Charles Rolls

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{car, race, vehicle}
{company, market, business}
{ship, engine, design}
{service, military, aircraft}
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Charles Stewart Rolls (27 August 1877 - 12 July 1910) was a motoring and aviation pioneer. Together with Frederick Henry Royce he co-founded the Rolls-Royce car manufacturing firm. He was the first Briton to be killed in a flying accident, when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off during a flying display near Bournemouth, England. He was aged 32.

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Early life

Rolls was born in Berkeley Square, London, third son of the 1st Baron Llangattock. Despite his London birth, he retained a strong family connection with his ancestral home[1] of The Hendre, near Monmouth, Wales. After attending Mortimer Vicarage Preparatory School in Berkshire, he was educated at Eton College where his developing interest in engines earned him the nickname dirty Rolls.[2]

In 1894 he attended a private crammer in Cambridge which helped him gain entry to Trinity College, Cambridge where he studied Mechanical and Applied Science. In 1896, at the age of 18, he travelled to Paris to buy his first car, a Peugeot Phaeton, and joined the Automobile Club of France. His Peugeot is believed to have been the first car based in Cambridge, and one of the first three cars owned in Wales. An early motoring enthusiast, he joined the Self-Propelled Traffic Association which campaigned against the restrictions imposed on motor vehicles by the Locomotive Act, and became a founder member of the Automobile Club of Great Britain with which it merged 1897.[3]

Rolls graduated from Cambridge University in 1898,[4] and began working on the steam yacht Santa Maria followed by a position at the London and North Western Railway in Crewe.[2] However, his talents lay more in salesmanship and motoring pioneering than practical engineering; in January 1903, with the help of £6,600 provided by his father, he started one of Britain's first car dealerships,[5] C.S.Rolls & Co. based in Fulham, to import and sell French Peugeot and Belgian Minerva vehicles.

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