Sir Frederick Henry Royce was an English engineer and car designer who, with Charles Rolls and Claude Johnson, founded the Rolls-Royce Company.
In 1884 Royce entered a partnership with Ernest Claremont and started a business making domestic electric fittings called F H Royce and Company. 10 years later they started making dynamos and electric cranes and the company re-registered in 1899 as Royce Ltd with a public share flotation.
Following a decline in trade after the Second Boer War and increased competition in dynamos and cranes from both the US and Germany, Royce believed the motor car as a new product for the company and in 1904 the first ‘Royce’ car was made. Two more cars were manufactured and of the three, one was given to Ernest Claremont and the other was sold to another director, Henry Edmunds.
Edmunds showed the car to his friend Charles Rolls, who owned a showroom for cars in London and then arranged the historical meeting between Rolls and Royce. Although Rolls had a preference for three to four-cylinder cars, he was most impressed with the two – cylinder Royce 10 and in late December that year agreed to take all the cars Royce could make and thus the Rolls-Royce was born.
The first of the Rolls-Royce enterprise, the ‘Roll-Royce 10hp’ was unveiled at the Paris Salon later in December. In 1906 Rolls and Royce solidified their partnership by creating Rolls-Royce Limited. Royce was chief engineer and works director on a salary of 1,250 pounds per year and also earned 4% commission of profits on the excess of 10,000 pounds.
By 1907 the Roll-Royce company was winning awards for the reliability of its cars due to its engineering make-up. Later in life in 1928, Royce began designing the “R” engine whilst strolling on the beach with some of his leading engineers sketching ideas in the sand. In less than 12 months the “R” engine set a new world record for airspeed of 357.7 miles per hour and won the infamous Schneider Trophy of 1929.
After falling ill from poor health, Royce was in the care of a nurse in his home in West Wittering and passed away on April 22nd 1933. His remains are kept at his birthplace, in the Parish Church of Alwalton.
Royce lived by the motto “Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble” and thanks to his ingenuity and modesty, Rolls-Royce can always be trusted to deliver excellence.