Rolls-Royce Limited was created over a famous lunch brokered by Henry Edmunds at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on 4th May 1904. Edmunds brought together Henry Royce, a successful engineer and Charles Rolls, the owner of one of the first car dealerships. The rest is history.
Charles Rolls trained as a mechanical engineer at Cambridge. The first undergraduate to own a car, he soon began racing and to fund his passion set up a car dealership, selling mostly foreign cars.
By 1903 he was looking for a supplier of reliable English cars which led to his introduction to Henry Royce. Rolls was also an accomplished pilot, he was the first aviator to complete a double crossing of the English Channel.
Tragically, he was killed when his aircraft crashed at an air show in July 1910.
Henry Royce had a passion for engineering and set up his first business at the age of 21. Known for his attention to detail and pursuit of perfection, he registered his first patent (the bayonet lamp socket) in 1887 and went on to produce dynamos, electrical motors and world-renowned cranes.
Dissatisfied with his first car in 1902 - a Decauville - Royce characteristically decided he could improve on it and turned his attention to build the best motor cars in the world.
By the end of 1903 Royce had designed and built his first engine and the first of three prototypes took to the road in 1904. First introduced in 1907, the 40/50 HP, later to become known as the Silver Ghost, remained in production until 1925. It was powered by a six-cylinder engine in two blocks of three and originally displaced 7,036cc but in 1909 this was increased to 7,428cc. Best-known body styles included the Barker Tourer, Hooper Landaulet, the London-Edinburgh type and Barker enclosed cabriolet.
The first cars were built in Royce's Cooke Street factory in Manchester but following the success of the Silver Ghost, the company moved to a custom-built factory, designed by Royce, in Nightingale Road, Derby.