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ASPECTS OF COUNTY LIFE


The Modest Mechanic continued from page 21


the first jet engine to enter military service was designed and built by Rolls-Royce. Royce was awarded an OBE and made a baronet because of his services to aviation. Despite his achievements, he remained a modest man, who called himself a ‘mechanic’. Right up to the end, he continued working, designing cars and aero-engines from his home, and even his bed. The night before he died, it is said that he was sitting up in bed sketching an adjustable shock absorber! He died in West Wittering on 22 April 1933, aged 70. As life ebbed away, he wistfully commented, “I have only one regret, that I have not worked harder.” A statue of Royce was erected in Derby as early as 1923, when he was still serving Rolls-Royce as Engineer-in-Chief, and is now at Rolls-Royce’s Moor Lane premises: the focal point of the firm’s engineering activity. More than a century after Royce’s first visit to Derby, the famous company is still going strong at this location.


In 1962, a memorial window was dedicated to


Royce in Westminster Abbey; the only engineer thus venerated. The wording simply states, ‘In memory of Frederick Henry Royce OBE Baronet, Engineer. Born 1863. Died 1933’. The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation, created in 1977, is a permanent centre devoted to his life and work, with particular emphasis on encouraging and supporting young engineers and apprentices, and the Foundation remains true to Royce’s mantra of the ‘pursuit of excellence’. Henry Royce was also honoured with a blue plaque on his former residence in Derby (Quarndon House, formerly ‘The Knoll’). The plaque records, ‘Sir Henry Royce, 1863–1933, co-founder of Rolls-Royce, lived here from 1908 to 1911’. This was the period when he began building the famous cars in the town. His own words, though, are his best epitaph: “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.”


22 County Life


PHOTO STORY: Top:Statue of Henry Royce’s partner, Charles Rolls, in Monmouth. Above:Memorial at the crash site in Bournemouth where Charles Rolls lost his life at the Bournemouth Centenary Air Pageant, 12 July 1910 Photos: Courtesy of Stephen Roberts


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