The Rolls-Royce School of Instruction at Seleng House, Ewell Copyright image courtesy of The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation
Between November 1925 and July 1930 Seleng House, Epsom Rd, Ewell was the home of the Rolls Royce School of Instruction.
In the early years of the twentieth century, Royce took a personal interest in the cars coming back to his company for repair. He was convinced that excessive wear was being caused by lack of maintenance and rough handling. Rolls-Royce introduced a detailed Owner's Handbook, but this did not solve the problem. Then Royce had the revolutionary idea of providing training. This began in 1912 with a demonstration class in Derby. The classes were suspended for the duration of World War One, but were re-established in 1919 in a large, private hotel in Alvaston called The Welcome.
In 1925 this had become known as The School, and moved to Seleng House in Ewell. This was a good choice because it was in easy reach of London by road, and there was a 20 minute train service from Waterloo to Epsom station which was ¾ mile away.
Rear elevation of Seleng House Copyright image courtesy of The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation
Prior to the war, acceptance for a school class for non- Rolls Royce personnel was restricted to the actual or prospective owner and for his chauffeur. After the war the company opened the course up to known, reliable chauffeurs who had lost their posts. They were allowed to attend fee-paying pupils to bring their knowledge of the chassis up to date and enhance their job prospects.
Vintage Rolls-Royce cars seen in Braemar, Royal Deeside, Scotland Copyright image courtesy of Clive Gilbert 2007
TABLE OF FEES:
2 weeks for chauffeurs including board and accommodation £12
1 week for chauffeur as above £7
1 week course for chauffeur without accommodation£ 3 10s
Owners were charged 10s per day of 5 for 2 weeks.
If an owner wanted a few days with an individual tutor this could be arranged for £1 per day. The pupils were instructed only on the model for which they would be responsible.
The school at Seleng House could train18 pupils at any one time. The course lasted 12 days from Monday morning to Saturday lunctime. On arrival the pupil was given details of the classes and a card of rules. The instruction started at 0900. Chauffeurs would be accommodated in Seleng House but owners stayed in a nearby hotel. If lodging at Seleng House had to be in by 11 o'clock.
There were three large classrooms, one for each of the Silver Ghost, 20 HP and New Phantom models. There would be a chassis and a complete set of component parts available to study.
Classrooms at Seleng House Copyright images courtesy of The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation
The lectures covered the whole range of activities from the general specification, through all the mechanical elements such as gear box, back axle and the cooling system through to coachwork and driving techniques such as silent gear changing, avoiding excessive speed and handling the car in traffic.
AJ Bowring was the principal at Ewell, and Albert Mustoe was the Chief Instructor.
In the five year period at Ewell approx 400 pupils went through each year. The highest throughput was in 1928 when 448 passed through, 232 attending the 20 hp class. Rolls-Royce received positive feed back from many of the pupils eg. "The management of the School is splendid, which gives the place a nice atmosphere. We were well cared for, good beds and good food. I am certain there are very many drivers today who owe much to the Rolls Royce School of Instruction" (Ref 2051)
Sadly the school moved to Cricklewood in July 1930.