Rolls-Royce Motor Cars celebrates the 144th birthday of co-founder The Hon Charles Stewart Rolls on Friday 27 August 2021. To commemorate the occasion, the marque took Ghost on a pilgrimage around London locations associated with the great man’s life and career.
35 Hill Street, Mayfair
A son of the 1st Baron Llangattock, The Hon Charles Stewart Rolls was born in this house located on 35 Hill Street, Mayfair, London. From his youth he was interested in engines and was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He enjoyed the freedom to pursue his passions for aviation and motor racing, unlike his business partner, Henry Royce, who came from a humble background. In 1876, aged just 10, he was working as a telegram delivery boy at the Mayfair Post Office.
Until 1961, Grade II Listed building on Piccadilly was 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 flying career as a balloonist, making over 170 flights and winning the Gordon Bennett Gold Medal in 1903 for the longest sustained time aloft. In 1910, he became only the second person in Britain to be awarded an aeroplane pilot’s licence. He achieved the unique feat of being the first Englishman to fly an aeroplane across the English Channel.
Royal Automobile Club (RAC)
Rolls was also a founder member of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, which became the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in 1897. His fellow RAC member Henry Edmunds arranged the first meeting between Rolls and Henry Royce at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, on 4 May 1904.
14-15 Conduit Street
The building on Conduit Street, which connects Bond Street and Regent Street, was the West End headquarters of Rolls-Royce Ltd for much of the twentieth century. From 1905 until his death in 1910, Rolls had his office here, and used it as a base for demonstration drives of early Rolls-Royce models.
A stone’s-throw from Rolls’ birthplace and one of the most prestigious addresses in London, Berkeley Street is considered to be the heart of Mayfair. It is now the site of Rolls-Royce’s flagship UK store, the first in the world to be transformed with the marque’s new corporate identity.