Courtesy Rolls-Royce plc
Why should Charles Rolls be remembered?
One legacy is that he co founded Rolls-Royce Ltd in 1906 following a meeting with Henry Royce on the 4th May 1904. This company has gained world wide renown and importantly gave us the Merlin engine which powered the famous Hurricane and Spitfire fighter aircraft that were used to protect Great Britain in the dark months of 1940 now known as the Battle of Britain.
Another legacy is that he ‘discovered’, helped and sponsored the Short Brothers through difficult times by buying balloons and aircraft from them as well as providing business advice. The Short Brothers created Britain’s first made for purpose aircraft production line and went on to build the famous Sunderland which provided significant service during the Battle of the Atlantic to safeguard the supply lines from the USA and Canada during a critical period in World War2.
Rolls made a double crossing of the English Channel , see lower left, in June 1910 which finally made the point that Rolls had made to the Government in 1908 that Britain was no longer an island and so was vulnerable to attack from the air. Until then the Government deemed flying as a rich man’s sport unworthy of official interest or support despite the fact that Germany and France, with budgets ten times those of Britain, were experimenting with aeroplanes for military uses.
Rolls co-founded the Royal Automobile Club and the Royal Aero Club. Both organisations became, and remain, the main authorities of the day.