“Memories are something no one can steal.”
Charles passed away peacefully at Leighton Hospital with his family at his side, aged 96 years.
Charlie was a well-known and much respected personality in the early history of Rolls-Royce in Crewe. He was born in Silverdale, Staffs where his parents ran the Crown Inn.
He was directed to work for the company in 1938, being employed as a toolmaker, he had tried to join the armed forces before the war but was told his services were more valuable in a reserved occupation, helping to make aero engines for the war effort. When the factory opened in 1938 he worked in the toolroom and continued to help make tools and jigs for the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin engine which powered the Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster bomber. He worked in the toolroom through the war years but when the war finished the factory was converted from aero engine manufacture to motor cars and as Charlie had served his time in a garage he applied for a job and to his great delight got a job as a road tester.
Cars started to roll off the production line as early as 1947. The road testers were a real band of brothers, regularly joining up on Sunday mornings with their own cars, Charlie by now had his own super-charged MG P2.
Around 1950 Charlie was approached by Tony Martindale to ask if he would join him to start up a new department to be called “Production Development”, it’s purpose was to resolve problems being found by testers and customers. Dennis Charles was next to join and soon a small team was formed to get the project underway. It was very interesting and at times a very exciting place to work and Charlie led the team with great energy and enthusiasm. Sadly Tony Martindale died of cancer and the great and much respected Fred Hardy took over.
In about 1960 Charlie was head-hunted again. Fred Murray had been tasked by the board with making the production cars easier and simpler to build, so Fred asked Charlie to help him, and with a small group of engineers they set about the task. It was painstaking work, but slowly and surely the problems were resolved and cars started to be produced faster and at less cost. By now however, the S series was coming to an end and the Silver Shadow and Bentley T were being introduced and the whole problem solving process started again, the nature of the work was no problem for Charlie though, as he was a natural problem solver, with his ability to invent he was admired and respected in all areas of the factory for his knowledge and tenacity.
In 1978 the project director for the next new car, the Silver Spirit, asked Charlie to join a project to assemble and install a complete facia in the car, rather than using the bodyshell as a workbench. Charlie was delighted with this project and was very proud of what he and his team achieved. He even drove a car down to the south of France in 1980 for the launch of the Silver Spirit.
Charlie always had to have a project, he would ponder and then invent something he thought would make him money or help others. There were at least two caravans, one in the 1940’s and another in the 1970’s, a high tech design using very light honeycomb aluminium board in it’s construction.
Charlie was a wonderful musician and played his Hohner accordion beautifully, he could also knock out any tune on the piano. At the time his favourites were The Ink Spots and barber shop quartets. He also had a great sense of humour, The Goon Show and in particular Spike Milligan creating much mirth.
He always had two or three cars around, his favourite being the Lancia Aprilia and in the early 50’s he attended several British Grand Prix, watching the greats from that era, including Juan Fangio and Stirling Moss.
Towards the end of his working life he also became a factory tour guide and made great friends with many Rolls-Royce and Bentley owners that he showed around. Charlie and Dorothy have since enjoyed holidays in California with some of these lovely people.
He will be sadly missed but lovingly remembered by everyone who knew him.
His funeral will take place on Friday 11th May at St. Matthew’s Church, Haslington at 12noon, followed by interment in the churchyard.
Donations in Charles memory will be gratefully received on behalf of the British Heart Foundation and Christie’s Hospital.
For any further information regarding Charles funeral please contact our funeral home on 01270 584447.