Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,415 pages of information and 245,908 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Charles Stewart Rolls

From Graces Guide
1896. C. S. Rolls in his first car, a Peugeot.
1896. 8 hp Panhard and Levassor. Later purchased by Hon C. S. Rolls
1897. C. S. Rolls accompanying Mr F. F. Wellington in an early Peugeot.
1900. Hon. C. S. Rolls on his new 12 h.p. Panhard.
1900. Hon. C. S. Rolls at Weston Vicarage.
May 1906.
September 1908. Charles Stewart Rolls and Robert Todd.
The Hendre.
1909. Continental No 1.
1909. Short-Wright Flyer.
1909. The Short Brothers, the Wright Brothers, C S Rolls and others at Shellbeach
January 1910.

Charles Stewart Rolls (1877-1910) of C. S. Rolls and Co and Rolls-Royce

1877 August 27th. Rolls was born at 35 Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London, the third son among the four children of John Allan Rolls the 1st Baron Llangattock and his wife, Georgiana Marcia, fourth daughter of Sir Charles FitzRoy Maclean, ninth baronet, of Morvaren.

Attended Mortimer Vicarage School, Berkshire

1891 Living at The Hendre, Llangattock (age 13 born Mayfair) with parents and two siblings. Plus 21 servants. [1]

1891-94 Rolls was educated at Eton College, where he was a weak student, distracted by things electrical

1895 He went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1898 with a second class in the special examination in mechanism and applied sciences for the ordinary BA.

Rolls was a tall man, standing at about 6'5".

1896 October. Rolls went to Paris and became one of the earliest English owners of a motor car when he imported into England a second-hand 3.75 hp Peugeot Phaeton, one of the most powerful available, which cost him £225 - a loan from his father for £140 helped. His first journey was from London to Cambridge

He joined the Self-Propelled Traffic Association, was soon a member of the Automobile Club of France, which was started in 1895

1897 Became a member of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland in London, serving on the committee until 1908.

1898 Made his first balloon ascent. This was aboard the Wulfruna from Crystal Palace and travelled sixteen miles to Epping Forest

1899 He sold his 8hp Panhard named the Fire Engine for £1,280 to Mark J. Mayhew and then goes to Paris to buy a new 12hp model. The purpose of the purchase is to take part in the 1900 One Thousand Mile Trial

1900 He writes the section on automobiles for the Encyclopedia Britannica

1900 October. The Automobile Club's Autumn Run visits his home at The Hendre

1900 October. The Duke (later King George V) and Duchess of York stay at The Hendre and are converted to the pleasures of the motor car

1901 September 24th. Made his second balloon flight. This was again from Crystal Palace, in the City of York with Frank Hedges Butler, his daughter Vera Butler and Stanley Spencer

1902 He paid the requisite fee to become a Master of Arts

1902 Rolls started one of Britain's first car dealerships as C. S. Rolls and Co of Lillie Hall, Fulham, where he started importing and selling French made vehicles.

1902 May. Applied for two patents with C. R. D'Esterre for improvements to engines

1902 September. Involved in a road accident with Vera Butler as a passenger when his car collided with a trap in the traffic from Barnet Fair

1902 November. Took balloon flight in The Graphic belonging to S. Spencer and Sons. Also carried were Frank and Vera Butler and C. F. Pollock

1903 February 26th. Drove a 80hp Mors car at the Duke of Portland's Clipstone Park at 82.8 mph and claimed the kilometre world record in 27 seconds

Maiden flight of Vivienne II with Rolls, Leslie Bucknall, Frank Butler and Gaudron. Took off from Prospect Park, Reading. The balloon was destroyed on landing. He went on to make more than 170 balloon ascents.

1903 December. He opened a West End showroom. Rolls was the publicist and marketing man while Claude Goodman Johnson organized the business

1903 He was a founding member of the Aero Clubd and was the second person in Britain to be licensed to fly by it.

1904 May. He visited Frederick Henry Royce in Manchester and a test run in one of his vehicles convinced them of its merits,

1904 ROLLS, Hon. C. S., South Lodge, Rutland Gate, London, S.W. Is the head of the well-known firm of engineers, C. S. Rolls, & Co. of Lillie Hall, Earl's Court, London, and is the third son of the first Baron Llangattock. Has been a successful competitor in numberless races and competitions in this country, and on the Continent — including the great race from Paris to Berlin and is also a record holder. At Welbeck, February 26th, 1903, on an 80-h.p. Mors, lowered the existing record of 29 seconds, held by Fournier and Augieres, to 27 seconds. On October 12th, 1903, established another record on the same track by reducing the time for the kilometre to 26.4 secs., equal to a speed of 84.7 miles per hour. Hobbies: Football, engineering, ballooning. Was awarded the gold medal for his performance in the 1,000 miles' trial of 1900, and his prowess in cycling, athletics and motor driving has also brought him in several prizes. Holds a third engineer's (marine) certificate, and is an expert aeronaut. Is well-known in motoring literary circle. Is a member of the London Chamber of Commerce, and a captain in the Motor Volunteer Corps. Clubs: Aero (France), French Automobile, A.C.G.B. & I. [2]

1905 July. Took part in the 1905 Brighton Speed Trials in a newly delivered 150-hp Dufaux but managed only two slow runs

1905 September. Took part in the 1905 Tourist Trophy Race

1906. Of South Lodge, Rutland Gate, London. [3]

1906 He teamed up with Frederick Henry Royce to found the manufacturing company Rolls-Royce, Royce providing the technical expertise to go with Rolls's financial backing and business acumen. They were winning awards for the engineering reliability of their cars by 1907.

1906 May. He broke the Monte Carlo to London record in a 20 hp Rolls-Royce, taking 28 hours 14 minutes to drive the 771 miles from Monte Carlo to Boulogne.

1906 September. Wins the 1906 Tourist Trophy Race in the Isle of Man

1906 He joined the Aero Club of France.

1906 Gained third place in the 1906 Aero Club Balloon Race

1906 Took part in the 1906 Gordon Bennett Balloon Race as the British representative; having crossed the channel from Paris, he was awarded the gold medal for the longest time spent in the air.

1906 October. He took a test flight in the Wright aeroplane

1906 October. Rolls took the Grey Ghost to New York to demonstrate its speed on the Empire City track where he won against cars for greater power. He sailed om the SS Baltic and took with him Percy Northey, T. O. Smith his chauffeur and Reginald Amy Macready with the TT car and a 30-hp model.

1907 Rolls test-drove the new 40/50 hp Silver Ghost and returned to the USA to race and to explore the market.

1908 October. Visited Le Mans in France to study Wilbur Wright's experiments with his newly invented aeroplane. Rolls was one of the first to fly with Wright and published an account of the experience.[4]

1909 February 12th. Rolls proposed to the board that Rolls-Royce should acquire the rights to manufacture Wright aeroplanes but was over-ruled by his fellow directors

1909 May. Orders a glider from Short Brothers

1909 July 26th. Starts to learn to fly the glider at Standford Hill, Eastchurch. He made 43 flights before the end of September with the longest being 210 feet.

1909 October 1st. Take delivery of the Short Wright Flyer No 1. A day later he crashes it when it stalls.

1909 Biographical information and image at Automotor Journal 1909/09/11

1909 October 22nd. Flies 250 yards and with an Aero Club prize

1909 November 1st. Flies a quarter of a mile out and back and wins the David Salomons Cup.

1909 November 4th. Wins an Aero Club prize for a circular flight of one mile

1909 November 20th. Makes a flight of four miles

1909 December. Makes a flight of 15 miles, sets a duration time of 55 minutes and completed a 20 minute flight with a passenger

1910 January. Awarded an Aviators Certificate from the French Aero Club

1910 March 8th. Awarded the second pilot's certificate from the Aero Club

1910 March 23rd. Takes delivery of the Short Wright No 6 and the following day he flew it 26 miles

1910 April. He resigned his position of Technical Managing Director of Rolls-Royce in order to concentrate on his aviation interests[5]; he became an adviser to Rolls-Royce

1910 April. Took delivery of a French built Flyer.

1910 May. Advertises the No 3 and No 6 flyers for sale

1910 June 2nd. Became the first man to make a non-stop double crossing of the English Channel by plane, taking 95 minutes – faster than Louis Bleriot.

1910 Plans a Rolls Aeroplane Company. Edward Keith Davies had been appointed secretary and the Rolls Powered Glider was being built at Short Brothers

1910 July 12th. Age 33, he was killed in an air crash at Bournemouth when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off, making him the first Briton to be killed in an aeronautical accident, and the eleventh internationally.

A statue in his memory, in which he is seen holding a biplane model, was erected in Agincourt Square, Monmouth. A monument to him was also placed in the grounds of St Peter's School, Bournemouth, close to the spot where he died.

His grave lies in a corner of Monmouthshire at the church of Llangattock-Vibon-Avel, where many of the Rolls family lie buried in various family tombs. His grave is just below Llangattock Manor and bears the inscription 'Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God'.

1903 Bio Note [6]

ROLLS, THE Hon. CHARLES STEWART, M.A. (Cantab), St. Inst. 0.E., is the third son of the first Baron Llangattock, and was born on August 27th, 1877, educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge; specialised in practical electricity; joined Eton Volunteer Battalion (4th Oxford Light Infantry), 1893; Half Blue (Cambridge) for cycling, 1896; captain, University racing team, 1897; graduated in engineering, 1898 (special examination in mechanism and applied sciences); M.A. degree, 1902. Mr. Rolls is one of the pioneers of automobilism in the United Kingdom, and head of the firm of C. S. Rolls and Co., engineers.

His first car was a 3 h.p. Peugeot, followed by a 3 h.p. Panhard, several other Panhards, a 60 h.p. Mors, and at present an 80 h.p. car of these makers. These are only a few amongst the great number of vehicles owned by Mr. Rolls, who has converted a great number of people to automobilism, particularly during his Cambridge career. He is a member of the A.C. de France, the Airs Club de France, and has competed successfully in numerous competitions and races in England and on the Continent (including the race from Paris to Berlin); also been a record holder; was awarded the gold medal for his performance in the 1000 Miles Trial of 1900, and has many prizes for cycling, athletics, and motor driving; holds third engineer's marine certificate.

1910 Obituary [7]

The Hon. CHARLES STEWART ROLLS was born in London on 27th August 1877, being the son of Lord Llangattock.

He was educated at Eton College and at Trinity College, Cambridge. At the latter he was Captain of the Cambridge University Cycling Club, and took part in the Inter-Varsity and other races, winning his half Blue. During the latter period he was a pupil of Professor Ewing at the Cambridge University Engineering Laboratories, and took his degree in Mechanism and Applied Sciences in 1898.

As early, however, as 1896 he had already identified himself with the development in this country of the motor-car, driving in that year a French-made machine from London to Cambridge. His successes thereafter were numerous, and in 1900 he received a gold medal for the excellent performance he gave in the 1,000 miles trial.

His genius was distinctly constructive, and it was but natural that he should take up the manufacturing side of the new profession.

In 1902 he was engaged in laying down the plant and machinery for the motor-car works of Rolls and Co., Lillie Bridge, London, and subsequently was in the office and works as general manager and technical works-manager.

In 1906 he became London director of Messrs. Rolls-Royce, and was joint founder of the Rolls-Royce motor-cars.

Latterly he had ceased to take an active interest in the company's affairs, in order to devote his whole time to aeronautics. As an aeronaut his career was not less distinguished. Both as a balloonist and an aviator his short career had already given the greatest promise. He had more than 160 balloon ascents to his credit, and in 1906 he won the French Aero Club's medal for the longest balloon journey during the year. On this occasion he had travelled from Paris to Shernborne, in Norfolk.

Attracted by the possibilities of the Wright biplane, he devoted much energy and time to perfecting his knowledge of aeronautics and Isis skill in controlling this class of machine. After a course of practice in the grounds in the Isle of Sheppey of the Royal Aero Club of Great Britain, of which he was a founder member, he came prominently before the public as an aviator at the Nice Meeting in April 1910.

His most conspicuous success was his double cross-Channel flight on 2nd June 1910, and, but for his untimely death, he would have received a gold medal from the Aerial League of Great Britain in commemoration of this noteworthy achievement.

His death took place at the Bournemouth Aviation Meeting on 12th July 1910, in his thirty-third year. He was competing in a landing competition, an almost impossible one — ascending and descending on one spot — but he tried it the second time, and had ascended to a height of about 80 feet, when some tail wires gave way in turning his aeroplane in a rather abrupt way, and he began to descend. When about 20 feet from the ground, the machine fell with violence to the earth, and, alighting at an acute angle, buried him beneath the wreckage.

He was elected an Associate Member of this Institution in 1908. He was on the Committee and a Founder Member of the Royal Automobile Club; Founder of the Aero Club of the United Kingdom, and Captain in the Army Motor Reserve.

He had competed in the principal Continental motor races, and had won the gold medal for the 1,000 miles trial organized by the Royal Automobile Club. In 1900 he won the Bordeaux-Biarritz race (tourist section), and in 1906 he broke the Monte Carlo-toBoulogne record, covering 771 miles in 28 hours 14 minutes including all stops. In the same year he won the International Race for the Tourist Trophy, driving one of his firm's cars, and was a competitor for Great Britain in the Gordon-Bennett Race in 1903. He also won the Tourist Race in the Isle of Man.

1910 Obituary [8]

1910 Obituary.[9]


A picture of Rolls' Motor House shows cars with the registrations AX 57, AX 59 and AX 60. [10]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1891 Census
  2. Motoring Annual and Motorist’s Year Book 1904
  3. The Times, Monday, Dec 17, 1906
  4. The Autocar 1908/10/17
  5. The Times, Jul 13, 1910
  6. 1903/02/26 Automobile Club Journal
  7. 1910 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  8. The Engineer 1910/07/15
  9. The Autocar 1910/07/16
  10. Why Not? The Story of Charles Stewart Rolls by David Baines. Published 2007. ISBN 13 978-1-85443-224-7
  • Wikipedia
  • Motoring Annual and Motorist’s Year Book 1903
  • [1] DNB
  • Why Not? The Story of Charles Stewart Rolls by David Baines. Published 2007. ISBN 13 978-1-85443-224-7