By David Baines. Charles Rolls was the first Englishman to be killed in
an air crash. He was thirty years old. Rolls’s death shocked the country and
made headlines across the world. His relative youth at the time is perhaps
the reason that he is a forgotten hero; a man who today receives little credit
for the legacy that he left behind, even though at the time of his death on
July 12th 1910 he was one of the most famous men in the country. His loss was
regarded as a national tragedy.
Today he is most famous for the partnership he forged with
Henry Royce to form Rolls-Royce, a name that today is as synonymous with
excellence as it was then. Yet Rolls was a national hero long before he met
Royce in Manchester in 1904.
The son of a peer, Rolls was one of the first, and certainly
the youngest of Britain’s pioneer motorists. He was a successful racing driver
and achieved what many believed impossible – selling the motor car to Britain.
With the reliability of the car achieved, Rolls immersed
himself in conquering the next great frontier, the air. He made his first
ascent in a balloon in 1898 and was experimenting with the possibilities of
powered flight as early as 1901. One of the first Britons to fly, he made the
first return crossing of the Channel in 1909 in a Wright Flyer and was
acclaimed across the world.
Charles Rolls was an enigma, a man of great paradox, and yet
he was a great patriot, racing driver, record breaker, aviator, one of the
United Kingdom’s great industrialists, a pioneer in the true sense of the word
and he had a prophetic ability to see the way of the future.
This biography quotes extensively from the writings of
Charles Rolls himself and from contemporary accounts of the events during those
pioneer days of motoring and aviation.
- Hard bound with dust jacket and slip case
- 308 pages
- 220mm x 280mm (portrait)
- 300 black and white photographs, 7