Historical Manuscripts Commission

Summary report on the records of

Rolls-Royce Ltd

and

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd

motor car manufacturers, Derby and Crewe

in the custody of the

(reference: GB-2333-Rolls)

N James and D Leitch, March 1992
Historical Manuscripts Commission

All enquiries about access to the records described in this list should be addressed to The Warden, Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club. Access is by prior appointment only, and a fee is normally charged.

 

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Charles Stewart Rolls (1877-1910), the motoring pioneer and aviator, established his own firm of motor car distributors, CS Rolls & Co, in 1902. He was soon joined in partnership by Claude Johnson, the first secretary of the (Royal) Automobile Club. Rolls’ firm was engaged in selling foreign cars, but in 1904, he met the engineer Henry Royce (1863-1933), who had begun to manufacture his own cars in Manchester. Royce’s creation of a British car of technical excellence was exactly what Rolls was seeking and at the end of the year, Rolls-Royce Ltd was formed. In 1910, Rolls died in a flying accident and the year after Royce’s health broke down. It was Claude Johnson, who, as managing director, kept up the momentum of the company’s development, ensuring its commercial success while Royce, who remained in ill health for the remainder of his life, concentrated on further technological development of automobile and aircraft engines, components and accessories.

Rolls-Royce took over the firm of WO Bentley which went bankrupt in 1931, and which had had great success in building racing and sporting cars. Since 1933, Bentley cars have been built by Rolls-Royce at Derby and then at Crewe. When Rolls-Royce collapsed in 1971, the motor car division in Crewe was separated (as Rolls-Royce motor Cars Ltd) and this became a subsidiary of Vickers. The aero-engine division in Derby is now controlled by Rolls-Royce plc, which was reincorporated after the original company’s failure as an entirely separate concern.

In 1971, many of the technical records of Rolls-Royce were threatened with destruction and were rescued by the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club. The records, which continue to accrue at The Hunt House, with regular transfers from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd, include technical information on virtually every car built by the company from 1904 up to 1971, with recent additions for the 1970s and 1980s. Ownership is officially vested in the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation, a charity which leases premises to the Club and to which the Club is responsible for the management of the archives and museum.

The records at Paulerspury consist mainly of sales, production and technical records of Rolls-Royce Ltd (and later Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd) together with those of other associated firms. There are also some personal papers for CS Rolls, Sir Henry Royce and other leading figures in the history of Rolls-Royce. Further information about important related collections of records can be found in the National Register of Archives.

The Commission is grateful to Lt-Colonel EB Barrass OBE, general secretary of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club, for permission to examine the records at The Hunt House, on 4 March 1992, and to Mr MS Austin, the Warden, for his assistance.

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Summary report

Personal papers

Charles Stewart Rolls

Correspondence relating to Panhard and Wolseley motor cars 1902-05 (1 folder)
[Library]

Letter relating to his ballooning activities nd [Library]

Press cuttings books 1899-1910 (16 volumes) [Store room adjacent to Warden’s office]

Press cuttings relating to motoring and ballooning 1905-06 (1 volume) [Library]

Photographs of his cars and workshops at Lilley Hall 1896-1904 (1 album) [Library]

 

Sir (Frederick) Henry Royce, Bt

Car test log book 1903-16 [Royce room]

West glittering files of technical correspondence and papers 1917-31 (23 boxes)
[Barrass building]

Memoranda on technical matters 1923-33 (1 volume) [Library]

Index of drawings 1911-36 and last technical drawing executed on 20 April 1933
[Royce room]

 

Claude Johnson

Correspondence (photocopies) 1898-1926 (2 binders) [Library]

 

Ernest Walter Hives, 1st Baron Hives

Correspondence, papers and photographs 1908-63 (7 volumes and loose items) [Library]

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Company records

Records of Rolls-Royce Ltd

[records of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd only after 1971]

Guarantee books 1905-67 (20 volumes) including details of owners and chassis numbers of Rolls-Royce cars 1905-67
(14 volumes) and Bentley cars 1933-66 (6 volumes) [Library]

Records of cars made giving details of orders, specifications, cost, delivery, etc (Rolls-Royce and Bentley
models) 1904-1960s (c500 boxes, 1 file) [Barrass building]

Depot sheets 1920s-1930s (3 volumes, 8 files) [Library]

Technical correspondence 1907-c1945 (c180 boxes) [Barrass building]

Technical drawings from early 20th century (c30,000 items) [Barrass building]

Test records of experimental cars 1923-72 (392 volumes) [Barrass building]

Sales catalogues, with prices, from 1905 including Rolls-Royce cars (2 drawers) and Bentley cars (1 drawer)
[Library]

Photographs and glass plate negatives of Rolls-Royce cars (c30,000 items) [not inspected]
[Top floor, the Hunt House]

Shrewsbury factory records including journal 1955-60 [not inspected] [Stables store room B]

Rolls-Royce instruction school reports 1929-39 (12 volumes) [Library]

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Records of associated firms

Royce Ltd, electrical and mechanical engineers, Manchester

Production and technical correspondence relating to cranes 1927-30 (2 files and loose items)
[Library]

 

Crosbie and Dunn Ltd, carriage and coach builders, Birmingham

Records (1 box) including journal reference book 1933, orders 1930s (1 file), finishing books for car bodies 1925, 1927-37
(3 volumes), finishing reference book 1933 and miscellaneous photographs 20th century (1 envelope)
[Archive extension]

Rolls-Royce finishing books (chassis) 1920s-1930s,  nd (12 volumes) [Archive
extension]

Bentley finishing books 1930s (8 volumes) [Archive extension]

 

Hooper & Co (Coachbuilders) Ltd, London

Order books 1930s-1959 (2 volumes) [Library]

Correspondence files relating to work on Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars 1940s-1960s (12 filing cabinet
drawers) [Archive extension]

 

George Marsden & Sons, sheet metal workers, Manchester

Day book 1887-1923 including drawing by Henry Royce of bonnet for Rolls-Royce car
[Royce room]

 

H J Mulliner Park Ward Ltd, coach Builders, London

Rolls-Royce fittings register 1940s-1950s [Archive extension]

Rolls-Royce scale drawings, photographs and body schedules c1960-81 (6 volumes)
[Archive extension]

Technical records (c500 boxes) and drawings (c15,000 items) [Stables storeroom A]

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Pressed Steel Co Ltd, Oxford

Drawing office register 1950s [Archive extension]

 

Rippon Bros Ltd, coach builders, Huddersfield

Records 1892-1970s (9 boxes) including share register 1890s, sales records 1907-71, nd (2 volumes, etc), drawings
and publicity material 20th century (2 volumes, etc) and glass plate negatives, etc early 20th century
(6 boxes) [See separate list, NRA 34913] [Storeroom adjacent to Warden’s office]

 

Jack Barclay Ltd, Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealers, London

Correspondence files, relating to Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars 1950s-1980s (9 filing cabinet drawers)
[Barrass building]

 

Miscellaneous

Sales catalogues of coachbuilding firms 20th century (1 drawer) [Library]

Photographs of work done for Rolls-Royce by Crosbie & Dunn and other coach builders [not
inspected] [Archive extension]

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