Rolls-Royce – A Brief History and in particular within the Northern Section
Part 3 – Rolls & Royce – The Early Days
Henry had completed a motorcar to his own design and driven it for the first time on 1st April 1904. It was clearly his intention to sell petrol driven motor cars to the general public as can be seen from the change in letterhead of Royce Limited – January 1904 see copies of photos attached Henry had also previously been involved with producing a special electric Auto-car motor (there is a Royce drawing dated 18 November 1902) for a company called Pritchett & Gold (Pritchett Brothers were agents for Royce dynamos in the south of England) which again illustrates Henry’s interest in this new form of transport.
The partners business expansion caused it’s own problems and opportunities as the Manchester Ship Canal had just been built (between 1887 & 1895) it had become necessary to expand the factory to take advantage of the general aim at the time to make Manchester the greatest engineering city in the world. Production of cranes, dynamos, motors etc was therefore very much in demand. The Cooke Street factory was expanded to its maximum and in mid 1901 land was acquired for a new extra factory in the new Trafford Park Industrial Estate – the world’s first Industrial Estate. The new factory was opposite W. T. Glover’s factory whose cable had been used by Royce for some time on most of its products. The factory, which was sited close to Manchester United football ground, had an iron foundry and many, many Royce cranes were built there. Henry had been extremely worried when he witnessed ladles of molten iron being moved overhead in the jerky fashion by the cranes of the late 1880’s. He designed a special braking and acceleration control that gave smooth movement and so the Royce Crane was born. Cranes were manufactured in all sizes and weights and exported throughout the world. Herbert Morris of Loughborough acquired the business in 1932 and the designs continued until the last Royce crane was built in 1964. It is interesting to note that in late 2002 the name has been reactivated for selling cranes in the USA! See attached photo of Royce Crane
Returning to the birth of our automobile, since 1893 the Chairman of W.T. Glover was Henry Edmunds and he knew and respected both Royce & Claremont – he appointed Claremont MD of Glover’s in 1903. Supplying electrical cables of all types Edmunds was involved in most industries and motorcars soon became a passion buying his first car, a Daimler, in 1899. He became involved with the Automobile Club of Great Britain (later to become the RAC) during 1900 and became a committee member. He entered his car in the first great motoring event – the One Thousand Miles Trial – an event won by one C.S. Rolls.
Rolls had been born into the aristocracy, son of Lord Llangattock. He had visited France before going up to Cambridge in 1895 to study Mechanics & Applied Sciences. Motoring fascinated him and he bought a Peugeot 3 ¾ h.p. and became one of most enthusiastic pioneering motorist of the UK. After university he set up C.S. Rolls & Company in the west end of London selling and repairing high quality cars, Panhards, Minerva, Vivinus etc. but regretted that there was no suitable high quality British car available.
Whilst in Manchester and through talking with Claremont, Edmunds will certainly have seen and been impressed by the new Royce car and through his association with Rolls tried to bring the two men together. Initially it was through photographs and specifications but after a few attempts to set up the meeting, he eventually succeeded and Charles Stewart Rolls travelled with Henry Edmunds to meet Fredrick Henry Royce on Wednesday 4th May 1904 at the Midland Hotel in Manchester. As we know they met for lunch and took an immediate liking to each other. Rolls tested and was delighted by the Royce 10HP car. Soon after they started to write up a formal agreement, which was eventually signed on 23rd December 1904, for C S Rolls & Company to market all Royce cars, and one of the conditions was that the car should be sold under the name of Rolls-Royce.