Gwent Archives hold the Rolls family collection of papers which consists of varied documents including household accounts, photographs, prints and paintings and even daily menus for their house the Hendre at Llangattock-Vibon-Avel. Included within this collection are documents related to Charles Stewart Rolls one of the founders of Rolls Royce Ltd.
Correspondence between Charles and his father John Allen Rolls (Baron Llangattock) reveals Charles’s fascination with engines and the ‘autocar’. In 1893 at the age of sixteen Charles asked his father for an ‘Otto’ gas engine for Christmas, and wrote in 1896 of his ‘delightful’ ride in a friend’s autocar when they managed to reach twenty miles per hour. By October the same year Charles had saved enough money to buy his own car, a Peugot Phaeton, in Paris.
By 1903 Charles had his own company C.S. Rolls & Co. selling cars in London, but met Frederick Henry Royce a car manufacturer in 1904 and started selling cars with the name Rolls Royce
Between November 1905 and September 1906 thirty Rolls Royces were registered in Monmouthshire, either by Charles himself or various owners from around the country. Rolls Royce Ltd. was formed in early 1906 but ran concurrently with Charles’s car dealership until at least October 1906 when Charles wrote that the companies may be merged. Charles Rolls died in a flying accident in 1910.
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