Goodwood Aeroclub members enjoyed a fabulous afternoon at the Rolls-Royce factory on Tuesday 12th February.
Upon arrival, the small group of members who were lucky enough to be selected in the ballot were greeted by our guides for the afternoon, James and Jacky. Whilst enjoying refreshments, James gave us a fascinating introduction covering the history of the Rolls-Royce Motor Company and the development of the plant on the Goodwood Estate.
We then donned very smartly branded Rolls-Royce factory coats before being given a tour of the factory floor. We arrived on the floor during the afternoon shift change at 3pm, but even when the late afternoon shift was in full flow what struck me was how relatively quiet the factory floor. Though quiet with purpose, it showed a team focused on efficiency. There was a very tangible sense of teamwork and pride in the Rolls-Royce brand.
We started our tour just outside the paint shop, where we could see a selection of the range of diverse paint schemes that clients had requested. Although the plant produces the Phantom, Ghost, Dawn, Wraith and Cullinan models, each Rolls-Royce car is built bespoke to each individual customer specifications. The paint shop team are often asked to match a particular colour - an example being the customer who had presented the team with a lilac orchid flower he had given to his wife on their wedding day and said ‘match this exact shade please!’ which of course, the paint shop team delivered. We were not allowed in the paint shop itself as this is a protected environment, but once the chassis shell has been painted the chassis then enters the assembly line floor.
On the assembly line floor, the chassis pass along the respective stations where the electrics, doors, wheels and tyres, engine and transmission etc. are added. Each station has its own unique name - I particularly liked ‘The Marriage’ station where the engine block is married to its chassis. The attention to detail and level of quality control was extremely impressive - an example being the intricate weave of fibre optic lighting into the Starlight Headliner as per each customers bespoke night sky design request.
We also explored the leather and sewing shop, offcuts of leather are recycled to the fashion industry, and the wood shop, where veneers are kept in a humid storage area that apparently contains tiny beetles to keep the mould at bay, although we didn’t see any!
We ended our tour with a photo by a Rolls-Royce Phantom in reception.
On behalf of Goodwood Aero Club Members, I would like to express my thanks to James and Jacky, our guides for the day, and to Mark and Kristin for arranging the visit.