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Commercial Block at the Rolls Royce Main Works Site

A Grade II Listed Building in Derby, City of Derby

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Latitude: 52.8983 / 52°53'53"N

Longitude: -1.4603 / 1°27'37"W

OS Eastings: 436399

OS Northings: 333565

OS Grid: SK363335

Mapcode National: GBR PNQ.ZD

Mapcode Global: WHDH0.JDTY

Entry Name: Commercial Block at the Rolls Royce Main Works Site

Listing Date: 3 February 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393116

English Heritage Legacy ID: 504474

Location: Derby, DE24

County: City of Derby

Electoral Ward/Division: Sinfin

Built-Up Area: Derby

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Derby St Bartholomew

Church of England Diocese: Derby

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Listing Text

03-FEB-09 Commercial Block at the Rolls Royce Ma
in Works Site

Motor car factory offices, 1912 by R. Weston and Son for Rolls Royce, with alterations of 1938 by Arthur Eaton and Son.

Steel-framed structure behind red brick, terracotta and portland stone with a slated north-light roof.

The main facade is 38 window bays in length and of 2 storeys with a terracotta parapet bearing, twice, the company name ROLLS-ROYCE LIMITED. The windows are of mullioned form with terracotta dressings and metal window frames. The central 9 bays were remodelled and raised to form a 5 bay entrance frontage of 3 storeys with 2 bay, 2 storey flanking ranges. The entrance range, designed in a streamlined classical style, is faced in ashlar Portland stone. It has a slightly recessed entrance doorway with a guilloche moulded surround set beneath a shallow balcony. The 3 central bays are divided by broad pilasters, and these and the wider buttress-like stepped outer bays support a parapet with a reeded frieze and a central panel bearing the Rolls Royce double R motif. The flanking bays have channelled V-jointing to the ground floor facings, stone quoins and stone surrounds to upper floor windows set within brick walling.

At the north end there is a porte-cochere: a single-storied structure with 3 semi-circular arched openings to each side forming a short colonnaded covered way to a now blocked doorway close to the original entrance stairway. It has a hipped end to the roof and a plain tile roof covering.

During the late C20 the interior was refurbished and remodelled. The board room with an ante room survive in their 1930's form, with plain wood panelling, but the fixtures and fittings of most other areas were replaced, and false ceilings were inserted. The 1912 staircase survives at the north end.

The entrance hall, referred to as 'the Marble Hall' has Tuscan columns and is paved with Hopton Wood polished limestone. There is a ramped double staircase with metal open balusters and at half landing level is a tall, semi-circular-arched window which housed a stained glass window (Hugh Easton, 1949) commemorating the Battle of Britain (now removed to safe store and replaced by an image of the original). The entrance hall has small vestibules to the sides of the entrance, and shallow curved recesses on the side walls for sculpture (now removed to safe store).

The Rolls Royce Company acquired the Nightingale Road site in Derby in March 1907 with a view to developing an automobile factory, and building work started in that year. The first assembly buildings, beginning with what is referred to as No.1 Shop in the original documentation, were constructed of prefabricated steel-frames supplied by Handysides of Derby, and were developed to specifications provided by Henry Royce, designed to allow rapid expansion of the factory to a modular format. As the factory expanded the factory offices were housed in part of No.1 Shop, but in 1912, a purpose built range of offices were developed on an area of land between the factory and the Nightingale Road frontage. The building, designed by R. Weston and Son, was completed in November 1912, having been built in 2 stages. The main entrance was sited at the northern end of the plainly-detailed 2 storied building, and remained as such until 1938 when a new entrance hall designed by architects Arthur Eaton and Son was developed in the remodelled central portion of the 1912 office range. At the same time, a colonnaded porte cochere and an enclosed entrance was added to the Nightingale Road frontage at its northern end, and is believed to have been intended to allow for the collection of completed vehicles from the site. In the 1930's, the building was widened along its entire length at the rear, leaving a narrow access way between the frontage buildings and the factory workshops to the rear. During the late C20 the interior of the office range was refurbished and remodelled, and although the Board Room survived in its 1930's form, the fixtures and fittings of most other areas were replaced, and false ceilings were inserted. The central entrance hall and principal staircase remain unchanged as does the original staircase at the north end of the building. In its fully developed form, the factory occupied a massive footprint, and has been surrounded by housing development on all sides, with entrances into the site developed from these surrounding streets. To the south of Nightingale Road schools and other community facilities were developed to serve the expanding industrial suburb developing around the works. The changes in the pattern of manufacture and the relocation of the main business site to Osmaston have driven the current regeneration proposals for the now mostly vacated Nightingale Road site.

The Rolls Royce factory was designed to produce the Silver Ghost car, but demand in the First World War for aircraft engine manufacture led to the development at the Derby works of the first Rolls Royce aero engine. The company's first aero engine was the Eagle, based on the Silver Ghost engine, built from early 1915. Around half the aircraft engines used by the Allies in World War I were made by Rolls-Royce. The Eagle engine was fitted to nearly 50 aircraft types requiring over 4500 engines to be manufactured in Derby and overseas. In 1919 it powered the Vickers Vimy in which Alcock and Brown crossed the Atlantic non-stop, for the first time.

By the late 1920s, aero engines made up most of Rolls-Royce's business.
Henry Royce's last design was the Merlin aero engine, which came out in 1935, although he had died in 1933. This was developed in Derby from the R engine, which had powered a record-breaking Supermarine S.6B seaplane to almost 400 mph in the 1931 Schneider Trophy. The Merlin was a powerful V12 engine and was fitted into many World War II aircraft: the British Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, de Havilland Mosquito (two-engine), Avro Lancaster (four-engine), Vickers Wellington (two-engine). It also transformed the American P-51 Mustang into possibly the best fighter of its time, its Merlin engine built by Packard under licence. Over 160,000 Merlin engines were produced. The Merlin crossed over into military vehicle use as the Meteor, powering the Centurion tank among others.

Car manufacturing was transferred to the Crewe works in 1946 but the Derby site remained closely associated with aero engine development and manufacture until the development of the new Derby facility.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolls-Royce_Limited. accessed April 2008

Collins P and Stratton M 1993. 'British Car Factories from 1896: A Complete Historical, Geographical, Architectural and Technological Survey'

Ruffles P 2002. '1st Hon CS Rolls Lecture: His Legacy to power for Land ,Sea and Air'

The Commercial Block at the Rolls Royce Nightingale Road Works in Derby is listed for the following principal reasons:

* Design and production decisions connected with the company's motor car and aero engine products were taken within the Commercial Block.

* Rolls Royce products are of international renown.

* Rolls Royce aero engines played a significant role in the conduct of aerial combat during WWl and the Merlin engine powered the iconic Spitfire and other aircraft during WWll.

* Significant elements of the building survive in good condition, notably the the main facade, which carries the company name, the entrance hall, the board room and porte-cochere

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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