham in 1909 and the last entry on the plaques is for 1927. I & R Morley were absorbed into the Courtaulds Group in the 1960's.
As there is no room on the face of the Shield for the further recording of winners, the Shield has been augmented on its lower side to allow for the addition of plaques recording winners without detracting from the original design. A silver plaque has also been placed on the rear of the Shield by the donors to record the gift.
The Current Competition
It was decided that the Shield would be awarded in a team match between clubs affiliated to the Nottinghamshire Rifle Association using firearms similar to those depicted on the Shield, which are Enfield .303 rifles dating from before the First World War. The current match is for teams of four firing 3 sighters and 10 to count at 200m and 300m using standard NRA round bull targets. Competitors firearms have to be general service issue military rifles of pre-1946 vintage of contemporary calibre and with original sights. The use of slings is permitted. The first match took place in 2002 at Thorpe Cloud and was won by East Bridgford Rifle Club.
Clicking on the year takes you to the match report
I & R Morley
Two brothers John and Richard Morley formed the business in Nottingham around 1790. Soon after a branch destined to become the headquarters was established at Russia Row, Milk Street opposite Honey Lane Market, London, and later moved to Wood Street off Gresham Street.
Richard Morley became a prominent figure in public life and was Mayor of Nottingham in 1836 and again in 1841. John Morley became a leader of non-conformist society. Richard Morley died in 1855 leaving five sons, three of whom took an active part in the company, and to one of these, Samuel Morley, is due the credit of raising it to the high position the company occupied in 1900. By then at the Wood Street headquarters in London there were around 800 employees of which 670 were provided a meal on the premises every day in two dining rooms, one for warehousemen and clerks and the other for porters. At one time a large number of young men slept on the premises but due to business requirements the Morleys built a house for them at Brackley Street, next to the factory in Golden Lane, London. The men formed various clubs and these had the constant support of the firm. In 1887 all the different athletic clubs were amalgamated into the Gresham Athletic Association. This had its main headquarters at Eltham Road, Lee, London with two cricket elevens and four football teams active and grounds containing five tennis courts and a bowling green.
The above information is from Thomas FM, A Record of a Hundred Years, Chiswick Press, 1900.