The Life of Charles Rolls: Pioneer in aviation and automotive

On this day, August 28 in the year 1877, one of the pioneers in aviation and automobile industries was born in London, United Kingdom. His name was Charles Stewart Rolls, the co-founder of the famed Rolls-Royce brand of engines and luxury cars.

Charles Rolls
Charles Rolls (Credit:

Charles Rolls was the youngest of four children of 1st Baron Llangattock and Lady Llangattock. As the son of aristocracy, he attended Eton College and later Trinity College, Cambridge where he received an Applied Science degree in 1898.

As a motor enthusiast, Charles travelled to Paris in 1896 to buy his first car, a Peugeot, believed to be the first car in Cambridge. After graduating in college, he worked briefly at the London and North Western Railway. With the help of his father, he set up in 1903 his car dealership, importing French and Belgian cars.

In 1904, Charles Rolls met car manufacturer Henry Royce and agreed to be the dealer of all the cars Royce would make but would carry the brand Rolls-Royce. The partnership was formalized in 1906 with the incorporation of Rolls-Royce Ltd. The following year, the partnership absorbed the dealership business of Charles Rolls. Due to the emphasis of producing quality cars, sales expanded in the succeeding years. Export to the US began in 1907.

Meanwhile, Charles’ interest in aviation started to consume most of time. He tried but failed to convince Henry to design an aero engine. He had been a founding member of London Aero Club since 1903 and won an award for flying solo across the English Channel using a Wright Brother plane which he bought in 1909.

In 1910, Charles Rolls became the first Briton to be killed in an air crash.



  1. I also recommend: Traian Vuia, who was a Romanian inventor, a pioneer of world aviation. On March 18, 1906, he made one of the first self-propelled flights (without catapults or other external means) with a heavier-than-air aircraft.

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