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May 2003
Rolls-Royce Centenary
Image: © Rolls-Royce plc
Rolls-Royce RB211 engine (© Rolls-Royce plc )

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first meeting between Charles Rolls and Henry Royce.

Rolls-Royce's centenary celebrations have put the famous firm in the spotlight this year. In so many ways the company's history is our history - it's been so instrumental in making the modern world, on the road and in the air.

Rolls-Royce celebration day
Rolls-Royce held a centenary celebration at Donington Park, near Derby, on Saturday, 12th June. Enjoy some of the sights in our special photo galleries.
blue arrow Gallery one: sights and people at Donington Park
blue arrow Gallery two: the car's the star
more photos to come so keep clicking back...

Rolls-Royce sign outside the Derby factory
Rolls-Royce in Derby
The centenary's sparked a barrage of memories, and had journalists and historians heading for the archives. We had a look into the BBC's archives, too, and thought you might like to hear a programme broadcast in May 1991, on the 50th anniversary of the first jet flight.

It traces the story of the jet engine, and of the dramatic relationship between Sir Frank Whittle, its inventor, and Rolls Royce, the company fated to develop it.

Sir Frank fought his way through disbelief, jealousy, nervous breakdown and despair to put his engine in the sky. That Rolls Royce supported and sustained him is a just cause for pride, and a vital part of the history currently being saluted.
Listen to the programme here
(RealPlayer required. If you don't have RealPlayer you can download it for free here)

Also in the BBC Radio Derby archives lurked a programme Jan Rogers made about Rolls-Royce as part of the Millenium series "The Century Speaks".

It tells the story of Rolls Royce and its contribution to 20th century technology, in the words of Rolls-Royce men who helped shrink the world and make us the jet set.

You'll hear the memories and opinions of Mike Evans, Ray Dyke, Mick Walker, Geoff Wilde, Jerry Matthews, Cliff Rogers and Phil Ruffles.

Listen to The Century Speaks programme here
(RealPlayer required. If you don't have RealPlayer you can download it for free here)
blue arrowSee also: Rolls-Royce Factfile | Rolls-Royce Timeline

Jan Rogers produced the programme, which opens with Sir Frank relecting on that day in May 1941 - the 15th to be precise - that he proved his doubters wrong.
Your comments on this story
Please remember, No e-mail addresses, No website addresses, Keep it clean and polite - and please, don't type the whole of your message in capitals.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the RR day at Donnington by a photographer friend (I could never have afforded the ticket!). It would be hard to pick out all the highlights but the South African Boeing 707 and the 'squadron' of Spitfires lit up the daytime proceedings whilst the mixture of stirring music, fabulous air displays (and the Weasley's Ford Anglia - from Harry Potter) etc made it a magical evening not to be forgoten. Thank you RR.
Bruce Baker-Johnson, Kirk Hallam, Derbyshire

I worked for RR after leaving school at the age of 15, my father worked in the plateing shop down number 1 yard Nightingale Road, later during my time there I met my late husband Brian who then worked in the Quality department (Mr Jones was in charge.) He left the Company in early 1980 and we moved over to the states to work for Voi Shan part of Fairchild Industries, in Culver City California. However I have a great number of RR memories including a book which the then Director of Q A, Tom Bowling presented to Brian. It's a book by Michael Donne --Leader of the Skies-the first seventy-five years. I am very proud to own this book and display it all the time on the coffe Table. Rolls Royce is a great company and I am so please to have been a part of it.In 1963 I was voted APP.ASSCN.PERSONALITY GIRL DERBY, and have the beautiful deep blue and gold sash that was presented to me. Thank you Mr Rolls and Mr Royce
Valerie Turner, Florida

Born in Derby and started an Apprentice at RR on Ascot drive 1966.Always make a point to visit the RR stand at the Dubai Airshow. Congratulations on winning trent1000 orders for the 7E7 great engine great plane makes one proud to be "British".
Ray Allen Dubai UAE

My grandfather, John Bancroft, and his brother Charles were among the first intake of apprentices in the new factory in 1906. My grandfather was aged 12, and his brother 14 years old.
Christine Searle, Shefford, Bedfordshire

I started as an apprentice at RR in May 1953. The journey that morning was a few miles from my home in Littleover. I never imagined I would spend 51 years in Aerospace and retire in Arizona. I was priviledged to be recruited to the U.S.A. where I was a one man project who developed a gas turbine engine from a paper design. We produced 660 by the time I moved on and never had a single return.
Geoff Alcock ,Arizona

Just wanted to flag that on 12 June at Donington Park, Derby Rolls-Royce will be hosting a Centenary Day of Celebrations. Tickets available to general public via or 0870 4422149 Further information available on Should be a fantastic day - all welcome! Kind regards Roseann Ward Communications Consultant, Centenary Rolls-Royce plc
Roseann Ward, Rolls-Royce London

The name Rolls Royce and the power behind it has been extremely valuable to myself as a past employee, within my life overseas in the United States of America and currently my home in Vancouver Canada. When ever I meet people from the Aerospace Industry and the word "Royce's" is mentioned there is an immediate common ground on which to talk. Thanks Mr Rolls and Mr Royce
Louis Twyford ,Vancouver Canada

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