Rolls, Charles Stewart

views updated May 17 2018

Rolls, Charles Stewart (1877–1910). Rolls was the third son of a wealthy Monmouthshire landowner, who served as Conservative MP for Monmouth 1880–5 and was created Lord Llangattock in 1892. He studied mechanical engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a bicycling enthusiast. In 1895 he imported a Peugeot car from France and was stopped outside Victoria station by a policeman who pointed out that he needed a man with a red flag to precede him: his journey back to Cambridge took just under 12 hours. In 1900 he won a gold medal for a motor race from London to Edinburgh. In 1905 he joined forces with another engineer, F. H. Royce, and with Claude Johnson to establish a company producing cars at Derby: the Motor Trader warned that ‘we cannot help thinking that the promoters have made a very weak appeal to the investing public’. Rolls concentrated on sales and publicity. Greatly interested in aviation, he made many balloon flights, and in June 1910 crossed the Channel and back non-stop in a Wright brothers aeroplane, completing the journey in 1½ hours. The following month he was killed in a flying accident at Bournemouth and buried at Llangattock-Vibon-Avel, near Monmouth. A good statue of Rolls, holding a model aeroplane, stands in Agincourt Square, Monmouth.

R. Angus Buchanan; and Professor J. A. Cannon

Rolls, Charles Stewart

views updated May 14 2018

Rolls, Charles Stewart (1877–1910) English car manufacturer and aviator. In 1897, he helped found the Royal Automobile Club (RAC). In 1906, Rolls and Henry Royce formed Rolls-Royce Ltd., a major manufacturer of luxury automobiles and aircraft engines. In 1910, he became the first Englishman to fly across the English Channel. Rolls was the first British casualty of aviation.

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