Rolls-Royce celebrates co-founder’s birthday with London road trip

rr-at-119-picadilly

Today, August 27, 2021, marks the 144th birthday of Rolls-Royce co-founder Charles Rolls. The Welsh motoring and aviation pioneer partnered with English engineer Henry Royce to establish the world-renowned British luxury automobile brand Rolls-Royce.

“While he is of course best known as one of our co-founders, The Hon Charles Stewart Rolls, born on this day in 1877, was also a pioneer of aviation, a successful racing driver, and a gifted engineer. His audacity, fearlessness, love of adventure, and willingness to push boundaries continue to inspire us and our products. To mark this occasion, which means so much to our company, we’ve visited significant places from Rolls’ story with Ghost — a motor car with technology, performance, craftsmanship, and excellence which embodies everything this remarkable man stood for, cherished, and pursued during his extraordinary life and career,” said Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chief Executive Officer Torsten Müller-Ötvös.

In honor of the occasion, the marque went on an epic road trip around London to visit places associated with Rolls’ life and career. And oh,  sweet shots of the Rolls-Royce Ghost were also taken at each stop along the way.

The first stop was 35 Hill Street, in Mayfair. Beginning the pilgrimage in the place befits the purpose of the road trip as this was the birthplace of Charles Rolls.

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As the third son of Lord and Lady Llangattock, Rolls was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. This allowed him to afford and attend some of the best schools, including Eton and Cambridge. By contrast, his partner came from humble beginnings. As a lad, Royce worked as a telegram delivery boy at the Mayfair Post Office and may have delivered congratulatory letters and telegrams to Rolls’ proud parents.

Soon after visiting Rolls’ birthplace, the team next went to 119 Piccadilly for their London pilgrimage. This place was once the home of the Royal Aero Club, which Rolls co-founded in 1901 with Frank Hedges Butler, a leading London wine merchant, and Butler’s daughter, Vera.

Rolls began his career in aeronautics as a balloonist where he made over 170 flights and have won the Gordon Bennett Gold Medal in 1903 for the longest sustained time aloft. Rolls also became the only second person in Britain to be awarded an airplane pilot’s license, a feat he achieved by flying an airplane across the English Channel, and the first aviator ever to fly non-stop from England to France and back again.

Next, they toured near the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) which Rolls was a founding member. It was a fellow RAC member, Henry Edmunds, who arranged the meeting between Rolls and Royce at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, on May 4, 1904. 

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The team then went to 14-15 Conduit Street where Rolls-Royce was headquartered much of the 20th century. Rolls had his office here from 1905 until his death in 1910 where he used the facility as a base for demonstration drives of early Rolls-Royce models. On March 22, 2010, its historic significance was marked with an English Heritage Blue Plaque, unveiled by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.

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Lastly, the team of Rolls-Royce concluded their London road trip at Berkeley Street, the site of Rolls-Royce’s flagship UK store and the first in the world to be transformed with the marque’s new corporate identity.

Photos from Rolls-Royce

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